Our Story

How “User Success” Helps Us Become the Most Active Slack Community

by
John Lafleur
on
April 27, 2021
How “User Success” Helps Us Become the Most Active Slack Community

Alternative title: How Our Slack Community Grew to 1,000 Users and 115,000 Messages in 7 Months

Today, we’re celebrating three important milestones for Airbyte. Within just 7 months of the release of our very first product (MVP) - which had only 6 connectors - we became the most active Slack community of data professionals around data integration. This is our first milestone.

As you might already know, we are a transparent company. Every month or so, we publish information on our project and company that would be confidential in other companies, such as:

Today, we want to tell you more about our Slack community, our focus on user success and what it means for our community, and two other not yet announced milestones.

The Most Active Slack Community on Data Integration

This weekend, we reached the milestone of 1,000 Slack members, and at the same time became the most active community. 

Within 7 months, we grew from 5 people (our original team) to 1,020 members as of 04/26/21. Out of those 1,030 members, 450 are active weekly, and this resulted in 115k messages exchanged with the community. Yes, 45% of our Slack community is active on a weekly basis, which is a great starting point.

The last time we checked, Singer’s Slack community had 40k messages after 4 years, and Meltano had 33k within 2 years. With Airbyte reaching 115k messages in 7 months, who knows how many we’ll have in 2 or 4 years?!

Defining “User Success”

Airbyte’s community is worldwide. About 35% of our users come from the US, but the remaining majority is spread across the globe. That’s why we decided to build a remote-first team with people in France, United Kingdom, India, Singapore, New Caledonia (near Australia), and the US to cover all timezones. The goal is to be the best at what we call “user success.”

What is user success? You're probably familiar with customer success, which is well known in the SaaS world. In customer success, your goal is to make your customers successful with your product. However, when you are an open-source tool, you are first focusing on becoming the industry standard, and therefore, you’re focusing on the users of your open-source project. 

Within Airbyte, we define “user success” as our team’s focus to help our users be successful in whatever project they want to build around data, whether it be with Airbyte or another tool. We believe the best way to build trust with our community is by aligning our goals and incentives with theirs; we want them to know we have their back and always will. 

Measuring User Success

We’re measuring two things: 

  1. Time to first response
  2. Time to resolution

Time to first response is the time elapsed between a user request on our Slack and the first response from a team member or community member. 

Time to resolution is the time elapsed between the first user request and when the thread is marked with a ✅ emoji. That is how we notify the rest of the team that this request has been fully addressed. 

For the moment, we have an average of 2 hours 30 minutes for the time to first response, and our time to resolution is about 3 hours 30 minutes

We were also thinking about tracking:

  • resolution rate, i.e., the percentage of threads that have been marked with a ✅ emoji, but the data was too skewed by us sometimes forgetting to mark the thread as resolved. 
  • feature-coverage rate, i.e., the % of users we interact with for whom we have met all their feature and connector needs

Some Examples of User Success Processes

So, what specific actions do we take in terms of user success? 

Well, for instance, we personally welcome every new Slack member with a personalized message. It takes a bit of time but it is definitely worth it, as it enables us to understand their use cases and needs. 

You can note all of this information in your CRM or community tool (we are big fans of Orbit) so that when you release a new feature, you can notify those who expressed any interest in that feature. That’s exactly what we do with connectors. Every time we support a new connector, we’ll reach out to all users who mentioned any interest in that connector. 

Any interaction with the user is an opportunity to get information on how we can provide more value at a later date. 

In the end, as for customer success, you want your users to be more and more successful with your open-source tool, so they become your next advocates. 

What Kind of Role in User Success?

Airbyte is an open-source data integration platform, so it’s targeting data engineers, analysts and scientists. The only way to help them become successful is by helping them solve their technical issues. So the role that makes sense is a User Success Engineer. 

And, as a matter of fact, we just hired for the role at Airbyte. Here is the description of the role: 

Your goal as a User Success Engineer is to make our users successful when deploying or contributing to Airbyte.

The main responsibilities of the role will be:

  • Help users troubleshoot issues they have when deploying or contributing to Airbyte.
  • Write documentation and make (or suggest) code changes to resolve recurring issues.
  • Triage bugs to the correct team (or fix the issue yourself).

Airbyte’s open-source community has been growing very quickly, and one component of our success is the love of our community. This role is instrumental to scaling the support to our users, and includes finding ways to reduce the overall cost of user support through better documentation and new processes. 

An excellent candidate will become an expert in the Airbyte system. They will determine which information needs to be shared with the engineering team so that the team has a deep understanding of existing pain points. They will also filter out information that they can resolve themselves through code fixes, documentation, or by working with the users. This will allow the engineering team to be laser focused on the product goals while maintaining intense user empathy. The role is at the heart of our values of leveraging our time and abilities.

An ideal candidate can start out as an individual contributor but can grow this operation into a team as the company scales.

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We hope this gives you some insight on how we think about user success at Airbyte and its community. So how does this translate in terms of measurable goals?

Our Next Milestone Is 1,000 Weekly Active Slack Members

The actual metric you want to track is the activity level of your community. Having a non-engaged metric is a waste of time for everybody. So one would think that we should define our next goal in terms of messages exchanged in the community. Why not aim for 1M messages?

The issue with that approach is that messages are not synonymous with value brought to your users. If it takes you half the messages to get your point across and solve your users’ issues, you should definitely go this way. Number of messages is not the right proxy, and never was in our case.

The right approach is to track whether your community keeps being engaged, and that is, simply, weekly active members. That’s why our next milestone is not signups, or messages exchanged, but 1,000 weekly active Slack members. 

How to Achieve the Next Milestone

This is where we want to announce two new milestones. 

1. Our First Developer Advocate Hire

Abhi Vaidyanatha joined us on 04/26. As our senior developer advocate, he will work on constantly improving our developer experience and engagement. This includes documentation, tutorials, and, therefore, insightful content for our Slack communities. 

Maybe we’ll do AMAs there - anything becomes possible when you have someone with the energy of Abhi!

2. Our First User Success Engineer Hire

If, by any chance, we coined the term “user success engineer,” feel free to reuse the term, as it should be open-sourced (MIT) like the rest of Airbyte 😉.

Our first user success engineer should be joining us in the next few weeks. This person will help us drive the time to first response and resolution down so you’ll have the best support experience with Airbyte in the whole ETL/ELT industry - while just using the open-source edition!

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You will see that the Airbyte team will be growing fast in the next few weeks. And we also have big plans for the Slack community, but we won’t reveal everything just yet as we want to keep some surprises for you!

In case you didn’t join, here’s our Slack community, and you can also contribute to our GitHub repository. Either way - whether you’re already a member or planning to join - we hope to hear from you soon!

And yes, Airbyte is also about to become the GitHub repo with the most stars around data integration, too!

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