Subscribed Auckland: XERO’s Secret to Success

By Osman Javed August 17, 2015

My neighbor on the plane over to Auckland, a native New Zealander, mentioned that being on an island has made New Zealanders extremely innovative and self-sufficient. And after hearing from prospects and customers at our Subscribed Auckland event, I would tend to agree.

The room was packed with leaders from innovative companies. Companies changing the financial software space, the agriculture space, the software space, the list goes on. But one company that really stuck out was Xero.

Xero is a New Zealand-based software company that builds cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses. We heard from Xero CMO Andy Lark on how the company’s growth and core values. He mentioned how from Day 1, Xero set out to disrupt the accounting software space with a product that was beautiful and easy to use. Here were my takeaways from what he shared:  

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Deliver a Beautiful Customer Experience

At Xero, they truly believe the customer experience they deliver to customers should be beautiful. While beauty is subjective, Andy feels a customer knows when something is beautiful or not. He mentioned “If you were to ask someone if this software is beautiful, they’ll most likely have an answer. ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’” Xero expects everything to be beautiful, from the product itself to the experiences around the product.

And their entire organization (marketing, product, support, sales, etc.) has rallied around this belief to deliver a truly unified customer experience. It’s clear their customers have taken notice as Andy shared countless stories of giddy Xero customers with pride.  

A “Maker” Culture

Andy’s statement that stuck out the most was “Whoever has the most makers will win.” At Xero, they have “get it done” attitude. Andy mentioned the company has a huge focus on execution rather than management and their organization has been built with this in mind.

Over half their organization are makers; engineers, designers, marketers. This has allowed them to remain agile and iterate quickly. In the last year alone, Xero pushed over 500 feature releases. By having this organization of makers with marching to the common goal of delivering beauty, Xero has been able to deliver a consistent customer experience at an extremely aggressive pace. And based on articles I’ve read, it sounds like they’ve done so while keeping employees super happy.

Net net, in a crowded space of utilitarian finance software, Xero shines through as surprisingly human. Instead of putting use-cases first, they’ve put the customer experience first and it has rewarded them in spades. What surprised me was how at the core of Xero’s culture is the customer experience they deliver to their customers. As a result, what they build and what they value was very aligned.

And while it will be interesting to see how Xero grows in the future, it will be even more interesting to see what innovative new services and businesses come out of New Zealand in the coming years. And to our Zuora events team, I think next year we’ll need a bigger room.

Learn more about the Subscription Economy at Zuora Academy.