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Zoom, a little-known app before the pandemic, has emerged as one of the successful companies and the shining star of the Covid era.
Video conferencing is not a novel idea for a startup. Yet Zoom, one of the youngest in the field, has outclassed the existing big names in the industry. To the point that it has become a verb.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, however, said that though it might seem like it “success doesn’t happen overnight.”
He was speaking on the second day of the virtually held TiEcon 2020, TiE Silicon Valley’s marquee annual entrepreneurs’ conference.
The pandemic may have pushed Zoom to unforeseen heights, but the trajectory was set by Yuan right from the day he quit Cisco as corporate vice president and began Zoom.
Customer happiness, he says, is the key to his success.
“Before I left Cisco, I spent a lot of time talking with WebEx customers and whenever I talked WebEx customers after the meeting was over, I felt very sad, very embarrassed. Because I did not see a single happy customer,” said Yuan.
In a discussion with Rich Karlgaard, editor-at-large, futurist, columnist, Forbes & Forbes Asia, Yuan said: “Think about it, you know what your business and your product can do. You have the world, you have the community and society. And every business has its corporate social responsibility to make their customers happy.”
The Zoom CEO added: “When I started Zoom, that was the key to my business. I clearly knew about the culture of my company. When you care about the community, the community, in turn, supports you.”
Being one of the newcomers in the industry, Zoom had well-established competitors like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts. Yet it was able to outshine its peers by addressing customer pain points at every level. But success doesn’t mean reaching the top, it’s how you maintain the lead.
Asked about the key to keeping the company’s lead in the years ahead, Yuan said: “When you get into a company, you do not look at it from a competitive perspective. Otherwise, you’re not there to study, because there were so many big legacy competitors.”
He continued: “So, from our perspective, we want to be the company to understand the customers. We spent all the time on giving a much better solution promptly, ahead of any other competitors, no matter how big your commodities, you still have a choice. We listen to our customers.”
Yuan is known as a passionate advocate for happiness in business. He was asked if he can engineer happiness at work, especially at a time when the world is going through anxiety and depression.
“A CEO must make small relevant changes every day and not measure happiness with productivity. I decided that happiness is our culture. Deliver happiness,” he said.
“When our job is to make sure to get a business, we have to make customers believe we are happy to serve them. So, it’s the CEO’s job to make sure the employees are happy. It is important to take their perspective constantly so in turn they can deliver the same happiness to the customer.”
He also underlined the importance of mentorship.
“You’ve got to think about what you can do to become a better version of yourself. And one of the simplest ways to do it is to have a mentor. I have always had so many mentors,” he said.
“Begin your professional career as early as possible and learn the company culture. Make as many mistakes in your younger years and learn. There’s no overnight success,” said Yuan.