Each month, John Bowman picks a new cool piece of technology that helps Customer Success Managers be more productive. We call it “Apps For Success'“and in this review (#5) he takes a closer look at Zapier.
This month we are going to be taking a huuuuuge app which can make your life a ton easier or can make your life a living hell…. ZAPIER! Because the app is so big we won’t be reviewing the whole thing but just enough to give you the gist.
Zapier is the most well-known task automation app on the market. Don’t like Zapier? There are a number of other ones to choose from. I use IFTTT.com in my personal life for being alerted to Craigslist searches (my side hustle is reselling) and I hear good things about the Microsoft version called Flow. Give either a shot if you don’t like Zapier.
The point of Zapier (and any task automation app you chose) is to automated the small stuff so you can concentrate on doing the hard stuff. For those of you who’ve never heard of these apps, imagine them as If/Then statements. If you do X, then Y happens.
But! You can stitch apps together to do complex actions. For example, if you get an email in your inbox that matches a specific search, then an entry is automatically added to a row in a spreadsheet. Now, take that idea and multiply it by a million. You’re really only limited by your imagination using these apps.
We all would like to have more time back in our lives and automation apps like Zapier promise to give us back some of that time. But it’s not all roses and sunshine. These apps aren’t smart. They will literally do exactly what you tell them to do - without any thoughts of exceptions or edge cases.
One of my many mistakes in my misspent youth was using Zapier to automate the flow of information from our ticketing system into our CRM. Sounds great on the surface and it looked good when I tested it, but in reality, I was accidentally creating hundred of duplicate accounts and records in the CRM. With any software system, garbage in = garbage out. I was unknowingly shoveling tons of garbage into our CRM which took months to set right.
So, reader beware! Test your automated actions, make sure you monitor them for the first week at least, you don’t want to make the same mistake I did!
[Standard disclaimer here. I own no part of any of the productivity apps for Customer Success Managers I’ll be reviewing in this column. The opinions contained in this review are mine and mine alone. SuccessHACKER is kind enough to lend me their microphone. If you happen to disagree, leave a comment and let me know! I love a good spirited debate.]
What do you like best?
Like last month, this app continually runs in the background - it is how it delivers you value. You set an action to happen and then Zapier does the action when a condition is met. Zapier more than delivers on its promise to save you time and money. It is a great way to create a one to many actions and it removes the possibility of human error.
It’s largely set it and forget!
Plus, it’s free for small things! One trigger action can trigger one result at no cost.
What do you dislike?
Zapier doesn’t work with every app (but there are literally thousands of apps!), so you might not be able to do what you want to accomplish.
You also must maintain and monitor your zaps. If you change the password on another app you use in a zap, you will need to reauthorize your account in Zapier for it to continue to work.
Additionally, your automated actions can sometimes be limited. You can’t do everything in each linked app but you can usually handle the small, easy stuff.
Finally, if you want one trigger action to do multiple steps, then you need to pay. Which isn’t too bad, plans start at $20 and go up from there.
What business problems does the product solve?
A lot of the Customer Success productivity apps I review revolve around saving you time and this one is no exception. There are multiple business solutions you can use Zapier for, here are some I use:
When there is an event on my calendar, Zapier automatically sends a follow-up email 3 days later to all of the other participants to see if I can help them in any way.
Every time we get a new customer, the new customer is added as a card to a Trello board to track their set up progress.
When a new Professional Services customer is closed, a scope of work template is generated and sent to the customer.
When our company signs a new customer of a certain size, an alert is sent to all interested parties.
When a user completes my automated course on how to use our software, the user is sent a personalized certificate of completion.
Really, for any action you find yourself repeating over and over again, search Zapier to see if you can automate it.
I use this app every day to do work that needs to be done and I don’t want to do. Oftentimes, you will hit a brick wall in Zapier but, if you work at it, you can create a workaround to achieve your intended outcome.
One great tip I’ve discovered is to dump info into a Google Sheet because Google Sheets are the swiss army knife of Zapier. Once it’s in a sheet, you can usually find a way to modify or move it around to make pushing the data into another app easier.
Zapier (and other task automation apps) will save you a ton of time and money but just remember to monitor and check your results periodically! Garbage in means garbage out!
What’s your favorite Zap? Put it in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!
Thank you for reading! Do you have any suggestions for how I can improve this column? Please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think!
About the Author
John Bowman, Esq., is the Director of Customer Success at Jetpack Workflow. When he is not building the organization and team there, you will find him leading The Pittsburgh Customer Success Meetup, the Pittsburgh Gainsight Pulse chapter, moderating the Customer Success Subreddit on Reddit, or volunteering teaching Computer Science to underprivileged inner city high schoolers. He utilizes his 10+ years of professional experience to focus organizations on one goal: the customer's desired outcome. His cross disciplinary approach to problem solving allows him to find solutions to customer problems others can't. He is a practicing Pro Bono Attorney in Pennsylvania and a rising star in the Customer Success community.