October 11, 2022
One of the gratifying things about working at Cribl is receiving daily validation that we’re making customers’ lives easier, and solving their real problems. Every time someone tells us something like this, our hearts gladden, and a goat angel gets its wings:
We spent 2.5 months trying to get [source data] into [destination]; we did it with Cribl Stream in 8 minutes.
Numbers like those also translate into…numbers. When we surveyed customers in our most recent quarter, our CSAT (Customer SATisfaction) score was above 90%.
On another common survey metric, Net Promoter Score (NPS), customers rated us nearly as highly. Lots of Criblanians would like that to be still higher – and at times, we’ve nudged the top of that scale, too. For now, we’re encouraged to see the percentage of dissatisfied responses in the barely measurable single digits.
To put in perspective how unusual these numbers are: The tech industry’s average NPS rating is 39, and a 50 rating is widely considered very good. Our customers rate us nearly 20 points above that. I’ve worked at prior startups where NPS languished not far above very good, when we were at a similar size and stage, or where CSAT never budged from 65% – and management thought those ratings were just fine.
So I’m delighted to now be part of an organization that really earns users’ satisfaction and trust. But how do we earn it? Here are a few thoughts about where I think we’re on the right track to do even better. And, if you read through to the end, I’ll tell you why I’m telling you this!
Cribl was founded by three people who’d spent years helping customers solve problems they encountered with existing software. Every hire since then has prioritized people with the same love for solving real people’s real problems. When a decision point arises, Criblanians almost always consider “How will this help or affect users?” before “What’s easiest for us?”
Cribl has been all-remote from the start. When 2020’s disastrous pandemic hit, the wrenching operational changes we had to make were: nothing. Today, as other tech companies blow the factory whistle and order their employees back into the office in congested tech centers, they do our recruiting for us.
Cribl has always been free to hire the best talent anywhere, and those people have always been free to live in the places they love.
We started with one excellent software developer each in Poland, Argentina, and a little town north of Boston. Those mountain goats built up nuclei of great engineers in each region.
We’ve since hired talented engineering and operations people across most of the U.S. and Canada. We’ve got crucial contributors from Nashville to Northern Idaho to Nanaimo. You wouldn’t believe our secret Arkansas/Oklahoma brain trust.
As a writer here, it’s my honor to support the best support organization in the business, along with a thoroughly amazing group of Solutions Engineering (SE) wizards. You’ve likely experienced how amazingly responsive both these organizations are.
Customers tell us that our SEs “feel like advisors, never like salespeople.” You might have also seen how responsively our development engineers implement your feature requests – sometimes before you even ask for things.
The people who thrive in an all-remote organization – surprisingly or not – collaborate more effectively than any group I’ve ever worked with under one roof. Criblanians rush to help each other out, and to make peers’ work even better.
People also have varied outside interests, well beyond the usual Star Wars and video gaming. Instead of dodging meetings, some of us actually schedule recurring meetings just to hang out together and brainstorm.
Another delightful Cribl perk: The most accomplished people here are also the most humble and approachable. There is no “i” in Cribl!
From our three co-founders down, Criblanians are fanatical about building software, heat-and-serve configurations (Packs), and learning resources that work – really, elegantly, and easily.
I once joked to a new hire, in front of one of those founders (my boss), that Cribl was founded in an OCD support group. My boss only half-laughed, so maybe it’s true. (While he routinely spots 2-pixel misalignments, he’s also one of the world’s easiest people to work for.) “OCD so you don’t have to be” is a pretty good summary of our software’s purpose and how it’s built.
In Cribl docs, here are some of the principles by which we strive to get things right for you – beyond (of course) nailing usefulness and accuracy:
Cribl has the lowest silos I’ve ever seen in the tech industry. Engineers and SEs contribute directly to our docs (outstandingly). They also welcome us writers to contribute directly to their UI text – and interaction design.
UX designers, engineers, course designers, marketing folks, and us scribes all mix it up, to make sure the information (and information architecture) we offer you is consumable, consistent, and accurate.
(They even let a writer write this blog post.)
Goats here get acknowledged and encouraged for good work, in big ways and small. Cribl keeps an open pipeline of care packages and gifts coming our way, and we get an annual open tab at the swag store.
Much more importantly, Criblanians are encouraged to keep defining how they want to grow and take on more responsibility. We have a humming Slack #thanks channel, where we reward each other reputationally, and we get to award peer and manager’s bonuses to reward each other tangibly.
I wish I could tell you that we routinely promote to management from within, but that’s a gap in most growing startups. At least it happens here. I was supported in moving from individual contributor to management, and then back to IC when I wanted my hands back on our direct output.
Our attrition rate is very low – especially in engineering. Work/life balance gets easier when everyone can work from home, largely asynchronously. Need to run your kids to and from school? Your dog to the park? Yourself to the gym, yoga, or a little retail therapy? Surf’s up? Define your own hours – as long as you get stuff done, and unblock your peers.
As a software startup in the 2020’s, of course we’re agile. But fortunately, more in spirit and practice than in ritual. Our sprints run one week, not two. We do retrospectives only after releases.
Only certain teams do daily standups. Others sync up only twice a week, or biweekly. (Ed. note: different things.) And although this would freak out the ritualists, no one has to actually stand up. (Remember, we’re all WFH, so that would violate our inherent right to privacy about who’s wearing pants.)
My point is, we prioritize product over (just enough) process. Paraphrasing a movie-industry maxim about smart budgeting: Almost all of our effort ends up on the screen.
Why am I telling you all this? It’s not to be smug, certainly not triumphal. While we’re gratified and proud to really be solving people’s real observability problems, these are all things we challenge ourselves to keep doing as we grow. And to do even better, to keep making your lives even easier.
Here’s the real reason: Cribl is happy to share what’s working for us, and for our customers who’ve placed their trust in us. Because we wish all our vendors were as responsive to their customers as we try to be.
Would you too like to do your best work ever, acting in a movie where just about all the effort ends up on the screen? If so: Come join us!