Building a business on Slack
Ambit’s story starts with three friends sitting around a kitchen table, working out how to disrupt the conversational messaging space using AI. The three friends—Tim Warren, Josh Comrie and Gareth Cronin—created a Slack workspace they called the “Big Ideas Group” (BIG). It was on Slack where they workshopped ideas, brainstormed company names, and later on, developed a business plan. They even wrote the original code for the first iterations of the product.
“Before we even had a company name, we had Slack. It was there at the genesis of the company—the idea, the name—everything started on Slack,” says Tim Warren, Ambit’s CEO and co-founder.
Ambit is a conversational AI platform that provides human-like automated chat experiences across customer service channels. Using AI, the platform mimics human interactions, helping ensure customers have the right conversations at the right time.
“Slack is like Ambit’s nervous system. It’s our communications channel, our brain, the language behind all our ideas,” says Warren.
Slackbot automates suggestions for success
For Ambit, success is when its customer’s customer has a great experience. To achieve this, it needs to be able to support customers 24/7, not just during standard working hours. Ambit created a company-wide channel called
#production_errors, where team members could address issues on the fly.
For example, one Saturday evening Ambit’s CTO, Blair Woods, received an alert that a customer had misconfigured one of their environments. Woods reviewed the issue on the
#production–errors channel and was able to triage it to an engineer while also crowdsourcing feedback from other engineers. Before Slack, such a seamless resolution wouldn’t have been possible.
“Slack has changed the game when it comes to production issues. We don’t have to leave a customer waiting until I can log into a computer. Now I can get an alert, do some triage and keep an eye on any updates,” says Woods.
Slack integrations also help Ambit serve its customers (and their customers) better. That’s because Ambit’s team members don’t waste time switching between apps—by integrating its collaboration tools within Slack, teams can get work done all in one place. Two tools Ambit uses regularly—Jira and Trello—are incorporated into its Slack channels, helping the company run smoothly without any pesky context switching.
Slack also makes Ambit more productive and proactive, thanks to Slackbot custom responses—a handy tool that triggers automated suggestions when people use certain words or phrases.
“I found people weren’t really picking up product suggestions for our customers. So I used the Slackbot custom response to remedy it. Now, if someone types the word “suggestion” Slackbot automatically pops up product suggestions and shares a relevant link,” says Warren.
Building a ‘make it happen’ culture
“There’s no ‘that sits with engineering, that sits with infrastructure, that sits with customer success at Ambit,” says Warren.
“One of our values is ‘make it happen’—if you see something that needs to be done, you get to it. Slack enables that.”
To address this, Ambit has set up a channel called
#product_suggestions where team members are encouraged to contribute their creative product ideas. Once an idea is submitted, Ambit’s product gurus evaluate the idea.
“We use Slack to invite thoughts and ideas on ways we can improve,” says Woods.
“You don’t have to jump on a call, fill out a form or create a Jira ticket. You might be standing in a queue at a supermarket or in a restaurant and have an idea and you can throw it in the channel.”
Process automation also helps the team take initiative. Ambit has set up workflows to generate reports directly on channels, so everyone can see how specific programs are performing. It also ties release information to Slack so Ambit’s engineers are across deployment status.
“The real benefit is that you don’t have to log into your other tools. You just see everything in one place without having to switch between different tools all the time,” says Woods.
The real benefit is that you don’t have to log into your other tools. You just see everything in one place without having to switch between different tools all the time.
Helping remote teams do their best work from anywhere
Ambit’s employees can do their best work from anywhere—be it in the office, at home, or in a cafe. Because it uses Slack, Ambit can expand its workforce beyond New Zealand and consider candidates worldwide.
Slack has helped Ambit become a remote-first company too. It still has an office, but it’s become more of a drop-in collaboration space. Slack is where work gets done.
Ambit believes a big part of creating a successful remote team and digital HQ is practising what it calls ‘radical transparency’. For example, it has a channel called
#ambit_values where it recognises team members who represent company values with custom-made emojis representing each value. It also does staff polling every week to gauge employee wellbeing. These results get published in the same channel to keep Ambit accountable.
If Slack was removed, I think it would be a huge blow for Ambit. I consider Slack to be one of the most critical tools we use in our business.
Taming meeting overload with Slack Connect
Ambit works with merchants, partners and vendors in Slack Connect— a secure place for effective collaboration with external partners.
“We work with recruiters, PR and contractors on Slack Connect, which seamlessly makes them a virtual part of the team,” says Warren.
Slack Connect helps strengthen Ambit’s relationship with its customers too. if a partner has a quick question that doesn’t warrant a meeting, they don’t need to set up a call. They can pop a question in their shared channel, and receive timely answers from the Ambit team.
And if people do need to meet, the Google Meets integration helps them set up meetings in seconds, directly on Slack. Or, they can set up a Slack Huddle—lightweight audio and screen-sharing that recreates quick, informal discussions without having to schedule a meeting.
“As the team grows outside of its New Zealand home base, Slack will become critical for keeping us connected to our partners and our customers. And it’s good to have that level of communication as well. Instead of setting up a call, people quickly flick a message or set up a huddle,” says Woods.
Simplify external collaboration using Slack Connect
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Fuelling growth at Ambit
As the company grows, it knows Slack will grow with it—enabling Ambit to become a more productive remote team. According to Woods, Slack makes work more pleasant.
“If Slack was removed, I think it would be a huge blow for Ambit. I consider Slack to be one of the most critical tools we use in our business.”