Manuel Harnisch is Head of Customer Success at network analytics provider Kentik. His team handles onboarding, continuous outreach, and renewals, with only about 10% of their time going to reactive support.
Obviously, he cares a lot about retention and having a robust renewals process in place, especially when there’s an opportunity for expanding service consumption.
But when he joined the company in March 2017, there was no formal process for renewals or upsells. Reason being, the company was only about a year and a half old then.
Manuel developed Kentik’s formal renewals process and went looking for ways to make sure every customer was successful using Kentik’s products and services. During that time, he learned that Kentik’s VP of Revenue and Sales Ops leaders were using Troops to track net-new opportunities and stay on top of developments. Troops let them automatically pull data from Salesforce to create actionable alerts in Slack that write back to Salesforce.
By following their example, Manuel was able to improve executive visibility and team coordination for four key activities:
- Monitoring Renewals
- Coordinating Support Cases
- Keeping Feature Requests Moving
- Celebrating Team Wins
Let’s take a look at each.
1. Monitoring Renewals
Manuel’s process for renewals is straightforward. Six weeks before a new quarter, his team reviews who’s up for renewal and does a risk assessment. That helps inform their financial forecast for the quarter.
For large, strategic accounts, there isn’t a lot of work needed because those are high-touch accounts with lots of ongoing insights. Everyone stays in the loop on them. But for more tactical and “tech-touch” accounts, the renewals process involves a lot more catching up.
Back when there were only a handful of accounts to get caught up on every quarter, it wasn’t hard for executives to keep up with what was happening. Today, with Kentik’s growing business and many more accounts to review per quarter, it’s much harder to keep track of what’s happening on each account.
Troops’ automated messages help Manuel and the team stay on top of all the changes happening.
“We use Troops primarily to notify us when stages change on existing renewals as well as upsells,” Manuel explained.
“It's for me to quickly see when we make progress — for example, a quote went out, or we had a good conversation when negotiating, or we got partial paperwork, which usually means we got the executed Service Order back from a customer. I can quickly see where things stand without having to go into Salesforce every time, especially when I'm on mobile. I know what to expect now.”
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2. Coordinating Support Cases
Much of the team’s work is focused on proactive customer care. But when a request for support does come in, Manuel wants to know that his team is on top of it.
When a customer files a support request, the support team will get a Slack notification that the request is in their queue. One of the reps will claim the case, but if something gets escalated, Manuel can see exactly who to talk to in order to keep the ticket moving.
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They also have separate Slack channels for issues that are escalated from nominal to “critical” or “major.” And when a case is closed, everyone can see that it has been resolved.
3. Keeping Feature Requests Moving
When customers make feature requests, Troops sends Slack notifications to the engineers and Product Managers assigned. The relevant participants will then get regular reminders which increase in frequency the longer it’s been since the request came in.
If the request requires feedback from the customer, they will also get automatic reminders via Slack to review changes made and send feedback to the team. That way, anyone who needs to do something is reminded of those to-dos until they’re done.
It’s proven to be much more effective (and less time-consuming) than trying to track manually who owes who what.
“Obviously people get emails when cases come in and so forth, but it's really hard sometimes to designate in the email that something’s critical. But if I changed the state in Salesforce to critical and then Troops posts that into the critical channel, we can have a conversation about what's going on. That's absolutely helpful to get more visibility.”
NB: This is something we also do at Troops and have written about in the past. Read about getting product feedback in Salesforce here.
4. Celebrating Team Wins
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Finally, Kentik uses Troops notifications on Slack to celebrate wins, which is great for team morale.
Whenever a new deal closes, a renewal finalizes, or an upsell goes through, anyone following that channel gets a notification. It’s a way to bring together wins from across the Sales and Customer Success teams and keep everyone motivated by previous success.
“It's a nice way to broadcast success. People comment and congratulate their peers on the notifications. It’s like the ringing of a virtual ‘sales bell,’” Manuel said.
Manuel is a firm believer in equipping the Customer Success team to handle all customer interactions post-sale, giving the Sales team the room to get out there and find new customers.
“I'm a firm believer that pre-sales teams should be hunters,” he said. “They should be out there looking for new business and bringing in new business for the company. Once that’s done, it’s time for my team to get to work to make those customers successful. Otherwise, all of it falls on the Sales reps, which can absorb a lot of time.”
Instead, Kentik unburdens its Sales teams to close new deals or find entirely new opportunities in large, existing accounts. Manuel’s Customer Success team handles everything else.