We mostly just use Slack for chatting
I hear this a lot when I talk to sales and customer success teams about how they use Slack.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, but if you’re limiting use to just messaging you’re missing out on a host of opportunities for productivity gains that come from organizing collaboration with signals from your enterprise applications.
A huge focus for Troops is helping our entire team better understand our customers. High customer empathy is critical for our ability to build great product, communicate with customers effectively, and act autonomously.
In this post we wanted to share some unique ways we’ve leveraged Slack at Troops to increase customer empathy and raise the collective intelligence of our team.
Call Reports in Slack
Customer calls are one of our richest sources of feedback. It’s where we learn things like:
What do our prospective customers care about?
How does our product help them?
Where can we improve for existing customers?
Originally, we all just took notes in our respective tools and then logged the call notes in Salesforce...
The problem with this system was that collectively, we weren’t actually looking at each other’s notes as often as we wanted to really understand our customers.
To improve visibility, we started a channel called #Call_Reports and just added the extra step of copy and pasting our call notes using Slack’s posts feature.
The whole team can opt-in to this channel to see if they want to see what customers are saying.
BTW Slack posts are basically like an evernote note in Slack if you haven't checked them out yet.
How has this helped?
The increased visibility from the simple step has resulted in some great improvements:
- Growth/CS have an easier time seeing opportunities where we can help each other
- Product has a tighter feedback loop and better understanding of who we’re building for
- Engineering develops greater empathy and it’s motivating for them to get feedback on what they’re building
Our entire company is 15 people, but I can imagine a ton of more narrow instances where a version of sharing notes that get lost can improve team alignment.
A few ideas:
- In customer specific channels where multiple people are collaborating on a deal - i.e. acme_corp
- On certain teams where you’re trying to improve one part of your process i.e. Mid-market qualification call notes
- In pod channels where SDRs, AE’s and CS are working together
One thing I realized in college was that taking a bunch of notes and then not looking at them never really amounted to anything.
The same applies here. Taking notes is only useful if the people who are supposed to look at them actually review them accordingly.
Scheduling Change Reports On Leading Indicators
A challenge many customer success or sales teams running a freemium or usage bases sales motion is understanding how those customers are using the product.
Yes, there are some heavy tools that now make that a bit easier, but many companies don’t have them and we all know what happens when you ask someone to go to another place to log in and look at something….
One investment we’ve made early on is getting our product usage data into Salesforce and then building change reports in SFDC that help us see key engagement signals like when an account turns a few features on or off.
We use Troops Salesforce reporting in Slack to streamline these signals so that they are front and center for everyone to see.
An example of this is our customer health change report pictured above.
This makes it really easy for us to understand variances in product engagement on tiered accounts in order to take action.
The outcome is a tighter customer/product feedback loop as well as improved visibility into expansion opportunities whether that means deeper engagement or a wider footprint.
Change reports we have automatically scheduled regularly:
- Customer health changes
- Feature or metric usage summarized at the account level
- Inactivity reports against certain tiers of accounts or leads
The reason why these reports are effective is that they’re pushed to us in a place where we’re all spending time. This makes it really easy for us to keep each other accountable.
Sharing Customer and Communication Wins
One way we try to raise the collective intelligence of our team is make it really easy to share when stuff is working.
In organizations I’ve been a part of, sharing tribal knowledge has traditionally occurred during a weekly team meeting.
The problem with this methodology is that a ton of learning opportunities slip through the cracks with this level of latency between the learning event and meeting.
You could have had an amazing call with a customer on Thursday where something new you tried worked, and come Monday have completely forgotten what you did, let alone that you wanted to share it.
Additionally, the knowledge sharing that occurs in these meetings is an ephemeral one time transfer vs. evergreen educational content for existing and new employees.
One tactic you can try that we’ve done at Troops is create dedicated channels to share these instances as they occur.
We currently have two of these channels that are slightly different.
The first is called #communication_wins. In here, we share instances where some type of communication with a customer resulted in a really positive outcome that we want others to learn from.
Most of the time, these are just quick screenshots of email exchanges that showcase strategies that the team can have in their tool belt.
Capturing and sharing these instances takes less than 10 seconds to do and every new team member that joins now has a historical log of different ways to talk with customers effectively. This is a massive advantage when you talk about things like decreasing new employee onboarding time.
#customer_wins is the other channel we have dedicated to tribal knowledge. This is where we share emails from customers on them having success with the Troops product.
These are really great for the entire team to see not only because it helps us better understand our customer's relationship with our product, but also because it’s motivating to see people winning with what you’re building….
And by moving it out of email and into Slack, we don’t clutter the place we are using to do the customer development and sales in the first place.
Making It Easier to See Key Customer Data Points
At different parts of your sales process or customer journey, it’s important to understand key pieces of information.
For some companies this might be:
- Existing solutions in place
- Next steps
- Product functionality they’re most excited about
- Contact titles
- Compelling events
- Competitors used
In addition to reviewing these things in a regular meeting, we’ve found it really helpful to highlight these data points in real-time alerts as people move through the pipeline.
We use Troops opportunity stage change alerts to accomplish this.
Depending upon the data you collect, this can be really valuable for product and marketing teams to see this information as well i.e. what features do people care about?
At the core, all of this comes back to streamlining workflow in one place so that it’s very easy for people to see the information they need in order to make great decisions.
Implementing This At Your Company
If you’re worried about some of this potentially being distracting, I think you need to view Slack like any source of information (i.e. email).
It’s up to you to continuously curate the experience for your team so that it’s limited to the most high value interactions.
All of the strategies above that extend beyond “chat” have been immensely helpful for helping our entire team better understand our customers. So I ask you…
Can you be using Slack for more than just chat?
Is there information that if people were on top of more consistently they’d be better at their job?
Maybe there’s an opportunity here for you to champion some slack workflow for that initiative...