After acquiring four companies and growing rapidly, managed services provider Data Intensity found it unproductive to use multiple spreadsheets to try to manage customer success. Data Intensity chose Totango’s customer success management platform for its superior data organization and the uniform way it guides CSMs to act on the data.
Data Intensity is the largest independent multi-cloud managed services provider focused on mission-critical applications and managed services in a hybrid cloud world. Founded in 2001, the IT company operates 12 locations worldwide, employs over 650 globally, and serves hundreds of customers across a range of industries, including finance, healthcare, media, manufacturing, and consumer services. Data Intensity’s services span from enterprise application and database managed services to business intelligence and analytics.
The commoditization of basic managed IT services has led some providers to differentiate their offerings by improving customer service. To better compete against an enterprise database company, Data Intensity created a technical account support team with a point of contact for each customer to offer better service.
“But when we grew through several acquisitions, that approach created economic problems,” says Umur Kavlakoglu, vice president of customer success. “When we had 20 customers, we could support them with a unique customer service function, but when we get into the 300s with a lot of smaller customers, consistency in behavior became problematic.”
Kavlakoglu was hired in early 2018 to solve the problem and create Data Intensity’s first customer success team. “The Customer Success function didn’t exist,” he says. The technical account team helped with technical issues like applying patches to servers, for example, but didn’t participate in the contract renewal process.
“No one had easy access to contract information; it only existed in hard copy format.” Kavlakoglu says. “When asked ‘When does customer X expire,’ no one knew. Sales ops managed some of the data but no one analyzed it, and my team didn’t even know the spreadsheets existed.”
To try to make sense of the data coming from Salesforce, Oracle EBS, Service Now and dozens of SharePoint spreadsheets, Kavlakoglu’s team built an Excel-based data warehouse to collect contract information. Then they built a spreadsheet for renewal data. Taking that information, they built churn estimates and forecasts.
“While our Excel guru did some incredible gymnastics behind the scenes to build it – it was pretty incredible – I knew long term we couldn’t manage all of this data in Excel,” Kavlakoglu says. “For example, I didn’t have basic customer demographics unless I went to several spreadsheets and contacted several people.”
When the team received this basic information, each person interacted with his or her clients differently and kept individual notes in their own way. Institutional knowledge didn’t exist.
“As our client relationships evolve, things change and when things go south, we have to identify the problems in a timely manner and act quickly and decisively,” says Kavlakoglu. “When we did find out, we didn’t have a good agreement on what we needed to do to turn things around, and when we did have an agreement, we didn’t have a good way to measure it.”
Executives at Data Intensity were pretty far along in discussions with Totango’s main competitor when Kavlakoglu joined the company. “The competitor spent a lot of time selling me on the product,” he says. “But they had a hard time articulating how I would tweak the products to accommodate our different business model since we aren’t a SaaS company. All they knew was adoption (rates), which drove me crazy.”
A former colleague suggested Totango, and within 24 hours of entering his name into Totango’s web form, Kavlakoglu was watching a demo in a New York City Starbucks given by Totango’s Mitch McMahon and Bill Hobbs. Impressed that the duo listened and understood Data Intensity’s needs and different business model, Kavlakoglu accepted an invitation to visit Totango’s CEO and founder, Guy Nirpaz, while in San Mateo, CA for a Gainsight summit.
“I sat with Guy for three hours and he went through the product’s functionality. Then Guy gave me his cell phone number and said, ‘Look whatever you need from us, give us a call and we’ll get it done.’”
That gesture, coupled with product knowledge and the initial demo convinced Kavlakoglu to purchase Totango’s customer success platform. “Everything I asked I got an answer for,” he says. “I’m happy with decisions we made, and that sense of partnership continues to this day.”
Data Intensity spent a few weeks thinking strategically about its account structures and its organizational processes and then implemented Totango. “Within two months we had the platform up and running and doing things I envisioned in phase one, thanks to the help and guidance of our CSM Ella Eng” Kavlakoglu says.
“Honestly, I thought we would run into trouble and get delayed,” he continues. “I’ve worked in software and I know no implementation goes smoothly. But to my pleasant surprise, the Totango implementation went better than planned.”
Data Intensity began using Totango to segment its customers and map touchpoints. Kavlakoglu required CSMs to use the Totango platform to record customer interactions, so the data started flowing into the platform on day one.
With Totango’s help, Data Intensity has established a best-in-class customer success team to reduce churn, improve renewal performance, and grow the install base. It now has the critical data the team needs to make better decisions. In addition, the 27- member customer success team now acts on data in uniform ways rather than relying on individual skills.
“We can now focus on the fundamentals - defining what success means at every level and every stage across the customer journey, and adjusting it, and we’re able to act on the data and measure the outcomes, and that’s what Totango does a really good job of,” Kavlakoglu says.
Totango is “very easy to learn, use, and get significant benefits quickly without getting hung up on unnecessary bells and whistles,” he adds.
Because the Totango team took the time to learn Data Intensity’s business, they were able to help Data Intensity organize customer information in KPIs relevant to its business so executives could gain insight into what’s really happening. Totango Spark is the only customer success platform that has a unique goal-oriented approach so it's easy to map KPIs and then direct actions needed to achieve KPIs.
Data Intensity captured 270 customer attributes and created customer segments based on that data. With Totango's powerful analytics capability, Data Intensity had the flexibility to fully view and understand its customer base across any dimension, providing critical insights into customer health, accounts at risk and the factors that contributed to it, and driving the right actions accordingly.
For the first time, Data Intensity has an intelligent health score to pinpoint unhealthy customers. This score is a leading indicator of churn, and knowing the score allows them to take action before a customer cancels an account. “When you are trying to transform a business or a function, a platform like Totango becomes very critical,” Kavlakoglu says. “I now know and understand what is going on with the business.”
Armed with critical data about its customers and the ability to segment those customers, Totango then provides frameworks that help CSMs act on the data in a uniform way.
Typically, companies rely on individual success when managing customers, Kavlakoglu explains. The hope is that managers can replicate what their most productive and successful employees do. “Only it doesn’t work that way,” he says. Some have skills that the others lack, and hope isn’t a reliable tool. “Transforming successful behavior into sustainable, structured and organized company success can only be done with the aid of a platform like Totango,” he says.
Totango offers a framework of SuccessBLOCs, which contain goals that guide enterprises through the successful completion of each stage in the customer journey with relevant KPIs, dashboards, analytics and best practices.
“Let’s say I build a success play that says if a customer satisfaction score is below X, then do ‘Y’,” Kavlakoglu says. “Now I know that I’m going to get uniformity of behavior because everyone will take the same action. Now that action and result becomes an institutional success rather than relying on individual skills for success.”
Totango Campaigns allow companies to send hundreds of customers automated messages and content in a scalable yet contextual and relevant way giving CSMs the ability to manage thousands of customers efficiently. Kavlakoglu hasn’t rolled out Campaigns yet but he envisions using them to stay in touch with smaller customers quarterly, for example.
Data Intensity also plans to launch Totango’s Zoe communication app, which allows the entire company to easily access, participate and impact customer success information on the client level. Zoe allows anyone in the organization to tap into the data no matter where they are in the world.
Without a platform like Totango, achieving true customer success is impossible, says Kavlakoglu. “Without it, it’s ‘hope’ that people are going to do it. I have no way of policing it, no way of knowing what success looks like or how to help CSMs get it done, etc.”
At the end of 2019, Kavlakoglu will have enough data to quantify Data Intensity’s success. In the meantime, “Thus far in 2019, we are on plan,” he says. “Churn is within striking distance of our estimates and we expect to end the year below our original plan.”
A year ago, “I didn’t know how many customers we had, let alone how much business we sold them,” Kavlakoglu says. “We can now look at these things, manage renewals, and plan and project churn. To plan for a churn number is a big deal, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a platform like Totango.”
“The kind of intel we get out of the platform has been enormous,” he adds. “Achieving customer success is very helpful in transforming businesses from X to Y, and Totango very critical in that discussion.
“Now we can say our customer success organization is truly functioning as a success team - looking at what success means, how to achieve that, and how we measure it. Without tools like Totango, all discussion becomes academic in a nice looking PowerPoint,” Kavlakoglu concludes. “Totango allows us to actually see what success looks like and achieve measurable business results.
Global access to critical customer data and status
Uniform actions based on data
Ability to accurately estimate and manage churn for the first time
Improved renewal performance
Improved renewal performance