The key to unlocking visibility to drive team accountability and productivity is having a real-time view of data and insights into your team's progress against their goals and key initiatives, leading to greater efficiencies in your team's performance and your management 1:1's.
Sonar Software, a leading SaaS automation software platform for Internet Service Providers around the globe, has been named one of Canadas’ fastest-growing start-ups in 2019 with over 2000% growth. Sonar’s growth is tied directly to that of their customers, and they needed a scalable solution to build cohesive workflows that keep their teams connected and productive.
Join Ella Eng, Senior Customer Success Manager at Totango and Kristin Hallas, Senior Director, Customer Success at Sonar, on September 24th, at 11am PT | 2 pm ET to learn how they are able to streamline communications between their remote workforce, manage the CS team’s accountability, and build a robust framework to ensure ongoing productive and proactive customer engagement.
What you will learn at this webinar:
- How to access insights into the work and progress the team is making, at your fingertips
- Tips and tricks on aligning structure and framework for manager 1:1
- How to keep CSM's accountable and progressing towards CS organization goals
Featuring leaders from:
Read the transcript
Ella Eng [00:00:02] Hi, everyone, I'm Ella Eng. I'm a Senior Customer Success Manager and I've been with Totango for the last three years.
Kristin Hallas [00:00:08] Hi, I'm Kristin Hallas. I am Senior Director of Customer Success at Sonar, and I have been with Sonar for the last year.
Ella Eng [00:00:19] Thanks, Kristin. In the new world we're in, where we're all mostly working remote, it's so important as managers that we're having regular cadences with each other, with each of the members of our teams, we're aligned on our objectives, having productive and efficient conversations, and delivering on performance. Which is why we want to discuss management one-on-ones with you today, understanding the importance and setting an effective structure for one on ones, and leveraging insights for these discussions to boost accountability. Then we'll see how Sonar puts all of this into action. We'll start by showing how Sonar is set up for success and dive into how they drive strategic and meaningful conversations. And then finally, how capturing KPIs allows them to know what is working well and where to focus on for change.
[00:01:05] So let's get started with our management one-on-ones. So here's a quote from Elizabeth Grace Saunders that really resonated with me. I'll give you all a moment to read through this first. So we're in the digital age and we tend to communicate with our direct reports via digital channels like email, IM, phone, and text, and one-are-ones are one of the most important productivity tools that we have as a manager. It's an opportunity to ask strategic questions like, "Are we focused on the right things," and build that rapport that shows that you value and care about your resources and the work that they're doing.
[00:01:42] So let's get into some of the common mistakes that we see in one-on-one meetings. There's a lack of structure. These meetings should have a purpose and expectations should be set on what the meeting will be about. So have a focused agenda that's shared in advance and stick with it.
[00:01:59] No accountability. If we're not actually following through on the action plans that we're creating and there are no defined timelines, then the valuable plans we're putting in place can be forgotten about. And then sometimes, too many distractions can lead to frequent rescheduling. So these meetings can be incredibly effective and strategic, but they need to happen. Oftentimes, they're rescheduled over competing interests and schedules, which diminishes the value creation.
[00:02:27] And we're also not looking to make this a one-sided conversation because then it just becomes a delegation session. So make sure that it's collaborative and you're working together to come up with the right strategy and plan and solving any issues that may arise together.
[00:02:43] And lastly, there's a lack of alignment. So be sure that the entire team is aligned on what the goals and objectives are for your business. Otherwise, there may be too many different directions we're not prioritizing effectively.
[00:02:56] So let's get into how to structure an effective one-on-one. Be sure to block out regular times and set a very focused agenda aligned to what's important and what the team should be prioritizing. And oftentimes it's so easy to always talk about what's not going right, and while that's incredibly important, also, we need to celebrate the wins and successes to reinforce positive behaviors and outcomes. Give your team a chance to shine and share their good work. You'll also help surface out best practices as well as content and skill-building for other CSMs. And use this time to problem solve together and collaborate. CSM know their customers best. So ensure there's a platform for them to provide input and that it's being valued.
[00:03:42] Be a coach and a mentor. It builds respect and trust in the relationship. Provide that guidance to help them be an even better CSM. Your team works hard. So show them the gratitude they deserve and make them feel valued. They'll end up doing better work for you, the team, your customers, and ultimately the organization.
[00:04:02] And lastly, make sure that you're following through on your expectations. So inspect what you expect. If you're building a plan, follow up on the action items and measure the results. It'll set an example for your CSMs and ultimately boost that accountability that we're striving for.
[00:04:22] So I think this will be a great time to do our first interactive poll. You should see that popping up on your screen now. So please let us know if management one-on-ones are a part of your process. Responses are "Absolutely, couldn't live without them", "Thinking about it, but haven't ventured down that path yet," or "Nope, I'm social distancing but I'm for sure ready now". All right. So we can see that everyone is doing one-on-ones, which is great. And there's about nine percent of you that are just thinking about it.
[00:04:52] So let's take a look at two concepts to make your discussions really effective when you get started. And these are visibility and insights. So let's start with visibility. So, as I mentioned earlier, it's critical that there is organizational and team alignment. So what the customer journey stages are throughout the entire customer lifecycle, as well as the programs, initiatives, and activities that the CS team is focused on. So what's going to be the most relevant, important, and prioritized for the team? And we need the visibility up and down our organizational hierarchy. So this will be for the CS team, for CS leaders and management, as well as your executive so that we're all aligned and on the same page.
[00:05:37] So then in Totango, if we can set these up as SuccessBLOCs within Totango, that'll help provide that visibility. So SuccessBLOCs are modular units of value and success to help you achieve your customer results faster. And as you can see here, it represents onboarding and adoption and renewals, but it also represents our programs and initiatives that are going to be the most relevant for the team that they're focused on, like expansions or stakeholder engagement and voice of the customer and NPS.
[00:06:09] And then Totango also provides insights into two key data points that managers care about. So what their CSMs are doing to drive the business forward and what risks and opportunities exist within the customer base that's going to impact customer lifetime value. So we already know in Totango that we're pulling in a lot of great information that'll give you your digital representation of the customer the way you need to understand your customer, and we're also capturing all of the important and meaningful engagement touchpoints within the platform. But we also have the team performance area, which will give you information about account coverage. So which accounts the CSMs are working on as well as not working on and the work focus area gives you a breakdown of where the CSMs have been focusing their time. And we can also see within the segments that we're creating, within the different views which will provide different insights like how we're progressing with the workflows that we've put in place, the work around those activities that we're doing, and what have been the most recent engagements and then leveraging the SuccessBLOC framework.
[00:07:17] So SuccessBLOC are designed to provide a goal-oriented experience so you can organize all of your goals, KPIs with the processes by which you will produce those goals, like our SuccessPlays and our campaigns. So you can think of this as a framework for your best practices and you can use that to drive your value-based results-oriented CS practices.
[00:07:39] So let's take a deeper dive into team performance. So some of the objectives here are going to be that we want to understand how the team is engaging with your clients. We're also gonna be looking for that tighter alignment and accountability for client success, and how do we optimize those best practices for the team based on those data-driven insights that we're getting? And on the right, you can see that our measurement system for this is going to be that the team is logging those meaningful engagements as touchpoints, and we want to make sure that we're completing those tasks that we're kicking off and all the processes that we're running. And then when we're creating those strategic account plans, we want to make sure that we're documenting them and they're targeting our clients' objectives and the recommended workflow here for having these one-on-ones.
[00:08:29] And I'm going to be breaking it down into what we can do to prepare for them prior to the sessions, as well as what we will be doing during the session. So prior to the one on ones, we can review the work focus area within Totango to see if they're focused on the right activities. So if the expectation is that they're working on adoption, and nurture activities, and renewals but we can see in the system that they're working on, let's say onboarding, then there may be a misalignment on priorities. And also review the team dashboards. We have the ability to filter on a snapshot of the individual CSM so you can take a look at the progress view to see how we're progressing along with the customers on the workflows that we've established, the timeline view for recent engagement activities, and the work view, which will give us a breakdown of what's been completed. What do we still have open that needs to be completed - and might be overdue - and then what may be coming up next that we need to work on?
[00:09:26] And then during the session, here's when we can go ahead and review together what's been going on. So we've got to make sure that you have a focused agenda that's aligned to your business objectives and then we can go ahead and review what's going well and what obstacles, if any, that the CSM might be facing within those programs and processes. And then go ahead and review those team dashboards together and dive into the accounts if you need to, if there's an issue, and then also take the time to strategize and even create the action plans right then and there and talk about if there are any risks and obstacles that might be in our way and if we may potentially need to engage another stakeholder or other stakeholders and then also identify if there are any additional opportunities. So let's hear from Kristin now to see how this all works for Sonar. But before we dive in, here's our next interactive poll.
Kristin Hallas [00:10:18] Thanks Ella. So do you have a project flow in place today? [Poll Options] "1. Absolutely. You couldn't live without them; 2.You're thinking about it but haven't ventured down that path yet; 3. No, I'm socially distancing, but I'm for sure ready now." So looks like we have a little bit of a mix. We the majority are working on it or thinking about it or doing it and some who are maybe ready now. So let me just kind of dive in here and talk about how this works today for us at Sonar.
[00:10:58] So as Ella just stated, I'm here to provide you a look on how we do it and how we're able to build better and stronger customer and manager-to-employee relationships. First, I want to give you just a little bit of a glimpse into Sonar. We're the leading SaaS automation software platform for internet service providers around the world. We have significantly grown our customer base over the last couple of years and tripled our remote workforce in order to keep up with customer demand. So that's great news, right? Well, with growth does come some growing pains. Before Totango, we had tried using tools such as Monday or Teamwork among other project management solutions to keep on top of our customer engagements. However, we struggled to see a customer at a glance view, have all of our communications in one place and understand our current employee workflows and bandwidth, along with successes in the areas where we needed to improve.
[00:12:00] So we turned to Totango to help us do all of these things. Over the next few minutes, I'm going to show you how we have effectively built out Totango to streamline communications between our remote workforce, manage our CS team's accountability and bandwidth, and build a robust framework to ensure ongoing, productive, and proactive customer and employee engagement.
[00:12:25] At Sonar, customer success means ensuring that our customers have achieved a desired outcome. We do this by creating a consistent customer journey in order to not only help them find their desired outcomes, but also so that our internal employees can do so. We have our customer project structured so that a customer might interact with a couple of different roles depending on their engagement type. We have one, our CSM - or our Customer Success Manager- and they're focused primarily on managing and building the relationship. And also an SE, or a Success Engineer, who is our for technical success lead.
[00:13:09] In order for us to create seamless engagements, it's important to ensure we use Totango as a way to better our internal communication. We do this in a number of ways. First, we use consistent touchpoints. So we have two types of calls, a PM or a project management call. And this is where the two roles can come together and ensure that they're on the same page for each customer engagement. They can discuss timelines, roadblocks, and next steps. We also have one-to-one manager and employee calls. These are a way for us to better coach or mentor each person within the CS organization on their own individual growth and goals. In a few minutes, I'm going to dive into how we use Totango to keep these calls strategic and ensure we're getting our best and our most desired outcome.
[00:14:02] The second thing we do is that it's very imperative to our process that our team is completing all touchpoints and tasks inside of Totango as they work throughout the customer engagement. This allows us to ensure that all parties that are involved in a project or anyone that comes on board are consistently up to speed, so we don't have to keep going back to a customer and asking the same questions again and again, potentially causing frustration. And then last but not least, our SuccessPlays are tied to one another to ensure that we're keeping that consistent journey for the customer. Therefore, it's important that the parties work together internally to help their work or SuccessPlays stay up to date so that no one falls behind on the next step in the process.
[00:14:52] So as you can see for us, it all starts with the roles and how we can keep everything in sync. As I walk through the process, you're going to see how this will lead to the use of lifecycles, SuccessBLOCs, and the segmentation engine to ensure that we're using our P.M. in one-to-one time efficiently and having more strategic conversations and spending less time producing notes, files, and reports to use for those discussions.
[00:15:18] Now that we've discussed a little bit about how our team is structured, let's dive in to see what and how these key pieces are used to help us drive better customer and employee engagement. Lifecycle. What are they or what do they do, you might say. Well, for us, they are the bolts that hold the wheels on so we can move down a straight path. Each of our customers has a journey stage. This helps us to identify where that customer is within their overall Sonar journey. From there, we use SuccessBLOC to help us parse out each of our individual engagement life cycles. Today we have two of those, onboarding and adoption, both lifecycles inside of our SuccessBLOCs.
[00:16:03] So starting with our onboarding, this allows us to keep track of where the onboarding project phase is currently for that customer. It allows us to start to discuss things like how long have they been in that lifecycle, why are they in a current life cycle, and what can we discuss to help them get to that next life cycle during those conversations? At the same time, it applies the exact same way to our adoption programs. Today we're focused on our aversion to software migration, which is moving our customers to our newest software platform. In order for us to give the best experience, we want to monitor how we're doing through these steps, and again, ensure that we have consistency through all of these engagements.
[00:16:51] So now, let's step right into those PM and one-to-one conversations. How do these key components I just discussed really work? Well, now that we've built up the plan and the structure, we use segments to visually help us prepare for these calls. What you can see here is a glimpse of our onboarding project segment. We can sort this by the entire team together to get an overall view, or we can easily dropdown and select just one individual. This helps us have one segment we can use for all one-to-one or PM calls and just drill down to what's needed. In this progress view, it allows us to group projects by the different lifecycle stages within onboarding, allowing us to discuss where are those projects in the lifecycle and how many days have they been there. If longer than the expected benchmark, why? And what can we do to push it along? We also use this view to understand an individual's current bandwidth and better plan for new incoming projects and how to better stagger them, allowing everyone a good mix of projects that are at the start, middle, and end. Next, we use the work tab view. In the PM calls, it still allows us to see what lifecycle the customer is in, but it also allows us to see what current task or SuccessPlays are open and who they're currently assigned to. If we find that there are no tabs currently open, it leads to questions like "Why?" and "What are we working on,". If a project is deemed open, there should always be a task. The great thing with this view is that you can take action right from the screen. So let's say I need to reach out for a follow up with a customer. In the past, maybe you wrote down in a notebook and you just hoped you would come back to that and look at it in time and not get lost, but now we can add that task right at the moment during our conversation and it's done. It's in my work tab and it won't get forgotten.
[00:18:56] We can also see the attributes on the right-hand side, such as the day a customer is expecting to go live within their summer instance. This allows us to discuss what needs to happen for us to hit goals without needing to search and find that date somewhere else or what are the next steps to get us there. For our one-to-one conversations, it allows us more coaching opportunities. Sometimes when a SuccessPlay gets completed and closed, the person thinks, "Man, I did the same task. I'm all good. I'm all done,". But now, through these coaching conversations, we can help change the mindset of what comes next after that play and what they should be doing. We can also see, maybe an individual is missing a lot of target dates or they're having a lot of success. So we can better and more quickly speak to these and encourage either actions to correct course or celebrate wins right on the spot. So as you can see here in this view for our adoption SuccessBLOC, it's just a different customer, a different engagement but the same consistent flow that we used for all PM and one-to-one calls. What this means is our conversations become much more strategic and less time spent preparing or reviewing facts, reports, emails in order to determine what we should be talking about, because all of the facts, the notes, everything's just right in front of us while we talk. This also helps us in the individual prep for these calls much quicker.
[00:20:34] So I want to take just a couple of quick seconds and go to our final poll of today. Are you tracking KPI metrics today? So, "Absolutely, you couldn't live without them," or "You're thinking about it, but you haven't ventured down that path yet," or "Nope, I'm social distancing. But I'm for sure ready now." Go ahead and put in your vote there. Great. Looks like most of you are doing KPIs and tracking that today. So that's great news. And some of you are almost ready.
[00:21:12] So what I'm going to talk about now is that I just walked you through how we use Totango to help us have more strategic conversations, but we need to figure out how do we know this is really working. And for us, this was another area where we needed a better solution for overall greater visibility. And also, if your employees see that everything is being tracked, reported, and used inside of this one tool for all their needs, then they understand the importance of their own use for Totango.
[00:21:43] So I'm going to quickly show you a couple of samples of the KPI scorecards that we have created. First, it's important to note that once it's created, you can easily just select all to see the results from the entire team, or I can select individuals and the metrics will change to just show me that person's individual KPIs.
[00:22:05] Their first sample is what stage of the project our customer is currently in. It allows me to quickly see that breakdown so that I can see where in the process each of our customers is at or the bulk of our customers are. The second is how long is that particular engagement taking? We can set expected benchmarks and it will visually show us if we're doing well or not. We can then break this down to an individual and we can see what areas we need to improve upon or where we're doing good. And then the final example is just setting goals. We can do this at a team level or at an individual level. And this view allows us to see what the goal is and then underneath, show the KPIs that goes with that goal. In this example, we can see the goal and how one individual is trending against it. It's a great way to ensure your employees are not only seeing the team's results but also seeing how they're performing. Again, all of these are just a few quick examples, but it's so easy for us to take quick and direct action. In summary, as you can see, we at Sonar had some hurdles to get over. We laid out what those hurdles were, we made a plan on where we wanted to be, and for us, Totango has helped us close that gap and create more productive conversations.
Ella Eng [00:23:36] Thanks, Kristin. Let's wrap this up with our key takeaways for having manager-to-employee relationship success.
[00:23:44] So be sure to set an example and hold your team accountable and engaged. If you're using Totango to track and measure results, they will be using Totango to achieve those results, thereby providing more data within the system to draw insights from.
Kristin Hallas [00:24:01] Right. And as you saw, Totango has really been the tool for us. It's helped us drive more strategic planning and better execution, which ultimately has led to better and more meaningful conversations. It leads to a happier employee, which then gets us greater production, and ultimately, that gets us greater engagements for more customer and overall company success. Thank you for your time today.
Ella Eng [00:24:32] So we'd love to open this up for questions, so please provide your questions in the Q&A. But before we get there, did you know that we're now offering all of the core functionality of our customer success platform for free for three users or less. Go to www.Totango.com/signup to get started. It takes fifteen minutes.
[00:24:57] All right. So let's take a look and see what questions we have. We're just right up on time, but I think we probably have time for one question. So let me take a look. So we have, let's see, "What's the right level of content the team should be including in their customer engagement touchpoints?". Kristin, would you like to take this first, and then maybe I can speak afterward?
Kristin Hallas [00:25:19] Sure. I think for us, we think about when it comes to touchpoints, what is it that the next person should know? So if you were to think to yourself, "Why do I want to know and who I want to know it about within that customer," then that's probably something that should go inside of your touchpoint. You typically tell the team putting in, "Hey, thank you for sending me that response," or, you know, one-off conversations are not usually important to the touchpoint. It's those elements that are going to help drive that next conversation.
Ella Eng [00:25:57] Thanks, Kristin. And I would only add to that we should be including enough information that's going to be meaningful for anyone reading up on it. Right. So if you're taking a look at the timeline, let's say an executive wanted to understand or one of the sales team wants to understand what's been happening, we want to put a good summary level information that's going to be meaningful to them. We don't want full dialog on it, of course, and we don't want to say, hey, we just had a meeting with so-and-so, right? We want to make sure that there's enough valuable information that's going to be meaningful to give us good insights into the conversations that we've been having. So with that, I think we're right up on time. So thanks again for joining. We hope that this webinar was very informative for you. Please be on the lookout for a survey where you can provide feedback or other topics of interest that you'd like us to host any webinars on. And we will go ahead and share this recording within 24 hours.
[00:26:56] Thanks again, Kristin, for joining us. And thanks again for everyone attending today's webinar. See you all next time.