How We Used Lead Routing To Reactivate $500K In ARR

Marie Lunney
October 31, 2022
min to read

How We Used Lead Routing To Reactivate $500K In ARR

Marie Lunney
October 31, 2022
min to read

Here's how customer outreach used to play out for our SMB customers...

It didn't.

The customer would reach out to us if they were having a problem. 

And if the customer didn't reach out?

Well, we wouldn't find out about it until it came time for renewal — and by then, we were already too late.

As Chili Piper's Director of Digital Customer Success, I relish any opportunity to geek out on a problem statement and find a scalable solution. 

So that's exactly what I did.

Digital Customer Success  

A huge topic right now is scaled CS, or what I like to call “Digital Customer Success.”

Scaled CS… tech touch… 1-to-many…low touch CS…pooled CS… Those are the buzzwords floating around CS circles right now. 

But in essence, they’re all describing the same problems: 

  • How do you maximize efficiency without sacrificing the customer experience?
  • What programs and services can you automate to create the best customer journey?
  • How do you minimize menial tasks from expensive labor, like support reps and customer success managers, while maximizing their time on the things that demand a human approach? 

Incidentally, these are also questions I’m tasked with asking and solving for at Chili Piper. 

Our small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers make up 33% of our logos and 13% of our ARR. We needed to figure out how to give our SMB customers the same quality of service that we give our Mid-Market and Enterprise customers — without taxing expensive resources.

So, I detailed a series of questions we needed to solve:

  1. How do we prescribe actions to resolve risk proactively?
  2. How do we remove friction points for the SMB CSMs? 
  3. Which tools do we use for execution?
  4. How do we alert CSMs to a potential problem before customers even notice?

As we set out to answer these questions, we went through a few iterations of solutions until we finally landed on one. 

Luckily for us, the absolute best solution is one where we get to drink our own champagne. 🥂 

1. Creating a proactive approach

Something I often see companies do is solve problems by segment. But that’s a mistake. Digital Customer Success can benefit all segments and shouldn’t be siloed. 

It’s not about taking things away to create a customer journey for lower segments but rather starting with a baseline and providing add-ons for higher segments. 

We started by answering “How do we prescribe actions to take to resolve risk proactively?”

We built playbooks in our customer success platform (CSP), Planhat. The playbooks’ steps varied slightly depending on what risk we were trying to mitigate, but we wanted to make sure we were being proactive for all our customers.   

Our CS playbook is broken down by company size:

Our playbook for Mid-Market and Enterprise

If it’s a Mid-Market or Enterprise company, the CSM will receive an alert that triggers a playbook that they follow for outreach. 

Here’s a scenario:

Let’s imagine you’re a Chili Piper customer... You’ve purchased Concierge, but you’re not using it. 

Either the number of meetings booked through Concierge has been declining, or your usage has even dropped to zero.

That's a huge red flag. 🚩

We send that customer directly to their dedicated CSM to do outreach, and, hopefully, stop them from churning. To date, we’ve reactivated $500,000+ ARR since launching this flow.

Easy peasy. 

2. Removing friction points for SMB outreach

Back to our challenge: How could we proactively reach out to high-risk customers in SMB accounts that didn't have a dedicated CSM?

We knew we couldn't just wait for them to reach out to us. Lee Resource shows that for every customer that reaches out, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. And according to Zendesk, 80% of those customers will churn.

And we definitely didn't want to do it manually.

We needed to make sure that we were alerted to the risk and taking action before renewal came, and the customer told us, “We haven't been using Concierge for months now.”

So we thought, how do we apply this same proactive approach to our SMB customers? 

Take 1: Pickle 🥒

Before Distro was available, we were looking for a way to reduce friction for our CSMs. The approach we went with at the time was a Slack integration called Pickle. 

How it worked:

  • We'd get the data from our data source
  • Planhat would recognize, okay, SMB… customer… not booking meetings... 
  • Planhat would send a webhook to Pickle and apply a playbook
  • Pickle would post in a Slack group with all the SMB-CSMs, and say, “Hey, you're up for this company” or, “Richard, you're up for that company.”

The challenges:

  • There was a disconnect between systems — we could send info out from Planhat but couldn’t close the circle to send the assigned owner back to Planhat.
  • Reporting was messy — no one knew who was owning which account and we couldn’t track completion rates.
  • Recently onboarded customers were getting messages about their low usage — people shouldn’t be getting a “we’ve seen a decline in your usage” email if they haven’t even gotten started.
  • Accounts would get double-routed — accounts were being routed to the wrong SMB-CSM resulting in two people doing outreach about two different things. It created a really poor customer experience and contradicted our efficiency goals.
  • SMBs doing trainings and launching themselves — we didn't have any indicators of: Were they actually launching? Are they finished onboarding? We also found that they would tweak routing rules which ruined their setup. Next thing you know they're reaching out to support, which is taxing our services — and we want to avoid that situation.

 It was better than what we had before, but not great.

3. Drinking our own champagne 🥂

Take 2: Distro 🕺

We started rolling out iterations of Distro over the last couple of months, and have kept building and improving on the foundation. 

Our second iteration recently went live, and we have it triggered for: 

  1. Inactive Concierge
  2. The main point of contact has left (triggered by Clearbit data)
  3. Weekly active users is zero (if we don't see anyone using Chili Piper for a week) 

Each of these is a risk and prompts us to reach out to that customer. 

With Distro, the flow looks a little something like this: We get the data — data from the product is sent to Snowflake, then we push it into Salesforce, and that syncs over to Planhat. 

So Planhat ultimately gets this data:

✅ Customer has purchased Concierge. 

✅ They've been out of onboarding for at least 14 days.

✅ Concierge meetings booked in the last 28 days equals zero.

Then we have automation in Planhat that checks off a box that says, “there's risk present.” That field then syncs back to Salesforce, which is the trigger for Distro to distribute between the SMB team. 

So that distribution is defining the temporary SMB owner. It stamps whichever rep that is, and then that field is synced back to Planhat — a playbook is already applied and waiting for that CSM to go in and start taking action on this risk.

"It’s more time-efficient and easier for visibility. Instead of searching for accounts to work on, figuring out what could be wrong, applying the correct playbook, and then finally do the work, now account appears on your dashboard with playbook, and the only thing that needs to be done is the actual work (outreach, account review, etc)."
Richard Zatko, SMB Team Lead

 An added bonus of using Distro was incorporating regional distribution. So okay, there's an account at risk in Australia — send it to our Australian rep. There's an account at risk from the East Coast — send it to our East Coast rep.

Without regional distribution, the communication is going to be really wonky, and you further risk that customer churning.

Ensuring activation

The other thing we resolved was validating activation after onboarding an SMB customer.

Once an SMB customer moves from the Onboard to Adopt phase, the account owner is assigned as Digital CSM, and our customer is instructed to use our in-app “schedule a call” for any questions moving forward — our pooled approach. 

The original onboarding CSM is assigned as the temporary SMB owner for 14 days so that if there are any support questions, technical questions, or configuration questions, we're training the customer to request help through that pooled approach.

But at the same time, we're improving the customer experience, and the time to value by keeping who it's routed to as that temporary SMB owner who was originally the onboarding owner. They know the setup, they know the use case, and they can resolve issues a lot quicker.

But that’s not all — the original CSM is also assigned a playbook to confirm the customer activates during that 14 days and will proactively reach out if they see any delays.

4. Looking ahead 

Implementing Distro for CS is an ongoing process. While we’ve gotten to a place we feel good about, we definitely have goals to expand upon it. 

We want to implement Distro for more inactive products like Handoff and Distro (talk about meta), but we also want to move towards being even more proactive. 

Instead of triggering a risk once they've been at zero for twenty-eight days, we want to trigger a risk if we've seen a percentage decline relative to their average.

"I had some cases where I outreached to an account about inactive Concierge, and because they weren’t tracking it, they didn’t know. Thanks to Distro we were able to see it, get notified and solve the issue before it could become a problem for the customer."
Richard Zatko, SMB Team Lead

 I plan to take it a few steps further. In addition to conducting proactive outreach on at-risk accounts, we’ll have automated emails that go out before involving the CSM. 

Instead, we’ll notify the point of contact and provide them with detailed instructions to troubleshoot and resolve the issue themselves (with a link to their CSM’s Chili Piper booking link if they need further assistance).  

Beyond that, nurture campaigns will guide customers through their journey to drive the adoption of key features that support their use case, and help them achieve their goals.

Most companies are still working from the old CS playbook — it’s all very reactive. They wait for the customer to reach out versus taking a proactive and data-oriented approach to solve their problem before it even becomes a problem

But if we're doing outreach at the point of obvious risk, we’re already too late.

Here's how customer outreach used to play out for our SMB customers...

It didn't.

The customer would reach out to us if they were having a problem. 

And if the customer didn't reach out?

Well, we wouldn't find out about it until it came time for renewal — and by then, we were already too late.

As Chili Piper's Director of Digital Customer Success, I relish any opportunity to geek out on a problem statement and find a scalable solution. 

So that's exactly what I did.

Digital Customer Success  

A huge topic right now is scaled CS, or what I like to call “Digital Customer Success.”

Scaled CS… tech touch… 1-to-many…low touch CS…pooled CS… Those are the buzzwords floating around CS circles right now. 

But in essence, they’re all describing the same problems: 

  • How do you maximize efficiency without sacrificing the customer experience?
  • What programs and services can you automate to create the best customer journey?
  • How do you minimize menial tasks from expensive labor, like support reps and customer success managers, while maximizing their time on the things that demand a human approach? 

Incidentally, these are also questions I’m tasked with asking and solving for at Chili Piper. 

Our small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers make up 33% of our logos and 13% of our ARR. We needed to figure out how to give our SMB customers the same quality of service that we give our Mid-Market and Enterprise customers — without taxing expensive resources.

So, I detailed a series of questions we needed to solve:

  1. How do we prescribe actions to resolve risk proactively?
  2. How do we remove friction points for the SMB CSMs? 
  3. Which tools do we use for execution?
  4. How do we alert CSMs to a potential problem before customers even notice?

As we set out to answer these questions, we went through a few iterations of solutions until we finally landed on one. 

Luckily for us, the absolute best solution is one where we get to drink our own champagne. 🥂 

1. Creating a proactive approach

Something I often see companies do is solve problems by segment. But that’s a mistake. Digital Customer Success can benefit all segments and shouldn’t be siloed. 

It’s not about taking things away to create a customer journey for lower segments but rather starting with a baseline and providing add-ons for higher segments. 

We started by answering “How do we prescribe actions to take to resolve risk proactively?”

We built playbooks in our customer success platform (CSP), Planhat. The playbooks’ steps varied slightly depending on what risk we were trying to mitigate, but we wanted to make sure we were being proactive for all our customers.   

Our CS playbook is broken down by company size:

Our playbook for Mid-Market and Enterprise

If it’s a Mid-Market or Enterprise company, the CSM will receive an alert that triggers a playbook that they follow for outreach. 

Here’s a scenario:

Let’s imagine you’re a Chili Piper customer... You’ve purchased Concierge, but you’re not using it. 

Either the number of meetings booked through Concierge has been declining, or your usage has even dropped to zero.

That's a huge red flag. 🚩

We send that customer directly to their dedicated CSM to do outreach, and, hopefully, stop them from churning. To date, we’ve reactivated $500,000+ ARR since launching this flow.

Easy peasy. 

2. Removing friction points for SMB outreach

Back to our challenge: How could we proactively reach out to high-risk customers in SMB accounts that didn't have a dedicated CSM?

We knew we couldn't just wait for them to reach out to us. Lee Resource shows that for every customer that reaches out, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. And according to Zendesk, 80% of those customers will churn.

And we definitely didn't want to do it manually.

We needed to make sure that we were alerted to the risk and taking action before renewal came, and the customer told us, “We haven't been using Concierge for months now.”

So we thought, how do we apply this same proactive approach to our SMB customers? 

Take 1: Pickle 🥒

Before Distro was available, we were looking for a way to reduce friction for our CSMs. The approach we went with at the time was a Slack integration called Pickle. 

How it worked:

  • We'd get the data from our data source
  • Planhat would recognize, okay, SMB… customer… not booking meetings... 
  • Planhat would send a webhook to Pickle and apply a playbook
  • Pickle would post in a Slack group with all the SMB-CSMs, and say, “Hey, you're up for this company” or, “Richard, you're up for that company.”

The challenges:

  • There was a disconnect between systems — we could send info out from Planhat but couldn’t close the circle to send the assigned owner back to Planhat.
  • Reporting was messy — no one knew who was owning which account and we couldn’t track completion rates.
  • Recently onboarded customers were getting messages about their low usage — people shouldn’t be getting a “we’ve seen a decline in your usage” email if they haven’t even gotten started.
  • Accounts would get double-routed — accounts were being routed to the wrong SMB-CSM resulting in two people doing outreach about two different things. It created a really poor customer experience and contradicted our efficiency goals.
  • SMBs doing trainings and launching themselves — we didn't have any indicators of: Were they actually launching? Are they finished onboarding? We also found that they would tweak routing rules which ruined their setup. Next thing you know they're reaching out to support, which is taxing our services — and we want to avoid that situation.

 It was better than what we had before, but not great.

3. Drinking our own champagne 🥂

Take 2: Distro 🕺

We started rolling out iterations of Distro over the last couple of months, and have kept building and improving on the foundation. 

Our second iteration recently went live, and we have it triggered for: 

  1. Inactive Concierge
  2. The main point of contact has left (triggered by Clearbit data)
  3. Weekly active users is zero (if we don't see anyone using Chili Piper for a week) 

Each of these is a risk and prompts us to reach out to that customer. 

With Distro, the flow looks a little something like this: We get the data — data from the product is sent to Snowflake, then we push it into Salesforce, and that syncs over to Planhat. 

So Planhat ultimately gets this data:

✅ Customer has purchased Concierge. 

✅ They've been out of onboarding for at least 14 days.

✅ Concierge meetings booked in the last 28 days equals zero.

Then we have automation in Planhat that checks off a box that says, “there's risk present.” That field then syncs back to Salesforce, which is the trigger for Distro to distribute between the SMB team. 

So that distribution is defining the temporary SMB owner. It stamps whichever rep that is, and then that field is synced back to Planhat — a playbook is already applied and waiting for that CSM to go in and start taking action on this risk.

"It’s more time-efficient and easier for visibility. Instead of searching for accounts to work on, figuring out what could be wrong, applying the correct playbook, and then finally do the work, now account appears on your dashboard with playbook, and the only thing that needs to be done is the actual work (outreach, account review, etc)."
Richard Zatko, SMB Team Lead

 An added bonus of using Distro was incorporating regional distribution. So okay, there's an account at risk in Australia — send it to our Australian rep. There's an account at risk from the East Coast — send it to our East Coast rep.

Without regional distribution, the communication is going to be really wonky, and you further risk that customer churning.

Ensuring activation

The other thing we resolved was validating activation after onboarding an SMB customer.

Once an SMB customer moves from the Onboard to Adopt phase, the account owner is assigned as Digital CSM, and our customer is instructed to use our in-app “schedule a call” for any questions moving forward — our pooled approach. 

The original onboarding CSM is assigned as the temporary SMB owner for 14 days so that if there are any support questions, technical questions, or configuration questions, we're training the customer to request help through that pooled approach.

But at the same time, we're improving the customer experience, and the time to value by keeping who it's routed to as that temporary SMB owner who was originally the onboarding owner. They know the setup, they know the use case, and they can resolve issues a lot quicker.

But that’s not all — the original CSM is also assigned a playbook to confirm the customer activates during that 14 days and will proactively reach out if they see any delays.

4. Looking ahead 

Implementing Distro for CS is an ongoing process. While we’ve gotten to a place we feel good about, we definitely have goals to expand upon it. 

We want to implement Distro for more inactive products like Handoff and Distro (talk about meta), but we also want to move towards being even more proactive. 

Instead of triggering a risk once they've been at zero for twenty-eight days, we want to trigger a risk if we've seen a percentage decline relative to their average.

"I had some cases where I outreached to an account about inactive Concierge, and because they weren’t tracking it, they didn’t know. Thanks to Distro we were able to see it, get notified and solve the issue before it could become a problem for the customer."
Richard Zatko, SMB Team Lead

 I plan to take it a few steps further. In addition to conducting proactive outreach on at-risk accounts, we’ll have automated emails that go out before involving the CSM. 

Instead, we’ll notify the point of contact and provide them with detailed instructions to troubleshoot and resolve the issue themselves (with a link to their CSM’s Chili Piper booking link if they need further assistance).  

Beyond that, nurture campaigns will guide customers through their journey to drive the adoption of key features that support their use case, and help them achieve their goals.

Most companies are still working from the old CS playbook — it’s all very reactive. They wait for the customer to reach out versus taking a proactive and data-oriented approach to solve their problem before it even becomes a problem

But if we're doing outreach at the point of obvious risk, we’re already too late.

Marie Lunney

Marie Lunney is the Director of Digital Customer Success at Chili Piper. She's grown her career successfully doing nearly every part of GTM and CS in B2B SaaS. She is passionate about creating exceptional customer journeys through efficient and innovative operations. You can find this American ex-pat living in Amsterdam, often with rainbow-colored hair, thriving at rock concerts, or exploring a market. Connect with Marie on LinkedIn!

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