When stores shut their doors, there’s still online shopping. The COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer behavior overnight, while every brand and retailer scrambled to expand their ecommerce presence. Many of these companies turned to Skai. Founded in 2006, Skai is an omnichannel marketing and consumer intelligence platform that helps brands grow and agencies scale. Their clients range from consumer brands like L’Oreal, Philips & Kimberly-Clark to retailers, tech companies, airlines and credit card providers who use Skai to activate advertising on publishers like Amazon, Walmart, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Data and technology are at the heart of Skai’s offerings, but their client service sets them apart. Client success teams help customers make the most of the Skai platform, serving as the first touchpoint for questions and the quarterbacks for special projects and strategy discussions. Kevin Weiss is VP of Client Success for Skai’s retail media business unit, and he and his team were in the eye of the storm when the pandemic hit—just two weeks after Kevin took his role.
In the new ecommerce-dominated environment, Skai retail media quickly realized triple-digit growth, and there was a lot of pressure on Kevin’s team to keep up. They were inundated with new clients and requests from existing ones. As if that weren’t enough change, the entire company began working remotely.
Previously, Kevin’s team had been collaborating and managing accounts with spreadsheets, emails, chat, and meetings. But their old system soon became a bottleneck:
Kevin’s team needed a new virtual and visual way to work with clients and collaborate cross-functionally from anywhere, at any time.
Time was of the essence, so Kevin looked for a solution with a low barrier to entry that would let his client success managers get up and running quickly. They needed a central place to manage accounts, while Kevin needed a central place to manage his now-remote team.
They searched for something flexible that could be customized to their unique workflows and integrate with the tools they were already using. It needed basic collaboration functionality, such as a way to assign tasks to owners, subtasks to break work into smaller chunks, and commenting features so that people could discuss a project in one spot.
They eventually chose Asana, which a handful of other teams at Skai were already using. It integrated with their everyday tools, like Zendesk, Slack, and Zoom, and had an API to build other integrations. Kevin could use its reporting capabilities for a bird’s eye view, and he liked the ability to add tasks to multiple projects. This would let teammates take a task from a client’s Asana project and drop it in a meeting agenda for discussion.
“Asana had the most flexibility to work between the different systems we use, and to cross all the teams we interface with.”
—Kevin Weiss, VP of Client Success, Retail Media
Because Kevin was new in his role, he was careful not to make assumptions about how the team operated as he rolled out Asana. He observed how everyone worked and had one-on-one conversations to understand their processes and spot inefficiencies.
He invited his team to co-create a way to manage clients in Asana, letting them participate in decisions. “People approach change differently,” Kevin says, “So you've got to calibrate for the individual and understand how a new platform is going to be received.”
They improved on their Asana setup over time to establish a core process. “We’ve had different iterations, and that’s something folks need to embrace when they're adopting a tool: it’s not a ‘one and done’ sort of thing. Own it, evolve it, iterate. But standardization has helped unify us and bring us closer to a routine with core processes,” Kevin says.
“Asana has a very fast learning curve. There’s no barrier to entry for people to start taking advantage of it.”
Today, Skai’s retail media client success team uses Asana to manage client relationships, while Kevin gets a high-level view of business health and his team’s ongoing projects.
A central source of truth: Client management
Each client has a dedicated Asana project with all information and action items in one place. It’s based on a project template so that each client is managed in the same way.
The project is in list view, with sections for key areas, such as:
These client projects are a central source of truth accessible to anyone who needs the information, including cross-functional teammates.
The Asana app for Zoom makes sure a client’s relationship history is neatly recorded. Kevin says, “The Zoom integration automatically adds transcripts into Asana after a call, so if an account manager needs to pinpoint something, they can go back and see the conversation. Having that record of what was discussed is so helpful.”
When a client files a support ticket in Zendesk, it shows up in the Asana project as well. “My team is client success, but there are support teams as well, and it’s helpful for us to be in sync so we can resolve tickets faster. In a recent call, a client mentioned a ticket they raised. With the Zendesk integration, I could see the ticket in their Asana project and solved the issue right then and there. It makes my team, and Skai as a service-focused company, look really good when we can do that.”
Kevin’s team can also stay up to date with the Asana for Slack integration. For clients that have internal Slack channels, account managers can share updates from the Asana project to the channel automatically to keep everyone informed.
“We want to go deep with our clients while maintaining a unified, consistent approach. Asana helps us do that. We connect it to Zendesk, Zoom, Slack, and our own platform, making Asana the source of truth we can count on to get stuff done and bring us together across teams.”
High-level views for leadership: Account Client Health Status project
Kevin uses high-level Asana projects to see the health of all accounts across three books of business: West, Central, and East. Kevin regularly reviews them with the three Client Success Directors that own them, as well as with sales counterparts, so they can spot issues, manage renewals, and prioritize feature requests.
In these projects, each client is represented as a task with custom fields to monitor key information, including:
This was previously managed in a spreadsheet that frequently became outdated, so they now save time with everything in one place. Kevin gets an overview and can drill down for more context when needed.
“Asana empowers my team to self-manage efficiently. When I need context about how a client is doing, I don’t need to ask for a write-up. I can find what I need in real time, without having to be on every call.”
Efficient team management: One-on-one meeting agendas
Kevin uses one-on-one meetings to stay close to his now-remote team. He has an Asana project for each of his direct reports, and if questions come up during the week, they add it to the upcoming one-on-one agenda. That way, a sizzling issue doesn’t need to sit on a teammate’s mind, and Kevin can prepare for the meeting in advance. As a bonus, there are fewer non-urgent questions in Slack and email.
Teammates can add tasks to multiple projects, taking a task from a client’s project and putting it into the one-on-one agenda, so there’s context without duplicate work. “We don’t need to spend all our one-on-one time talking about projects, which gives us more opportunities for personal and professional development,” Kevin says.
Kevin wasn’t the only leader looking for a better way to connect with his newly remote team. The Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams Survey reports that companies’ increased usage of collaboration tools in the wake of the pandemic coincided with an increasing level of support from their managers. 79% of US knowledge workers surveyed said their manager was more supportive than before in managing and communicating work goals.
Kevin’s team can now manage three times more clients per rep than other success teams can, with the same amount of resources, thanks to increased operating efficiencies. Everyone saves time looking for information that was previously spread across teams and tools now that their systems are connected and information is consolidated.
Because they have more capacity, the team can help more companies position themselves for the future of ecommerce. Skai continues to release products to help businesses go to market, such as the recent launch of Ask MI, a market intelligence solution that uses machine learning to analyze external data. It gives quick answers to questions that typically would be sent to a data science team—about consumers, competitors, and how a brand’s perception has changed over time.
As Skai invents new technologies, client success makes sure that customers get every drop of value—as a unified team calling in from different corners of the world.
“Triple-digit growth is a lot for any organization, but for one of our size, with 15 years of history, it’s very rapid. With Asana, our client success team can take on three times the number of clients per rep compared to the other business units.”
Using Asana wall-to-wall has been crucial in helping Hack Reactor scale. As Hack Reactor CEO Tony Phillips puts it, ”We’ve cut our operations costs in half because we’re able to execute more efficiently with the processes we’ve set up in Asana.“ And as costs go down, the quality class experience—and the post graduation experience— goes up. Graduates from Hack Reactor are hired at a 98% rate.