How Vonage's customer success team is increasing efficiency with Calendly automations
READ TIME: 6 MINUTES
Vonage, March 30, 2022
By adopting Calendly, Vonage’s UK/EMEA Customer Success team saves 85 hours per month. They use that newly found time for meeting prep, follow-up, and closing more tickets.
"Having better conversations is the biggest benefit of using Calendly. We've had time to prepare, and we're asking more interesting questions. It's just a much better experience.”
- Chris Williams, Vonage
Suddenly scaling customer success
Chris Williams knew two things about his Customer Success team at Vonage: they cared deeply about their customers, and they needed a more strategic approach to scheduling.
The CSMs had always been busy, but when the pandemic ended their long onsite visits, they were flooded with requests for "quick calls."
"We were suddenly talking to four or five different customers a day, instead of just one," says Chris.
As Vonage’s Head of Customer Success UK and EMEA, he had his eye on the rising tide of requests. With 7 CSMs and clients spread across 11 time zones, it was taking days of emailing back and forth to get all their meetings booked.
Chris realized many of his CSMs were trying to help by filling their diaries with back-to-back meetings. They also would take new meetings same-day, with no time to prepare.
But he knew those tactics would backfire.
"As a CSM, you try to help as soon as possible, but getting overbooked actually makes it harder to have an effective meeting," he says.
Chris knew if he could help his team stop overbooking, it would pay off for them and their customers.
So, he introduced focus time, mandatory hours in the week that every team member had to block off with no meetings allowed. This added time for training and development, as well as time before and after each meeting for preparation and follow up.
The CSMs were keen on the concept, but they didn’t know how to make the shift. "They were still dealing with the pressure to overbook," Chris says.
To make the change happen, he needed to set the team up with intelligent scheduling automation that would:
Stop CSMs from overbooking their schedules.
Prevent meetings getting booked with zero notice.
Eliminate wasteful back-and-forth communication.
Establish productive meeting practices.
Because he had met this challenge already in his own CSM work, Chris knew that Calendly was the perfect fit.
He says, "Some other teams at Vonage were using Calendly already, so I reached out and got licenses set up. Then I started a program to get my team using it."
Empowering automations unleash capacity
The first thing Chris taught his team to do with Calendly was set their availability for meetings using scheduling conditions.
Use rules to set a range of dates when you can accept meetings, and to set the minimum amount of notices required.
"We need preparation time," Chris says. "With Calendly, my team sets 1-2 days of mandatory delay."
The setting means that customers don’t get offered a slot with just a couple of hours’ notice, and CSMs always have a chance to prepare.
"Because it’s automated, it takes all the pressure off the rep to book it sooner," he explains.
Buffer times conquer back-to-back chaos
The next practice Chris set up for his team was using Calendly’s Buffers.
Instead of allowing customers to choose back-to-back meeting times, Buffers automatically block off additional time before and after the meeting.
Chris explains, "Buffers allow you that last-minute preparation time before you go in, and time for your after-call work when it’s done."
More productive meetings
Calendly’s scheduling automations instantly broke the team’s habit of overbooking.
Now, they’re making a bigger impact for their customers.
"Having better conversations is the biggest benefit of using Calendly. We've had time to prepare, and we're asking more interesting questions," Chris says.
"The customers are even supplying a meeting agenda in the booking process. It's just a much better experience."
Not having to agonize over scheduling decisions has been an enormous relief for Chris’s team.
"You don't have that pressure of thinking, shall I give up my personal time to put these meetings in? Calendly handles that for you," he says.
Even better, the CSMs never again have to face the days-long struggle of negotiating times over email.
"The pain is gone. Customers go into your diary, choose a date that works for them and for you, and it’s instantly done," Chris says.
"Customers love it because they don't have to do that multiple email thing as well. It was quite an easy win, really."
Perfecting the process
The CSM team’s entire Calendly program is all about serving customers better.
Chris says, "My CSMs are very passionate about their job. They want the customer to feel like their rep is actually part of their business, like a trusted advisor."
On top of fixing their scheduling habits so they can show up more prepared and productive in meetings, the team has also designed the customer’s booking experience to be smooth and satisfying.
One effective technique: creating standard meeting types the client can book from a corresponding link.
"We offer a 15-minute quick call, a 30-minute meeting for a configuration or a product update, and a 60-minute meeting, which is our main service review. We also do a 90-minute business review," Chris explains.
The meeting-type links let Vonage share relevant schedules anywhere.
Meeting types also help the customer get what they want, when they want it, with absolute ease.
With the Chrome Extension, CSMs can add bookable availability for a certain meeting type right into an email message.
More productive meetings
In their first six months with Calendly, the Vonage Customer Success team completed 400 meetings.
Now that they’re optimizing the process, they’re projecting an increase in availability equivalent to 1,260 meetings in the next six months. That’s a stunning 216% increase.
Some of that growth is because the team is saving 85 hours per month by not playing email tag to chase down meeting times.
But the time savings is only the tip of the iceberg.
The focus time that Calendly has enshrined adds up to a whopping 105 hours per month, and it’s changed everything.
"The time to book meetings is non-existent now," Chris says. "But the biggest benefit for our customers is having the CSMs be more prepared, more ready to give answers there and then."
Seeing how much Calendly’s automations impacted the team’s volume and quality of service, Chris has plans to leverage them even further.
He says, "I’ll be working out the key touch points of customer risk and opportunity, and ensuring that the Calendly link is there when they need it."
Workflows with other tools will monitor things like net promoter scores and negative feedback. When customers have a bad experience and leave feedback, they’ll be sent a Calendly link to book a meeting with a helpful CSM.
"This is the way forward," Chris says. "Every customer will have a smooth experience. Any automation we can do to make our customer’s life better is our new standard."
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