How Kentik Achieved 100% CS Platform Adoption

Cory Crabtree
Strategic Customer Success Manager

Interview Highlights:

  • Before rolling out a tool, consider how it will improve the way Customer Success Managers (CSMs) interact with customers.
  • Less can be more in CS. Overcomplicating data and providing too many metrics can have a negative effect on tool usage. 
  • If your tool is always getting in the way, it’s time to reevaluate your choice.

My name is Cory Crabtree. I’m the Customer Success Manager for strategic accounts at Kentik, the network observability company. My role involves working with some of our biggest accounts, and each one requires a unique type of customer care. I ensure our customers understand the Kentik product and the value it brings to their organization as well as provide any training or support needed. 

I’m also a “tools guy,” especially when it comes to CS data. I enjoy finding and making data presentable to the CS team so they can quickly use it for customer engagement and upsell opportunities. This is important because if a CS team is to effectively use a customer success platform (CSP), the data produced must be usable, trustable and easy to read. If the tool is too complicated, people simply won't use it. And if they don't use the CSP, then it won’t last in the organization.

How does Kentik define “100% adoption”? 

We consider a tool “adopted” when our CSMs not only use it each time they communicate with a customer, but they also simultaneously use it to take notes, create tasks and update records.

Additionally, we are constantly verifying customer-specific KPIs. Having access to usable data helps our team take a more prescriptive approach. Our team can see if an account has potential growth opportunities or if user behavior has changed. It also helps them capture the customer’s sentiment to better understand the elusive change in customer attitude which, if ignored, can lead to churn. 

The Kentik CSM’s job is to partner with the customer but also to “read between the lines”' as to what the customer may be feeling or thinking based on captured and properly curated feedback. This is what we do every day. That is 100% adoption.

How did you achieve 100% daily usage on your CSP?

We used three strategies to achieve 100% daily usage.

First, we standardized and documented repeated behaviors such as ad hoc calls, troubleshooting calls, customer onboarding, and regular cadence calls with the use of templates. Using templates means CSMs have a focused, preformatted agenda whenever they engage a customer. This allows the CSM to manage many different customers with many different needs without having to remember important details of each. Accelerating the effective transition from one kind of a call to another without the mental overhead liberates the CSM to be less scripted and more personal with every customer. 

The second thing we did was build modularized data that our team can use to tell the customer story. Our CSP (Catalyst) ingests a lot of data points from several large data warehouses, so we started filtering it and breaking it out into segments. “Dashboarding” those segments then helped our CSMs visualize the information in a single view such as when the customer’s renewal is due or how many licenses they are using. There is nothing worse on a customer call when a tool does not deliver needed information. These dashboards afford us unencumbered, highly targeted customer engagement. 

The third strategy was to incentivize our CSMs to become better at using the tool. We offered a reward contest to whoever could build the best segmented data that could then be standardized across all customers. Team participation was high and encouraged CSMs to look differently at how the data can help them better understand the customer.

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What effect has achieving 100% usage had on operations?

Being able to access data from many sources helps us see things that were not previously possible. 

The CSM can see actions that the customer repeats and then create automations around that. Or, they can see when the customer behaves in a new way or asks a new question. That typically means the customer is exploring a new direction. We can now automate that movement with emails, tasks, and notifications. 

The tool also encourages human interaction. It notifies us when it’s time to check on how the customer is doing. Being able to see those data points and automate them into meaningful engagement was something we hadn't previously done and is now driving our customer engagement to the next level.

What factors contribute to low CSP usage?

Oftentimes less is more when using a CSP effectively. It may seem great to have a platform that does everything, but overcomplicating things can have a negative effect. Displaying too many metrics on one screen, a dashboard with unimportant or inconsistent data, a font size too small, or lack of white space are all factors that lead to low CSP usage - precisely what we try to avoid.  

And we know this first hand because these were some of these obstacles we encountered when using a previous product. The data wasn't as readable or as interactive as it needed to be. Team usage was low, yet administrative overhead was high, leading to an all-around frustrating experience. And if a team is frustrated with a tool, then naturally they will not fully adopt it. Ultimately, that tool was replaced. 

Do you have any final comments for people trying to increase adoption of a CSP?

I like to take a simplified approach. Some of the biggest problems customer success teams face are found in the basics with the proper use and presentation of data. Not through deep, complex analysis. If you find yourself tripping over the tool while trying to grow your customer engagement then it’s time to reevaluate your choice in a CSP. 


Kentik is the network observability company. Our platform is a must-have for the network front line, whether digital business, corporate IT, or service provider. Network professionals turn to the Kentik Network Observability Cloud to plan, run, and fix any network, relying on our infinite granularity, AI-driven insights, and insanely fast search. Networks power the world’s most valuable companies, and those companies trust Kentik.

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