This week on the Accelerant, we continue our deep dive into Lead Management in Daxko Engage. We’re speaking again with Daxko Product Manager, Charlie Peters about the 18-month long project it took to create new prospecting tools that are now being used across the Movement. We also spoke about how Lead Management changes the way YMCA organizations look for new prospective sales opportunities both inside and outside their facilities. Later, we continue our conversation with YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee’s District Executive, Krista Bold on the future of Lead Management and how it can continue to grow as we all navigate a return to normalcy.
3 Big Takeaways
- If you want to see something new in Daxko software, let us know! - At Daxko, we want to hear from you! We want to help you be as successful as possible and the best feedback comes from those who use our software every day. If you see something that can be improved, don’t hesitate to send us an email and we’ll
- Check in with new hires after 30 days – A fresh set of eyes may be better at seeing inefficiencies than a set that’s been around for a while. Check in with new frontline staff to see if there’s anything we can help you change to become even more efficient and effective in serving your community!
- Software is never finished – Just like your organization, our software is always growing and changing to address more needs and help power change. As memberships, facilities and communication evolve, so will we. There will never be a day when we say Daxko is done, so as we said before, don’t hesitate to let us know what you need. We’re here for YOU!
Becki Irby: Accelerant: A substance used to aid the spread of fire, accelerating or causing acceleration. This is the Accelerant podcast.
This week, we continue with part two of our exploration of lead management in Daxko Engage. Make sure to check out Episode 1 to get up to speed. Now, back to the conversation with Charlie Peters, Daxko’s Product Manager.
Charlie, what were some of the development challenges that may be trying to solve different definitions of prospect?
Charlie Peters: One of the challenges we face, and maybe this was even before we got to development, was trying to understand the existing tools and processes that we were either trying to improve, or maybe in some cases trying to replace. In a lot of our research, we saw many different ways for managing prospecting efforts or lead management efforts.
Some of those ways included existing Daxko solutions, some of them didn't and many work creative mix of a few different tools. We saw a lot of spreadsheets. We saw a lot of a paper files involved in this process, so something like the web forms feature in Daxko Operations was one that we have really leaned into, one that we continued to improve.
With a project as big as Prospecting and Lead Management, which touches a couple of our different products, it began in Daxko Operations and it continues through Daxko Engage. It was really a long game approach. Our product and engineering teams really aligned on what has been an 18-month-long continuous improvement but led us to the new Lead Management features in Daxko Engage.
Becki Irby: I'm sure, Charlie, like any other project we aren't stopping here. You mentioned that 18-month-long process. I think what might surprise a lot of our associations is how very long some of these projects are running behind the scenes. Tell us a little bit about some of those very early building blocks and the 18-month span you mentioned and how that really led to what we consider leave management.
Building the Lead Management Enhancement
Charlie Peters: Yeah, so really going back to the summer and fall of 2019, we in full force kicked off our research and discovery efforts with associations for this broader prospecting project. We started by addressing common user feedback to the Daxko Operations prospecting features. I mentioned earlier that the prospecting web forms, which can be used online and in other mobile friendly ways, would allow prospects to self-identify that this was a big thing for us to release, especially considering the fact that very soon associations would find themselves with smaller teams.
We also had the benefit of opening up a prospect form that didn't require someone to visit a facility or to fill out paperwork or share a device. This is something that could be done digitally.
Starting with Operations prospecting forums as well as making some enhancements to the staff processes and providing more prospect conversion reports and all that in Operations, that was really square one, what we began with in early summer of 2020. At the same time that we were developing this, we were also researching from the Daxko Engage perspective.
At that time, a prospect record, or a prospect profile as you would maybe call it in Daxko Operations, didn't exist in Daxko Engage. The step one for Engage was getting that information over there and having that available for our users.
We also explored and added new group rules for prospects. Just in a nutshell, group rules are list segmentation criteria for a marketing campaign. So, the group roles that we ended up building for prospecting efforts were in many ways informed by the feedback we were already getting from those first features that we released in Daxko Operations, but we saw a lot more leads coming in through those web forms.
By the time that late summer, last year rolled around, we were releasing the Daxko Engage side of things. Those were the two first steps that we had to get right as a long game approach before fully getting into lead management with Engage.
Becki Irby: That definitely makes sense. It's so important to get those first few pieces in place and more specifically to get them in the hands of our users.
We love associations getting involved because we don't want to build anything unless it's useful. So, your team is not yet using Lead Management, but you've given us a ton of feedback. It's a newer tool, something that we've recently released and are making progress on. What are your thoughts about the current state of Lead Management, and where would you like to see that head in the future?
Krista’s Thoughts on Lead Management
Krista Bold: I think for Lead Management, I saw two iterations of it. I saw a various tests of it, and then the more recent release, and I was really impressed by the ability to have multiple kinds of workflows that you could put people in and the usability of it thinking how much staff might use it, because for some people, it takes them nine months to join and for some people, it takes them one visit and it allowed for that differentiation, which was very exciting.
But it was also exciting for me to see changes in the second iteration that I had talked about on a webinar or one-on-one and given some ideas above. Seeing my ideas on Daxko just makes me so happy. I love to see the changes in there. As for me, where I'd like to see it head in the future is to continue to be linked with Operations, into Engage, and being able to use those two platforms together to create workflows.
I think that is always super beneficial. I think a piece that might be missing for me is so many members are return members, so they might be a prospect, but they actually already have a full account set in the system. It's sometimes hard to manage that when they already have an account. You don't want to duplicate accounts, but they really are a prospect for you, especially as we're exiting COVID.
There are so many people who haven't been with us for, you know, almost two years now that are going to be true leads for us to handle and just how that tool could work with within both prospects and Engage and full accounts and Engage.
Becki Irby: So interesting. And in product and design, we would use the term “persona.” There are so many different personas there.
As you mentioned, someone that it takes nine months to be comfortable joining, someone that's day one, right after the tour, ready to join. Then beyond just the personas, there's also, what you mentioned, your use cases. These prospects are people who actually have been members in the past, versus these people have never been members in the past, versus maybe these people are long-term members and they're not prospective members. They are prospective donors or prospective volunteers, people that we really see helping us carry out the mission.
When you think about the term prospect, or you might use it a different term at your association, but when you think about all of the things that you are trying to achieve with more process, how would you define at your organization what prospects are?
Krista Bold: I think for us, we do think of prospects right now as potential members. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said they could be a potential volunteer or a potential donor. There are more prospects than just members for us, but it seems to be that the majority of people using Daxko are thinking member first.
We do have a new YMCA opening that we're looking at doing some more programming and we have a lot of healthy living programs that we're launching very shortly, like diabetes prevention and continuing the work we've done with blood strong and really the prospecting there is going to be huge because we're going to get lots of leads from doctors, for people looking into those.
I think in general, I'd like to take my association from thinking of a prospect as a potential member to someone looking to be deeper engaged with the Y and moving them towards a deeper engagement. If they're a member, getting them to be a personal training client. If they're already in programs, getting them to volunteer for that program and moving them down from their casual commitment with the Y to a connected commitment.
Becki Irby: It's something so many of us need, especially returning to maybe some newer version of normal after such a long pandemic, just that connection and relationship with others and that sense of belonging and that sense of giving back, which I think is so incredibly important. I love that that has been a focus.
Tell us a little bit about your team and how you go to collect that information and get that feedback, to know how to maybe tweak some of those initial building blocks before adding on.
How Lead Management Was Developed
Charlie Peters: Yeah, there are a variety of ways. The best way, I’m sure you'd say the same thing Becky, is to be with people, to be in front of them and to share a room and look at the same screen and talk through processes for obvious reasons.
A lot of that style of feedback couldn't happen over the past many months. There were a lot of Zoom calls, a lot of screen sharing. We love building mock-ups and designs to show our users and have them walk us through what they're doing and explain. Does it make sense? But even after we've developed a solution and we've released it, we love working with early adopters and pilot customers.
We'll be able to toggle some of these features on for select users. That's really where we get, I think, a lot of the best feedback is when we have some of our users adopting this in a real world scenario, and it's only then where some of those more meatier bits of feedback start coming through.
We hear that maybe I didn't notice this or didn't think through this when I saw the early designs, but I was going through this prospect entry process the other day, and I realized I didn't have fill in the blank, whatever that feature is. Getting that real world experience and getting some of these features out into the wild is a great way to start getting feedback and then following up with users after they've had some time with the product, sending them surveys, or just through other tools that we have just tracking on their interactions and making sure that we're accomplishing what we set out to accomplish.
Becki Irby: I know certainly all of the hard work that goes into reaching out and getting that feedback both for our team, but also for our associations who are incredibly busy.
We're wanting to learn from them at a time when they also have many plates that are spinning at the same time. As we look to the future, we're never done iterating. That's the thing that's always true for product managers. Nothing is ever done. It can always grow. It can always change because that's the world as well.
The world's changing and needs are changing for our customers. So, what are some of the things that you are hearing from our customers that peak your interest for the future?
Charlie Peters: Yeah, you're absolutely right. Software is never truly done. We are still very much in feedback gathering mode and some of our associations begin adopting Lead Management start using it when their teams were looking for some of the other ways that we could better facilitate sales teams.
I'm really curious to learn more about how we can lean into developing lead management features for things like fundraising and donor development. That's one thing that I very curious to learn more about. What are the ways that membership continues to evolve? This is something that's on our minds.
A lot that Daxko Operations today is expanding this concept of membership and providing more flexibility and customization for what a membership looks like for a given person or a given family. When exploring that, there's also the kind of marketing and communication side of things and how can we better accommodate changes to membership strategy with membership community?
Becki Irby: That all sounds really exciting, and you're correct. We've really focused on redefining what member means. What does a membership really mean to our associations and how is that growing and changing? It's been really fun to see the product grow and of course, incredibly exciting to see the growth of the product for our customers be supported by Lead Management.
Charlie, you and I definitely share a real love for our customers and what they do every day. And over the course of this pandemic, it was heartwarming and emotionally overwhelming to see the response of our customers to their local communities and to be a very small part of that and to cheer them on as they supported our communities and to give their community a time to join and to be a part of what they're doing to really shape and provide for the community around them is something that is very encouraging and exciting for me.
We talked quite a bit about the development of this product, and we talked about what lead management is. Can you talk a little bit about that piece of it? How has this project changed you and what are the things that you emotionally have connected to about this project that made it one that you were really passionate about?
Charlie Peters: Yeah. You said that really well, Becky, how inspirational it has been to work alongside associations through this time of the world. It has been especially exciting to feel like we are at least some small part in their recovery efforts and their redefinition of what the YMCA or what the JCC means for communities.
It really makes it a joy to come to work every day and to solve these problems and to feel that the big questions and the big problems that are our associations are looking to solve might be a little bit easier with the software that we're building for them. That's really the heart of why I love what we do.
Becki Irby: I think the thing that I enjoy so much about our product team and that expands not just to product managers, but also for our user experience designers, is that empathy and deep care and great responsibility that I think we come to where, every single day, in order to care for our customers, because our customers are really changing the world.
That could maybe sound a little bit cheesy, but I really mean it. People were fed that would not have been fed otherwise in their communities during this pandemic, and the seniors were receiving phone calls and being contacted at a time when there's a lot of loneliness that could have set in and I could go on and on about the things that our associations did over the course of the pandemic.
Certainly after seeing that great response, all the more inspired and excited to see how our products can continue to help.
How important Krista do you see... I can definitely answer from the Daxko perspective, but how important do you see it being for organizations like Metropolitan Milwaukee to work closely with software providers that you use, like Daxko? How important is it that we are on the same page and that we stay in communication?
Partnering with Your Software Provider
Krista Bold: I think you and I probably have the same answer and that is it's so important. I can't tell you how many times I've had a staff complaint about how something worked and my first question is, have we submitted that? Have we told anybody that we would like to have that opportunity? Because a lot of the opportunities, especially, I know you were leading calls over the initial startup of COVID and the pandemic.
There were some really quick changes that were implemented directly from those calls. I think if we're not talking to you guys at the actual, but what we really need, we're never going to get what we really need. We have to have that conversation and you guys have been so quick to take stuff and roll with it.
I cannot stress enough how important it is. I know it's important to you and very important for us.
Becki Irby: Absolutely. Our answer is the same. I think that the thing that matters most to us is not that we develop something that we think is neat or that we think is designed the way it should work. It's really that it meets your needs.
If it doesn't meet your needs, typically we lose sleep over those things. It's so fun to work with all of our associations to better understand needs. Definitely that time at the beginning of the pandemic, when we took our entire software roadmap and said, okay, put that on a shelf for a moment. People have immediate needs.
We typically release about 26 times on that scale in a given year. So, it's about biweekly, but during 2020, I think we had 96 releases and it was because every association had “Here's an idea, please help us do this. We've got to take care of this.”
It was a ton of fun, but it's really fun also to be getting back to some of these key projects that are long granting that are features that will provide sustainability for all of you and efficiency, which I know is huge.
I just incredibly appreciate your time talking with us today about your experience working with our team and what we would call discovery or research to learn more about how we can help. Is there anything else, Krista, that you would like to share about this process or anything that you want to make sure people know about your organization?
Krista Bold: I think just in working with you guys at Daxko for product development or updates, it is very important to make sure that the frontline staff at our YMCAs is able to be a part of that process. And a lot of times that's on the YMCA to make sure that we're asking for feedback from our staff and bringing that to you guys at Daxko.
So, anyone listening, I would just really stress that it's been great for me to talk to my frontline staff. We use the product with members more than I do now in my current role to get feedback from them because they've had some great ideas that I've been able to bring to you guys and, and thoughts that I think if I wasn't having those important conversations with them and that space to come up with ideas it wouldn't have happened for everybody up at more upper management.
We have ideas and thoughts, which are fantastic, but getting the thoughts of those who are actually using the product is so important. Anytime I have a new director, after 30 days, I usually ask them for what they wish the system would do because they have fresh eyes and are ingrained to doubt “That's the way we've always done it.”
They might be like, “Well, how are you? Why does it take me six clicks to do this when I should just be able to go right here and do it?” That's always been a big part of my onboarding is having that circle back after 30 days, because I'd get some really good information and clarity from those staff. I think that's just a really important part of it. I’d recommend it.
Becki Irby: I love that we love talking to every single staff person. It's so critical for us to know, and as you mentioned, everyone has a fresh perspective, even with frontline staff. One person's experience is not the same as the next. It's so important. I greatly appreciate that you get everyone involved and give us such great feedback so we can make our products better, which hopefully in turn makes your life much easier. That's always our goal.
I just incredibly appreciate your time today. We are going to be continuing to cheer on the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee with your new branch that's opened. We'll continue to be very excited about the things that you do and excited to hear from you because we know you'll be giving us valuable feedback to make our products better.
Thank you so much, Krista.
Thanks so much for listening to the latest episode of the Accelerant. This podcast is about inspiring you, so please reach out to us with any questions, thoughts and ideas by emailing email@example.com or reaching out to us on social media at Daxko. That's d-a-x-k-o, or post with hashtag #accelerantpodcast. We would love to hear from you.
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Accelerant is produced by Kevin Mulligan and me, Becki Irby. Special thanks to the entire product team for Season 3. Sound and story editing by Kevin Mulligan. I’m your host, Becki Irby. Tune in every other Friday for a new episode of the Accelerant.
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