q-and-a

How Micello “maps the great indoors” and manages customers with Asana

Emily Kramer

Micello is transforming the way people explore and experience “the great indoors”. It’s magic is in developing software that rapidly maps out any building, anywhere in the world. Today, Micello’s coverage spans over 30 countries with maps of over 15,000 venues including shopping malls, airports, retail stores, museums, businesses and more. To make this possible, Micello needs sophisticated technology and an agile team that can operate quick on their feet.

Ankit Agarwal, CEO at Micello, shares how Asana helps them remain nimble and discover new ways to get things done:

Why did you turn to Asana?

When we started Micello over 5 years ago, I remember trying out many different productivity tools. We used spreadsheets, wiki’s, the hot new ‘social networks for the enterprise’ tools, and pretty much everything we could get our hands on to see what fit.

Looking back, the challenge with all the other tools was that each was designed for the leadership team. It felt more like a reporting tool and did not help our team members.

With Asana it’s different. The core is communication. Everyone on the team gets value from it.

How did Asana usage grow within your company?

Signing up for a new tool is the easy part, but getting everyone to use it is another story. I initially started using Asana for personal use, but soon found myself getting hooked and invited my co-founder to join. A few months later, we added a third person, and then a fourth person and so on. Eventually, we reached a point where everyone in sales, marketing and customer support was using Asana. The next hurdle was engineering, which was a bit more difficult.

I remember Mario Perotti, one of our engineers, telling me repeatedly that we should all be using the same tool. He wanted to help set the right culture from the beginning and became the driving force behind getting the engineering team and roadmap into Asana. In the early stages of adoption, when new people joined the team, one strategy I used to get everyone onboard was when someone would send an email that could have been communicated through Asana, I immediately moved that discussion into Asana and closed the mail thread.  Pretty quickly, everyone would get the message. Today, email is primarily used for outbound messages and internally for sending links to Asana tasks.

What is the most common type project your company has in Asana?

That’s a hard question. We’re trying to bring everything into Asana including engineering, sales, marketing, vendor management, blogging, tracking lists, office management, idea tracking and brainstorms.

Collectively, Asana is our company playbook.

Is there something that you’ve put in Asana that surprised you?

I certainly did not expect that Asana would turn into our CRM. I wish I did because we spent some money on expensive CRM software and barely used it! Asana as a CRM grew naturally. It started with us tracking our strategic customers in a single project. Today, the process is a bit more sophisticated.

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When a customer or developer signs up on micello.com, we create a task for that customer. We have different projects for different customer states. For example, one project is ‘inbound’ and another is ‘paying customers’.

The key for us is that we use the description field to capture quick one-liners about customer activity. It looks something like this:

6/2/13 – I spoke to the customer and they are interested in using our Valley Fair Mall for testing purposes. – AA

6/8/13 – The customer is setup, everything is ready to go! – AA

6/15/13 – The customer asked about the new shopping malls in Russia. – AA

What’s really cool is that before going on a customer call, I can pull Asana up on my cell phone and quickly scan and review recent notes and action items. Our sales team can immediately get quick context on what’s going on with any customer. It does require work and commitment from everyone to keep the information current, but that’s with any sales CRM system. To give you a look into how we’ve set up our Asana CRM, we’ve created sub-tasks for any customer tasks. This way the “parent” customer task is never completed, which is great for our system. We want these tasks (and customers) to be around forever!

What tools and processes has Asana replaced or improved?

On a daily basis, we get requests from our customers for specific venues to be mapped out. Early on, this was a frustrating process because someone would get an e-mail, it would get forwarded, or a new e-mail trail would be created for our operations team, which would inevitably initiate a lot more emailing to find out the status. Multiply this by hundreds of customer requests and it quickly got out of hand.

We’re now using the Asana API so that any time our customers request a new venue map, a new task is created in our “Map Requests” project. The task is automatically assigned to one of our team leads on the operations team who then uses Asana to keep our sales and developer teams updated about the status and estimated availability. This has significantly reduced overhead, reduced the amount of time for each venue to be processed, and reduced email tension. Having maps available sooner helps us keep customer engaged while they are evaluating the Micello APIs.

How do you plan to use Asana as Micello grows?

The next step for us is to connect our Contact Us page and New Developer Sign-Up page to Asana. That way, the moment a customer gets in touch with us, there is a task created in Asana with the proper assignment and followers. I’m hoping in the long term, any alerts about a customer are automatically connected back to each customer task. For example, we use Stripe to process credit cards. Currently, I have to log-in to Stripe every day. It would be great if we combine the Stripe API and Asana API to keep customer information updated in Asana directly. On one hand, I think these are pretty custom integrations that we’ll do on our own, but I’m also excited to see what kinds of integrations are done by Asana’s Developer Community in the coming months.

Ankit Agarwal is the Founder and CEO of Micello Inc. Micello is building the world’s largest collection of indoor maps. Follow Micello on Twitter @Micello

 

  1. avatarMostafa

    These Q&As are very great. One can learn a lot about how others are using Asana. I hope I’ll be reading more of them!

    What’s most interesting is that when something is so simple and basic, like Asana, every team use it in their own unique way.

  2. avatarHans Rippel

    We are setting up our own internal communication infrastructure and examples of how others are using Asana is extremely valuable. The general implementation ideas are good and even better are the specific examples! Keep them coming.

    1. avatarKimberly Snodgrass Asana Team Member

      Thanks, Hans! We plan to coordinate a couple more interviews with our customers this year.

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