Aplos Software Young Customer Service Professional

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Company: Aplos Software, Fresno, CA
Company Description: Aplos Software is a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup company specializing in online accounting software for nonprofits and churches. Founded in 2009, Aplos is dedicated to meeting the needs of small and mid-sized nonprofits to easily track donations, manage the accounting, and achieve their mission. Its U.S. based team that provides support, training, and education to customers. www.aplos.com.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Young Customer Service Professional of the Year

Nomination Title: Alex Acree Builds Customers Success for Aplos

Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since the beginning of July 2014 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Aplos is a web-based software company that specializes in the specific accounting needs of nonprofits and churches. Many of our customers are not professional accountants and rely on our free support to help them succeed. Due to our scrappy startup nature, we didn’t have a formal customer service department until the mid-way through 2014 and all of the employees served as default customer service representatives. But Aplos grew 159% over the course of that year, and our needs for customer support grew tremendously. In the midst of all this change and growth, one individual rose to the occasion and assumed leadership of all customer support. Synonymous with exemplary customer service, his name is Alex Acree.

Alex took on that leadership role and completely built out our customer service department from the ground up. He evaluated and established several key support platforms to serve the 8,000+ new users we acquire each year. Additionally, he helped hire, train, and lead new personnel. Always evaluating new ways to improve the success of our support team, Alex developed metrics to measure customer support success. By opening up new forms of communication with our customers, increasing engagement and building a knowledgeable team, Alex was able to achieve very low customer churn — three times better than industry average! Ultimately, these endeavors and achievements all stem from his desire to meet the needs of every single Aplos user.

Alex also serves in another capacity as the key educator for Aplos, a pivotal role for building trust and confidence with our customers. He led the charge in developing Aplos Academy in 2014, which is a training section of the Aplos website that helps our nonprofit customers build mastery about underlying accounting principles. Since launching the Academy, we’ve received 80,000 page views and garnered over 250,000 minutes watched on YouTube. He hosts weekly live webinars for current and future customers on a variety of in-depth topics related to Aplos and the fundamentals of accounting and fundraising. It doesn’t stop here though! On top of all this, he still manages to oversee the creation of support materials, teach at local nonprofit groups, and participate in Aplos software product development to better meet customer needs!

Alex Acree has a natural way of communicating that makes him one of our company’s largest assets. Accounting can be difficult, but he has the amazing ability to take a frustrated person in our support queue and turn them into a lifelong Aplos user and friend. Numerous customers have sent Alex thank-you notes, gifts, and emails of appreciation. His desire to help our users is contagious, and each of our new customer service representatives get excited to serve our customers because of the energy Alex exudes in the department. In a 2015 survey of customers:

- 58% of customers said Aplos Customer Support was “extremely helpful”
- 64% of customer said Aplos Customer Support “definitely” made them feel more confident in managing their accounting
- Aplos achieved a net promoter score of 60%, compared to the 30% benchmark used for similar companies

Beyond organizing customer support, Alex sits on the executive team responsible for the strategy of the entire company. He regularly asks, “How would the customer be affected by this?” because his first priority has always been, and continues to be, our customers.

In short, Alex is uniquely wired to help people, and he expresses this every day at Aplos by helping our nonprofit customers manage their bookkeeping so they can focus on their mission. He rose to the occasion when our company needed him to lead as we grew rapidly and share his knowledge and passion for customer support with others. His efforts have resulted in overwhelming positive feedback from our customers.

Alex is absolutely deserving of this award, as he is the personification of what a professional in customer service should be.