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ABA11 Winner / How to Enter

Company: VerticalResponse, San Francisco, CA
Company Description: VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service email marketing, survey and direct mail services empowers small businesses and non-profits to create manage and analyze their own marketing campaigns. VerticalResponse allows customers to deliver sophisticated yet easily deployed email campaigns – it’s the most intuitive and affordable Web-based direct marketing solution available.
Nomination Category: Support Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Support Team of the Year

Nomination Title: VerticalResponse Delivers Top-Rated Customer Support

    Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since January 1 2010 (up to 500 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:

        VerticalResponse is a web-based technology that enables small businesses to get up and running quickly and easily with their email marketing, online surveys and direct mail postcard campaigns. The VerticalResponse Customer Support team is consistently rated best in class by our small business customers who use us for these services. The team supports customers through a variety of means; phone, email, chat and Twitter.

        In late 2010, the expanding VerticalResponse support team was running into some
common growing pains – cumbersome processes, diluted team norms, declining
training standards – that were starting to cause employee and customer morale
problems. To combat this, the team was restructured into 3 teams, and 3
managers were promoted from within the team to lead these new groups.

        The 3-team structure was selected to provide a reasonable number of direct
reports for each manager. Each team is designed to be modular, providing
coverage for all 4 support channels and the full range of shifts. This modular
organization allows a single team to be pulled off the floor for training or team-
building events without impacting coverage for any one channel.

        The managers who were selected to lead the teams each have considerable
experience with VerticalResponse as well as strong leadership skills. During Q1
2011, they have had additional training in management and leadership that has
developed those skills further. Each manager holds bi-weekly 1 on 1 meetings with
each team member, and those team members attend a bi-weekly team meeting
where the manager provides team training and gathers feedback on ways to
improve the VR customer experience.

        One of the concerns that support team members expressed was that team norms
and expectations had been diluted when the team was in heavy growth mode. In
Q1 2011 the support managers focused on attendance and volume metrics to get
everyone in the group performing to a baseline standard. While this focus on
metrics could have been seen as negative by team members, support managers
were successful in communicating this change as a positive move toward
improving the quality of customer care by allowing VerticalResponse to accurately
gauge staffing requirements. In Q2 the team has adopted quality metrics to
balance the volume metrics and provide an even more thorough view into the
customer experience at VerticalResponse.

        Throughout these changes the support managers have remained focused on the
customer experience and open to suggestions for improvement from the team. A
number of significant changes have been made based on suggestions from team
members including a compete revision of the support ticket process, the
introduction of a comprehensive training program for new employees, and the
revision of a number of outdated processes and policies.

        By the end of Q1, the support team turnover and absenteeism had been
significantly reduced, and employee morale had improved. The number of
escalated customer complaints was much lower than it had been in late 2010. The
entire VerticalResponse support team moves into mid-2011 with a continued focus
on changes they can make to create an exceptional customer experience.

    List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, []:

    Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of the nominated team:

        Support Managers
Topher Bauman – joined in 2007 after 3 years in the medical technology field. His
prior experience includes extensive work with youth-focused, non-profit
organizations. Natalie Macks – joined in 2008 with 6 years experience in order
management and operations. Instrumental in developing the management team’s
processes through this growth phase. Justin Smith – joined in 2009 with 10 years
experience in the customer service field. Serves on the VerticalResponse Net
Promoter Score task force.

        Director of Sales & Support Kristen Hayer – joined in April 2010 with 12 years of
technology management experience. Specializes in leading high-performing teams
through growth and change.