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FreshBooks - Investing in Rockstar Happiness to Create Extraordinary Experiences

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: FreshBooks, Toronto, ON, Canada
Company Description: FreshBooks is the #1 Cloud Accounting program for small business owners. We always aims to Execute on Extraordinary Experiences Everyday for our customers. Based in Toronto and founded in 2003, our aim is to allow small business owners to save time on paperwork so they can spend that time on doing things they love with their family and friends.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year - Business Services Industries

Nomination Title: Investing in Rockstar Happiness to Create Extraordinary Experiences

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2016 (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:

In 2017, FreshBooks’ Support Team helped 250,000+ customers, we picked up every call with zero hold time and responded to emails within two hours (many times even faster)! These are amazing stats we are very proud of.

However, for this application, I’m more excited to share how our Support department has doubled down on employee engagement this past year. Specifically, how investing in front-line agents (we call them Support Rockstars) happiness and development has made a significant improvement in our department.

Our top 3 strategies:

    1. Allowing Rockstars to directly impact our product
    2. Giving Rockstars time to develop the way they want to
    3. Connecting Rockstars with customers IRL


Allowing Rockstars to directly impact our product

Support is the main line between customers and FreshBooks. Having helped hundreds of customers, Rockstars know what they need and want. In the past, Support hadn’t been utilized as a resource for product development.

Since Summer 2016, we’ve worked relentlessly to build a better relationship with the Product team. We created a new role called the Product Support Specialist, a liaison between the two teams to ensure the voice of the customer is always front of mind. Nowadays, before releasing new features, the Product team will run Support User Testing, allowing Rockstars to give feedback first. They actively listen and have successfully implemented changes based on these tests.

This has been a huge morale boost for the team. Rockstars are making a clearer impact on our product, reducing incoming load and are more prepared to help when these features are made available to customers.

Giving Rockstars time to develop the way they want to

This past year, we’ve grown our team 30%, from 60 to 80. We have a 93% retention rate on our team, so many Rockstars are becoming tenured employees. To provide them with the opportunity to develop their career and skills further, we implemented a new program called the 10% Initiative.

The idea is any Rockstar that has been with FreshBooks for 1+ years is given 10% of their time in the office to work on personal development. It’s entirely up to them to choose what they want to spend their time on.

Some examples include:
-Learning French or Spanish
-Creating instructional GIFs/videos
-Learning a technical language, e.g., SQL, HTML, CSS
-Helping with Marketing and Business Development programs
-Learning video editing skills
-Social Media
-Furthering customer service skills

The feedback from this program has been outstanding (testimonials in Supporting Documents). Rockstars feel like they are being supported in their career growth, experience less burnout and our department is benefitting from the projects being worked on. It’s a win-win-win!

Connecting Rockstars with Customers IRL

We’re not talking about our everyday Support calls. We have been sending Rockstars out in the world to meet real customers, to put a face to the thousands of calls and emails. We think this is super important because we never want Rockstars to think of customers as just another ticket.

Since FreshBooks is used internationally and have customers everywhere, whenever we send Rockstars to conferences, we plan customer meetups (inviting a bunch of customers to dinner/lunch) and some personal customer visits. There are no pretenses to these meetups. We don’t try to sell FreshBooks or share marketing materials. We just want to learn all about them, their business history, their challenges and wins.

Our customers are small business owners, entrepreneurs, people that took a risk in their life and are trying to live their dream. They have found these conversations to be so inspiring, reminding Rockstars that each call has an amazing story behind it and renews their passion and motivation to help our customers in any way they can.

To close, Rockstars are our team’s most important resource and we truly believe that investing in their happiness and development is what makes a Support organization an extraordinary one.