Olark - Customer Service Department of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2017, Click to Enter The 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: Olark, San Francisco, CA
Entry Submitted By: Habla Inc. (dba Olark)
Company Description: Olark is a leading provider of web-based live chat software. Founded in 2009 by Ben Congleton, Matt Pizzimenti, Roland Osborne, and Zach Steindler, Olark is bootstrapped and profitable and has offices in San Francisco, CA and Ann Arbor, MI. Olark is a remote-friendly, 40-person company with employees across the US, Canada, UK, Europe, and Brazil.
Nomination Category: Customer Service Department Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Department of the Year – Computer Software - Up to 100 Employees

Nomination Title: Olark

Tell the story about what this nominated department achieved since the beginning of July 2015 (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:

Olark was founded in 2009 by four cofounders united around a single vision - to make the web a more human and friendly place to do business.

An alumnus of startup incubator Y Combinator, Olark is a pioneer in the "on-page live chat" experience, where customers can chat with you while browsing your website. We make software that empowers businesses to deliver great sales & support experiences, so we strive to be a model of service excellence for all our customers. For example, we’ve long been a champion of All Hands Support, where every Olarker is trained (by the Service team) from Day 1 to be able to confidently serve customers.

Today, Olark is a profitable, bootstrapped, and fully remote Silicon Valley company serving more than 12,000 businesses throughout the world, and has been recognized for its innovative company culture with a 2016 When Work Works award.

2015-2016 was a pivotal year for Olark. We radically restructured our growing organization to empower teams to own and improve specific parts of our product and operations, while still maintaining our cultural values. As a result, more than half of our customer service department either switched departments or took on new roles within the team.

Even with these changes, Olark's service quality metrics actually *improved* in that time, once again demonstrating our unwavering commitment to service excellence:


- Company-wide CSAT increased from 88.6% (7/1/2014-7/1/2015) to 90.5% (7/1/2015-7/1/2016), and currently stands at 93.0% (trailing 6 months).
- Company-wide chat ratings improved from 4.65/5 (7/1/2014-7/1/2015) to 4.69/5 (7/1/2015-7/1/2016), and currently stands at 4.72/5 (trailing 6 months).


- We resolved 53,000+ email cases and fielded 58,000+ chats (7/1/2015-Present), despite having only 5 full-time frontline employees for chat & email.


- Company-wide median initial response time for all chats remained steady at ~12 seconds (7/1/2015-Present).

We’re not satisfied with "just" being really good. We want to achieve are-you-kidding-me, how-is-that-even-possible levels of greatness, so we’ve made several changes in the last year to make our team smarter, faster, and more efficient than ever.

Company-wide, our Service team is now tightly integrated with our Data, Product Design, Marketing, and Engineering teams. For example, Service and Data provide key customer insights to Product Design (see "Desk.com Case Digest" attachment), and Marketing & Engineering work closely with Service to ensure that agents have the knowledge and proper documentation to effectively serve customers, especially before new product launches. Service also works with Data to identify recurring support volume "peaks" throughout the week, and then optimizes frontline shifts for those times.

We created a new team of Tier 2 "Triage" specialists who implemented a new ticketing system, developed new protocols for feature requests, bug reports, and outages, and did a complete overhaul of our internal support documentation.

Within Service, we have a strong culture and systems for continuous improvement and learning. Every week, we provide 1: 1 coaching for employees, peer-review each other’s cases, share new learnings with each other, and continuously deploy new changes (via Github) to our Help Center. Service has given dozens of internal talks on how to deliver better service, and we’ve shared our knowledge with the community by giving talks at major support conferences like SupConf 2016 (SF, NYC) and Elevate Summit 2016 (Palm Springs).

Customer service is held in the highest regard at Olark. Most recently, Olark celebrated National Customer Service Week (Oct 3-7) by giving the entire Service team the day off on Oct 7, 2016, with the rest of the company filling in on All Hands Support.

Every day we aim to learn something new, and every day we strive to make our customers even happier than the day before. In a world of relentless automation, we’re on a mission to make online service warmer, friendlier, and more human than anyone thought possible.