Winning Two Stevie Awards for Customer Service and The Hard Work Behind It
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We’re thrilled (and humbled) to announce that SiteGround won the People’s Choice vote and the Silver award in the jury vote for Customer Service Department of the Year in Computer Hardware & Services category in the 14th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. “The Stevies” as they’re known, are one of the most prestigious international business awards, recognizing excellence in business-crucial disciplines.
They attract more than 12,000 nominations each year in different industries. With over 2600 evaluated nominations and over 101,000 votes cast in the People’s Choice awards, SiteGround ranked first in the Customer Service in Computer Services category, thanks mostly to the support of our loyal clients. Additionally, we were announced as a Silver winner in the awards’ jury prizes, selected by the average scores of more than 180 professionals worldwide.
Winning such a massive vote does not come easy and it takes years of hard work, dedication, and consistency to get to where we are today. It involves training sessions, processes, monitoring, and lots of coordinated efforts by a lot of people whose dedication, expertise, and efficiency should never fall short. Here is a quick look of what happens behind the scenes of our Customer Service success.
Complex Recruitment Process
Our customer service team who are available 24/7 via Live Chat, Phone, and Helpdesk ticketing in English, Spanish, and Italian now counts 350 people and it keeps on growing. Over the past 3-4 years, we have been hiring new member groups roughly every 3 months. For every recruitment cycle, we get hundreds of resumes. It’s a huge pile that we have to sort through carefully because we don’t just let anyone in. We want smart, friendly, eager to learn, not afraid of hard work, and committed people to become part of our team.
Our HR department filters about 12-13% of those to meet in person and in the end, only 4% get hired. The best of the best.
Long and Heavy Training
Most of the people who join our customer service team are not familiar with the web hosting industry. Even if they had some technical background, they still have tons of terminology to learn, adapt to our expectations and standards for customer service, and become quick to deliver. All that takes time, training, and experience. Our initial on-boarding training takes two weeks and covers the theory and the basics of the role. Then we continue with a 4-week mentoring program with a supervisor, processing one client inquiry at a time and discussing the case in detail until the agent fully understands how to best approach and handle it.
Then, it’s time for more training. Within the first year on the SiteGround customer service team, our team members have to complete more than 10 different training sessions, seminars, and workshops. Since the tech industry is very dynamic, we make sure that even our experienced agents have the opportunity to constantly improve and build on their skills. In 2019 we completed over 600 up-skill training sessions across all our customer service divisions.
Timely feedback and management support
No matter how good and motivated people are, everyone needs attention and encouragement to know they are on the right track. That is why all our customer service team members receive regular evaluations and feedback sessions, happening on a monthly basis during their first year. In case an agent is performing below our standards and expectations, their supervisors dedicate time and create personalized support sessions to educate them and motivate them to get better at the job.
Excellent customer service is not an easy task, but thanks to our team’s persistence and willingness to improve, we’ve been consistently increasing our speed of resolution within the past 4 years and getting to 90% of all client inquiries being resolved at first interaction.
Client Ratings And Easy Escalation Path
Staying on top and maintaining a high level of service requires the introduction of checks and balances. We found that client ratings are an extremely good indicator of performance. That is why we ask clients to rate their interactions with our agents and we monitor the individual ratings of all team members. Poor client ratings are a red flag urging their direct supervisor to take action.
At the same time, we have an easy escalation path that in addition to being very convenient for clients, also acts as an alert when things go south. Clients can escalate their case to a supervisor and make sure that whatever issues they had with the case resolution, get noticed and eliminated in a timely manner.
Thanks to these two mechanisms and the willingness of the agents to learn and improve, in the past year we also helped over 1.1 million clients on live chat. Most of those were rated by the client parties afterward, and 98% of the rated were marked as “Extremely helpful.”
Optimizing Customer Service Channels
No matter how well-prepared а team is, there always comes a moment when you have to stop and think – are we doing the best we can? Dealing with the winter flu season, for example, when we encourage people to stay home and rest, it becomes twice as difficult to process all the incoming client inquiries. So we figured it’s not only about hiring more people to process more inquiries. Over the past few years SiteGround more than doubled its client base, which made optimizing our customer services a top priority.
We enhanced our customer support experience by introducing automatic recommendations of the fastest and most relevant channel for each specific request. Our in-house AI-powered system reviews incoming inquiries and depending on the type of issue and on the current load on all our customer service channels, it recommends the one that will be most efficient (lowest wait time combined with the skill level to resolve the issue in question).
We developed a custom Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chat Bot and AI search tool to assist clients right away reducing wait time. That’s not one of those funny moments when you chat with a machine like in the movies, it’s a real-time educated software that tries to match your inquiry to previous conversations and if the issue has been addressed in the past, it will suggest a solution right away, without sending you to an agent. Of course, if the suggested solution is not useful, you get in touch with a member of the team. That’s how we keep our average wait time on the phone lines at 2 minutes, and our HelpDesk tickets are resolved in 15 mins. on average, with the majority of issues resolved with our first response.
Tuning in to What Our Clients Say Year after Year
And last but not least, besides relying on the external evaluation of prestigious third-party institutions such as the Stevie Awards, we ask our clients every year how they rate our support and other parts of our service. That is how we know we are still on the right track. Over the last years, we have been receiving consistent 98% customer satisfaction scores in our annual client surveys, which makes all that hard work we do worthwhile.
We also closely monitor our Net promoter score (NPS), based on how likely our clients are to recommend us. NPS is a complexly-calculated value between -100 and 100. Scores higher than 0 are typically considered to be good and scores above 50 are considered to be excellent. SiteGround’s NPS is 62. To put that in context, companies with the same NPS as SiteGround in different industries include Apple Cloud Storage, Sony, Trader Joe’s, Zoom communications, and more, so we’re in excellent company!
For us, optimizing our customer experience is a never-ending process, and we are committed to going above and beyond, thanks to the extreme dedication of our team and the priceless support of our loyal clients.