PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
How PlanGrid’s Customer Support team drafted a blueprint for success

How PlanGrid’s Customer Support team drafted a blueprint for success

At PlanGrid, we believe that impeccable customer service is the lynchpin to a lasting and healthy relationship with our users. Everyone in the industry has an intangible idea of what truly great customer service looks like, but they don’t always know how to get there.

When teams manage to find the trailhead, keeping everyone motivated and on track can be a bit like herding cats.

Like a lot of bright eyed start-ups, we started with all-hands-on-deck support. There were some pros to this (nothing increases user empathy in a developer quite like talking to users), but it also had significant cons. Not everyone who staffed a live chat shift had the same investment in the user experience, or considered it to be high priority. Some agents would respond in seconds, while others would get around to it whenever they could. When the company entered a phase of exponential growth in late 2014 and early 2015, it became clear that the all-hands support was not sustainable if we ever aspired for our support to be anything more than just meh.

So, in January of 2015, we started hiring and building a dedicated Support team. By June of 2015 we had removed all non-Support folks from the chat rotation. We instituted frequent ongoing trainings, took control of our Help site, grew the team from 5 to 9, and promoted an additional manager to ensure coverage across both US coasts. In a lot of ways, 2015 was a formative year for PlanGrid Customer Support, but 2016 is when the magic really started to happen.

PlanGrid’s Customer Support team (photo from October 2016—there’s more of us now). Photo by Jesse Dodds.

We stormed into 2016 with aggressive hiring and targeted goals for performance improvements. Every company likes to say that they have the best support team, but we wanted that to actually be the truth, so we looked for places we could make positive changes: revamping our onboarding and training programs, working more closely with R&D to obtain cross-functional knowledge, launching a bold quality control initiative, and pivoting away from bonuses based on sales leads and switching to quarterly bonuses based on performance.

With the proper leadership and motivation, PlanGrid Customer Support surpassed everyone’s expectations for the year, and the numbers prove it.

In 2015 our average email response time was 130 minutes — just over 2 hours — which is a pretty decent turnaround time for any SaaS customer service department. But we knew we could do better. So we did. We dropped our average email response time to 47 minutes in 2016, reducing the time users had to wait for an email reply by an astounding 67%. In December of 2016 we clocked our fastest email response times yet, coming in at 35 minutes on average.

In 2015, our average chat response time was 20 seconds. In 2016, we brought our average chat response time of 20 seconds down by 65% to 7 seconds, with our December 2016 average breaking 6 seconds at 5.93 seconds on average.

But speed isn’t everything: we’ve also maintained a customer satisfaction rating of 92% (email) and 95% (live chat).

We’ve done all this, even while our user interactions increased 22% year over year (from 69,353 in 2015 to 85,177 in 2016) and the scope of our duties expanded; including taking on the management of our NPS responses, acting as customer advocate liaisons to R&D teams, managing VIP escalations, growing the team and onboarding eight new hires over the course of the year, and changing the management structure of the department (including adding a Director role and promoting two new regional managers).

Through continued hard work and investment in our incredible team, PlanGrid Customer Support continues to redefine what a great support experience means. Now, when we think about great customer service, it’s no longer some intangible idea — it’s PlanGrid.

Emily VerMeulen

PlanGrid Director of Customer Support