CareerBuilder was recently recognized with Stevie Awards for the organization’s achievements in customer service and support. We sat down with Kyle Cleaver, CareerBuilder’s VP of Global Customer Care, to learn more about these awards, CareerBuilder’s Customer Service philosophy, the trends shaping customer service and how companies will need to adapt.
Congratulations on being recognized! Tell me a little bit about the awards CareerBuilder received.
KC: CareerBuilder received two Gold awards – Support Department of the Year and New Product or Service of the Year: Software Big Data Solution. The former acknowledges our Customer Support line, which handles general issues and questions. The latter recognizes our Health Score product, which is a tool that allows us to monitor our client’s sentiment, product performance and experience in order to take a more proactive approach to ensure our clients receive the highest ROI on their tools and services. More specifically, the Health Score helps us quickly analyze our accounts to see how our customers are doing with their products compared to how customers in similar industries are doing with the same products, alerts us when usage or performance dips significantly, and optimizes a client’s setup.
We also received four Bronze awards: Customer Service Department of the Year for Customer Success, Frontline Customer Service Team of the Year – Technology Industries for the Premier Customer Support Team, and two individual awards.
How does CareerBuilder approach Customer Care? What are its guiding principles?
KC: Our No. 1 focus is on customer loyalty, and we aggressively measure ourselves against it. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service, because it creates a stronger partnership and sense of trust.
You often hear people describe their company as being B2B or B2C, but our philosophy is that we have to think of our business as P2P – people to people. We have to consider the person at the other end of the phone line – whether they are frustrated or happy, having a good day or bad. You aren’t dealing with a customer, you’re dealing with another person – someone’s mother, sister, dad, brother. Think about how you would treat your own family, and treat your customer the same way; go above and beyond for them when trying to resolve their issue. Every call needs to be taken with that mindset.
When you’re implementing a new software, like our customers are doing, you are going through an entire change management process for your company. Productivity slows down and there is some natural frustration that comes with implementing something new and then learning how to use it in a way that makes you more productive than before. Knowing that this is going to be our customers’ experience, how do we manage that? How do we help our HR champion roll out the new software within the organization? The answer is guiding our clients through the change management process and creating a roadmap to help them achieve their goals. We’ve implemented thousands of software products and can help them navigate the common pitfalls and follow critical best practices.
How does CareerBuilder’s Customer Care team support all of our customers’ diverse needs?
KC: In the last two years, we have built a team of 100 Success Reps. We noticed that there was an additional need with our larger clients for more dedicated support to ensure end user adoption and that the performance matches clients’ business objectives, ultimately helping them maximize their return on investment. These reps are 100 percent dedicated to ensuring our clients are successful with their purchase. They are not incentivized by any sort of quota – their incentive is to ensure the customer sees value and that we are driving loyalty through the value we provide.
In Support, we’ve recently rolled out an escalation manager who monitors clients who may experience multiple issues in a short period of time. Often clients will have a bug or an issue with their software, which is normal, but when they hit a few in a short amount of time we know they are in pain and want to identify and address it as quickly as possible. This can easily get lost if support is only transactional in nature.
Lastly, we know that when a client partners with us on multiple products, they are going to have to work with multiple people on our team. We have a “one initiative” within Customer Care. We have to act as one to the client. Their experience should not change from Implementation to Support to Success.
What do you think makes CareerBuilder’s Customer Care team unique?
KC: What I think sets CareerBuilder apart is how we are able to strike a balance between acting like a small startup, while at the same time managing the complexities of the software we provide. We have recently changed our model so that whoever picks up the initial ticket owns it all the way through until the issue is resolved. It may get passed to five different teams, but at the end of the day that first person is still on the hook for it. This ensures there is ownership and accountability. We track and measure everything that happens after that initial support person picks it up, from how often that person follows up to what they are communicating.
That’s how we have tried to combat scaling into a larger, more complex company, while still maintaining a small company feel. It’s by having that one person who will do all they can to make sure the customer receives that personal attention and feels there is a sense of accountability to solve their issue.
How has customer support evolved over the past several years? What are some customer service trends you’re seeing?
KC: Much of the research and analysis around customer service shows that customers are moving more toward a desire for self-service. At the end of the day, customers want to resolve their issue with the least amount of effort in the most effective way. Self-service is one step in that direction and comes in many different forms. It has evolved from simple FAQs to on-demand instructional videos, and now is moving toward in-app messaging. In-app messaging is technology that gives customers the ability to click on a help button and get taken step-by-step through the sequences of the problem they are trying to solve directly in the application.
Artificial intelligence is another major trend we continually watch. While the idea itself isn’t new, the application and effectiveness is still in its early stages. The No. 1 goal of customer service is to provide the information the client is looking for at the right time, at the right place, in a way that is meaningful and helps solve their problem. The question is, what is the form in which to do that and how is it easily communicated? That’s where AI comes into play. When a customer has an issue, instead of waiting hours for a rep to respond, AI can step in and identify what type of issue it is and send back information that will answer the customer’s question. Then we can use machine learning to understand how customers are engaging with us and build up more intelligence over time so that when a customer has a basic issue, we can get them the help they need more quickly and without having to wait for a support person to respond.
What will be interesting to see is how AI is applied without losing the overall customer experience. AI – as of now – can’t gauge a customer’s level of frustration, so that human interaction is still essential. This also needs to be viewed through a generational lens. Millennials, who have grown up communicating via text messaging, may be OK if they don’t get empathy – perhaps they just want to get their answer and move on. Research is helping us understand how to address the right audience with the right message at the right time. So, I’m looking forward to seeing how AI can solve that problem, without negatively impacting the customer experience or giving them the wrong answers. It will be a fascinating trend to watch.