Photo from brotherhoodofiron.com
If we had to sum up web hosting in a simple formula, it would be: servers + people. The first part is easy – anyone could get servers. Maybe not the best ones out there, but essentially, servers are relatively easy to find. But what makes the big difference, are the people. Combine good hardware with the unique approach of skilled professionals and the attitude of great people and you get a unique product. That’s our company’s philosophy and in order to achieve it, we need unique HR practices. We recently had a new wave of fresh talent hired for the SiteGround Technical and Customer service departments and in the heat of the new training season, we decided to tell you a little bit more about what it takes to become part of our team.
Natural Born Helpers
When looking for new talent, the fundamental prerequisite is that the candidates are friendly, helpful and empathetic people. Finding customer service reps with these essential skills is often more important than them having an extensive background in technology. A passion for the job combined with genuine curiosity is also a great start that promises a candidate will catch up with what’s missing in knowledge in no time.
We never hire on a massive scale – on average, out of a hundred resumes, we do thirty interviews and hire only five candidates. All our customer support representatives are in-house and hired by the same management team that continues to work with them on the job. We oppose the widely-accepted practice of impersonal service, based on pre-defined template answers, that’s why we never outsource and don’t believe in delegating any part of our services to outside agencies. For us, customer service is more than just having someone to address a question to. Our goal is to build a customer support team, be it technical or sales, that possess the skills and temperament to effectively solve a client’s issue at one go and positively represent our company’s culture.
Back to School
Our customer care representatives handle a variety of issues, since we cover a much larger scope of support requests than the average hosting company. To prepare them for that, even if they do have technical experience, we do intensive in-house training in two parts: theory and practice. After the initial hiring procedures, all newly hired employees come in our head-quarters for a month of excessive theory training (and drinks with the whole team in the evening). Once theory has been covered and we’re certain each new guy gets the names of all colleagues right, it’s time for them to meet the clients. This means 3 months of hands-on practice sessions with a mentor – one of our senior customer service representatives.
Every client might come across a newbie once they start practice sessions – each new guy has a “Trainee” badge in their agent profile in our chat system and a “Newbie” badge in our HelpDesk. But don’t worry, even in training mode, we never compromise our services – one of our experienced seniors is surely standing by their side, making sure the only thing to give away you’re talking to a newbie is their badge. Each new chat or ticket handled by our trainees is followed-up with feedback right afterwards. This makes a total of four months training period, combined with regular evaluations and step-by-step guidance by our experienced seniors in both our Customer service and Technical Support departments. No wonder that just a few weeks into their theory training, our latest SiteGrounders are already pretty tired and crammed with information, as you can see by the pictures.
The importance of PLAY
But it’s not all work and no play. We’ve always drawn a strong connection between happy, empowered employees and good customer service. According to a recent global call centers report, customer service staff turnover ratio is 35% on average. At SiteGround, it’s close to zero. Generally, most customer service representatives leave within their first year of work. At SiteGround, it’s after that same first year that people become really good at their job. Our internal benchmark that someone is experienced and knowledgeable enough is 10 000 handled tickets. We’ve set a standard for exceptional customer care, as confirmed in the recent survey among our clients – our best and most effective brand ambassadors – a large share of all new accounts at SiteGround are opened by people, who are referred by an existing client.
We also make sure to always leave room for growth for our employees due to our policy to appoint all managers from the inside and rotate people between departments: the same person could easily start at customer service, continue as technical support and get promoted all the way up to our specialized server operations and administration officers. SiteGround is an employee-driven company – we never hire outside people at managing positions, all managers have worked and grown their way up to their current positions. So, hopefully, these same tired and shy guys you see on the pictures will be the ones running the training themselves in a couple of years.