The Happiest SaaS Support Team on the Planet

The Happiest SaaS Support Team on the Planet

You can find some of the happiest professionals in the tech industry on our Client Services Team. How do we know that? Well, our employee engagement and productivity metrics show that we’re finding, retaining, and nurturing our people at rates unheard of throughout SaaS—even as our team of Support, Compliance, and Sales Engineering professionals has grown rapidly. There were 16 of us in Support, Compliance, and Sales Engineering when I started at Articulate in 2012. Soon, we’ll break 80.

Rapid growth isn’t unheard of in the SaaS world. But what is remarkable is how engaged and productive our team is. To achieve this, we’ve hired genuinely outstanding candidates and retained talented employees. Let’s talk about some of the core principles we follow at Articulate to hire and keep the happiest SaaS Support Team on the planet. 

We Find the Right People

In the Jim Collins masterpiece Good to Great, the author takes the position that leaders of great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. These leaders always think first about who—and then, about what. 

We agree with Collins on this, so we look for people who’ve shown that they can adapt and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. That means orienting our interview process around activities and conversations that deepen our understanding of each candidate’s communication skills, behavioral tendencies, and problem-solving abilities.  

As a fully remote company, the vast majority of our communication, both internally and externally, happens in written form. And since our team must be skilled written communicators, we’ve moved away from first-round telephone screenings and embraced Slack as an interview platform. We add new applicants to our Slack org, and we ask every applicant to respond asynchronously to a small set of questions, each corresponding to one of the critical requirements of the role. That allows us to learn not only the answers to our questions but also how we might expect future team members to communicate with us.

We also believe that asking questions that start with, “How would you … ?” or “What would you do if … ?” aren’t relevant. Research shows that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So, we focus instead on behavioral interview questions that begin with “Tell me about a time when … ” and “Give me an example of … ” We then probe for further clarification, if necessary.

What happened when you did that? How did your customer react when you said what you said? What ended up being the solution to the problem? These are other examples of the kinds of rich questions that give us insights into how people will approach their work.

Finally, we’ve realized that interviewing is hard—for both the applicant and the interviewer. How is an applicant supposed to truly understand the nature of the work? And how are we to know for sure that we’re hiring the right person for the job?

Enter project-based interviewing, where we ask candidates to spend a few hours doing real work that’s typical of the role they’re seeking. This might mean helping out a few customers in the E-Learning Heroes community, answering a sample pre-sales security questionnaire, or preparing a presentation for a panel of interviewers acting as customers. After the thoughtful completion of a relevant project, we find that both interviewers and interviewees feel more confident about a job match.

We Retain People

As Articulate has grown, we’ve found that some people’s roles evolved or their job duties shifted to meet our customers’ needs. On our journey from 16 to 80, our team has lost nine people since 2012. That’s an average turnover rate of just 2.6%. That’s unheard of in tech—and stands in stark contrast to the call center industry’s average turnover rate of 30% to 45%.

How do we retain an outstanding team? By committing to a single principle: empowering people. This manifests in a few different ways, including:

  • Access to the tools and equipment they need to do the job. This includes the option of a Mac or a PC, any number of virtual machines, and the freedom to offer screen-sharing at the agent’s discretion.
  • Supportive management. Regularly scheduled team meetings, stand-ups, and one-to-one meetings are coupled with the freedom to always do what’s best for the customer.

I recommend checking out our About Articulate, Our Values, and Careers pages for more details on how we empower people at Articulate.

We Nurture People

Many workers in customer service or support roles believe they’re on a limited career path. But this is not the case at Articulate. Here are a few of our recent metrics.

  • Members of our support team earned eight promotions in 2018, 21 promotions in 2019, and 16 in 2020.
  • Our team in the Philippines has achieved a grand total of 48 promotions in the 18-year history of our company. And not only have folx from this team grown internally (say from Tier 2 Support to Tier 3 Support), but they’ve also been able to join our Engineering, Compliance, and Customer Care teams.
  • Some of these promotions have been massive, waterfall-style team reorganizations—like when we promoted six people at once in 2020, 11 people simultaneously in 2019, and five people at once in 2018. We’ve built a team with growth baked-in, and it’s really a delight to watch!

At Articulate, we want our people to be happy with their career path and understand what’s next and how to get there. To make sure they’re heading in the right direction, we’ve developed our own Rise courses on career development to give folx the tools and training they need to drive their professional development, including how to conduct a self-assessment and how to choose a path that best aligns with their needs. Then, they learn how to set attainable career goals, create a specialized plan, and put that plan into action with their manager. 

We’ve made much of this professional development content available to customers in the form of business lessons, templates, and sample courses. You can use this content to create your own online training in minutes.

Our support team practices help explain why we were named one of Inc.’s Best Workplaces for 2020. If you’re interested in joining the Articulate team, check out our job openings.