Ralph van den Borst has been with 3D printing filament company ColorFabb for four years. When he joined, the team were using Outlook to manage their incoming tickets – they had about 240 sub-folders. He’d often hear the team say things like “we’re really busy today” or “today was a bad day” but as a data oriented person, he couldn’t grasp how they were making such statements. Ralph knew you couldn’t reliably measure Customer Support on gut feel alone.

Ralph had previously worked in a startup in New York and was used to a culture where data backed every comment that was made. He needed to see this happen at ColorFabb - and fast!

When I was working in the US, all of my US colleagues used to say “back it up with data”

Building a data driven culture

One of the first things Ralph did on joining the team was introduce KPIs. This brought focus as well as an understanding of what needed to be done in order to improve the service they were providing.

He implemented Zendesk to manage incoming tickets. Previously, everyone had been reading every ticket and there had been some cherry picking happening. With Zendesk, not only was every ticket managed within one CRM platform but tickets could also be fairly assigned so that the workload was evenly distributed. That was phase one.

Following the Zendesk roll-out, Ralph signed up to Geckoboard. He created a Customer Support dashboard that gave all agents full visibility of what was happening in the ticket queues, in real-time. By putting the dashboard on a 55” TV screen in the office, agents didn't need to spend any additional time reporting in Zendesk. All they needed to do was glance up every few minutes to get a snapshot of what was happening at that moment in time.

I always say, it doesn’t matter what your role is for the company - you could be cleaning the toilets – at the end of the day, it’s the customers who pay your salary. So even if you’re not customer centric, I want you to be aware of our customer data.

Once Ralph got the Zendesk and Geckoboard system in place to help agents responding to tickets, he worked on automation. He built out the Help Center content and installed chatbots which led to a reduction in tickets from 1,800 to 800 per month.

With all that Ralph has implemented over the past four years, perhaps the most important change has been the cultural shift. Ralph still hears agents say things like “today was a good day” but the difference is that now agents are able to quantify their statements. They’re accurately able to demonstrate what a good day looks like by backing up their claims with data e.g. “today was a good day… We have a 100% CSAT score”.

Ralph’s advice for building a data driven Support team

Change can be scary, particularly if you’re working with a Support team who aren’t used to their KPIs being visible. Ralph shares some tips to help you get started.

Share Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Ted Talk

Sinek’s famed Ted Talk is a go-to for Ralph, it looks at how leaders can inspire trust, cooperation and change by communicating the ‘why'. The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ come easy, but to get buy-in you need to nail the ‘why’. Once the team understood why Ralph was making all these changes, they were bought in on the idea, just needing a little more training to feel confident in new ways of working.

Ask agents to look at the dashboard (multiple times a day)

This way you build a habit that allows any team member to be aware of the current situation and how they’re performing against KPIs.

Bonus, ask other teams to look at the dashboard

Get people from other departments to regularly engage with the Support team’s KPIs. This creates recognition for the positive change happening which in turn raises the profile of the team within the wider organization.

Ralph has been working in the 3D printing industry for the past 16 years. At ColorFabb he is Head of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support. ColorFabb is a Netherlands based 3D printing company selling filaments worldwide.