In a “work from home” dynamic, is it possible to continue to facilitate a cohesive and motivated team, all while adding new people and a manager into the mix? This is the challenge we have faced this past year on the Esker Customer Experience (CX) team.
Our CX team is made up of three position groups: trainers, customer advocates and, of course, our tech nerds. Trainers teach our new and existing customers how to use Esker’s solutions most effectively. Customer advocates work with assigned customers to help them maximise their productivity and efficiency with Esker. Lastly, our tech team assists the advocates in their analysis of our customer’s personalised Esker environments.
When the pandemic hit, we had three advocates with less than six months of experience. Since then, we have hired two more advocates, a trainer and a manager for the advocates. As I write this, it makes me look back and realise why I feel so exhausted from the last year — whew! I believe the key to our success lies with the great people that were already a part of our young team when the pandemic started. Our CX group here at Esker formed in 2018 and continues to grow today.
Building a group from the ground up and defining our roles and processes along the way has been an adventure. The core group on the team before the pandemic started had a close-knit bond that made working together a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, they are very serious about what they do, but they always find a way to pull each other up, assist a newbie or give a good-natured ribbing. Their example of how to work, help each other, and interact, has really helped the new team members thrive and assimilate to our culture. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them or their mentorship.
In addition to the team’s cohesiveness, many of the purposeful actions we have taken over the last year have led to supporting our customers and team more effectively. We’ve increased the frequency of one-on-one meetings in order to connect more often and work through the kinks of the new normal. Some of the steps we’ve taken to ensure we can all stay connected include:
- Having our cameras on during meetings to maintain face-to-face connections
- Making time for virtual happy hours and lunch hours
- Celebrating the small things (e.g., sending my team members cocktail kits from a local distillery to be enjoyed virtually together on Employee Appreciation Day).
- Scheduling “just-chat” meetings with other managers to see what was working and what wasn’t for them
The continuous improvement mentality we had prior to 2020 has really served us well. We’ve maintained the daily 15-minute team check-in meetings virtually and continue to have retrospective discussions which lead to good process improvements. This has had a positive impact on our team and customers. For our new hires, we’ve had daily meetings during the first month to answer questions and make sure they have what is needed to do their jobs effectively.
We have certainly lost out in many ways by not being together this past year. Despite that, we have been successful in growing a cohesive, productive team that cares for each other and our customers. I’ve pushed that communication is key for continued success, and the steps I’ve taken have solidified that. My hat’s off to them for working hard, working together, and having the initiative to continue improving and learning.
The right people make all the difference. If you are an Esker customer and interact with anyone on the CX team, I’m sure you’ll find they rub off on you, too.
-Written by, Joe Hanousek