Angel Brockbank, Director of Customer Experience at Chatbooks, discusses how business leaders can use technology to support working parents, carers and more.
Balancing parenthood and careers used to be impossible. Years ago, it was expected that a parent would remain home to raise children — moms in particular. Times have changed, but it’s still a challenge for many people to juggle household and office while keeping some semblance of a work/life balance. That’s where employers can really help ease the burden by investing in tools that create flexibility where and when it’s needed.
Empowering all people to work effectively, no matter their family or other commitments, is a cause close to our hearts at Chatbooks. Our values center on strengthening families, and we hire across a broad spectrum of people who align with our family-focused culture. From this we benefit from a diverse workforce with different life experiences, increasing our inclusivity and innovation.
In fact, in a recent application round for customer support agents (who we lovingly refer to as ‘Troopers’) we had over 300 applicants within a week and without posting the vacancy on any job board. All responses came through our customers, fans and employee referrals. It’s truly a testament to the authentic way that we strive to live our values. Our customers see that, and they want to be part of our story. It also means our Troopers reflect our customer base. They are single moms, widows, cancer survivors, newlyweds, college students, special needs moms and more, all working for us. It’s something we’re very proud of, and it’s made possible through our approach to flexible working.
The benefits of making work accessible
There are many benefits to offering flexible work options to employees. For one, by making a workplace accessible to all, you can hire from a wider pool of talent. Plus, highly qualified and experienced people won’t be lost to your company when other life commitments arise.
Mothers are the primary breadwinners for four in ten U.S. families. Particularly highly educated women, where motherhood rates have drastically increased over the past 20 years. Working women are more likely now to become mothers than they were a decade ago. Similarly, dads are also spending more time on childcare. So the workplace must evolve to meet their needs.
If we, at Chatbooks, hadn’t made our work style accessible, we would’ve missed out on a wealth of talent. Most of our team have college degrees. They come from a veritable whos-who of professional companies including Amazon, JetBlue, Disney, and even Tesla.
Meeting all needs
People with commitments outside of work require greater flexibility, plus a way to remain connected with their team, feel like part of the company, and have clear communication. Even more so when your team works remotely and when your company is large. Chatbooks, for example, has over 140 employees — half of them working in the customer service team serving well over a million customers.
If you’re not careful, there can be a big disconnect between home and office. That’s where considered investment in the right communication and collaborative tools can really help. Personally, I split my week between Chatbooks’ office and working from home. I have four children, one who is five months old, and this allows me to meet my family’s needs and continue my career. Plus, it helps me better understand how our remote workforce feels and what kind of technology and processes can help them.
Investing in technology
One tool that has made a significant positive impact is Helpshift. Not only has it streamlined the support experience for customers, it has also helped empower our people to be professionals and to continue their career development while enabling them to have a rich family life as well.
Helpshift also gives support agents the high level of flexibility they need to meet their home requirements. They can pick up customer support requests as-and-when, with everything captured via one console. Messaging, in particular, has been invaluable to our agents. Our team spends about half of their time on messaging shifts and then half on other responses. Since everything is on one platform, there’s less back-and-forth required and our agents can simply answer queries or track requests via their preferred device.
Meeting holiday demands
During the holidays this infrastructure really holds its own. At this point, we’ll have around 70 to 100 agents working across the country, in different areas and time zones. Lots of early morning shifts and late nights, plus every time in-between. For customers, it means that their questions are a bit more urgent and are turning to all of our support channels to get answers.
Helpshift allows us to quickly scale during this period without significantly impacting the work-life balance that is so essential to our staff. Tools and features like messaging, automation, and the unified dashboard make working that much easier for agents in different areas, time zones, and flexible working patterns. This enables our Troopers to continue doing meaningful work without feeling like they have to choose between that and family time during the holidays. For customers, it means that they receive the same personalized service they’ve come to expect of us, no matter the time of year.
Making lives better
Investing in technology that keeps everyone on the same page and that offers flexibility has helped to strengthen the relationship between our team and the company. They feel like part of the brand and they bring that enthusiasm every day to conversations with customers. It’s a virtuous cycle that ultimately enables us to create a community around the Chatbooks brand that is committed to building strong families for both our customers and employees.