Everything But The House (EBTH) is so popular now that when you sign up to be a bidder, your account number will have 11 digits. Marc Broering, Customer Service Manager at EBTH, can boast of a 4-digit bidder number, meaning he is one of the first ten thousand registrants.
EBTH was founded in 2008 by Jacquie Denny and Brian Graves, two veteran vintage sellers in the Cincinnati area. EBTH soon became an expansive online estate sale company. Now, with $84.5 million in funding, the company auctions off over 80,000 unique items per month, and performs over 450 estate sales, reaching over 150 countries. As a result of this scale, the company’s front-line team handles more than 4,000 customer interactions a week.
For Marc Broering and his customer service team, managing customer service inquiries for this growing company is an exciting challenge. In this year alone, the service team has sent over 60,000 Stella Connect customer feedback requests (more details on this partnership are below). Marc, who holds an MBA and was an All-American football player in college, is more than ready for the challenge.
To learn more about this exceptional service team, Marc Broering took us through a typical workday:
The first thing Marc does is take his 11 month old dachshund Frankie Rae (also known as Frankie, FR, and Peanut) for a walk. In the mornings before work, Marc’s on his phone checking emails and creating an action plan for what he needs to get done that day. This includes reading industry resources like Mckinsey and Company’s work on leadership and customer journey mapping. “Graduate school taught me to love the Harvard Business Review, so I read that pretty regularly as well,” Marc says.
Arriving at work
Marc lives a 22-minute drive from the EBTH office near downtown Cincinnati. The first thing he does when he arrives is say hi to everyone. “I take the time to see how everybody’s doing, which helps to give them a boost of energy for the day ahead,” Marc tells us. Then, at 9’oclock EST, the phone system turns on. It begins.
“From there, it could go anywhere!” Marc says.
Checking Daily Stats
When Marc hires a new team member, he makes sure everyone has three core characteristics: They’re kind, they’re caring, and they’re optimistic.
In the morning, when he checks Stella Connect feedback from customers (one of his daily morning activities), Marc can see these characteristics echoed in the results.
“I love when I pull up our Stella page in the morning and our star ratings are green, green, green, green, showing happy customers. I have to go a few pages before I find a piece of negative feedback. That always makes me happy. Our team is passionate about service, passionate about the company, passionate about what we do, and I think that’s wonderful.”
While there is no *typical* day in the fast-paced EBTH office, on Thursdays you can be sure that the music you hear is coming from vinyl. The team has hooked up a stereo with large speakers (playing low enough that it cannot be heard on customer calls, of course). Everyone brings their records from home and the team spends the day listening to everyone’s favorite albums–in vinyl form.
Weekly Leadership Meeting
During the leadership meeting, which includes the COO who is also one of EBTH’s partners, the team gets to problem-solve and come up with solutions to make things even more efficient. Being a startup, everyone’s voices are heard.
As part of these meetings, the company utilizes Stella Connect’s agent-level customer feedback to make strategic decisions. According to Marc, Stella Connect data is “one important piece of that puzzle, especially on the buyer side.” As customer service manager, Marc reports on Stella Connect data weekly, and everyone, all the way up to EBTH’s CEO Andy Nielsen, knows about the team’s Stella Connect results.
“For me, our Stella Connect rating is the most important number on my scorecard that I’m held accountable to, and I say that because, at the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that we’re creating raving fans and I want the team to feel empowered to make decisions that support that goal.”
Through EBTH’s IVR system, Marc and his supervisors can perform live listening. They especially utilize this in the early stages of someone’s development. But at EBTH, it’s not just the leadership team who helps with customer service training. Marc seats the newest members next to the team’s seasoned veterans to help.
For Marc, it’s important for his employees to know that he’s there for them to help make things better and to help them take advantage of their skillset. Marc is their change agent. This past year and a half, Marc is happy to say he has promoted two in department and four out of his department. “We’re like a family,” Marc says.
Call Center Coaching
As customer service manager, Marc thinks it’s important to always be on the floor with his team at the contact center. “I’m always there. I always hear what’s going on, I’m always there to help if anybody has an issue they can come to me,” Marc says.
When asked about tips for giving constructive feedback, Marc says it’s all about “being a person. At the end of the day, I want to be treated like a person, they want to be treated like a person.” If Marc hears someone is having a rough day, personally or professionally, he is always willing to help. A customer service manager is in the unique position to be able to help make their team happier and higher performing by listening and understanding. Sometimes that might mean shifting someone off the phones and onto chat or social media if that would make them more comfortable.
The agent-level performance data collected through Stella Connect has become instrumental in the company’s customer service coaching program. Marc and his supervisors do not have to listen in on every call or monitor every single ticket, because they get far deeper visibility through the Stella Connect feedback. This allows the team to focus training on the agents that need it most. It’s not just about coaching after negative interactions either – the team is also laser focused on delivering positive reinforcement when particularly good customer feedback comes in.
EBTH has Stella Connect’s Performance Leaderboards projected in the office. These Leaderboards have brought about some friendly competition between the two supervisor groups. The most recent manifestation of this competition over the two teams’ aggregate Connect ratings had a rather tasty outcome: the losing team cooked potluck dinner for the winning team.
The EBTH phones are on until 6pm, and Marc is usually at the office until 6:30pm or 7:00pm. A committed customer service manager, Marc never leaves the office without checking in with his team. He’s one of the last people to leave. “I shut the building down sometimes at the end of the day,” Marc tells us.
Hanging out after work
One of the best parts of working at EBTH is that the team spends time together outside the office (inside the office they have all sorts of events, like bring your pet to work day and Pajama parties). Whether the team is going bowling or heading out to their favorite karaoke place in the city, there’s always fun to be had after work.
Back at home
After Marc gets home and greets 11-month old Frankie, he’ll often cook dinner. “I make a mean turkey meatball,” Marc says. After settling in at home, Marc is ready for another energizing day at EBTH.
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