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Behind the Scenes at Jungle Disk - Why Staffing to Promote Personal Development Works

By Paul Ibarra
Dec 1, 2016

Hiring is one of the toughest challenges to overcome when building a successful team of motivated individuals who share your passion in working towards and achieving your organization’s goals. In early 2016, our support team changed gears a bit and we steered our staffing focus away from a need-based model to personal development-based model.

Need-based Staffing: The Quantitative Approach

Traditionally speaking, need-based staffing is when the return you receive on your hire is quantitative. You can measure the impact (through increased customer revenue, performance metrics, etc) that your new hire has and justify financially why hiring that individual is positive or needed for the company. Quantifiable data that is key for our support team includes the following:

There are other metrics that factor into the equation (For example, hold times, average call time, average chat time, etc.) but the ones listed above are key for us as these ensure that we are able to provide a positive customer experience.

The following metrics provide us with a simple formula that let us know we are meeting expectations for staffing.

[(Total number of agents) x (avg customer interactions per hour) x business hours in the day] - Total number of daily customer requests = 0+

As long as the result is zero or greater, we are on the right track as this means that we are successfully serving every customer that reaches out to us. Not bad, right?

We were meeting expectations, why change the method? Yes, we were meeting expectations, but that wasn’t good enough. Our support team has never settled for “meeting expectations.” We strive to be exceptional. We pride ourselves in offering a customer experience that you won’t find with one of our competitors or even organizations in other industries. The change we made then produced qualitative results that were invaluable to both our customers as well as our organization. As a matter of fact, we were still able to quantify the results!

Personal Development-based Staffing: The Qualitative Approach.

When we made the change to the personal development-based method in early 2016, we didn’t do it on a whim. Careful thought went into every aspect. Our ongoing goal is to promote an enjoyable work environment. An environment that makes a person want to be at work versus needing to be at work. We hope this encourages team members to volunteer their best every day. In return, we reward them by providing them the tools necessary to help build their career path by clearing roadblocks and guiding them along the way. In the end, we want to empower our team members to succeed and attain their individual career goals.

After the change, we hired our first round of team members and dug in with each one to determine their career goals. We were no longer staffing based off of a need but staffing to ensure that we can provide ample time for each employee to work on personal development. We then scheduled time for each of the individuals to take a timeout from their day and work towards achieving that goal. There were a couple of things that we noticed once this had been implemented:

We also noticed an increase in several of our metrics that we didn’t consider “key.”

Average time to initially respond to a customer request has significantly reduced. We have improved the customer experience by providing faster response time. Phone hold times reduced. Seldom do we have a customer waiting to speak to someone. Customer satisfaction has increased.

Our overall customer experience has improved, but how do we know that what we were attempting to achieve (promoting personal development) actually worked?

Success Story

Let me share a success story from our team.

Meet Juan, our new technical account manager. When Juan joined our support team, he expressed an interest in wanting to work more closely with our customers. We had never had a account manager role at Jungle Disk before, but we had been carrying out account management tasks on a daily basis. We developed a plan to allow Juan to both handle our existing tasks and build whatever else he felt was necessary. This meant that Juan researched the account management role as we guided him toward resources that would be helpful to him. We also reduced daily tasks and removed roadblocks that he had allowing him more time to build out his vision of the account management role. While working closely with Juan, we were able to turn the tables on how account management works at Jungle Disk. We shifted from reactive to proactive account management, which our customers have greatly appreciated. Juan fulfilled his goal of working more closely with our customers and is now the first technical account manager that Jungle Disk has had.

In addition to our customers benefiting from Juan’s new role, our organization benefits from it as well. If we hadn’t enabled and empowered Juan’s personal development, we would have never known that some of the things that he is doing now were needed before. Juan’s story is just one of a few that we have experienced at Jungle Disk over the past year.

What Does this All Mean?

Personal development doesn’t typically take the forefront in most companies as it sometimes comes across as sinking time and money into an individual who will most likely move on to another position or company in the future. Instead of approaching personal development in this manner, remind yourself that promoting personal development has its advantages. You’ll motivate your team, improve morale and exceed team and organizational goals!