This post was written by Social Tables CEO, Dan Berger.
In September, all of the Social Team members entered a small conference room one by one and were given a stack of sticky notes. Each of them quietly reflected on what both the team and the product itself meant to them. The end result was a room papered in sticky notes that reflected a group of people who were all passionate about working together to produce something that was high-quality and innovative.
These dozens of phrases, words, and ideas were condensed down to a list of nine company values. In this four part series, I will talk to each of our team members and explore how each value fuels our passion and structures our business.
Customer Service. We are a customer service company that happens to do much more.
Decidedly Determined. We pursue our goals with passion and purpose.
Every Day is a School Day. We never stop growing through feedback and learning.
Nowhere are these three values more evident than in Social Table’s dedication to customer service. From the company’s inception, we knew that the priority had to be quality customer service. “We take the common sense approach when it comes to customer service,” said Brian Pensinger. “Our customers are the reason we are who we are, so we make sure they are ALWAYS the reason we do anything.” Even as the company has expanded from 7 team members to 26 to take on the over 865 clients we have to date, the importance of never being a stranger or inaccessible to our clients has not waned. One of our most recent additions, Julie Giffin, said that she was struck by how much Social Tables truly sets itself apart as a “customer-centric company.”
Social Tables team members are always on call because we know our customers are also fully dedicated to their work and we want to be a resource that is always available to them. And “always” means ALWAYS. Social Tables has a customer service chat line that never sleeps. Any Social Tables client that has a question or is running into a technical problem, can almost always get a hold of one of our team members, no matter the time or place.“This is on all ends of the deal,” she said. “Whether it is during the sales process, or after the fact when the client is using the tool and comes across a bug issue or new feature request, and our Product Team is the first to respond! A company can have the best, most innovative concept in the world, but if the service isn’t there, then there is not real motivator for a customer to be loyal and keep coming back!”
Social Tables recognizes that the events and hospitality industry is very fluid. It’s not a typical ‘nine-to-five’ gig and we want to be available to our clients when they are working. “We strive to be creative partners of clients and part of that is knowing what their schedule is like, when their next big event is, and ensuring we are available right away on those occasions,” said Scott Evans. “We’re relentless in the pursuit of making our clients happy. Honestly, it’s all I think about every day.”“I remember one time we were all getting a drink together as a team, when we got a chat from one of our
clients,” said Ram Parimi. “Everyone took out their laptops there and then until the problem was fixed. And that has happened on more than one occasion!” Laura Simmonsrecalled at the Chiavaris, our annual company award show, the engineers went missing for a few minutes. “We found them writing code in my living room to fix an issue!” she laughed.
However, our relationship with our clients is truly a two-way street. While we make ourselves readily available to them not only because we believe in doing everything we can do make their work more efficient, but because their insights help improve the product itself. “It really is as simple as a client sending us a chat that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’ and then about 2 weeks later, that new feature is up and running,” said Edward Kim. “Our customers know their industry well, and it’s really an advantage for us to be able to get so many ideas from them.” To date, between 50% and 75% of our features are inspired by these kinds of conversations with customers. This can be anything from several different people requesting a certain object to very specific, in-depth conversations with clients.
For example, one of our catering clients helped walk us through the process of setting up floor plans and what they have to do to get their rooms set up properly. Consulting with them really helped us figure out issues that hospitality professionals run into – from the necessary spacing between tables to the printouts they give their day-of team. We learn more about the specifics that have to be considered, for example tables to seat kids versus adults. Sometimes, when we are designing a unique object, such as the “serpentine” table, we even call up our some of our clients to get their advice on the details of what it should look like.
“We are constantly thinking about what our customers need and how to deliver on their expectations every day,” said Brian. “Rightfully, they are our priority and we promise to never lose sight of that.”The company-client relationship is symbiotic; the client’s job is made much easier because we are only a chat or call away and our company can improve its product through our interactions with our customers. The basis of any healthy or lasting relationship, including professional ones, is a level of trust. “In my mind, that is why we do what we do,” said Arliene Posno. “We work hard to make sure we keep in touch with our clients because we want to build trust in the relationship. It not only makes the conversations that much more pleasant, but it means that our clients are comfortable enough to approach us with anything they need. We want them to know that we are here to make their lives easier and that they can come to us with any input or questions.”