Business success can arise from almost anywhere and take a variety of forms. In 1974, when Erno Rubik wanted to help his students understand 3-D geometry, he invented the Rubik’s Cube, which became the best-selling toy of all time, with over 350 million units sold. The following year, a bar conversation about annoying pets inspired Gary Dahl to create the Pet Rock, which generated 1.5 million sales at $3.95 apiece that holiday season before fading from the market.
While Dahl’s marketing skills were certainly remarkable, Rubik’s approach more closely mirrors the path we’ve taken at Clarus Commerce. Our success is predicated in good part on the idea of helping people, both internally and externally. That’s why we were thrilled with the recent news that we earned a Stevie Award for Sales and Customer Service and a place on Entrepreneur’s 2017 Top Company Cultures list.
These two honors highlight two critical drivers of Clarus’s ongoing growth:
- An intense dedication to serving the needs and interests of customers; and
- A steadfast commitment to helping our employees develop and thrive.
The Stevie Awards are one of the most coveted prizes in the business world, generating over 2,300 nominations from organizations of all sizes and across almost every industry in 2016. They cover 61 categories for customer service and contact center achievements. Clarus Commerce earned a Bronze Stevie Award in the “Customer Service Department of the Year” category for companies with less than 100 employees.
We strive to make our customer service process as seamless and responsive as possible. For example,we recently updated our FreeShipping.com Help Center to get program members the information they seek quickly and easily. FreeShipping.com’s 10% cash-back benefit relies on data from third-party retailers, which sometimes causes delays between the time a member makes a qualifying purchase and the time it appears in the member’s account. That can drive member inquiries, so we streamlined the resolution process for that issue, reducing what was once a seven-step flow to just three steps. As a result, our members now:
- Need to provide much less information;
- Know where their inquiries stand at all times; and
- Get their issues resolved up to two days faster.
The Stevie Awards judges were also impressed with the overall swiftness of our response times over the past 18 months, providing customer support for over 50 products, including FreeShipping.com and ShopSmarter. During that period we:
- Answered 94% of all calls within 30 seconds, on average;
- Responded to customer service emails within 10.2 hours; and
- Resolved complaints quickly and agreeably enough to maintain our A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau.
In fact, our department consistently and significantly out-performs key industry metrics:
- Our call answer rate exceeds the industry standard for service-level average speed to answer — 80% of calls answered in 30 seconds — by 17.5%;
- Our email response time surpasses the industry standard of 44 hours by 76.8%; and
- Our A+ BBB rating compares favorably with competitors in our space.
Entrepreneur’s Top Company Cultures list is a highly competitive compilation of select U.S. businesses with optimal work environments. The rankings rely on CultureIQ’s methodology for measuring high-performance cultures, which determines each company’s strength in 10 core cultural areas, including performance focus, support, and innovation, based on employees’ survey responses. These scores are combined with the employee Net Promoter Score to create a cumulative CultureIQ Score. Entrepreneur then lists the companies according to their scores. In the 2017 Top Company Cultures list, Clarus Commerce ranks 40th among medium-sized (50-100 employees) U.S. organizations — and is the only Connecticut-based company to make the cut.
Among the attributes that make Clarus unique is our constant emphasis on engaging and listening to our employees. Over the past 17 years, our workforce has helped to shape the way we do things. Our philosophy is that your job shouldn’t be solely about the work you do; ideally, your colleagues should serve as a support system, offering you help and encouragement in your professional development. We’ve therefore built and continue to enhance a welcoming, collaborative work environment, encompassing everything from company outings and charitable endeavors every quarter to an open-office layout, a casual dress code, personalized career paths, mentoring opportunities, and much more. As a result, we had a 97% employee retention rate in 2016; what’s more, the average employee stays at Clarus for at least four years.
Erno Rubik once said, “If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.” At Clarus, we hire inquisitive, strong-minded people, and we embolden them to find ways to satisfy and gratify our customers. It’s truly an honor to see our employees receive recognition for their efforts. Clarus succeeds thanks to their knowledge, abilities, and determination — and the culture that they’ve helped to create and foster.
Congratulations to the entire Clarus Commerce team. You’ve all played a major role in these achievements, and I look forward to our continued success.