Owning your development: from Customer Service Team Lead to BPO Coordinator
Rico Lehmann, Customer Service Team Lead turned BPO Coordinator, found his calling working in Customer Service as a Team Lead. However, a few years into the role, he felt pulled in a very different direction. In today’s post, find out why he changed roles and what he learned along the way.
Discovering my skill set in Customer Service
I’ve been working in Customer Service for over a decade. Initially what appealed to me about working in Customer Service wasn’t the field itself, but rather the companies I had the opportunity to join. I worked with mostly young, scrappy, start-up companies who were making waves in the online world. But soon after I began working in Customer Service, I discovered I was good at handling escalated situations, calming people down, and turning unhappy people into happy people.
Customer Services helped me uncover my skill set, and I found it incredibly motivating to work in a role I was good at. Over the years, I grew from Customer Service Agent to Team Lead, and in 2015 I joined GetYourGuide.
As a Team Lead at GetYourGuide, I ensured my team had the support and skills they needed to provide customers with the best service possible. My team was happy, I was happy, and I thought the Team Lead track was certainly the right path for me. Then, two years into my work here, I received the opportunity to join a project that ended up changing the course of my career within Customer Service.
Tackling a new project
In the Spring of 2017, I began working with our then Head of Customer Service to find a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) solution, or, more simply, to find a partner to whom we could outsource some of our Customer Service tasks.
I had been exposed to BPOs before. At one company in particular, our entire Customer Service department was moved to an outsourcing partner, and I led the transition. I worked with the outsourcing partner, trained their agents, and then managed the relationship.
From my point of view, there were always pain points that came along with outsourcing, aspects that could have been improved. So when we began discussing a BPO solution at GetYourGuide, I had the feeling we could do things better. I knew we would take the necessary steps to ensure success, so I asked to be involved.
After several months of planning, we launched our BPO solution in June 2017. In the early days after the launch, we were overwhelmed with putting out fires and fixing things that went south the previous day or week. We were in such a reactive position that we weren’t really thinking strategically about the following month or quarter. We made it through the summer — our high season — then began looking at ways we could improve going into the next peak.
A changing approach
One key aspect we needed to improve was project management. Before the launch, we treated the relationship with our BPO partner like we were running a relay race. We got the project to a certain distance, then “passed the baton” to them and hoped for the best. This led to a lack of clarity, misaligned expectations, and some dropped batons.
Going into 2018, we changed our approach entirely. Although we wanted to keep things quick and efficient, we needed to collaborate a bit more closely to achieve success.
We continued investing effort into managing our own responsibilities, but we began to invest an equal amount of energy into building a stronger connection with our partner.
We introduced better reporting, we began a feedback loop so both sides were informed on progress and blockers, and we started forecasting the levels of support we would need. This allowed us to grow the team by more than 200%, introduce 3 additional languages, and end 2018’s high season having supported more customers than ever before.
These successes felt great, but they were slightly overshadowed by my realization that the BPO project was simply too much to manage on top of my responsibilities as a Team Lead. It was time to choose between the two paths.
Upon reflection, I realized I wanted to commit fully to this new direction of my career. I loved leading a team, but I had grown more interested in continuing to expand our outsourcing network and extending GetYourGuide’s support to more customers.
The next step
I became the official BPO Coordinator in the fall of 2018. Without my Team Lead responsibilities, I was able to focus even more on improving the processes, programs, and structures we had in place. I started to think about how we could organize the BPO in a way that was more sensible and efficient going forward. By then, Roman, our BPO Manager, had also joined, and he gave the project a lot more direction.
Now, about 6 months into my new role, I’ve developed my skill set in new ways. I’ve become a clearer communicator, more structured in my approach to change management, and have further strengthened my ability to stay calm in escalated situations.
Through this transition, I’ve gathered three main takeaways that have not only helped me develop my career, but have also helped me within each individual role I was tackling at the time:
Do what you love, what you are passionate about, and what you’re good at.
Find out what you’re good at and what motivates you to do that thing well. Try to find a field where you see yourself being satisfied and capable and then try to find a spot within the business that will allow you to optimize on these factors.
Take risks and be ready to leave your comfort zone.
Pushing for personal growth and owning your own development can be a bumpy road, but achieving what you worked for is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.
The more you communicate, the better things go.
Don’t assume knowledge or understanding; communicate clearly to guarantee knowledge and understanding. Make sure you share all of the information you have and follow-up on the things that are important to you. Never take for granted that something will work out, do everything in your power to ensure success.
Into high season and beyond
As we enter our next high season, we are more prepared than ever to cure the chaos for an even greater number of customers. This is what motivates me most: seeing the impact I have as just one person by helping our Customer Service organization grow and reach more customers. As a Team Lead, I felt like I had an impact on every customer my team of 15 was talking to. Now, coordinating the efforts of ~170 BPO outsourcing agents, my impact has multiplied.
Although I loved working in Customer Service as a Team Lead, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to try out a new path, shape GetYourGuide’s Customer Service strategy, and bring an even more incredible support experience to our customers. I’m looking forward to applying all of the knowledge I’ve gained so far and tackling our next high season as BPO Coordinator.