Helping people love where they live.
By: Execs In The Know
An interview with Matt Zurcher, Senior Vice President, Customer Care at Angi.
Senior Vice President, Customer Care
For more than two decades, Matt has found a home at Angi — the home-for-everything home — guiding his team through numerous transformations, big and small. Matt is passionate about not just the customer experience, but the employee experience as well. In late December 2021, we had a chance to put a few questions in front of Matt, helping us get to know both Matt and Angi just a little better.
EXECS IN THE KNOW (EITK): Please share a little bit about your background, how you came to be at Angi. How would you describe the day-to-day focus of your current role?
Matt Zurcher: I’ve been at Angi so long (21 years), it’s hard to remember how I got here! For the first eight years after college, I was a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy. Then, after a brief stint at a sports marketing firm, I joined Angi which, at that time, was ServiceMagic. I started my journey with Angi as a Partnership Manager. In my 20+ years at Angi, not only has the company grown and evolved, so has my role within the organization. I now serve as the Senior Vice President of Operations for Angi.
Like most organizations, the Operations Team at Angi handles many different tasks, so my day-to-day focus can vary quite a bit. Sometimes, it’s working through issues with our inbound care teams, and sometimes it’s working with our outbound teams, outsource partners, or quality and customer satisfaction group. The day-to-day variety is one of the reasons I love my job.
On a broader scale, my day-to-day focus is on customer satisfaction across all touchpoints, financial obligations, and service improvements including potential technology enhancements. At Angi, we have a mission to help people love where they live, and my team plays a large part in making that mission come to life. We all work to live our mission, so a lot of the time I just get out of the way and let my amazing management team make things happen, serving our pros and the millions of homeowners that turn to us.
EITK: Angi is a home services marketplace leader resulting from the 2017 merger between two once-upon-a-time competitors, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. Can you describe a little bit about what Angi offers and how the company has evolved since the merger, especially with respect to company culture and the customer experience (CX)?
Matt: Angi’s mission is to help people love where they live. In addition to merging with Angie’s list, we also acquired Handy in 2018. After operating as different business units and brands, last March we re-branded, bringing everyone under the same name, Angi. Combining the companies and the models has allowed us to offer homeowners the ability to accomplish their home projects in a variety of ways. Here are the choices you have through Angi:
- You can choose a professional from a directory, reading real, vetted reviews from actual customers.
- Angi can match you with a professional based on your location and project.
- Or, you can book a project directly from Angi. We give you a price up-front and you book and pay Angi. We then do the rest, starting with finding a top-rated pro to complete the project —all backed by our Happiness Guarantee.
With respect to company culture, it has been an evolving exercise. This year, we created a new mission statement as well as new values. Those will both help shape the company culture and be the guideposts we use going forward. However, the pandemic has made building and maintaining our culture challenging. To help build culture in a virtual environment, we are far more intentional with it than when we were working in an office. Like a lot of other leaders, we are learning as we go.
EITK: Angi is unique in that it serves both end users (homeowners) and service providers (contractors). What challenges does this pose to Angi’s CX operations, and how are these challenges tackled?
Matt: The marketplace we live in can be difficult — lots of people to satisfy — and, when you add in the fact that we have various ways to use our marketplace, it can become quite complicated. But at Angi, our first value is, “Start with the Customer.” For an operations team, this puts us in an amazing position where we have the backing and support of the whole organization. For us at Angi, CX is not an afterthought, it’s the first thought.
From the CX operations perspective, some processes are harder than others. For the processes that are unique to one customer, whether a homeowner or service professional, most scenarios are pretty straightforward. When a scenario overlaps both of our customers, there can be more complexities.
For me, there are three keys required to tackle these challenges. First, you need advisors who can communicate with service professionals and consumers — and those two groups are very different from their needs to their understanding of the home, and more. Second, you need a CRM that can handle these complicated scenarios. Over the last 20+ years, we have continuously improved our internal CRM system to the point that these processes are now pretty intuitive. Third, communication is key. Internally, the CX organization cannot be siloed
— each group must know where there might be overlap and, furthermore, know who to talk to in case there are questions.
EITK: Combining such well-established companies raises some difficult questions in terms of branding and technology. What was Angi’s approach here, and what was the impact on CX operations? How have things been working out?
Matt: We’ve actually been “combining” for the last several years, which has been hugely beneficial as we embarked on our rebrand. Instead of rushing into combining all aspects of the business, we have been taking a thoughtful approach. Operations was one of the first areas where we started to coordinate and overlap teams. In late 2017, we combined with Angie’s List and, in 2018, Handy came into the fold. I think the learnings from those two efforts helped us when we transitioned to Angi. This transition was more involved, because we created one homeowner app and focused on a unified company name, Angi.
Combining organizations is difficult, especially when you are bringing together organizations that have been around for more than 20 years. But because we had been working on this for a while, the final consumer-facing transition was more seamless than anticipated. Through the lens of CX, I thought re-branding and informing our customers about the changes would be difficult, but that turned out to be fairly straightforward. We had good training ahead of time, and we provided scripts that were simple and easy to digest.
The difficult part is blending CX teams and processes across three companies. With the brand change, we wanted homeowners to think of Angi when they need repairs, improvements, and any other type of work done to their homes. Additionally, we wanted pros to think about Angi as a way to build and grow their business, finding in Angi a partner for their business.
To deliver on that, pros and homeowners need to be able to get customer service help easily. HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and Handy historically worked off different platforms and had different processes. Since the rebrand, we have made steady progress in unifying these platforms and processes. Our ultimate goal is to have one CRM tool, but until that happens, we have cross-trained advisors on all platforms so they are able to answer questions, regardless of the issue.
EITK: Keeping employees happy and engaged is tricky, even in the best of circumstances, let alone during a major merger and a global pandemic. What are some of the things Angi does to keep ESAT scores where they need to be among CX support staff and frontline agents?
Matt: I believe happy employees results in engaged employees. The brand change we did last spring was exciting. It wasn’t hard to keep people engaged and excited during that transition. They knew they were an important part of the change.
The more challenging issue that impacted employee engagement and happiness was the global pandemic. It has not been easy, but below is a list of things Angi did to keep ESAT scores high:
- Be Mindful of Communication — What historically had been easy suddenly became difficult. Keeping people informed is a lot more difficult when you can’t casually gather people together or walk to a manager’s desk to share information. Virtual communication must be more deliberate, more repetitive, and just more in general. When we pivoted to remote work, we instituted some important communication forums, like consistent fireside chats with the senior leadership team, office hours with leadership, and roundtable conversations between senior leaders and advisors. That allowed for more two-way communication where important company updates could be shared by all, and issues and frustrations could quickly be raised and addressed.
- Revisit and Improved Team Benefits —
- During the pandemic, Angi instituted a policy that all employees get a free holiday. Each person can select a holiday that is important to them and take that day off.
- Angi also implemented an Equity-For-All program. One of our values is “Be an Owner” so this fit hand-in-glove.
- Celebrate, Even if It Looks Different Than It Did Before — We have always done a lot during Customer Service Week, and during the pandemic we didn’t stop. Since we couldn’t all celebrate together, we had to improvise. We delivered gifts to advisors’ homes. We had drive-by celebrations, and we had a blast celebrating virtually. Our management team truly rose to the occasion and created a great week of recognition.
The numbers prove out that these actions have been successful. This year, attrition has been the lowest in two years, and our manager satisfaction scores were over 90%.
EITK: Undoubtedly, a tremendous amount of work went into the successful rebranding launch of Angi in March 2021. But, surely, the work is not done. What remains, and where will you be focusing your efforts most in the next 6–12 months?
Matt: Our first value is, “Start with the Customer,” so we will continue to work tirelessly to help our consumers “love where they live,” as well as help our service professionals grow their businesses.
In general, I think our mission statement really expresses where our efforts will be focused. It is this: “We believe that home is the most important place on earth. That’s why we’re on a mission to help people love where they live. We’ll do this by becoming the home for everything home.”
EITK: You have been an active member of the Execs In The Know community for a long time. Can you share what your involvement in the community has meant to you?
Matt: I don’t attend a lot of conventions in general, but ever since I met Chad and Susan several years ago, this has been a group that I’ve really enjoyed being a part of. The Execs In The Know conferences always have topics I find relevant and beneficial. Additionally, the people I’ve met at those conferences have been remarkably transparent and friendly. I have reached out to them for advice, I have played golf with them, and certainly had a cocktail or two with them as well. Bottom line is that Execs In The Know is an organization that brings together the right people to discuss the right topics at the right time. I’m really excited that there will be another in-person conference in 2022.
Execs In The Know partners with brands that are providing outstanding customer service (CX) experiences. The Brand Spotlight Series showcases innovations and solutions to CX challenges faced by today’s leading brands.
Thank you to Matt Zurcher and the entire team at Angi for contributing to the Execs In The Know Brand Spotlight.
Interested in taking part in a future Brand Spotlight feature and sharing your story? Contact us at email@example.com.