Meetup is a social media platform for finding and building communities of people who share interests. For more than 20 years, Meetup has remained true to its mission of bringing people together and sparking authentic connections.
The idea for Meetup arose in response to a tragedy. Founder Scott Heiferman was living in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and in the period immediately following the attack on 9/11, Scott found himself talking to people that he would never have spoken to in the past. He experienced people helping and meeting with each other in person a lot more than they would have just a few months earlier.
“Lots of folks needed support. Neighbors were communing, having dinner, and experiencing the profound impact that community can have in times of need,” shares Gwyn Krueger, VP of CX and Operations at Meetup.
It was because of this experience that Heiferman and cofounder Brendan McGovern decided to start Meetup, launching the platform in June 2002. Their goal was to “use the internet to get people off the internet” so that people might be less lonely.
“What Meetup to this day is about, and what I really truly appreciate about Meetup, is that it’s this force of good in the world. We’re constantly barraged with news about increased political polarization and the rampant rise of isolation, but Meetup is about bringing us together,” says Gwyn. “I hear stories all the time about people meeting their best friends, their partners, finding new jobs, and having life-changing experiences by taking a chance on an event from Meetup.”
As a platform dedicated to fostering meaningful connections, customer experience and the humans behind it are a critical aspect of the business.
In 2017, Meetup was undergoing a significant restructuring to modernize its tech stack. The team set ambitious goals for new features it wanted to offer, which would require a major overhaul to the look and feel of the platform. As soon as the team started making changes to the product's user interface and tech stack, they knew they would need help.
“Lots of people use Meetup daily, so any changes we made impacted how they could use the platform,” Gwyn notes. “We saw many people emailing saying, ‘Whoa, this is really different! I’m really confused, and I don’t like it!’ which is totally normal. It was brand new.”
Even though it was expected for users to be confused by product changes, the number of conversations about the changes made it difficult for the support team to keep up.
“We had a huge influx of tickets on top of our normal work. We had mountainous backlogs and long wait times. It created this vicious cycle: poor CSAT, high handle times, and we didn’t have the right tools to even know where to start in figuring out what to do,” says Gwyn. “The team’s morale was low.”
As the leader of the Customer Support team, Gwyn knew that he needed to address these challenges and ensure his team felt supported and was adequately staffed.
Meetup had never partnered with a contractor or had any workers not on the immediate team, but they needed help fast, so they explored BPO solutions.
Unfortunately, because they weren’t sure what to look for in a BPO partner, they chose an outsourcing partner that over-promised and under-delivered.
“We realized early on that they were the wrong partner for us,” says Gwyn. “We needed more communication. We needed a partner who could say ‘for us to be successful, we need these things, these materials, this investment for this period of time to reach success and get to where we need to go.’”
Gwyn found PartnerHero by searching for a company that was more values-aligned.
“That was super important from a values perspective, both personally and for the business culture,” says Gwyn. “So many BPOs don’t take the approach [of paying a living wage] and instead think, ‘how can we keep margins really low?’ It’s not a good experience for anyone.”
What resonated the most with Gwyn and the team was the questions PartnerHero asked him to better understand the team's needs and where they were coming from. “It was clear that these folks understood what the problems were and had experienced them firsthand and know how to build towards solutions. No one jumped into, ‘Oh no problem; we got this.’”
Meetup worked with PartnerHero to create a process to train its teams, operationalize their queues, and understand what treatment individual types of tickets needed as they came in. Not only did PartnerHero help them with people management but PH also helped the team understand best practices from a software and tooling perspective.
Meetup wanted a partner that they could “grow and evolve with.” They wanted a partnership that would last—and they found it.
“We’ve been together five years,” says Gwyn. “We have amazing retention rates. We have people on our team with PartnerHero that have been with us for four years.”
The issues that Meetup experienced with insurmountable backlogs are things of the past. “For the past three years, we have met every service level agreement,” says Gwyn. “We have had one single event in the past three years that left us with any kind of backlog on the support side of things.”
PartnerHero’s work with Meetup’s support organization was so successful that the Trust & Safety team adopted the service and cleared out their year’s worth of backlog within six months.
But it’s not just the disappearing backlogs, shorter wait times, higher customer satisfaction scores, and improved team morale that makes the partnership a success. It’s what Meetup has been able to do with their internal team.
“Our internal team is entirely composed of leads and managers that have flexed out of doing frontline support because our PartnerHero team has that truly covered,” Gwyn says. “We are really developing careers internally because we can flex folks out. We can let them take a step back. With PartnerHero’s backup, we can support and empower them to build out procedures and different parts of the operation that benefit the larger parts of our company.”
Gwyn’s internal team is thriving and can focus on significant impact and meaningful work because they know PartnerHero has their backs covered in the inbox.
Gwyn thinks everyone should structure their organization like this, “Resources outside of the immediate business can really help create that space to tackle tasks with meaningful impact.”
Meetup expects to be working with PartnerHero for the long term. “We continue to have opportunities to mature our organization, and we wouldn’t be able to do it with just our team. We are in this together,” says Gwyn. “It’s beautiful.”