How Earnin rebuilt their customer service process ahead of launching a new feature
Earnin empowers people to control their finances with a variety of services and products that give customers flexibility, access to, and control over their money.
Their products play a critical role in a lot of their customers' finances, as they help eliminate the wait for payday, it helps their customers pay bills on time, and save sooner—all with no mandatory fees (1).
In fact, 84% of their customers said that Earnin reduced their financial stress during COVID-19 (2).
But helping customers with finances is often very time-sensitive—like paying bills or rent on time—so it’s mission-critical that Earnin provides support to their customers quickly and reliably.
That’s where Paula Obler, a Software Engineer on the team at Earnin, comes in. She builds tools for Earnin customer service agents and internal teams so that customers get help when they need it—and have access to their earned money.
This is the story how Paula built a new customer service tool in Retool to help the customer support team prepare for the launch of their new feature, WeWin (3).
In the early days at Earnin, the engineering team built custom internal tooling for the customer service team that supported their basic needs.
As they scaled both teams and product offerings, however, it became obvious that they would need more robust and comprehensive tools. As a result of their aging tooling, the customer service team suffered—and so did the support they provided to Earnin customers.
Their homegrown solution initially displayed way too much information and was confusing to navigate.
The data wasn’t organized in a way that matched agents’ workflows, so they lost time hopping from tool to tool in order to gather the necessary information to serve customers,” Paula explains.
The entire customer support process was slowed down as a result, and our customer experience was impacted.
What’s more, onboarding new agents was a challenge because the internal tool wasn’t intuitive or streamlined. As the company started growing faster, the need to improve the onboarding process started to hit a breaking point.
On top of that, another consequence of the old tooling was something Paula felt in her day-to-day: “Developing new or updating old internal tools was a slow and laborious process,” she explains. “The tools existed in a legacy repo and used an old UI framework, which was clunky for developers and reduced our interest in improving our internal tools.”
With the launch of WeWin, an incentive feature where users could have a chance to earn up to $10M as they saved more money, Paula and her team wanted to build a better tool that would streamline the customer support workflow, thereby allowing agents to access information faster and respond to customers with more confidence to customer requests.
They needed to create a tool that matched—and optimized—agents’ workflows. It was important that they help minimize the cognitive load of responding to support requests so helping customers would be simple, not confusing.
Because requests are often time-sensitive and financially impactful, Paula wanted the new tools to empower agents to really engage with the issues customers brought forth, instead of spending their time managing the workflow around the issue.
Finally, as a developer, Paula hoped to improve her own team’s experience of developing tools for customer support agents and other internal stakeholders alike. By speeding up the release cycle for making changes to their internal tools, agents and developers would be better able to sustain the company’s rapid growth.
Paula started by developing a customer service tool to support their WeWin feature.
For every $10 Earnin customers save, they’re entered for a chance to win money weekly. Using Retool, Paula built a service dashboard that empowers agents to respond to customer requests and issues quickly and easily.
In the Retool dashboard, agents can search for a customer’s user ID, see all the WeWin numbers that have been drawn for the customer, see their ticket entries, and more.
“All of the customer data is displayed in one place and agents can take actions right from Retool,” Paula explains. “They no longer have to jump from tab to tab to find information or resolve the customer’s request.”
Paula and her team are also building a workflow that covers the most frequently asked questions from agents, displays key customer details for a bird’s eye view, and provides action buttons to further reduce the time it takes to help a customer.
Using Retool makes managing customer requests easier and it improves several internal workflows, too.
From onboarding new agents—which is quick and simple using the new Retool workflow—to faster and more enjoyable development cycles for development, Retool has streamlined how Paula and her team work with the entire Earnin team.
“Our developers can now involve agents in the development process thanks to the ease of creating mockups, getting feedback, and iterating within Retool,” Paula explains.
For example, the two engineers who manage support tools can create several versions of a new feature—like their new FAQs dashboard—and test them out with agents, gather feedback, and iterate. “It’s far more effective than using wireframes because agents can actually use the tool as we’re developing and iterating,” she adds.
Because Earnin is a mobile-based application, Paula and her team don’t have the tooling to manage web UI development—something that made building internal tools tricky.
“Using Retool eliminates the need for a frontend codebase and reduces the load on our developers,” Paula says. “It’s one less thing for us to think about because Retool automates the frontend away.”
Paula and her team have already noticed improvements in their workflows and abilities to help agents respond faster and more proficiently to customer requests.
Moving forward, they’ll track new Retool feature success by asking agents for feedback and gathering suggestions for improvements to the internal tools.
They’ll also measure training time for agents and chat handle time, aiming to vastly reduce the time and effort it takes to both onboard new agents and respond to customer inquiries.
“We’ve already seen improvements in our development time since launching the WeWin customer support tool,” says Paula.
Instead of months, we launched a Retool app in two weeks because our developers didn't have to build out a frontend repo with custom UI.
The Earnin team will continue to track time savings for the development team, agents, and customers alike—all in the spirit of driving better financial control for all.