Surfboard raises $5m to supercharge collaboration in Customer Support teams

The shift to remote work for the customer service industry during the Covid-19 pandemic is here to stay. With it comes previously unforeseen challenges, in particular: isolation, a loss of work-life balance, and pervasive workforce surveillance. Spreadsheets and archaic workforce management software have been long outdated, and remote and hybrid work clearly proved their inadequacy in running companies. Furthermore, in an uninspired effort to preserve efficiency and work productivity, many managers fell into the trap of invasively tracking and monitoring their teams, further eroding the trust-based employee-employer relationship.

This is why we are excited to back, Surfboard, a collaborative planning software that connects disparate systems and data, aiming to make work more human by reducing burnout and increasing scheduling flexibility to match how people want to work. Founded in 2021, at the height of the Covid crisis, the UK-based company is on a mission to redefine how teams work together through increased transparency, fair scheduling, and collaborative team planning. 

The status quo for managing Customer support teams includes cobbled-together systems comprising ticketing providers, time-off data from HR platforms, meetings from calendars, messaging from Slack or Teams, and spreadsheets. When adding in the complexities of remote working, multiple time zones, and flexible work patterns, scheduling becomes a nightmare for managers and leads to underperforming teams.

Surfboard’s intuitive and easy-to-use platform streamlines team management and scheduling into a quick, seamless, and adaptable process. Within one week of using Surfboard, customers have seen an 80% reduction in the time spent on scheduling and a significant improvement in service levels. Surfboard’s growing roster of customers includes Bloom & Wild, Cuckoo Internet, Lick, Wolf & Badger, KatKin, and Hypervolt. 

Natasha Ratanshi-Stein, CEO and founder of Surfboard, emphasizes:

“Poorly managed scheduling kicks off a vicious cycle of long wait times, lost revenue, employee churn and increased costs. Support teams should always be treated as profit centres and it’s impossible to do that without orchestrating your team efficiently and fairly”. 

”I’ve seen first-hand the demoralising effect that the existing set of workforce management platforms, including spreadsheets, has on support teams at a human level. For support teams to thrive, individual team members should be empowered to work collaboratively alongside management and their teammates. That’s our vision for Surfboard.”

Surfboard’s integrations include ticketing, chat, and telephony systems such as Aircall, Dixa, Intercom, Salesforce, and Zendesk. The platform’s robust forecasting model balances availability, skills, and fairness to build optimal support team schedules easily. Team members can collaborate to adjust schedules based on changes in demand or availability. Furthermore, Surfboard automatically pulls time-off information from HR systems such as Personio, Factorial, Bamboo, Hibob, and Google Calendar.

Collaborative scheduling enables agents, or surfers as the Surfboard team call them, to work with their managers to manage their time together, build schedules that suit their best styles of working, and are flexible enough to accommodate their life outside of work. Teams are empowered to communicate directly within the platform to find the best outcomes that satisfy customers’ needs and expectations while encouraging a healthier work/life integration for surfers.

On why we invested, our Managing Partner Reshma Sohoni highlights:

“We are impressed with Surfboard’s traction since we wrote their first cheque in early 2021. Their timely solution, relentless focus on their ‘surfers’’ well-being and customer satisfaction, as well as their long-term vision, will supercharge Customer Support and Success in a more collaborative and efficient way to the benefit of all parties involved. Natasha has lived through the problem and is well equipped to tackle it successfully.”

We are excited to double down on our investment in Surfboard and join their $5m seed round, led by Speedinvest, with participation from Fly Ventures. The funding will accelerate product development, helping Surfboard achieve its mission of connecting support teams in a simpler, fairer, and smarter way to make work more human. Surfboard plans to grow its team, deepen integrations and build more functionality to become the single source of truth for all support team planning. 

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