Cameron Hurst, Vice President of Targeted Solutions at Assurant is Chair of the final judging committee of the Customer Service & Call Center Achievement categories for The 2012 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. (The final entry deadline is January 18th; request your entry kit here and submit your entries before next Thursday.)
We asked Cameron for some advice on how to improve customer service.
What are your top 3 tips on how to make your mark in Customer Service?
- Be innovative!
Come up with a game-changing way to deliver stellar service to your customer that differentiates you from the competition. All too often, customers have to repeat themselves, from the interactive voice response (IVR) to the agent. That negatively impacts customer satisfaction.
- Don’t chase offshore cost savings.
Offshore has its place, but a good customer experience is often about the customer service representative (CSR) resonating with the caller. I have moved many jobs offshore for previous employers, but at times when you need to create affinity on calls, you have to find elements in the CSRs’ and the customers’ backgrounds that drive commonality. And often those elements are shared demographics or cultural backgrounds. Superior customer service can be achieved onshore or offshore, but it’s important to think about the context.
- Be willing to let go of old-school metrics like average handle time (AHT), average speed of answer (ASA), and even service levels.
Motivate your CSRs to retain, sell, collect, etc., for the RIGHT reasons versus cranking through dialer lists, aiming for the most saves per day, or selling the highest dollars for the week. Retaining a customer by down-selling him to a product that works better for him takes time on the call. But the outcome can be a customer who stays with you for five more years versus a customer that calls back in the next bill cycle to start the process over again.
What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
I was amused and intrigued by a story on the NBC Nightly News the other night. This dog (I think it was a golden retriever) was listening to his owner play guitar. The dog had this big grin on his face and his head was clearly moving to the music. Each time the music stopped, the dog’s countenance turned to an obvious frown—then right back to a smile and a head-bob when the music started again. It was an immediate YouTube sensation.
What is your favorite sport or hobby?
Sport? Trying to stay current on technology. Hobby? Trying to stay current on technology. Who has the time to do anything else?
If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I always wanted to be a rock god. I wonder if Eddie Van Halen offers guitar lessons?
What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Candor, consistency, and professionalism. Tell me the truth…even when it’s uncomfortable—for me or for you. Let your reactions be predictable. Ivan the Terrible syndrome is no way to lead, in my opinion. Do what you say you will do. Do your best and pay attention to details. Show professionalism in your written and spoken words. Meet deadlines and work hard.
As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
I work for a fantastic company that values what I think about issues that affect our business and gives me the latitude to explore complex subjects. I am empowered to make decisions and influence the direction of our company. I work for a senior leadership that is transparent, not even remotely elitist, and very open to new ideas—and that actively seeks innovation from employees. Who wouldn’t be jazzed to go to work every day in this kind of environment?
About Cameron Hurst:
As Vice President of Targeted Solutions at Assurant, Cameron leads all aspects of development and operations of a patented, next generation, analytics-based, contact routing technology for IBM commercial distribution. Previously, Cameron was Head of Delivery at the HSBC Global Technology Center in Pune, India, as well as served as Senior Vice President and Group Head of Contact Center Technology at HSBC in Sheffield, England. Cameron started his career in 1984 as an officer in the USAF, based at the Pentagon in Washington, DC and spent the 1990s as founder of Softgen International, a global Contact Center software company based in Dallas, Texas. With broad industry coverage of his achievements, Cameron is considered one of the industry's leading experts in the field of contact technology.
Assurant is a provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. Its four key businesses—Assurant Solutions, Assurant Specialty Property, Assurant Health, and Assurant Employee Benefits—partner with clients who are leaders in their industries and build leadership positions in a number of specialty insurance market segments worldwide. Assurant, a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AIZ. Assurant has approximately $27 billion in assets and $8 billion in annual revenue. For more information go to: www.assurant.com.