Customer Service Awards Blog

Not Just B2B, People 2 People, Too

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 08, 2017 @ 10:27 AM

With the whole world going digital, many companies have become focused on their online activity, and customer service has become automated and frustrating. But for one of the original outgoing email service providers, SMTP2GO, their dedication to offering a friendly personal service to all clients is one of the many reasons why they won the Front-Line Customer Service Team of The Year award in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Better Life = Better Business Sense

smtp2go.pngSMTP2GO provides 24/7 international customer support for servers across the globe. They’ve been listed by Deloitte Technology Fast 500 for five years in a row now and believe their success stems from their work-life balance values.

“Our employees' happiness directly affects their work performance and the customers, so we make sure that our team is happy.” SMTP2GO representative and fellow-blogger Louise Feaheny told us, “Our flexible positions, allowing them to work from home, or from a co-working space, means that they have the option to live their life around their jobs.”

Success and Giving Back

SMTP2GO is a business with a heart. Last year, a beach in the Abel Tasman National Park was almost sold and made private. SMTP2GO donated to the “Give A Little” project so they could purchase it and donate it to the people of New Zealand. Flexible work methods have also helped one of their customer support agents volunteer to foster abandoned puppies and kittens from an animal rescue center in Spain. Since she started, over 30 pups and kittens in the last year received loving attention in a home. SMTP2GO heard about what she had done and sponsored the shelter with a portion of the donation paying for a life-saving operation on an old abandoned Podenco dog named Amatxi.

SMTP2GO was pleased to say that Amatxi on the mend and looking for a home.

The Numbers Speak For Themselves

SMTP2GO also speaks to all of their employees on a regular basis to get feedback on anything they think is important. They then conduct annual reviews to make sure they're satisfied with their work. With over 90, 000 satisfied customers in over 140 countries, keeping employees happy is going well to say the least.

“Being kiwis, we're friendly!” Feaheny concluded, “We enjoy life and realize that problems and issues with work can affect your personal life, which is why we aim to resolve them as quickly as possible with little hassle. We get a kick out of helping people!”

Tags: best customer service, customer service awards, Customer Service Team of the Year, Sales & Customer Service

How to Achieve a 100% Customer Satisfaction Rating, From a Stevie® Awards Winner

Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Mar 05, 2013 @ 05:15 PM

EMKAY Inc., of Itasca, Illinois, USA, won the Gold Stevie® Award for Customer Service Team of the Year in the customer service awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards and the Gold Stevie Award for Back-Office Customer Service Team of the Year in the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. (The entry deadline for The 2013 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A., is March 27 - request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away. You can also join the mailing list here for the 2014 sales awards and customer service awards and the entry kit will be emailed to you when entries open this July.) Here we look at how this fleet financing and management company continues to wow its customers.Chris Tepas, Chief Marketing Officer, EMKAY, Inc.

EMKAY is a top ten business-to-business North American finance- and fleet-management service solutions provider. Its front line is the Client Support Services (CSS) team, which provides value-added services daily to over 700 business customers with more than 100,000 vehicles under management. In addition, the customer service department has earned the ASE’s Blue Seal of Excellence Award for seven consecutive years; and for the past three consecutive years, EMKAY’s customer survey has resulted in a 100% customer satisfaction rating.

EMKAY customers recognize this company’s passion to satisfy in an ever-growing do-it-yourself environment. As one customer, Benjamin Moore & Co., stated: “EMKAY consistently addresses our growing needs to make life more productive for the fleet manager and our drivers. Its front-line customer service takes servicing clients seriously.”

The EMKAY Difference
So what is EMKAY’s award-winning CSS team doing to maintain their high standards and keep their customers satisfied?

  1. Saving The Client Money:
    A key element to EMKAY’s success is that its front-line isn’t just reactive, like your average customer service: it’s proactive. Not only does the company answer client requests, but it also looks for ways to save its clients money at every touch point. Each interaction—whether it’s by e-mail, phone, or the industry’s only on-line customer chat—is tracked as a case.

    On every interaction, service personnel answer requests and then focus on how EMKAY can add value through consultative strategies. The result for clients in 2011 was over $21,600,000 in documented savings.

    EMKAY has created unique point-of-purchase controls to save its customers approximately $560 annually per vehicle in maintenance expenses. EMKAY accomplishes this by consulting on every repair visit, tracking negotiated labor times/rates, and auditing every repair purchase order for any unnecessary repairs. The results are often dramatic and are shared in a cost-containment report prepared for each client.

    Customer Service also assists with remarketing off-lease vehicles. A third party, Adesa Analytical, audits EMKAY’s yearly statistics, enabling service personnel to pay close attention to the details involved in each transaction. EMKAY is also the only North American vehicle consignor to communicate electronically the maintenance history on every sold vehicle. The result is a cost saving for EMKAY customers of an average $322 per vehicle.

  2. Transparency:
    EMKAY believes customer service department results should be completely transparent. EMKAY has created a unique 360° view for customers that share specific results, accomplishments, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), metrics, and strategic initiatives specific to each customer. Each custom-built “Fleet Objective Report” shares not just EMKAY’s KPIs, but also how each customer performed versus customized targets and industry benchmarks. Customer Service then includes custom-prepared quarterly recommendations for improvement and cost savings.

    The CSS team’s great care is extended by tracking key metrics across all client interactions, then meeting bi- weekly not just with management, but with the entire CSS Front-Line. The result is that the team’s passion for results is engaged, and the company is able to make constant improvements to its service processes.

    Each front-line rep also receives a monthly scorecard. This acts as a results “playbook” for each individual, and enables Team Leads to meet personally with specialists, review their Key Performance Indicators, and develop individual self-improvement and quality-enhancement strategies.

  3. Walking In The Client’s Shoes
    The CSS team is also proactive with EMKAY’s operating departments to better the overall client experience. With EMKAY’s “Walk-In-Their-Shoes” program, CSS and operating team members interact directly in order to learn from each other, streamline processes, and create shortcuts to enable quicker—or more quality—client responses. By 2011, this initiative had resulted in an increase of 7% in the quality sections of the scorecards.

    Award-winning Results
    EMKAY has helped shift the way that corporate America views fleet management today with a philosophy of providing straightforward, better, and different solutions.  EMKAY has converted the fleet industry from simply leasing vehicles to a true technology- and service-based solution.

    Comments Chris Tepas, Executive Vice President of EMKAY, Inc.: “By internally managing key performance indicators and operational metrics, our focus is now on efficiency solutions and cost savings rather than on problem resolution. EMKAY’s proactive customer service mindset has resulted in a true partnership with our clients, something unique in the fleet world today.”

    He added: “In 2012 we totaled over 65,000 cases and achieved an outstanding 17.2% cases having a cost saving recommendation. The result for our clients was over $28,200,000 in documented savings.”

    About Chris Tepas
    Chris Tepas currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President for EMKAY Inc. Tepas joined EMKAY in 1999 and was promoted to Vice President of Sales in 2003, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 2006, and Executive Vice President of Client Services and Marketing in 2009.

    Tepas obtained his degree from Arizona State University and had professional design training at the Art Institute of California—San Francisco.

    About EMKAY:
    EMKAY
    is a provider of vehicle financing and management solutions to businesses throughout North America. Founded in 1946, it is the second oldest fleet management company in the nation, and maintains a reputation for operational excellence. As the industry’s only privately held, employee-owned company, EMKAY’s unique ownership enables a special personal pride in the servicing of its customers.

    Tags: customer service awards, American business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, Emkay, Customer Service Team of the Year, Back-Office Customer Service Team of the Year, Chris Tepas

    3 Tips on Being a Successful Customer Service Operative, From a Stevie Awards Judge

    Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 04:28 PM

    Angela Blevins, Vice President of Customer Care for Bluegreen Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and Boca Raton, Florida, USA, will Chair the final judging committee for the customer service awards and contact center awards for individuals for the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. (Entries for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals, are still being accepted through January 15; request your entry kit today.) Here we caught up with Angela and asked her about customer service excellence.  

    Angela BlevinsWhat are your top three tips for being a successful customer service or contact center representative?

    1. Treat customers the way you would expect to be treated yourself! 
      Have the applied practice and ability to listen carefully to a customer, and to approach an enquiry with the attitude: “I am here to help you, and we will work together on determining a solution.”
    2. Think outside the box! 
      Have the applied practice and ability to come up with creative ideas or solutions on business improvements, increased customer satisfaction, and even employee satisfaction.
    3. Be willing to embrace change.
      The business environment is constantly changing in order to keep up with technology, to obtain and retain new customers, and to develop employee satisfaction and engagement strategies. Customer service operatives have to be flexible in order to keep up with these changes.

    What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
    I am fascinated with how the term “gamification” can now be applied to the business world. I am learning how to apply gamification strategies to Bluegreen’s daily business life, such as by creating competitive digital dashboards similar to those you see on video games. I am also developing training materials that assimilate a specific event and trigger results based on decisions made throughout the learning event. 

    Do you have a favorite app that you use for business purposes?
    LinkedIn
    ! I love to stay connected with past associates, mentors, and new business acquaintances that I have met through networking.  LinkedIn is a great resource for several reasons, including recruitment, business updates, and services that could benefit your line of business. 

    If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
    If I had to choose another business profession, I would still choose the position and industry that I work within today: vacation ownership. I absolutely love the people I work with and what we do every day.  If I were to step outside the business sector, however, I would love to be a professional racecar driver, with Christine Aguilera as my sponsor! 

    As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
    First, I believe that you have to inspire yourself and hold yourself accountable for your behavior and attitude every day.  Make each day a better day than the one before. 

    Second, I believe you have to give your best effort every day so that the team you work with will be inspired.  It is the team that drives business success and creates the happiness we feel when working.

    About Angela Blevins:
    Angela Blevins is Vice President of Customer Care for Bluegreen Corporation in their Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and Boca Raton, Florida, USA offices. Angela’s career with Bluegreen Corporation began in 2003 with sole emphasis on leading the transition and migration of the reservation center from an outsourcer to internal operations. In 2005, Angela’s role was expanded to her current position as Vice President of Customer Care. In February 2012, Angela was the winner of the Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Leader of the Year in the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and in October 2012, the Bluegreen Club Services Team won the Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Team of the Year in The International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards program.

    About Bluegreen Corporation:
    Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, Bluegreen Corporation (NYSE:BXG) is a leading timeshare sales, marketing, and resort management company. Bluegreen manages, markets, and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 59 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide. Bluegreen also offers a portfolio of comprehensive, turnkey, fee-based service resort management, financial services, and sales and marketing on behalf of third parties. For more information, visit www.bluegreencorp.com.

    Tags: customer service awards, business awards, International business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, contact center awards, Customer Service Team of the Year, Angela Blevins, customer service leader of the year