Customer Service Awards Blog

Winners Announced in People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 @ 10:07 AM

People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer ServiceMore than 250,000 votes were cast in the 2012 People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service, part of the 6th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world’s top honors for contact center, customer service, and sales professionals. 

This worldwide public vote was conducted between January 26 and February 10, 2012, with the highest number of votes deciding the winners in 11 categories.  The winning companies, which will each receive the coveted crystal People's Choice Stevie Award at the gala ceremony in Las Vegas on February 27, are:

-      Airlines, Distribution & Transportation: TATA Motors

-      All Other Industries: eCornell

-      Computer Hardware: Apple Inc./Apple Stores

-      Computer Services: Rosetta Stone

-      Computer Software: Photodex

-      Financial Services: SquareTrade

-      Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals & Related Industries: PetRays

-      Leisure & Tourism: IHG

-      Public Services & Education: Finding Freedom Team

-      Retail: Amazon.com

-      Telecommunications: Vodafone Turkey

Nicknamed the Stevie® for the Greek word “crowned,” the awards will be presented to honorees at the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service awards banquet on Monday, February 27 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Tickets for the event are now on sale.  More than 300 executives from around the world are expected to attend.

All organizations honored in the Customer Service Department of the Year categories of this year’s Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service were eligible to be included in voting for the people’s choice awards.

About The Stevie Awards

Stevie Awards are conferred in four programs: The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.  Learn more about the Stevie Awards at www.stevieawards.com.

Sponsors and supporters of the 6th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service include American Support, Coloredge Los Angeles * New York, Competence Call Center, SDL and ValueSelling Associates.

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, stevie awards, business awards, people's choice awards

How to Make Your Mark in Customer Service, From Sales & Customer Service Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 @ 01:47 PM

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?

  1. Be innovative!Cameron Hurst
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

About Assurant:
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.

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, customer service award, stevie awards

4 Customer Service Satisfaction Tips, From Customer Service Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:11 PM

Carita Vallinkoski, Senior Executive-Expansion Management at Competence Call Center AG in Vienna, Austria is Chair of the final judging committee of the Customer Service & Contact Center Team categories in the 2012 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. (The final entry deadline for the awards is January 18.)

We asked Carita what it takes to create a successful customer service or call center team.

What are your top tips on how to create a successful customer service or call center team?

My years of experience as a Contact Center leader, building up Call Centers, and leading large teams of people, have taught me that the employees are the main asset in a company, so my top tips are:

  1. Carita VallinkoskiTreat every human being with respect and empathy
    Be it employees or customers.
  2. Always give your team a vision.
    Your people need to know whom to follow, what direction to take, and for what purpose. Make sure this information is clear and easy to understand.
  3. Support and motivate your team 
    Investing your time, energy, and love will help your people in providing excellent customer service because they will feel that you care about them and that you take them seriously.
  4. Care about your team and your team will care of your customers
    Always remember that your employees are the entrepreneurs in your company.

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The passing away of Steve Jobs touched me very deeply.  He was a great person, and I remembered some of the sayings from his Commencement Speech in 2005:  “We are here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” and “… the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it.“

His autobiography (I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words) motivates, inspires, and helps me because his thoughts and views resonate with me.  For example: “Sometimes the things that sound so simple are the most important and difficult ones in life, like: do what you love.” I have the book on the dresser opposite my bed and whenever I catch a glimpse of Steve’s kind face it helps me to contemplate these views and to motivate me. He changed all our lives and I thank him for that every second of the day.

What is your favorite sport or hobby?
In my spare time I love to be outdoors, to walk my dog, and to watch and interact with animals. I also love talking to people from all over the world, to encounter new cultures, and to get to know different views and opinions. I´m always keen to share new ideas, to broaden my mind, and to try to become a better person. I think about life a great deal: about helping people, animals, and the planet—I still have to find a way to do that!

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I would love to either take care of animals or to be an aid worker with Caritas or Médecins Sans Frontières.  I wish I had the strength, backbone, character, and energy that it takes to be an activist for some good cause protecting children, animals, or nature. I would love to fight unfairness everywhere in order to make the world a better place.

Instead, I channel this energy into what I do in my work life by helping employees and customers.  Thomas Kloibhofer, our CEO and founder, taught me from my first days at CCC that it is “always about helping.” The most satisfying thing about this work is to be able to say: “Today I helped hundreds of customers to have one challenge less and to be happier.” That is a great feeling.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Integrity, honesty, humor, values, ethics, and good morals. Plus a good common vision and the same understanding of partnership.  The sense of being a unit, the sense of togetherness, and of “having each other’s back”—always.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
What keeps me inspired is the vision of helping customers at the end of the line and of developing our employees. I want to be there for the employee on the one side and for our company on the other, and to bring these two worlds together.  And finally, I want to bring in the customers and their interests.

I never forget where I came from: I was a customer service rep and sales agent and I know how tough and challenging this life can be. My aim is to develop an even better service understanding and environment for everyone. My wishes are to continue watching our company grow and our people developing—and to grow old as part of this company.

About Carita Vallinkoski
Carita Vallinkoski has held the position of Expansion Manager at Competence Call Center (CCC) since 2007 and has been responsible for the continuous development of existing CCC locations, the evaluation of potential markets, and the set-up of new CCC operations. During her time as call center manager, she had overall responsibility for personnel, commerce, and technology, and the management of more than 600 employees.

Carita was awarded the CAt-Award for Call Center Manager of the Year at CallCenterWorld® in 2001; and received the award for Best Contact Center Leader in the world at the 2006 Contact Center World Conference in Las Vegas for her management services in the call center business and for her strategic leadership of employees. Her seventeen years of call center experience in the areas of outsourcing, consulting, training, call center set-up, implementation, and employee motivation make her a leading expert in the call center and customer care industry in Europe.

About CCC
Competence Call Center is one of Europe’s leading call centers.At ten locations in seven countries, more than 3,000 service professionals provide top quality international call center services. CCC is a financially strong, rapidly expanding company with a clear focus on quality.  For more information, go to www.yourccc.com.

Q&A with Carita Vallinkoski, Customer Service Awards Committee Chair Judge

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, stevie awards, customer service award

5 Categories in Sales & Customer Service Awards to Honor Individuals

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:46 PM

Recognize your company’s excellent customer service and call center individuals by submitting entries in the 2012 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, which recognizes customer service excellence. (Request your entry kit and it will be emailed to you right away.  The final entry deadline is January 18.) 

Sales & Customer Service Call for EntriesNominate your organization's top performers in the following Customer Service Awards categories:

  1. Front-Line Customer Service Professional of the Year
    Recognizing the achievements of customer service professionals who directly engage customers.
  2. Young Customer Service Professional of the Year
    Recognizing the achievements of customer service professionals under the age of 30.
  3. Customer Service Manager of the Year
    Recognizing the achievements of customer service managers and service professionals with a managerial role at organizations of any size, of any type.
  4. Customer Service Leader of the Year
    Recognizing the achievements of senior customer service and call center executives. 
  5. Customer Service Contact Center Professional of the Year
    Recognizing the achievements of non-executive professionals who work in a call or contact center.

Looking for more ways to showcase your organization’s sales & customer service excellence? See all of the Sales & Customer Service categories here.

Need help choosing the best category? Let us help you. Contact us at help@stevieawards.com.

How has your company elevated your customer service performance? 

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, stevie awards, best customer service

Customer Service Awards Judges in The 2011 IBAs

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 @ 05:08 PM

We've been trumpeting the more than 200 professionals worldwide who participated in judging of The 2011 (8th Annual) International Business Awards, and today we cite the contributions of those who judged the customer service awards categories.

The IBAs, if you're not familiar with them, are the world's top honors for business professionals, with categories that recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace.  All organizations worldwide may submit entries.  This year's IBA honorees hail from more than 40 nations.  Honorees were announced last month, and will be celebrated on October 11 during gala ceremonies in Abu Dhabi, UAE. 

The final judging committee for the customer service categories, whose average scores determined this year's honorees, included

Michaela Aguilar, ICT Program Leader, Parramatta City Council, Parammata, NSW Australia
Don Batting, Senior Consultant, Enterprise Support Services, Ernst & Young, New York, NY USA
Clare Buchanan, Head of Customer Service USA, DHL Express, Tempe, AZ USA
Karen McFadzen, VP Technical Services, APAC, Japan & Greater China, Cisco Systems, Chatswood, NSW Australia
Charles (Chick) Olsson, BEc, Acc, MAICD, Managing Director, Four Season Company Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW Australia
Melanie Pope, Director, Australian Paramedic Support Foundation, Aspley, Australia
Stormy Simon, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience, Overstock.com, Salt Lake City, UT USA
Jan Willem Strijker, Owner/Director, Brantas International Technology Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand
Julie Toma, President, Advenio Group, East Killara, NSW Australia

Sue SavageThe committee was chaired and formed by Susan Savage, General Manager, MICROS Fidelio Australia, South Turramurra, Australia

The categories Sue and her committee judged included

  • Customer Service Department of the Year
  • Customer Service Team of the Year
  • Customer Service Executive of the Year

The honorees they chose in these categories include Etisalat, Mafraq Hospital/Abu Dhabi, and Haktan Yasar Kiliç of Turk Telekom.  See the full list of honorees here.

The next opportunity for customer service and call center professionals to be honored in a Stevie Awards competition is in the 6th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, which is now accepting entries.  These awards feature more than 90 categories focused exclusively on customer service, call center, and sales achievements.

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, stevie awards, International business awards, IBAs

3 Tips on How to Be Successful in Customer Service: Q&A with Art Gairo

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Apr 04, 2011 @ 10:38 AM

  

With the final entry deadline for The 2011 American Business Awards coming up on April 27, we asked Art Gairo, Senior Vice President for Broadview Networks, for his top tips about what makes for great customer service.  Art will chair and form the final judging committee for the customer service awards categories of the 2011 ABAs.

Art GairoWhat are your top 3 tips on how to be successful in customer service?

  1. Listen to your customers’ feedback and use their suggestions to improve—the customer does indeed know what’s best!
  2. A company is only as good as its employees, so it’s important to imbue your employees with a sense of purpose and make sure that they both understand and believe in their mission. Having talented and engaged employees can make all the difference in providing excellent customer service. 
  3. Never be satisfied in the pursuit of customer service objectives—go over and above what’s required. Whether it’s call-center service levels, mean time to repair, or overall customer satisfaction, always press to be better, faster, and stronger than your competitor, and strive to get it right for the customer as much as possible.  

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
I keep seeing TV commercials where people turn to “the cloud” to accomplish something, whether it be for some type of collaborative work, or for family picture albums, etc. This is the new mantra for accessing software and applications remotely, and it just so happens it aligns very nicely with the new line of Cloud Computing products and services that Broadview is rolling out to small- and medium-sized businesses. So all things “cloud” have been resonating with me lately.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a doctor, particularly a neurologist. I’ve always been fascinated by the field of medicine.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates? Trust and respect are a given, but I would add that I also value people who are positive thinkers and who bring innovative ideas to the table. These are the people who help me to step outside the everyday comfort zone and to grow as a teammate and colleague.

What do you think is the worst bad habit to have at work? Procrastination ranks right up there as one of the least desirable habits to have—especially at work. Every day I come into the office and look directly at a sign on my desk that says: “Be Proactive!”

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
I think it’s important to like what you are doing, and to be challenged by your job every day. If you don’t love what you do, it’s going to be difficult to be really successful at it!  I begin every morning with a game plan for the day.  As I move through the day, I check off my completed tasks, while also adding short- and long-term tasks to the list.  This gives me a real sense of accomplishment about what I do.

About Art Gairo
Art Gairo is the senior vice president of Operations for Broadview Networks, with responsibility for all Service, Repair, and Care Centers; the Enterprise Customer Support Division; Field Operations; and the Agent and Wholesale Support Divisions.  Gairo has more than 18 years of leadership experience in operations management in the telecommunications industry. He joined Broadview Networks as a vice president of Customer Operations (previously ATX Communications) in May 2004.  Prior to that, Gairo served as vice president of Customer Operations for Allegiance Teleco, now part of XO Communications.  Before that, Gairo worked as Team Leader of Field Engineering for MCI Communications.

About Broadview Networks
Broadview Networks is a network-based business-communications provider serving customers nationwide. It provides the total solution for business communications, including all distance-voice communications, premises-based and patented hosted VoIP systems and data services encompassing VPN- and MPLS-enabled applications, traditional telephone hardware, high-speed Internet services, a full suite of managed services, and a range of professional services. Broadview also provides an innovative portfolio of bundled, hosted IP phone and cloud computing services designed to meet the unique application requirements of diverse workforce groups. Its customers benefit from award-winning customer service, including a web-based account-management tool and a primary point-of-contact for real-time, personal customer care.

Broadview is a control investment of MCG Capital Corporation (NASDAQ: MCGC). Its largest investors are MCG Capital, Baker Capital and New Enterprise Associates.

Tags: business awards, customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service

How Customer Service Award-winner Grew Customer Advocacy by 25%

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Feb 01, 2011 @ 04:01 PM

Jackie O'Leary, Vice President of Customer Operations at Everything Everywhere in the United Kingdom, was named Customer Service Executive of the Year in the customer service awards categories of The 2010 International Business Awards. Everything Everywhere is also a leading contender with multiple Finalists in the 2011 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, which will be announced in Miami Beach on February 21.

Jackie O'LearyEverything Everywhere is the joint venture company running two of Britain's most famous brands, Orange and T-Mobile. It is Britain's biggest communications company, with a combined customer base of almost 28 million—half the UK adult population, 6,000 employees, and more than 720 retail stores across the two brands. Everything Everywhere was recognized in The Stevies’ customer service award categories, and here we look at how they earned their reputation for service excellence.

The explosive growth of telecommunications over the past 20 years has also often been a tale of woe for the customer, with promised high-quality customer service often proving to be something of a myth.

Jackie O'Leary, Vice President of Customer Operations at Everything Everywhere, has made it her mission to ensure the story has a different ending, one where customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and an improved bottom line for the company can live happily together.

As VP of Customer Operations, O’Leary is responsible for the customer service, loyalty, and retention functions of the Orange and T-Mobile brands and has integrated them into one efficient, effective organization that is one of the market leaders for quality as well as size. This operation supports Everything Everywhere’s 28 million customers through a team of circa 10,000 advisers.

Brilliant Service
O’Leary joined Orange UK at the end of 2008 and had a phenomenally successful first year, leading the customer services business through a rapid and complete rejuvenation to catapult it back to leadership in mobile customer services.

To identify and deliver these improvements, O’Leary introduced the Brilliant Service program, creating 20 work-streams of activities to address every aspect of the customer experience.

O’Leary believes employee satisfaction links directly to customer satisfaction. She initiated the creation of an innovative customer satisfaction and performance measurement system called Brilliance, which enables thousands of customers to rate and comment on the service they receive on a daily basis.

For the first time these scores are linked directly to the customer service agents’ rewards, ensuring they take ownership of the customer experience on every call. Brilliance has also massively expanded customer insight.

The Bee’s Knees
O’Leary introduced a new reward-and-recognition scheme, The Bee’s Knees, providing monthly awards to top performers in customer advocacy or to those who help others to excel.

O’Leary also introduced new activities and initiatives under the banner 'Brilliant Place to Work', which included charity, community, and wellbeing weeks, concierge services, and—voted "best ever"—Christmas parties.

The annual employee survey, just nine months after she joined, showed O’Leary to be the bee’s knees herself, with meaningful increases across almost all metrics of employee engagement and loyalty.

Improving Processes
O’Leary also led a cross-Orange program to identify and improve Orange processes, products, and systems that were hampering customer satisfaction and delaying achievement of the company vision to be the “best-loved communications brand.”  These improvements cut customer calls by 14% and increased first-time resolution from 13% to 72%.

The results of O’Leary’s efforts make an incredible turnaround story. Customer satisfaction increased by 9% as measured by Brilliance in the second half of 2009, a considerable change in a customer base of 17 million. At the same time, O’Leary cut operating expenditure by 11% (double figures millions of pounds). Even more impressively, customer advocacy increased an unprecedented 25% in the same period.

By these key measures, O’Leary has returned Orange to a leadership position in mobile customer services. In its annual UK survey in May 2009, industry analysts JD Power rated Orange top for Pay Monthly customer services out of the major mobile network operators. Overall, Orange came second, up from fifth just two years earlier in a highly competitive market.

Following these achievements for Orange, Jackie was appointed to the Everything Everywhere Customer Operations role, where she is now bringing her own flavor of leadership to both brands, Orange and T-Mobile.

These are the just the latest successes in a stunning track record for O'Leary over the past 20 years. While this is definitely no fairy tale, we hope that Everything Everywhere, its customers, and its employees live happily ever after.

About Jackie O'Leary
Jackie O'Leary's career has encompassed senior roles and strategic projects for over 20 years at many of Europe's leading communications providers, including Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2, AOL, and Telewest. In May 2009 she was appointed VP of Customer Operations for Everything Everywhere, responsible for customer service, sales, loyalty, and retention. This followed 18 months running customer services for Orange UK. Previously, O’Leary had been VP Customer Services at The Carphone Warehouse, where she revived customer satisfaction and cut costs by £20 million. Prior to that, O’Leary ran a strategic consultancy for ten years.

About Everything Everywhere
Everything Everywhere Limited is the company running two of the UK’s most famous brands – T-Mobile (UK) and Orange (UK). Owned jointly by Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom respectively, Everything Everywhere Limited is the UK’s biggest communications company, with a combined customer base of almost 28 million people and more than 720 retail stores across the country. Everything Everywhere Limited plans to transform the industry by giving customers instant access to everything everywhere, offering the best value, best choice and best network experience in the country. For more information on Everything Everywhere visit www.everythingeverywhere.com.

Tags: customer service awards, customer service award, good customer service, excellent customer service

Q&A with Ron Essiq, Customer Service Awards Judge

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 @ 02:49 PM

Ron Essig is VP, Global Owner Products and Services, Marriott Vacation Club International, and member of the Board of Judges of the 2011 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, which recently announced the Finalists in its 5th annual competition.

Ron EssigWhat item of news recently caught your eye and why?
I followed with interest all of the legislation that was approved in Washington, D.C. during the recent “lame duck” session of the U.S. Congress.  I find it amazing that people can accomplish many things when they put their minds to it.

What New Year’s resolution have you made and why? 
Stay focused on what is truly important: Family.

What book are you currently reading?
It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins.

What was the last movie you saw, and would you recommend it?
The Fighter.It was both a motivational and a feel-good movie—just the kind of movie we were in the mood for when we went to see it.

What is your favorite sport or hobby?
Following my son’s interests of baseball and music, and hiking in the mountains with my two Siberian Huskies.

Who (apart from close family) is your favorite living person?
While I can’t say he is my favorite person—I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him—I really admire the work done by John Wood, founder of Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that has helped to educate over four million children around the world.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I would be involved in some sort of nonprofit organization that could help give opportunities through mentoring to young adults and could help open doors into business and careers for the less fortunate.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?    
Honesty, creativity, and drive.

What do you think is the worst bad habit to have at work?
Apathy.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
Working with a team of professional associates who are genuinely focused every day on delivering customer service excellence and the awesome experiences that make vacation dreams come true.

What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in business?
Being able to learn and grow in a variety of positions over 25 years with one incredible company.

What advice or useful tip would you give to someone who is just starting out in business?
Learn from the ground up, and don’t ever forget where you came from.

About Ron Essig
Ron Essig is the vice president, Global Owner Products and Services, for Marriott Vacation Club International. As a member of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service Board of Judges he will be helping select the customer service award winners in the 2011 competition. Essig is a 24-year Marriott veteran, and began his career as a Management Trainee at the Chicago Downtown Marriott Hotel.

About Marriott Vacation Club International
As the interval ownership division of Marriott International, Inc., Marriott Vacation Club International is a premier provider of vacation and leisure experiences for more than 400,000 Owners and Members. Since entering the timeshare industry in 1984, Marriott has earned its position as a leader and innovator in vacation and fractional ownership products worldwide. The company has since segmented the industry to offer distinct vacation and real estate offerings, each based on the unique needs and desires of customers. The brands are: Marriott Vacation Club, Grand Residences by Marriott, and The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, as well as select whole ownership developments. For information visit www.marriottvacationclub.com or www.ritzcarltondestinationclub.com.

Tags: customer service awards, stevie awards, customer service award, good customer service, excellent customer service