Customer Service Awards Blog

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

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

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?

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 or

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