Customer Service Awards Blog

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

3 Tips on Providing Award-Winning Customer Service, From a Stevie® Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Aug 01, 2012 @ 01:39 PM

Alain Meric is a Senior Vice President at Etisalat, the Middle East’s largest telecommunications operator, and Chair of the committee for final judging of the customer service awards categories in The 2012 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition. (While final judging for this year's IBAs is now underway, the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are now accepting entries. Get your entry kit today.) Here we asked Alain’s advice on maintaining customer satisfaction.

Alain Meric What are your top 3 tips for companies aiming to provide award-winning customer service?

  1. PRIORITISE and FOCUS: I have experienced challenges when trying to address too many issues, or having too many touch points. Pick your battles.  This makes a big difference for your customers.
  2. Customer service is an endless journey: You must drive continuous improvement in your organization. Remember: If you can’t do better, your competitors always can.
  3. Stop talking ABOUT the customers, talk TO the customers.

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The deadly fires in Northern Spain, which were probably caused by a cigarette butt.  This is an unfortunate and sad illustration of how a small action can have an enormous impact.

Do you have a favorite app?
I am not a great user of apps, but enjoy fresh news on my iPad or Android smartphone.  Recently, the live updates from the Tour de France or the London Olympics on L’Equipe.fr (a French sports magazine) are what I’ve been using the most. (FREE app available for iPhone, iPad and for Android.)

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Definitely a reporter for either The Economist or National Geographic.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
There is still so much to do …

About Alain Meric
Alain Meric is Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Management, at Etisalat, the largest telecommunications provider in the United Arab Emirates. Alain started his career in the hospitality industry at the Intercontinental Carlton in Cannes, France.  He then moved to Disneyland Paris, where he developed a passion for outstanding customer experience and branded service differentiation. Alain later moved to the UK, where he helped companies such as T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile set up customer service centers in South Africa, India, and the Philippines.  He later served as Executive Director of Member Services for AOL.

After completing a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Alain accepted the challenge to lead a customer-centric transformation of Etisalat. Alain is based in Dubai and indulges his strong sense of adventure by spending most of his spare time either sailing or in the desert.

About Etisalat:
Etisalat is the Middle East’s largest telecommunications operator and the GCC’s third largest corporation. With a market value of approximately Dhs. 80 billion (USD 20 billion) and annual revenues of over Dhs. 32 billion (USD 8.7 billion) Etisalat is today on the verge of being numbered amongst the top ten operators in the world. Etisalat is a multinational, blue chip organization with operations in seventeen countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. An estimated 2 million people benefit from regular work supplying Etisalat or its customers, including 53,000 who are directly employed by the company. Etisalat now has access to a population of more than two billion and its satellite network provides services over two thirds of the planet’s surface. To learn more about Etisalat, visit www.etisalat.ae.

Tags: customer service awards, International business awards, award-winning customer service, Alain Meric, Etisalat

3 Tips on Best Customer Service Practices, From a Stevie Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Jul 05, 2012 @ 10:17 AM

Ian Semple is Head of Customer Experience for telecommunications giant Everything Everywhere in the United Kingdom, and Chair of the final judging committee for the support awards categories in The 2012 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition. (The final entry deadline for the 2012 IBAs has been extended to July 18. Get your entry kit today.) Here Ian shares three tips for best customer service practices.Ian Semple

What are your top 3 tips for companies aiming to provide award-winning customer service and support?

1. Plan Ahead: The biggest challenge facing support and customer services in the mobile telecommunications industry today is the increasing complexity of the product. Three to four years ago, the market was fairly stable, but in the past two years ownership of smartphones has exploded.  With that explosion has come increasingly complex technology coupled with higher customer expectation.

Smartphone products are not easy to set up, and customers often struggle with the technology. As a result, the number of calls for technical support has at least tripled, and that in turn has brought support costs under immense pressure. 

At Everything Everywhere we introduced a new work model for our support staff to ensure our cost model remained roughly the same while keeping customer satisfaction high. Our staff had previously been multi-skilled, but we were able to plan ahead and change our training strategy to specialization.  This new work model is able to handle the growing customer demand while ensuring costs are stabilized. 

Technology, however, waits for no man, and with 4G networks, tethering of different devices, etc., we are being kept on our toes!

2. Improve the Business Model: As with most service industries, the majority of calls that we handle are either an account query (billing for mobile telecommunications can be highly complex) or a technical query. Dealing with mergers and acquisitions is also something that affects many businesses.  At Everything Everywhere we took the best practices of both Orange and T-Mobile, and we were able to learn and grow. We were able to improve our business model—the hardware didn’t change, but the business processes did—and create an award-winning support team.

3. Always Keep an Eye on the Competition: In customer service and support you really need to know what other companies might be doing better than you. There are different industry regulatory bodies—such as OfCom for the communications industry in the U.K.—that provide information for different national markets, while JD Power provides useful industry information globally. 

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The fact that mobile data will shortly replace landlines for communication around the world. Everyone is going to need high-speed data. With the advent of 4G connectivity, more machines will be talking to each other: in cars, in the home, in industry. Mobile telephony will create a whole new infrastructure.  We are already looking at making payments using mobile devices instead of credit cards or cash. The expansion of mobile technology into all areas of our lives will most certainly add to the complexity of customer service in the mobile telecommunications industry, and I’m already working on ways to support these changes. 

What is your favorite app?
I’d love to have a crystal ball app, but as a guitar player, my current favorite is Songsterr.  It’s a kind of self-help guitar instructor that shows the fingering. I learnt “Twist & Shout” in under 5 minutes.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Rock star!

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Enthusiasm.  Passion.  Looking for opportunities to improve, and for making technical things easier to use.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
For me, it’s the fact that my department has the opportunity to improve the lives of the majority of mobile telephony customers in the UK.  Everything Everywhere currently has 27 million users. The mobile phone is more like a utility and has turned into a tool that people can’t live without.  We have the power to make a significant change for the better.


To learn more about entry details for the 2012 IBAs, support awards categories, and customer service awards categories, visit www.stevieawards.com/iba.

About Ian Semple:
Ian Semple is Head of Customer Experience for Everything Everywhere, the UK’s largest telecommunications provider running two of Britain’s best known brands: Orange, and T-Mobile. His role focuses on customer excellence, ensuring that processes, systems, and knowledge are functionally and operationally of the highest quality, and that sales and service teams can provide the best possible support. Ian has been with Everything Everywhere for five years, joining Orange UK in 2007 to manage its Business Customer Services. In 2009 he moved to head up the Device and Network areas in Service Design. Prior to Everything Everywhere Ian held senior positions in Virgin Media, NTL, and Cable and Wireless, in a variety of operational and change management roles. Ian is based in the North East of England.

About Everything Everywhere:
Everything Everywhere
is the UK’s largest communications company, providing mobile and fixed-broadband communications services to more than 27 million customers through the Orange and T-Mobile brands. Recognized for award-winning customer service, Everything Everywhere employs more than 15,000 people and operates over 720 retail stores across the UK.  For more information, go to http://everythingeverywhere.com/.

Tags: customer service awards, best customer service, support awards, International business awards, Ian Semple, Everything Everywhere, award-winning customer service

3 Tips for Winning Customer Service Awards in The 2012 IBAs

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, May 18, 2012 @ 11:41 AM

The final entry deadline for The 2012 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition is 27 June. (All individuals and organizations worldwide may submit nominations to the IBAs. If you haven't already done so, you can request your entry kit today.)

Here we highlight three customer service awards tips to help you showcase your organization's customer service excellence.

1. Review the business awards categories.
There are three customer service award categories being celebrated at the 2012 IBAs including:The Stevie Awards

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

There are a number of other IBA categories that may be of interest to customer service professionals, including many of the annual report awards and other literature categories, website awards categories, and live event awards categories.

2. Review the entry submission criteria.
Information to be submitted online for entries in these categories include:

  • An essay of up to 500 words describing the nominee's accomplishments since 1 January 2011
  • A biography of the nominee or the leader of the nominated company, department, or team of up to 100 words, and
  • Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files, work samples, and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges.

3. Contact us.
If you have any questions about the 2012 IBAs, email us at help@stevieawards.com or call us at + 1 703-547-8389.

The 2012 International Business Awards will include the Second Annual People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies, in which the general public worldwide will vote for their favorite companies. Each company honored with a Gold, Silver or Bronze Stevie Award in The International Business Awards’ company of the year categories will automatically be included in people’s choice voting, which will open in late July.

Winners of the competition will be celebrated at the ninth annual awards banquet on Monday, 15 October at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Seoul, South Korea.

Leave us a comment and let us know how our
corporate awards categories will help you to highlight your organization's successes.

Tags: customer service awards, customer service award, business awards, customer service excellence, corporate awards, International business awards, corporate literature awards, annual report awards, website awards, live event awards

3 Customer Service Awards Categories in The 2012 IBAs

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 @ 09:51 AM

There are three customer service awards categories in The 2012 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition, to help you showcase your organization's good customer service. (The entry deadline for the 2012 IBAs is 16 May. All organizations and individuals worldwide may submit nominations, request your entry kit here.)

Our customer service award categories include: International Business Awards

Information to be submitted online for entries in these categories include:

  • An essay of up to 500 words describing the nominee's accomplishments since January 1 2011,
  • A biography of the nominee or the leader of the nominated department or team of up to 100 words, and
  • Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges.

The 8th Annual International Business Awards were presented in October 2011 in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. 2011 honorees for excellent customer service included:  

2012 honorees will be celebrated at the 9th annual awards banquet on Monday, 15 October in Seoul, South Korea.

How will you highlight your organization's best customer service in the 2012 IBAs?

Tags: customer service awards, good customer service, excellent customer service, customer service award, business awards, best customer service, International business awards

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