Customer Service Awards Blog

The Future of Postal Services: Q&A with Stamps.com Director, Dawn Stevenson

Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

Dawn Stevenson, director of customer service at Stamps.com in Los Angeles, California, will Chair the Committee for Final Judging Committee of the customer service awards categories and the support awards categories in The 2013 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the USA. (April 24 is the final entry deadline for this year’s competition. If you haven’t already done so, you can request an entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

We asked Dawn about the role of postal services in business, and got an enthusiastic response.

Dawn Stevenson, Manager, Customer Retention, Customer Service & Inside Sales, Stamps.comAs senior director of customer service at Stamps.com, what thoughts do you have on the future of postal services for businesses, and how will your department be able to help?

Great question!  The future of postage services for businesses is incredibly bright.  At Stamps.com we offer an easy-to-use solution for small business, enterprise, and high-volume shippers that allows our customers to:

  1. Control and manage their postage needs right from their office with their PC and printer;
  2. Save time and money by avoiding trips to the post office;
  3. Avoid paying those overpriced and expensive meter fees; and
  4. Receive discounts on mail classes that they can’t receive at the post office.

Our Customer Care teams are here to help customers optimize their savings and efficiencies by educating them on how to use all of the time- and money-saving features in our award-winning software; and we have a highly trained professional team of mailing and shipping consultants who are focused on helping our customers win in the postage arena.

It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and to be able to support America’s small businesses.  We’re proud to play a part in making it easier, better, and more affordable for our customers to mail and ship their products all around the globe; and we’re grateful to have an amazing partner in the USPS, the best solution for mailing and shipping needs. 

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The USPS announcement in February that it was going to cease Saturday first-class mail delivery in August was big news in our industry. The USPS said it would continue to deliver packages, mail-order medicine, and express mail on Saturday, but not letters, bills, cards, and catalogs.  This would allow for significant savings for the USPS and it sounded like they would be able to do it without layoffs.  Generally speaking, Saturday delivery of first-class mail doesn’t seem to be a critical service component to our customers so, from what I could see, it seemed like a smart move.  But it was recently announced that Saturday first-class mail delivery would continue until "legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule.”

What is your favorite business app?
I have two.  I use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in my industry, ask questions, get insights, read interesting articles, and source folks to hire for my team. Plus I love the opportunity to endorse my colleagues’ skills and talents.  It’s a great business tool.

We began using Yammer, a social networking tool for enterprises, in October 2012.  It’s basically Facebook for your company, and I’ve just been blown away by the positive impact it’s had on our organization. Folks are collaborating, communicating, sharing information, building community, and connecting.  It’s truly been an amazing experiment and we’re just beginning.  It’s a business tool that has effectively changed our culture. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the next 6 months as we drive more focus, training, and initiatives around usage. I highly recommend it.

If you were to meet young people starting out in customer service, what career advice would you give them?
First, join SOCAP, the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals. It’s a global community of professionals/experts who work together to educate and collaborate, connecting it’s members with the essential professional tools and networking opportunities to make you and your organization more successful.  I’ve served as a volunteer on the Southwest Regional Chapter board for the past 3 years and it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve met so many incredible colleagues, stretched my comfort zone by speaking at several events, learned invaluable information, and been inspired by key note speakers at both the national and chapter levels. I’ve had many ideas sparked through the networking connections and information sharing amongst peers. It has been an invaluable resource.

Second, this is an AMAZING career that can open up so many opportunities for folks who demonstrate their value by showing up every day engaged, ready, and on top of their game.  (Our front-line team is THE talent pool at Stamps.com, and we take pride in the number of team members we’ve promoted to other teams within the organization.) So do all that you can to grow: Dress for the part and act like you already have it, and people will be knocking down your door to promote you; and find someone who is willing to mentor your professional development. 

Finally, don’t ask for permission: just go for it!  I started my career as a front-line team member, answering phones. On my own time I created the first training manual for the customer care department.  Soon I found myself promoted to Corporate Trainer—and the rest is history!

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
Another great question!  It’s for sure my team that keeps me inspired.  I truly am blessed with THE best team.  I’ve worked hard to build this great team, and they are the ones who make it work, make it rock, motivate me—and keep me on my toes 24/7.  I love learning new things about our industry and finding creative ways to make this rewarding and challenging career even better. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to push folks beyond their boundaries and inspire them to do great things.  I am always looking for ways to improve our culture and make our company the best company to work for.  It’s my family: I love being here, and my aspiration is that everyone working here feels that way too.

About Dawn Stevenson:
Dawn is a visionary leader with over 18 years of highly successful leadership in retention, Tech support, customer service, inside sales, training, quality assurance, and collections/fraud prevention.  She is committed to manifesting a strong profit while creating an engaged and results-oriented team.  Dawn is a creative and resourceful professional with a proven record of success in assuming increasing levels of responsibility and in improving employee morale, productivity, and profits.  She has worked in various industries including service contract, online media, and postage.  She is passionate about creating an exceptional customer experience through creating an exceptional team member experience.

Dawn serves as VP of Membership on the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Southwest Regional Board.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University and recently completed a 3-year master's degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. 

About Stamps.com:
Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP) is a leading provider of Internet–based postage services. Stamps.com enables small businesses, enterprises, and consumers to print U.S. Postal Service–approved postage with just a PC, printer, and Internet connection, right from their home or office. The Company targets its services to small businesses and home offices, and currently has PC Postage partnerships with Avery Dennison, Microsoft, HP, Office Depot, the U.S. Postal Service and others.

Tags: customer service awards, American business awards, support awards, Dawn Stevenson, Stamps.com

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 on How to Attract and Retain Customers, From a Stevie Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 09:05 AM

Jerry Weinberger, Senior Director of Customer Service and Retention at Webs, Inc., is Chair of the final judging committee for the support awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A.(The final entry deadline for 2012 ABAs is April 25; request your entry kit today.) Here Jerry shares three ways businesses can attract and retain new customers through good customer service.

What are your top 3 tips to small businesses and entrepreneurs on how to attract and retain new customers through excellent customer serviceJerry Weinberger

  1. Treat customers right. 
    Communicate with customers the way you would with a friend. Use conversational language in both verbal and written communications with them. Customers aren’t impressed by “corporate speak” anymore, and they don’t understand half of it anyway. Just tell it like it is, and have fun with your communication when you can. Customers LOVE it.
  2. Listen to your customers, constantly. 
    Customers will always tell you what they want. If you decide what the customers want without talking to them, you’ll be wrong.
  3. Hire the personality and values, not the skills. 
    Don’t hire anyone for your Customer Center who doesn’t genuinely care about taking care of customers, or who finds it difficult to smile. Empathy, passion, understanding … call it what you will, it’s either there or it isn’t. You can teach someone about procedures, guidelines, workflows, systems, or about a new product, but you can’t teach someone how to care.

What item of news recently caught your eye and why? 
I came across two different articles in the past month that highlighted the fact that customer satisfaction isn’t the right metric to measure anymore. I’ve always had the drive for high customer satisfaction levels running through my veins, so I was more than a bit shocked to see those words in print. According to these articles, the focus should instead be on loyalty, such as in the Net Promoter Score.  Definitely something to think about!

Do you have a favorite app or blog?
MakeUseOf.  It’s a constant learning experience for me.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Sports psychologist.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates? 
Integrity, honesty, and being passionate about customers.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning? 
The opportunity to exceed someone’s expectations each and every day. 

About American Business Awards Support Award Categories:
The ABA support categories highlight contributions made by support staffers through recognition awards. These categories recognize all administrative support including secretary of the year, production support, security, maintenance, and research members.

About Jerry Weinberger:
Jerry Weinberger joined Webs in 2010 and is currently responsible for Customer Service/Support and Retention for their 50 million customers. For over 20 years, Jerry has been responsible for leading Customer Care organizations. He has run single or multi-site Care operations for such powerhouse companies as Federal Express, MCI, and Fleet Bank. During his tenure with those companies, his leadership resulted in sustained service levels and customer satisfaction ratings that were among the best in the industry. Since joining Webs, Jerry’s Customer Support team has won two Stevie® Awards: one for Support Team of the Year in The 2011 American Business Awards, and the second for Customer Service Management Team of the Year in the 2012 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.
 
About Webs, Inc.:
Webs is the world’s most popular do-it-yourself solution to creating a free website, having served over 40 million users. Webs enables small businesses and entrepreneurs to easily make a great-looking website and project a professional image. The Webs family of products--including Webs, ContactMe, and Pagemodo--provides small businesses with simple and cost-effective ways to launch and grow their companies across web, social, and mobile platforms. Founded in 2001 by the Mokhtarzada brothers, Webs is funded by Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Columbia Capital. For more information, visit www.webs.com.

Tags: good customer service, excellent customer service, business awards, American business awards, stevie awards, Jerry Weinberger, Webs, Inc., support awards, recognition awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, customer service management team of the year, secretary of the year, support team of the year