How to Avoid And Resolve Common Customer Service Complaints

Posted by John Allen on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 @ 10:29 AM

The customer service department plays an integral role in the relationship between a brand and its customer. The customer advisor is tasked with assistance, whether that is answering a query or resolving a product complaint, requiring skill and sensitivity.

The handling of this interaction will impact the customer’s perception of the brand, yet often, organizations find poor customer service experiences affecting client retention and acquisition. Thus, it is important to cultivate customer relationships carefully.

A major way in which customer relationships are cultivated focuses on digital customer engagement: how businesses deliver customized experiences to customers, specifically. But whether your customer services are personalized or not, there are steps you can take to make the process smoother for customers and advisors.

Below are some ways to avoid and resolve common customer service complaints:

Training staff/agents

When we talk about customer satisfaction, the quality of interactions is a crucial factor.

Customer service involves a variety of emotions. Feelings of frustration or anger are particularly tricky to handle for the customer and call agent alike. Misreading a situation or failing to provide the right response can result in complaints and increased dissatisfaction levels. 

To fully solve customers’ issues, agents must be able to listen well, process complex information quickly, and exercise their critical thinking skills. Creativity and resourcefulness also play a part in problem resolution. 

Whilst reading emotions does require intuition, continuous training and support are imperative in call centers to ensure all agents are equipped with the right empathy skills. Training will help employees to understand the best language to use, to build up a rapport, and to best remedy upset customers. 

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Holding regular workshops further encourages collaboration and communication within the workforce, helping to create a positive environment where employees feel supported to share tips and past experiences. 

Happier employees will result in happier customers and vice versa. An engaged workforce is truly a reflection of the customer journey.

Additionally, it would be a big help for your agents if you can build a knowledge base that contains all the information they could need, be it about your products, services, or processes. This database should be accessible to all frontline call center reps, to easily provide the answers a customer may be looking for.

Training staff in project management apps such as the power dialer maximizes agent productivity and minimizes worries of idle time. 

Customer self-services 

More and more consumers now prefer to look for solutions to their issues on their own.

When customers need answers to quick questions, human intervention may actually be unnecessary. In these instances, self-service options are best. Hence, it is important to provide them with an online platform equipped with information resources such as FAQ pages, product manuals, how-to videos, and IVR menus. This way, you widen your customers’ options for resolving the issues they encounter.

With this option, you can also include short surveys for the customers so as to get their feedback on which areas to improve your services.

Anyone conducting a web search about you should be able to find the answers they’re looking for, but make sure to connect them to a customer care platform just in case.

Improved FCR rate

Spending hours on hold waiting to speak to an advisor has become a hallmark for the negative customer service experience.

Customers naturally like their issues resolved quickly. They are satisfied when their questions are sufficiently answered or issues promptly resolved on the first call. Happy customers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand, a factor that drives future purchases.

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First contact resolution (FCR) is a metric that is dangerous to ignore as it is a critical determinant of customer satisfaction in call centers. It is vital for the success of your call center.

By analyzing your call traffic, you can gain valuable insight into the volume of callers and peak call times, helping contact centers to timetable the right number of staff to deal with customers.

A smart IVR system makes the keypad selection process easier so that the caller can be quickly connected with the most suitable agent. This can also be programmed with automated messages so that customers receive a response whenever they call. Equally, an intuitive automatic call distributor (ACD) will make sure that incoming calls are sorted appropriately amongst the call agents.

Make use of your CRM tool 

One of the top complaints customers often cite is having to repeat their personal details multiple times and to different agents. 

By analyzing previous transactions that your contact center has handled, you can spot recurring patterns or trends among customer complaints. This lets you predict the problems that may emerge, letting you strategize beforehand on how to tackle them. 

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For this, you need to use your customer related management, or CRM software, that keeps customer information updated in real-time. This way, agents from different departments can add notes that will help the next employee serve the customer.

Collating the information will also equip your call agents with vital customer context so they can have more productive interactions, all whilst using inventory management software.

Provide omnichannel support

An omnichannel strategy is an approach stemming from the spread of various web-enabled devices. With many gadgets finding their way into the mainstream market, there are massive changes in people’s expectations when it comes to customer service. 

In this age, the brands that succeed are those that can leverage multiple customer touchpointssocial media, onboarding emails, live chat, and phone, without compromising speed and efficiency.

By deploying this digital customer support strategy, you get to catch more requests or queries. It empowers consumers with the ability to interact seamlessly with brands across multiple channels, enhancing customer experience competencies

Omnichannel customer service is fantastic for giving customers greater flexibility, with live chat and messaging services allowing customers to ask for advice at any time and on any platform. 

Maintain your voice channel

Voice interaction is still a must-have in customer service to ensure each individual has an enjoyable customer experience.

Customers still want the option to communicate with a human agent, particularly those who are trying to explain a complex query or are perhaps less familiar with digital channels. 

The voice channel conveys the customer’s tone and emotion better than a digital mode of communication hence allowing human advisors to provide more empathetic and instinctive responses.

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Over time, as customers’ expectations change, the definition of customer service also evolves.

With customer service awards being held yearly, this should encourage brands to put their best foot forward.

John Allen - RingCentral US
John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and fax software provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Revenue River and Tapfiliate

RingCentral won a Gold Stevie Award for Award for Innovation in Human Resources Management, Planning & Practice in the 2020 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards.

Interested in entering the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards this year?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Customer Service, Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

Why Property Management Is Going High Tech

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Mar 10, 2020 @ 02:31 PM

London Computer Systems is a property management software company that seeks to help businesses operate efficiently using their integrated technologies. Their Stevie Award-winning product, Rent Manager, is proven to help companies manage all types of properties.

As the property technology world develops, real estate firms are devoting more attention to how technology can help their businesses. Technology impacts real estate agents to an ever-increasing degree, and tools for every aspect of a real estate company are currently being developed.


When Communications Are Down, Technology Helps

New programs and apps help manage and streamline real estate processes for realtors—not just in the course of their everyday work but also when disasters strike. For example, in areas of the country that suffer from severe weather-related issues, property management can be extremely challenging for industry professionals and their clients. 

Software products recently released on the market, however, can help property managers connect with residents and track communications. With just a few clicks of a button, the software can ensure tenants get the help they need by using targeted text messages and phone calls. This greatly eases the stress on client and owner alike. 

Increasing Industry Use

More than half of commercial real estate agents are now using at least one form of property technology. Two common ways they’re using technology are to analyze performance and to manage accounts and properties on their lists. The goal of moving toward artificial intelligence (AI) in real estate is to give business owners the freedom to customize information technology to better fit the needs of their companies. 

LCS_logo_2At its heart, property technology makes the realtor or property manager's job easier and helps that person do a great job for his or her clients. In the past, the industry relied on time-consuming paper management systems, which didn’t allow for tracking communication between manager and tenant. Today, there are more innovative products on the market. Rent Manager makes the process much more straightforward and transparent. 

Next-Level Integration

The industry’s goal now is to progress to the next level of integration, wherein platforms connect seamlessly. This evolution will enable different software systems to work together, which will allow businesses to personalize their systems. Modern application programming interfaces (APIs) allow programmers to construct solutions that work perfectly for them and their customers. 

What Is the Future of Property Technology?

In the future, the property management industry is likely to dive deeper into the world of artificial business intelligence. The world, after all, works on electronic automation in nearly all sectors. You can book an appointment with your dentist from a website, use the self-checkout at the market, and buy a car online; to keep up, managing your rental property needs to move in the same direction.

Property management companies are likely to automate processes and to move the workforce into service-focused tasks. In that landscape, attention to detail and a focus on customer service will become the things that make a property management system stand out from the competition. 

The ability to stay on top of trends in the property management industry keeps businesses at the top of their game. In 2020 and beyond, these companies need to operate efficiently and stay connected to clients in order to build a reputation for top quality service. That involves not only relying on property management technology but employing dedicated people to use it. 

This dedication to being at the forefront of property sector tech development, as well as a commitment to excellent customer service, helped London Computer Systems, a property management software company, earn recognition as a leader in their field. London Computer Systems is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.

The Rent Manager Product Support Department was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Customer Service Department of the Year category in The 16th Annual American Business Awards® (2018). The Rent Manager User Conference was also named the winner of a Bronze Stevie Award in the Corporate & Community - Corporate Event category in The 17th Annual American Business Awards.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service

Moving to the Cloud Is Imperative for Customer Experience Success

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 03:04 PM

Customer experience (CX) has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years, and that’s largely because technology has led to rapid advances in the way consumers are engaged and served. CXOne, a platform created by NICE inContact, enables brands to adopt new innovations and improve overall operations.

Virtual chatbots, artificial intelligence, cloud-based contact centers, and data-driven personalizations are no longer novelties. Businesses are working overtime to make their processes agile enough to serve customers’ demands for multichannel, real-time service. Does this mean the beginning of the end of legacy customer service systems?


NICE_inContact_logo“It’s no secret that customer satisfaction leads to customer advocacy and loyalty,” says Heather Hughes, senior corporate communications manager of Stevie-winner NICE inContact, a customer experience company based in Sandy, Utah, United States. “As companies strive to provide excellent CX, we’re seeing advanced technology play a big role in the experience.”

Moving CX to the Cloud: Need and Adoption

Not so long ago, customers needing to resolve issues could only call up business call centers and wait to be assigned to representatives. Today, customers reach out to businesses via a variety of channels, including, but not limited to, social media, voice calls, e-mails, chat, SMS, and video. They’re not happy waiting around either. According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 90 percent of consumers rated an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have customer service queries.

Supporting this multichannel, real-time customer experience demand calls for the quick implementation and seamless integration of new technologies, strategies, and processes into organizations’ existing customer service systems. This entails significant ongoing expenditure and is hardly sustainable, which is why businesses find the alternative of migrating contact centers and their entire CX management to the cloud way more palatable.

According to the State of Customer Experience study, by West Corporation, 39 percent of call centers they surveyed had already migrated to the cloud (as of 2017), and another 53 percent were planning to do so within the next three years (by 2020).

“The speed at which organizations need to perform and to transform continues to accelerate. The ability to adjust course in real time to best serve internal and external audiences is paramount, and it’s best enabled with open cloud platforms,” says Hughes.

CX platforms like CXOne from NICE inContact enable brands to adopt new innovations (e.g., AI and embedded analytics), to deploy service changes quickly, and to consolidate routing and reporting across global operations.

Marrying Technological Innovations and the Human Touch

When businesses think of moving CX to the cloud, investing in virtual chatbots, or personalizing customer interactions, the assumption is the need for human interaction then decreases drastically. That, however, is not true. Technology is simply a suite of tools, and it can’t replace the value and impact of the human touch.

For instance, a January 2019 Forrester study revealed 63 percent of customers are OK with getting service from a chatbot, provided they have the choice to move the conversation to a human if required.

“We believe one-on-one customer interactions have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives,” says Hughes. “It’s a belief that inspires us to relentlessly innovate in the cloud and to find smarter ways to transform one-on-one experiences in order to help contact centers achieve their goals.”

This approach toward customer experience makes CXone from NICE inContact a global leader in cloud contact center software, and it led to a Silver Stevie® win in Product Management & New Products Awards in the Cloud Platform category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® in 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service, artificial intelligence

In Business, You Get What You Give

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 @ 09:15 AM

Access to capital helps businesses create jobs and generate economic impact. Solely getting access to funds, however, doesn’t guarantee advancement for small businesses.


As any entrepreneur knows, starting and maintaining a business can be an uphill battle, especially when it involves applying for a loan. If disapproved for the necessary capital, you can quickly feel stuck, and many face this common problem each day. Large banks deny nearly three-quarters of small business loan applications, and even small banks reject about half, according to the July 2019 Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index.

Many companies are looking to address this issue, including Stevie-winner Lendio, which is based out of South Jordan, UT, United States. This company cuts through the noise by offering free online services to help business owners find the right business loan within minutes.

Lendio was a Gold Stevie® Award winner for Customer Service Team of the Year in the Financial Services category at the 2019 American Business Awards®.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

lendio_logoLendio created a platform for thousands of loan brokers, establishing the nation’s largest small business loan marketplace in the process. With hundreds of loan products from a variety of banks and specialty lenders, Lendio has become a one-stop shop for thousands of business owners looking for capital to start, to operate, and to grow businesses.

Through data-driven algorithms that more accurately screen borrowers, the Lendio platform allows a small business owner to fill out a single application in minutes and then receive offers from multiple lenders.

How to Help Yourself by Helping Others

Lendio is, by no means, the only company looking to ease the relationship between borrower and lender in corporate America. Many capital firms exist, such as Berkshire Partners, Cortect Group, and Frontier Capital.

However, the laser focus of Lendio on customer satisfaction drives thousands of five-star reviews and earns the company many repeat customers (the company’s repeat rate is over 50 percent.) Lendio prides itself on being a small business advocate, carefully vetting lenders to help customers secure the best loan available. In these ways, Lendio serves as a representative of the new wave of companies aiming to ease the loan process for small businesses.

Advancing community involvement is another pillar of the Lendio ethos, and it’s been shown this is a great way for any organization to build relationships, to boost visibility and brand awareness, and to appeal to customers. In fact, over 80 percent of US consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding what services and products to buy and where to buy them from.

Lendio and other companies understand how much community involvement benefits both the community at large and their own financial interests.

These healthy exchanges between local communities and businesses can also inform company values, which Lendio and many other successful ventures don’t view as something managers simply hang on the wall. Whether you’re looking to enter the investment space or you need to take a hard look at your current company, here are six tips from Lendio you can use to evaluate your company culture.

  1. Success starts with people and managers; invest in training them so they can reach their full potential. Formulate initiatives, such as remote work autonomy and unlimited paid time off, so people feel management's trust in them.
  1. Unite around one common goal: to help fuel the American dream. Managers should ensure every employee understands his or her role in boosting small businesses and, in turn, the economy.
  1. Be the CEO of your job. Managers should ensure every team member owns his or her job, giving employees the support they need to go above and beyond in order to deliver results. Outline weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals that align with company initiatives that help drive the business forward in measurable ways.
  1. Be humble and hungry. All employees, including management, should check their egos at the door.
  1. Like a little competition—or a lot. Play to win, whether it’s challenging a coworker to some Ping-Pong or getting that next loan finalized. Managers can use monthly sales competitions to keep teams motivated. Company-wide flag football games and holiday-themed eating contests keep the interdepartmental competition friendly and fun.
  1. Prioritize communication. Management should believe that candor, transparency, and communication accelerate success. Employees should then participate in weekly one-on-ones with managers to facilitate this openness. Monthly town hall meetings with the CEO can keep every team member in sync with company goals and initiatives.

These principles help Lendio motivate employees to continually improve and to adapt to the changing landscapes of business and life. To find values that work for your company, determine what makes your company unique, acknowledge potential areas of improvement, and then create your company principles based on those findings.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service Team of the Year, Customer Service

In the Travel Industry, Supporting Staff Is Paramount

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Aug 06, 2019 @ 11:46 AM

As the travel industry continuously works to meet travelers’ demands, this sector’s technological aspect is becoming increasingly important. When it comes to understanding what a diverse set of travelers are looking for when getting from point A to Z, data is truly king. Gone are the days of customers simply being mesmerized by how quickly they can arrive at the other side of the world; now it’s all about how great their experiences were getting there.

Image result for fcm travel solutions

FCM Travel Solutions believes its staff can circumvent any of these new industry obstacles by providing its team members with the best tools available. This means supporting them, either online or off-line, at all times. The company’s expertise, supplier relations, unrivaled negotiating strength, and innovative technology solutions position FCM as a leading business travel partner for large national, multinational, and global corporations. It also gives them the resources necessary to confront these new industry trends.

New Days, New Challenges

Global business travel is expected to bring in $1.4 trillion by 2020, with “bleisure” (business and leisure) projected to be a big chunk of sky activity. FCM attributes strong corporate values to its ability to adapt to this kind of change, as well as any other emerging customer trends.

“We pride ourselves on being both global and locally connected,” says Jaime Kuek, the corporate communication manager for FCM. “Deep in our DNA is the local connection. For example, in China, 100 percent of our staff is Chinese. There is, therefore, a strong culture and connection with the local ecosystem in the local industry, which is important when serving our customers.”

Kuek goes on to say that, even in the field of artificial intelligence or machine learning, it’s imperative to streamline and to categorize useful data to anticipate the needs of a diverse set of customers.

For example, a growing trend among travelers is the ability to leave wallets and boarding passes at home since people can now use their smartphones to check in. This introduces new protocols and privacy issues that travel management teams are still debating and testing. These companies want smooth transitions into new policies so they can have more time to anticipate additional changes on the horizon.

If you’re looking to design leadership habits and work culture values in your organization, take a look at how FCM recognizes its employees:

  • Fostering open communication during question-and-answer panel sessions
  • Offering regular business updates and daily updates from operations leaders
  • Holding quarterly buzz night recognitions for top performers and operations
  • Recognizing unsung heroes
  • Delivering excellence service awards that recognize things like a customer’s complimentary email or letter to his or her travel consultant and operations team
  • Implementing health and well-being initiatives
  • Celebrating diversity

FCM is committed to upholding these values in order to keep its staff educated about new trends and to support its customers. If your organization deals with constant changes in an ever-expanding field, consistently review your team members’ needs to ensure you’re providing them with the best tools available. This approach is what helped FCM win the Gold Stevie® Award for Innovative Use of Technology in the Customer Service category of the 2019 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards.

Are you interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?


Topics: Customer Service, Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards Builds Loyalty with Focus on Customer Care

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 @ 05:51 PM

Do a web search for custom signage, and you’ll find a multitude of businesses from which to choose. Needless to say, it’s an industry where separating oneself from the pack can be a difficult proposition.

Since its inception in 2012, the management team behind has believed an unparalleled level of customer service is a big part of the answer. From the beginning the company has guaranteed 100% satisfaction to its customers, many of them individuals and small businesses. new-1.jpgBy 2015, the Salt Lake City-based organization decided to take things a step further. Internally, the team posed a central question: “If we had the best customer experience in the world, what would we do?”

The answer to that question was creating a new mindset that put the customer experience front and center. In order to help make that happen, the customer service department was renamed the “customer experience department.” Instead of focusing on individual interactions, the staff would focus on the entire consumer relationship.

Shortly thereafter, the company hired Madison Page, its first Customer Experience Officer, to oversee the department and make that transformation a reality.

A Recipe for Success 

Among the new key decisions was opting to use live agents for its customer interactions, rather than following the trend for automated solutions. That approach made it easier to provide consumers with the level of service they sought.

To maintain a customer-first philosophy, the company has also formulated four habits for success that its team tries to uphold:

  1. Easy

“Nothing is worse for our customers than going through a hard, cumbersome process to order signs,” says Page. “The customer experience department tries to make things as simple as possible so customers want to keep coming back.”

  1. Helpful

One of the team’s priorities is consistently providing accurate, useful information. Representatives logged more than 50 hours of training in 2016, even learning about graphic design so they can aid clients on the fly with basic design issues.

  1. Fast

Page has helped achieve a company-wide chat response time of less than 10 seconds and an email response time of about 2.5 hours. That’s more than seven times faster than the industry average.

  1. Friendly

“Part of giving clients a great experience includes being kind and friendly no matter what outlet you’re using,” Page explains.

One of the keys to staying upbeat is maintaining a close-knit team that doesn’t take itself too seriously. After weekly meetings, for example, staffers can be found playing games like trying to eat donuts from a string or playing a fierce game of Spoons. The group even has gold and silver medals that get handed to the winner.

High Customer Satisfaction

The result of that emphasis on the consumer experience has led to overwhelmingly positive feedback on social media that helps attract even more customers. Of the 27,000 reviews it tallied as of December 2016, the average reviewer gave the company a 4.7 out of 5.

The company’s philosophy reflects a growing body of research suggesting that better customer care leads to increased loyalty, thereby lowering the cost of customer acquisition. For example, the research firm Access Development found that as many as 79% of customers would shop elsewhere within a week of receiving subpar customer service. 

At, a consumer-centric strategy has clearly helped fuel the company’s rapid growth. Last year, earned the No. 6 spot on the Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum’s list of the top 25 companies in the state under five years old.

In February, the company added to its plaudits by grabbing the Gold Stevie® Award for “Customer Service Department of the Year” in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. In addition, Page received a Silver Stevie for “Contact Center Manager of the Year.”

“It is so nice to win, but it reminds and motivates us to keep innovating, helping and serving our customers,” Page says.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service Team of the Year, Customer Service, customer care

Taking Aim At Student Debt With a Social Conscience

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 01, 2017 @ 02:42 AM

Making student finances more affordable and easier to manage in a sea of “loan sharks” is no easy task, but Stevie Award-winner CommonBond does it sucessfully. CommonBond is a reimagined student loan experience offering low interest rates with great customer service. Their customer satisfaction rates have been overtly positive, which is one of the many reasons why they received $1 billion in funding this year. Learn more about CommonBond to see how they won customer service awards in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Crunching Numbers That Don’t Crunch Students

commonbond.jpgOver 40 million Americans are affected by student loan debt. On average, CommonBond members save $24,046 by refinancing their student loans. They also cover MBA student loans, and recently launched student loan benefits for today’s workforce – giving their partners the resources to stand apart from the competition, and giving their employees the tools to achieve financial wellness.

Senior Communications Manager Bethany Hill gave us the CommonBond perspective, “We’re creators, movers, shakers, numbers geeks, and finance freaks. We’re people just like you, who were frustrated by the high rates and poor service that came with our student loans. We knew there had to be a better way. So we created one.”

More Than Just Student Loans

CommonBond helps their community gain access to complimentary tickets to CommonBond-sponsored events, dinners, panel discussions with entrepreneurs and other companies. This is most apparent in their industry-first program called “CommonBridge.” It’s a service that matches members in between jobs with a consulting opportunity at CommonBond, making it easier to earn money, gain experience and spend a little more time on the job hunt.

A Social Promise

CommonBond has been committed to giving since they funded their very first loan – and it's still a driving force behind everything they do. Here's how their “Social Promise” program works:

  • 1-for-1: For every loan funded, they also fund the education of a child in need.
  • Education for all: Loans give kids unprecedented access to schools, teachers, and technology
  • Pencils of Promise: Ensures that funds go to those who need them most

CommonBond is constantly finding ways to fill a void in the student lending space. David Klein, Co-Founder and CEO believes their success is best explained by what they’re always taking aim at.

“We strongly believe that business can - and should - be a positive force for change”

Topics: customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service, top customer service

How Would Your Development Team Program Customer Service?

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

Most of the time, the engineers and other professionals at software firm Olark are busy manipulating code as they try to push their product forward. But once a month, those computer gurus tackle a much different task: handling customer service inquiries from their users.

The company calls it their “All Hands Support” policy, intended to keep staffers throughout the organization in tune with the needs of clients. “Everyone in our 40-person company continues to contribute to our customer service efforts in some way,” says Karl Pawlewicz, the company’s spokesman.

Customer service is, in fact, at the very core of the San Francisco-based company. Founded in 2009, it offers a live chat platform that businesses large and small can use to address the real-time needs of their buyers. Today, more than 12,000 organizations around the globe use Olark’s easy-to-implement solution in order to address customer needs.

Olark.pngBy giving all of its employees a taste of the customer service experience, they’re able to create a better product, Pawlewicz suggests. “It keeps our entire company in close contact with our customers' successes and frustrations, and ensures each department is aligned on customer priorities,” he says.

The idea originated from the early days when Olark’s four founders were living together in Palo Alto and developing the software platform. “They each took turns on customer service so they wouldn't burn out and so they could stay close to customer feedback,” according to Pawlewicz.

At a time when a lot of customer service is being automated through artificial intelligence and bots, Pawlewicz says it was important for Olark’s principals to create a solution that was simultaneously economical and person-oriented.

“We’re looking for ways to develop a hybrid approach, ensuring technology makes humans more efficient, rather than replacing them,” he notes.

Building Empathy

Creating a better customer service experience is about more than spreading the workload around ‒ it’s also about developing a culture that turns employees into advocates for the company. That can can be a challenge for a geographically-diverse organization, where many employees work from home throughout North America, South America and Europe.

To develop that cohesiveness, the company, which recently won the Gold Stevie Award in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service for Customer Service Department of the Year ‒ Computer Software, hosts in-person retreats once a year. There, the company leaders preach Olark’s core values. Among them: “assume good faith,” “practice empathy” and “help each other grow.”

But the most unconventional of the company’s axioms is “chill out.” As its website describes, Olark  wants its employees to “seek activities that recharge you and allow you to bring your best self to work.” So it’s no accident that the company has amateur musicians and even a couple of part-time farmers among its ranks.

Olark has some off-beat customs, to be sure. Its employees join in to sing Darius Rucker’s  “Wagon Wheel,” the firm’s unofficial anthem, whenever they get together. And they have secret, gift-giving gnomes to celebrate birthdays, since they’re apart for the other 51 weeks each year.

“Creating this positive environment helps our team maintain a healthy work/life balance and come to work every day refreshed and renewed,” explains Pawlewicz. (L1)

That balanced approach has paid off in the form of excellent customer service, decided by Stevie Awards judges. Pawlewicz says the honor has been a major shot in the arm for workers at the burgeoning company.

“It's a testament to the hard work that our customer service team puts in every day, and we hope it will be a compelling proof point for future candidates who consider working at Olark,” he says.

Topics: sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service, customer service department, Buisness awards

Redefining the Average Call Center

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

A common thread among successful, enduring brands is always putting the customer first. Selling to existing customers is much more inexpensive than attracting new ones. Research shows that companies spend five times more to attract a new buyer than to retain a previous one.

Yet a primary mechanism for delivering customer service – a large call center operation – can be limiting. Often, these facilities are trying to lure local job seekers who have little attachment to the brand. And that becomes evident in their interactions with the customer.

Arise.pngArise Virtual Solutions is trying to fundamentally change that paradigm. The Miramar, Florida-based company provides a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to utilize a network of “micro” call centers around the country. Often, these are semi-retired adults, stay-at-home parents, or even people with disabilities who work out of their homes.

Because the talent pool isn’t confined to a small geographic area, companies can look for individuals who have a higher level of work experience or who possess specific skills, such as the ability to speak a foreign language.

It also enables organizations – whether they’re manufacturers, retailers or service providers – to recruit representatives who share their values and interests. That aspect resolves some of the high turnover issues that plague a lot of traditional call centers. It also turns those individuals into advocates for the brand.

A cycling equipment maker, for instance, is able to staff people who are avid fans of the sport. As a result, they have a clearer understanding of the questions that customers have and are able to suggest products that will fit their needs.

In the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, Arise was recognized for its innovative solution. The company was awarded the Gold Stevie® in the Best Use of Technology in Customer Service - Business Services category.

Want to submit entries in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? Request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you when it's available. 

A more flexible workforce

For firms that use the Arise platform, the advantages go beyond the talent level of the customer service workers. The technology also provides a flexibility that traditional call centers don’t offer.

Based on call volume, for example, companies can increase or decrease the number of on-duty reps in under an hour. As a result, users can turn a fixed cost into a variable cost – and save money in the process. The company calls it being “right-staffed.”

Consequently, an industry that was once dominated by large brick-and-mortar operations is undergoing a seismic transformation.  A trade group survey found that as many as 70 percent of call center managers intend to move to a cloud-based infrastructure in the near future.

As one Stevie® Award judge put it, technologies like those offered by Arise offer a “desperately needed” tool that can “accommodate a flexible workforce.”

The array of benefits has led to impressive growth for the company, which was founded in the mid-90s. Today, the Arise network includes thousands of micro call centers throughout the United States as well as in Canada and several European countries. Those individuals provide support for companies in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to retail and banking.

Arise has garnered a number of recognitions over the past few years, including accolades from the Outsourcing Institute and the International Customer Management Institute, or ICMI. Arise CEO John A. Meyer indicated the Stevie Award represents a major achievement for the organization.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Stevie Awards and our peers,” Meyer said in a statement following the ceremony in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Arise Virtual Solutions.

Topics: best customer service, customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, customer service excellence, Customer Service

Becoming a Stevie Award-Winning Sales Leader

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 10:55 AM

Insights from a Gold Stevie ® Winner at Lennox Industries, Inc.

We wanted to learn a bit more on how Rich Ford, the Sales Director for Lennox Industries in Richardson, Texas  grew to win the Gold Stevie® for Sales Director of the Year in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. So, we reached out to the Lennox Industries team and got a few different perspectives. Quan Nguyen,  the VP of Marketing helped us coordinate the conversation and expressed, “We are very excited and proud of Rich.“ Quan pulled in Gary Bedard, the Vice President and General Manager of Lennox Industries as well as the winner himself, Rich Ford.

The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service is accepting nominations through January 11. REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

To get started we asked Gary to give us a bit of background on what solutions Lennox provides.

Lennox Industries is a leading manufacturer and distributor of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and products for residential and commercial markets. We have leveraged our expertise to become an industry leader known for innovation, quality and reliability,” said Gary.

Lennox 1.jpgGary also shared the Vision behind Lennox.Within the home comfort industry, we want to leverage our one step distribution model to provide our professional contractors with the most innovative and highest quality products and services for them to best serve our end customers.” Bedard continued, “Our core values of integrity, respect, and excellence has built a culture of performance and accountability to execute on our vision.”

When asked about the story behind the nomination, Gary got excited. “We have an outstanding team of sales professionals, a group honored by the Stevies for the Best Field Sales Force!  Within that team, we have a leader of leaders and that was Rich Ford. He’s elevated himself in both action and performance to become a complete sales professional. The three year sales performance and growth we’ve seen out of the Western Region is simply incredible for this industry. His leadership has been instrumental in our results. He continually coaches and mentors his team and his peers. He is a thoughtful advisor to the entire management team. He consistently finds innovative solutions to customer challenges and he maintains the highest levels of standards and integrity. When we saw this award category, we were absolutely delighted to nominate Rich. His contributions have been tremendous and he really embodies all of our values of integrity, respect, and excellence.”

Gary provided interesting background on how Lennox first became acquainted with the Stevie® Awards . “We had started undergoing a transformation in 2010. Coming out of the recession in 2012, we started winning. Not just growing,  but winning by taking market share!  It was largely driven by transformational changes in our sales team and supply chain logistics. I understood that the efforts and success we were making were not just industry leading but world class so we sought to compete on a global level. We came upon the Stevie Awards that way and that’s been one of our inspirations ever since.  And we still continue to win in the market.”

Enter Rich Ford himself who described the actual experience of winning the award. Rich began with,

“When you win something you’re not expecting, or even know you’re being considered, it’s a very humbling experience. We have some amazing leaders in our organization – others deserving of the award and recognition. Then, to find out the organization recognized me as their nominee, made me happy to be a part of the team; the organization as well as our industry.”

We were interested in learninghow the award has affected RIch’s business to which Mr. Ford replied, “I can’t say that the award has affected my business dealings. I’m not a better director or leader as a result of the award. I still strive to contribute to a culture of excellence in everything we do. I still try to bring the highest level of service to our customers and to be a champion and advocate for my team. I’m probably more acutely aware of my day to day interactions and will strive to live up to the expectations that come with the recognition.”

Rich also shared his insights on the future of his industry,The key drivers in our industry have always been regulatory. Either the environmental impact at the federal level or on the local level with utility companies. I find it interesting that the regulations can have a greater impact on our industry going forward beyond the typical SEER/EER ratings standards. Secondary regulations in local markets could impact the way our product is installed. And, as an applied product, this could have either a negative impact or change fundamentally how our product is designed and distributed in the future. Closely watching the actions of our competitors as well as different channels (Residential New Construction for example) will keep it interesting and require staying diligent in our own innovative development of products going forward.”

Rich showed his mettle with some inspiration we can all appreciate, “As I think about where I started professionally and where I ultimately wound up – it’s definitely not a straight line. Often times, Sales Leaders start in sales and through consecutive successes over their careers become who they are – Sales Leaders. I started with Lennox, as an IT Specialist. My background had been technology focused and it was through technology I joined Lennox. It wasn’t long before I noticed a culture of sales excellence within the company through working with the Sales Managers.

It became my purpose and goal to become a Sales Director before I had my first sales position. It was not a clear road.  It took three attempts before I was finally given the opportunity to join the sales team as a Territory Manager. With each rejection I worked harder to get better. I looked for opportunities for improvement by spending time with those who were great in the role to which I wanted to rise. From Territory Manager to District Manager – I learned from great DMs.  From DM to director – I listened to and spoke with great sales directors.  

I’m not a ‘natural salesperson’ as many believe is true for most salespeople. My point is – regardless of your dream – be it a sales leader, a great IT professional or even a great parent – don’t quit getting better at what you want to do. More importantly, find others who do it great and do what they do.”

Lennox 2.jpg

Shown from left to right: Mark Yonai winner of the Stevie Gold for Best Use of Technology, Leigh Ann Vernon winner of the Stevie Gold for Best Sales Meeting, Rich Ford winner of the Stevie Gold for Sales Director, Bill Carlson winner of the Stevie Gold for Business Development.

You can learn more about Lennox Industries at

Topics: sales team, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service