The Standard’s David Payne on Being a Customer Champion

| October 31st, 2011
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We congratulate David Payne, Assistant VP, Contact Center at The Standard, a provider of employee benefits, retirement plans and insurance,for winning 1to1 Magazine’s 2011 Customer Champion Award.

We sat down with David to ask him about what being a Customer Champion means to him.

What are the special customer experience needs that you face at The Standard?

We have a responsibility to be here when our customers need us the most. By providing products such as disability and life insurance our customers are often calling us when they are in a time of need:  having suffered an injury, lost a loved one or even having been diagnosed with a disease. There is not one of us that has not been in a similar situation personally or through a family member or close friend. We can’t rely on typical contact center metrics like Average Handle Time to drive our service strategy if we truly want to differentiate ourselves.  When you are in a situation such as this and call your provider there is nothing more frustrating than someone reading from a script like a robot or quoting standard operating procedures as a reason or excuse as to why they can’t do something. Our focus is to display the empathy that is necessary in these situations but more importantly, we will do the right thing to make the experience as simple and effective as possible for our customer.

How has your customer-centric approach translated into customer benefits?

Our mission is to – “Ensure that the customer experience rules the contact.  Our customers get what they want, how they want it, when they want it.” In order to improve upon the customer experience and drive customer satisfaction we want to understand customer needs, wants, and intent, to really get at the true Voice of the Customer.  A huge contribution to this goal came from implementing NICE’s interaction analytics, which helps us automatically identify dissatisfied callers and understand the reasons why.  One example of how were able to address dissatisfaction with NICE comes from callers who were frustrated by their inability to reach an area outside the contact center.  We were able to share these insights with peers -- enabling us to listen to examples of such calls firsthand. The power of this approach helped us collaborate and solution the opportunity for good.

How has your approach translated into greater employee engagement?

We believe that customer-centricity goes hand-in-hand with agent-centricity. The agents’ job is to make difficult situations as painless, simple and effective as possible for the customer.  An unmotivated, frustrated employee cannot be empathetic.  To ensure engagement, we initiated several changes.  For example, we set up “walk stations” – treadmills agents walk on to get moving and feel less stiff as they talk with customers.  We also set up ‘The Den’ – a special room designed to help employees ‘decompress.’ It has a WII, MP3 player, leather chair, even curtains and different carpeting. It fosters positive interactions among employees and lets them know that it is okay to take time for ‘them’.

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