Back when we opened our doors in 1994, there were over 30,000 travel agencies (counted and certified by Airlines Reporting Corp.) Last year, there were just 14,052. Our parent company’s heritage has much to do with travel agents and we still have a specialty department that operates a travel agent help desk for a major airline. And a good number of our people are actually travel agents in a former life. So we have an appreciation for the vocational calling of travel agents.
To honor our people’s genuine passion for travel, we recently added a feature to our website “Trase Miller Travels”. We keep a database of places that we have collectively visited and last count is looks like we have been to over 50 countries. Trase Miller Travels is a means to showcase our travels and to celebrate some of the journeys we have embarked upon. It’s also a place for our people to lend their expert voice in really personal ways; memories of an excursion, a favorite hotel, or even a crazy mishap. Real People – Real Stories.
In late January, we posted a blog that mentioned our most recent class of new hires. 65 days later everyone in that class is still with us. But we thought it might be a good idea to share what happened 75-80 days ago. Our recruiting process is rigorous. We screen and test even before people are interviewed. Typically over 200 people will respond to an advertisement. And typically only 5-6 percent will ever be hired. We love people with travel backgrounds and we screen carefully. Why? Because we promise the brands that we take calls for that they will be represented by quality people providing quality service.
When applicants come to our building there is often a digital display loop in our lobby that features an “Agent Spotlight”. Here’s a clip from one of the recent spotlights of Stephanie, the Agent pictured above.
Stephanie A. “Is Here to Help You”. She joined Trase Miller in August 2008 – Bilingual, Stephanie has held three different positions since then. Originally from Bolivia, Stephanie moved here at the age of 12. She is brand-loyal to QuikTrip™ because “they are reliable, professional, fast and efficient”. Bonus Fun Fact: Stephanie traveled recently to her childhood cathedral in La Paz to get married. Congratulations!
Real People – Real Stories in Our Contact Center
At the beginning of every month we receive a report from Site Selection Group, LLC that details call center openings and closings – Globally. It’s a quick read but a sobering message in our opinion and a reminder that companies do not always do what is right for their customers. As a matter of fact, companies often times make decisions about customer service that are BAD for their customers.
In February in the USA, 1,714 jobs were displaced at facilities from downsizing or facilities closure. But China added 20,000 jobs and Saudi Arabia added 10,000 jobs.
H O L Y S M O K E S!
Many of these well meaning customer care agents are being trained right now to deal with American customers. But the problem is that no matter how much training they are given, they will never quite be able to measure up to onshore USA agents in terms of their ability to satisfy American customers. NEVER! Why? Because in part what they are afflicted with is “a failure to communicate”.
First of all, there are statistics* that back this up:
- Customers who believe they have reached a contact center inside the U.S. are nearly twice as likely to recommend the organization to others, compared to those who think they are speaking with someone offshore (43%).
- Customers are nearly three times as likely to defect if they are serviced by an offshore contact center.
- Offshore agents provide first call issue resolution to just 42% of customers, compared to 68% domestically.
And then there are real sentiments from real Americans that cringe every time they are forced to deal with an Agent in China or Saudi Arabia. Just read the comment section of most any consumer products site or review site and you will see loud and clear that Americans are not satisfied when they are forced to deal with offshore contact centers.
Before he made salad dressing, Paul Newman (RIP) made some great movies. There are several iconic scenes from the 1967 film classic Cool Hand Luke but the most memorable is the prison guard’s quote – “What we have here is a failure to communicate”. The bottom line is that Newman’s “Luke” character didn’t take ANY guff from ANYONE. And neither should American customers that are forced to deal with offshore contact centers. We’re just saying. Oh – And we’re here to help. 24/7/365.
*The CFI Group – 2009
In our blog last week we mentioned our Quarterly Quality Forum. Here we go again. Part of our QQF includes case study of companies that we admire. Chick Fil-A was our most recently featured QQF company in part because their leadership has such fantastic vision and crystal clear insights about how to run a great company. Dan Cathy is Chick Fil-A’s CEO and “SOB” (son of the boss). His father S. Truett Cathy founded the company over 40 years ago. They sell a ton of really yummy chicken sandwiches ($4 Billion) and have been profitable every year since their founding. Dan Cathy asserts something that our management team really latched on to in our QQF:
"If we have to keep telling people what to do, it means we're not modeling the behavior ourselves and if we're living it every day, we don't need to talk about it”
What a profound simple truth. Keller and Love for Harvard Business Review recently blogged about modeling and modifying behavior. It’s all about mindsets. In their article Keller and Love use the story of four monkeys…
Four monkeys are sitting in a cage with a bunch of bananas hanging from the roof, accessible by a set of steps. Whenever the monkeys try to climb the steps to get to the bananas, they are blocked by a blast of cold water. After a few days, the monkeys give up. Researchers then remove the water hose and replace one of the original monkeys with a new one. Seeing the bananas, it starts up the steps. What happens? The other monkeys, being social creatures, pull it down before it gets blasted with water. This happens again and again until pretty soon the new monkey doesn't bother to go for the bananas either.
Over the next few weeks, the researchers remove the rest of the original monkeys one at a time and replace them with new monkeys who've never seen the jet of water. Even though there's no longer anything to stop the monkeys from reaching the bananas, each new monkey is always pulled down by the others.
By the end of the experiment, not a single monkey has ever seen a jet of water, but none of them tries to climb the steps.
As leaders of a contact center fulfillment business, we know it is important to do our best to model good behavior. And we are thoughtful about making sure our processes and policies are not perceived as cold blasts of water by our people. It’s a great place to work and we’re here to help you.