Thank you so much to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions. Blue Nation will continue to bring you interviews with Company leaders and share information to keep you informed. To read our interview with Jim O., Senior Vice President of Safety, click here.
In this week’s video with President Jon Vander Ark, he visited our Customer Resource Center (CRC) in Chandler, AZ (one of three main call centers – the other two are located in Charlotte, NC and Indianapolis, IN). Together, we have about 900 customer service agents who interact with our residential and business customers via email, chat, phone, social media and other channels. On a typical day, they handle about 60,000-plus customer inquiries via the phone and online.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the majority of our customer service agents are using technology and tools to work remotely. Setting up flexible working arrangements for nearly 98 percent of our agents in a matter of three days was no small feat. To learn more about how we did it and how our agents are responding to the challenge, we spoke with Chris R., Vice President, Customer Experience.
Q. How quickly did your team respond to the COVID-19 situation as it began unfolding?
Within about 72 hours of first assessing the situation, we had a plan in place that included all logistics needed in order to not only move our teams home, but also an engagement model to ensure we were able to keep a similar environment and culture that has driven our success over the past 18 months.
Q. What areas of the Company did you partner with in order to get our customer service agents successfully transitioned from a Republic office to a home office?
IT, along with our training and recruiting teams were a huge part of the transition. IT was able to move mountains in order to keep up with a mind-boggling pace, securing the equipment and system access necessary to make a smooth transition. That team also successfully implemented Jabber and chat functions to create an environment for our agents and support teams that is allowing us to mirror many of our normal operating procedures and engagement activities that we had in the buildings.
The Training team assisted in implementing a work-from-home training model for our agents, while never skipping a beat on new hire training. The Recruiting team also shifted to more of an at-home interview model that received glowing reviews from our candidates as they appreciated our Company’s concern for their well-being.
Q. What are you most proud of during these past few weeks? What lessons have you learned?
Wow. There is a pretty long list of things I am proud of and I would have to start with our agents and supervisors. They really had a significant impact to how they do their jobs and have delivered unbelievable results. They are amazing! Next would be my leadership team and our internal partners. To make this happen it took a lot of coordination, and from day one, we never missed a beat. To be able to transition over 1,000 employees, in real-time, and not have a drop in performance is an outstanding accomplishment.
What I have learned, or should I say, what was reinforced, through these trying times is just how powerful our Company is and the things we are capable of is truly impressive.
Q. What can you tell us about call volume, wait times and the most common questions our agents are getting from our customers?
Prior to this event our call volume was down 10% and now call volume is in-line with last year. We are seeing a shift in call types as the volume is heavily driven by residential customers calling regarding changes in service offerings.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add about your CRC Teams and the awesome job they’re doing to take care of our customers during this difficult time?
I am incredibly proud of this team and we are here ready to serve our internal and external customers. On behalf of the CRCs, I would like to extend a big thank you to our drivers and field partners. You are doing an amazing job and we are not only hearing that from customers on calls but also seeing it from customers across social media!
Check out some of our CRC employees hard at work at home!