Meet the Finalists: Customer Service Business Leaders
Empowering contact center excellence for 30 years!

Meet the Finalists: Customer Service Business Leaders

The scores have been tallied and the votes are in! Our dedicated judges have narrowed the 2012 Customer Service Business Leader of the Year nominees down to two finalists.

The nominees for Customer Service Business Leader of the Year were scored based on the leadership qualities they have demonstrated in the call center over the last year, including: motivation of their team, maintaining strong channels of communication within the contact center and other areas of the organization, innovation in customer experience and keeping customer needs top of mind.

I recently chatted with our two finalists, Cynthia Smith of Zions Management Services Company and Meg Neafsey of American Water, to find out a little bit more about them.

Meet Cynthia M. Smith - Winner, 2012 Customer Service Business Leader of the Year

 Cynthia M. Smith is EVP, Director Client Contact Services and Channel Management, Zions Management Services Company

How does it feel to know that you were nominated for Business Leader of the Year?
Cynthia:
I find it very humbling, because I’m just doing my job. I think my entire team is being recognized.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at Zions Management Services Company?
Cynthia:
I moved from the Card Department to the Contact Center. I realized that it was not organized properly. I held conversations with people to help them realize the organization was not working and changes were needed to put people in roles where they could be more successful. Last year I went to an ICMI conference to get a Call Center education. They are a high-performance team now. And I made our management aware that the Contact Center is the epicenter of the organization. Whenever something happens, we are the first to know.

What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment while working there?
Cynthia:
I’m showing my people that I care about them, to inspire them to focus on the customers. It’s the little things. We changed the dress code, we have coffee and popcorn and a “Party Cart” to show people we care about them, because they have a challenging job. People will step up if they feel that they are appreciated.

If you had one piece of advice to give to a fellow Customer Service Business Leader, what would it be?
Cynthia:
Don’t focus on the money – focus on doing a really great job. And the money will come. Probably the best thing you can do as a leader is to inspire people, show them what you want done, and then believe in the people.

What is your favorite Customer Service Week memory?
Cynthia:
Last year we held carnivals and dressed up like clowns, played games, and had giveaways. It was great for our representatives to see our senior management participate and interact with the staff. [Editor’s note: visit our Facebook page to check out some of the photos!]

Learn more about Cynthia and the TOPS division team: TOPS: Powered by People.

Meet Meg Neafsey

 Meg Neafsey is Vice President, Customer Service, American Water

How does it feel to know that you were nominated for Business Leader of the Year?
Meg:
I'm honored. I'm humbled. I'm flattered. I'm not only proud to be nominated but to have the privilege to lead my team as we continue our journey of continuous improvement to deliver quality customer service. Together we built something, so I'm really proud just to be leading this team and that they are as proud of me as well.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at American Water?
Meg:
I am Vice President of Customer Service. I have two customer service centers: one is in Alton, Illinois and the other one is in Pensacola, Florida. Between the two centers we have close to 700 employees. Its large, but we're providing full customer service, including billing, collections and we also take inbound calls.
Prior to working in the customer service center, I worked in IT. I first partnered with the center in 2008 on the development of their web tool, helping them to build a business case. The web tool implementation began in late 2009 and was fully phased in by the following year. I was fortunate enough to then come over to the call center and actually help implement it, so I got to see both sides of the process! I also have to say that the entire team opened their arms to me when I came out to help, and together we worked growing the business and delivering quality service.

What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment while working there?
Meg:
The implementation of that web tool was significant for the organization. But, what I feel was my greatest accomplishment really has nothing to do with putting in tools or anything like that. It actually happened during Customer Service Week. I was new in the customer service center, out on the floor and thanking people for their contributions. A number of them thanked me for understanding their challenges and having the insight to encourage and introduce them to what I referred to as an "operating plan." The best part of that plan was the creation of a mission and value statement for the center. So, we had one that we actually created ourselves. It reminded the team of the importance of the job they perform daily. It also reminded them of the core values of our foundation. That’s something that we figured that out, together. To me, it’s all about teamwork and that was one of my greatest accomplishments.

If you had one piece of advice to give to a fellow Customer Service Business Leader, what would it be?
Meg:
You need to find the proper balance for you organization. You need to create an environment where your customer service reps can be successful. It’s all about building partnerships within the business, as well as building partnerships with peer organizations because we can always learn from each other. It’s about understanding your customer's needs and about making the jobs fun for your CSRs. It’s about understanding we are a culture of performance… and it’s really about finding the balance through all that.

What is American Water planning for Customer Service Week this year?
Meg:
Well, we typically have a number of activities planned throughout the week to recognize the team. Among those activities, we have state residents coming in to visit the center or sending "thank you" notes to the team because they are proud of the services that our team provides and are more than happy to recognize them during this time. We are also planning to recognize our outstanding performers for this year, so anyone who has consistently achieved their targets will be provided with recognition certificates. And we will also be internally recognizing all of our people who were nominated for the "Spirit of Service" award, as well as other awards within the organization. We wanted do something special for everyone on the team - and we hope that this helps to build the excitement and get more people nominated for next year.

See this year’s winners announced live during the From One Rock Star to Another: How to Build and Be a Rockin' Customer Service Team webinar, now available on demand.



Topics: Strategy & Planning, People Management, Culture & Morale

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