Published: June 12, 2013 | Comments
If you’re a soda (or pop, depending on where you’re from) drinker, chances are at some point you’ve gone out for lunch and ordered a cold Pepsi. More than likely, you never thought about all the steps that took place behind the scenes to bring that Pepsi to your table. Until last Friday, I’d never really thought about it either.
While at ACCE last month, I had the privilege of meeting Lindsey Weems, contact center manager at Pepsi Bottling Ventures (PBV) in Cary, NC. Since I live just a few miles down the road, Lindsey invited me to stop by for a tour and I gladly accepted the invitation. The chance to go behind the scenes at one of America’s favorite brands is an intriguing opportunity, and what I learned lived to up to my expectations.
During my day at PBV I saw, learned, and experienced many aspects of their business. I toured the contact center, learned about the agent training program, listened in on some inbound and outbound calls, had lunch at a local Pepsi partner restaurant, and even toured the production process at the bottling plant. Several things stuck out to me during my visit, but two things stood out above the rest. Culture and employee motivation is a top priority at PBV, and so is training.
Culture at PBV
Over the last few years, the PBV contact center has undergone a good deal of change and growth. Less than five years ago, the contact center employed less than ten agents in a tiny, cramped space. PBV relocated in its new (larger) facility in 2010. Since then, they’ve grown to more than 20 agents, and they’ve totally redesigned the look and feel of the contact center. The bright, open space where agents sit overlooks a beautiful wooded area that includes walking trails for employees to utilize during breaks. And every agent has a window seat, while management offices are on interior walls.
“I was an agent in the past, so I know how depressing it can be to work without seeing the light of day,” said Weems. “In most offices, managers have offices with window views, while agents are seated in the interior of the building. When we were designing the new space I was adamant about making sure that all agent cubicles were within view of a window. I think having those views helps to maintain sanity and really helps boost productivity.”
Lindsey realizes the value of her agents and tries to recognize them for their hard work on a regular basis. In addition to monthly team meetings, family farm days, weekly fresh fruit deliveries, and regular birthday cakes, Lindsey likes to keep things fresh by throwing in the occasional surprise.
“A few months ago I had a bus (our Caniac Coach) come and pick everyone up in the middle of the day for a field trip, “said Weems. “We drove over to our corporate offices in Raleigh, and the agents got a chance to meet and talk with our executives and have lunch. It was nice break from the routine, and everyone was so surprised.”
For many contact center agents, it’s rare to have an opportunity to get in front of company executives, but at PBV corporate leadership takes a strong interest in the contact center. Lindsey often gets the chance to present to marketing and corporate leadership, and says the executive team understands how valuable the contact center is to the organization as a whole.
Perhaps because of the high value company executives place on the contact center, training is a priority, and PBV has invested in technology and tools that even many larger contact centers don’t have available.
In between calls, agents have access to a large online portal of training courses. Supervisors can assign courses to agents based on individual needs, and agents are tested and scored at the end of each course to track progress. Additionally, supervisors meet with agents on a weekly basis for coaching and reviews, and hold team meetings every week where successful calls are played back as a model. PBV also uses peer to peer coaching.
As far as scripts go, they don’t have them. While generic language is available, agents are encouraged to be themselves.
Beyond the standard coaching and continual learning initiatives each new agent is taken on tour of the bottling facility to get a greater idea of just how integral their role is to the overall operation and success of the company.
I got to go on one of those tours with four agents, and they all left the facility with a greater understanding of the company, and a greater sense of pride in their work.
PBV is a combination inbound/outbound call center, but most of the calls are outbound. A major responsibility of agents is to contact vendors to fill product orders. Touring the award winning, state-of-the-art bottling facility, we got to see those orders come to life and go through the fulfillment process. And we learned how much time (and money) mistakes in the ordering process can cost the overall operation.
The bottling process was so high-tech, and honestly amazing to see! (I've never seen so many Pepsi products in my life) I think the PBV agents were just as amazed as I was. If nothing else, I know the agents walked away with a greater sense of just how important their work is to PBV. In my opinion, that’s just as an important part of the training process as any courses or coaching.
What’s unique about your call center culture or training process? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Interested in taking a look inside other call centers? Join us for a complimentary webinar on June 27 at 1pm ET as we take you behind the scenes at three Award winning contact centers.