No matter how long a company has been around, there is almost always room for improvement in customer service. When competition heats up, customer retention and loyalty become critical to ?nancial success. Vericom Corp., which provides digital signage and on-hold messaging for hospitals and other health care providers, regards customer service as a broad term that covers all contact points of a brand to its consumers.
Although Vericom’s customer engagement team is ultimately the key point of contact between the organization and the client, the entire company is oriented toward the customer. Vericom constantly evaluates how what it does and says a?ects its customers, because it considers customer service its key competitive advantage.
Guided by Chairman and CEO Robert J. Loeb, Vericom has been serving hospitals, health systems, managed care and physician practices for 23 years. Since the company’s inception in 1989, its goal of being the premier audio and visual health care communications provider for hospitals is supported by unparalleled service for clients.
In order to ensure lifelong, indispensable relationships, Vericom works daily to exceed the expectations of more than 350 clients. Vericom’s leaders believe that if the company seeks to be only as good as its competition, it is doing a disservice to its customers and setting itself up to lose some of them.
Serving 1,100 locations, Vericom works diligently to ensure that every site it serves receives high-quality customer service consistently. With a less than 3 percent lost-account rate, the proof is in the numbers.
“We feel this honor fits Vericom perfectly,” says Brandi Beard, internal communications coordinator for Marshall Medical Center in Guntersville, Ala. “We currently utilize Vericom’s services both for on-hold messaging as well as their digital signage product. They have consistently proven that customer service is more than making sure the client is happy — it’s making sure the client stays happy.”
How to reach: Vericom Corp., (770) 552-1215 or www.vericom.net
U.S. Security Associates, the fourth-largest security guard provider in the United States with 140 branches in 46 states, operates in a business with very thin margins, so the company continuously seeks new ways to make customer service its chief competitive advantage.
Under the leadership of CEO Charles Schneider, U.S. Security says its mission is to maintain and constantly improve its partner relationship with both its clients and its employees via communication tools, state-of-the-art technology and accessible senior management.
The company values, which are reinforced throughout the organization, are to adhere to the principles of trust, ethics, lawfulness and honesty in every action and decision the employees undertake.
U.S. Security’s company vision is to become the best provider of uniformed security services in the United States using a unique formula of service and technology to achieve its mission of delivering excellence. The contributions of the company’s employees have enabled it to consistently exceed its annual goals for customer satisfaction and customer retention. The latest figures for those two metrics are 97 percent and 94 percent, respectively.
U.S. Security takes proactive measures to implement learning and performance improvement initiatives. The company provides training not only for the daily tasks required of its employees but also for human-relation skills needed to effectively interact with associates, subordinates, supervisors and managers.
U.S. Security recently launched an employee leadership and management development program. Courses appropriate for each level are assigned every quarter, and corporate new hires are required to be given an orientation on their responsibilities and on-the-job training. All new hires are assigned to the training program after their first 30 days of employment. This program enables the company’s management to ensure the delivery of outstanding customer service and to lead the employees under their responsibility by example.
How to reach: U.S. Security Associates Inc., (770) 625-1500 or www.ussecurityassociates.com
Since its inception in 1972, Travis Pruitt & Associates has always primarily focused on providing exceptional customer service. The philosophy began with the civil engineering firm’s founder, Travis Pruitt Sr., and has been carried forward by his son, Travis Pruitt Jr., the company’s current president.
TPA prides itself on paying close attention to its clients’ needs and working hand-in-hand with them to create a finished product that fulfills their vision and meets their time and cost constraints. The firm has learned that interactively engaging clients early and throughout each project greatly reduces the need for costly change orders and delays during permitting and construction times, which translates into value that far exceeds the perceived savings of using a lower-priced engineering firm.
Travis Pruitt & Associates also understands that it must maintain a high level of service daily to make sure clients continually recognize the difference in customer service that TPA provides versus other engineering firms. TPA achieves this by having staff members who are accessible, knowledgeable and responsive, and who take the initiative to immediately coordinate and redirect resources to respond effectively to unexpected customer requests.
TPA recognizes that it is more meaningful and cost-effective to retain existing customers than to find new ones. Therefore the firm strives to treat every client as a VIP. Continuous clients receive an even higher level of service due to their long-term relationships with TPA’s staff. Those clients typically have a member of the firm’s leadership team as their primary contact person to ensure that their expectations are being fulfilled.
“My contact with all of the staff at TPA has been positive,” says Eugene Cole, an architect with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “From the field survey personnel to the president of the company, their service is the same: knowledgeable, timely, forward-looking and honest.”
How to reach: Travis Pruitt & Associates Inc., (770) 416-7511 or www.travispruitt.com
TLC Laser Eye Centers opened in Atlanta in 1998, four years after the first TLC Laser Eye Center opened in Windsor, Ontario. Today, TLC is the largest provider of laser correction services in North America, with more than 50 locations in the United States and Canada.
Led by Atlanta Center Manager Andrea York, TLC Laser Eye Centers — Atlanta is housed in a state-of-the-art facility with free wireless Internet access, Direct TV, movies, music and news, a contact lens area for patients, a donation box for old glasses, a lounge for patients and their family and friends, and a front desk that offers a variety of access and menus to local restaurants for guests who are unfamiliar with the area.
TLC’s customer service philosophy includes making service a key competitive advantage and minimizing the relevance of price through its Gold Standard patient experience, affordable patient financing options and preferred health plan pricing.
The Gold Standard patient experience includes personalized consultations, reinforcing patients’ confidence via the TLC staff’s clinical excellence and consistently shadowing and coaching to support continuous improvement.
TLC strives to attract, hire and retain employees who share the company’s top-quality customer service mindset through a number of programs, including quarterly incentive compensation, an employee engagement program, and internal job postings. The quarterly incentive program is based on both top- and bottom-line growth achieved by intense focus on delivering the company’s Gold Standard patient experience.
TLC also offers a quarterly service achievement award. Employees nominate co-workers who they feel are deserving based on consistently delivering an “above and beyond” patient experience; by maintaining excellent patient care, even during periods of high patient volume; and leading by example in executing TLC’s nonnegotiable and “always/never” service standards.
How to reach: TLC Laser Eye Centers, (678) 392-4214 or www.tlcvision.com
T.E.N. — Tech Exec Networks is a national executive networking firm that creates channels of communication between technology and security executives and builds bridges to knowledge using an interactive approach. Led by CEO Marci McCarthy, T.E.N. empowers IT and security executives to interact with peers, industry leaders and technology providers.
The company’s offerings include some of the country’s most acclaimed peer-to-peer leadership recognition and executive programs, including virtual and traditional executive round tables, road shows and private executive engagements.
In addition to meeting the needs of the information security community, T.E.N.’s programs serve the technology vendor community. The stimulating style of recognition, peer discussion and thought-provoking agendas paired with celebrations give technology vendors unparalleled access to C-level decision-makers.
The level of success of T.E.N.’s programs hinges on its ability to promote the offerings to security executives and technology solution providers within the information security community. Meeting the needs of the technology vendors depends on the ability to put the right information security executives in the right seats with pinpoint precision. The business model is reliant on providing customer service and establishing personal trust with the security executives and vendors alike.
“I worked with T.E.N. when I was nominated for an ISE Executive of the Year award,” says Mario Chiock, global chief cyber security authority for Schlumberger. “I was unfamiliar with the nomination process and constrained for time. The T.E.N. team took it upon themselves to educate me and keep the process very well-synchronized.
“The customer service provided by the T.E.N. team was superb and made the process much easier. The extra care, advice, advance notice of due dates and assistance was tremendously helpful. They made me feel extremely special while also making me look good.”
How to reach: T.E.N. — Tech Exec Networks Inc., (404) 920-8582 or www.techexecnetworks.com
Sundial Plumbing Services has structured its delivery of products and services to foster the best possible customer experience. Woven into Sundial’s success is an ability to embrace clients’ desires and a willingness to accept change and to be flexible.
Sundial Plumbing was founded by Jack Smith and his daughter, Mitzi Smith Moore, who is now the company’s owner and president. Sundial’s passion for top-quality customer service has been forged through three generations of shared core values within the Smith family. All three generations share a strong work ethic and bulldog determination. And those core values are delivered through initiatives devoted to providing consumer responsiveness, value and quality.
Sundial has invested in a computer system that recognizes its VIP customers. It used the system to regularly compile a list of its top clients by revenue, frequency, geographic location, customer source and transaction-based data. Sundial recognizes the significance of deep-rooted insights into the behavioral, attitudinal and demographic attributes of its best customers.
One recent project Sundial undertook was the creation of a Victory Garden in the spirit of the gardens planted at homes and in parks during World War I and World War II to boost morale and to reduce the pressure on the public food supply caused by the war effort.
Sundial’s Victory Garden contains an array of vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans, squash and a variety of peppers. Employees help maintain the garden and are able to take the fruits of their labor home to enjoy. And technicians often deliver homegrown tomatoes to the company’s VIP “blue chip” clients. The Sundial Victory Garden has helped promote teamwork, healthy eating and community while remembering one of the many things that makes the country great.
How to reach: Sundial Plumbing Services, (770) 427-1998 or www.sundialplumbing.com
Since its founding in 1970, Staffmark has developed a reputation for outstanding customer service and has grown to be one of the top 10 commercial staffing companies in the United States. With more than 300 locations in 32 states, Staffmark’s service is designed to provide exceptional business solutions tailored to individual customers.
Under the guidance of President and CEO Lesa Francis, Staffmark consistently outperforms its local and national competitors due to its in-depth knowledge of the markets its serves. The company’s longevity, strategically placed branch offices, extensive candidate and customer base and focus on superior customer support allow it to deliver world-class service on a targeted, personal level.
Staffmark’s primary focus is on light industrial, clerical and specialty staffing solutions. A substantial portion of its business in the light industrial sector is in the placement of unskilled and semi-skilled temporary workers, including distribution/logistics such as pick-and-pack and forklift, and light manufacturing such as factory assembly line and machine operations. In addition, Staffmark provides employees for positions such as line supervisors, operations managers and quality control personnel.
Staffmark also provides staffing solutions through its clerical offerings, such as administrative, contact center and health care office support services. These employees are often placed at business operation centers and corporate offices. It is common for Staffmark to provide clerical staffing to the same customers who utilize its light industrial services.
In addition, the business provides temporary employees through its transportation and professional offerings. Staffmark’s transportation group is a large national supplier of fully screened commercial vehicle drivers who meet applicable Department of Transportation requirements through its network of 20 offices across the United States.
“I have been working with Staffmark temporary employees for years now,” says Kevin Marshall, kitting coordinator for Curtis 1000 in Duluth, Ga. “The main reasons I have stayed with Staffmark are the great customer service and the attention to detail shown by the recruiters.”
How to reach: Staffmark, (770) 955-0112 or www.staffmark.com
Hanging on the wall at each of Speedemissions’ 38 stores in Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Salt Lake City is a larged glass-framed sign that reads, “If we don’t treat you like you treat others, I want to know about it.” It’s signed by Rich Parlontieri, Speedemissions’ president and CEO, and it includes his phone number and email address.
The sign sends two messages. First, every employee knows that any customer can call the CEO directly at any time. It’s a subtle reminder of how serious the company is about quality customer service.
Additionally, customers see that if Speedemissions is not performing at a level consistent with their expectations, they have an outlet to express their dissatisfaction.
In the employee interview process, Speedemissions, which conducts vehicle emission and safety inspections, looks for workers who have a personality that extends far beyond the robotic style of most retail customer service today. And refresher training classes are held to keep employees’ focus not just on the company’s core business, but on other business units that may be targeted for future growth.
Parlontieri, Speedemissions’ CEO, visits every store regularly throughout the year. Some visits are announced, some are not. And the company also occasionally deploys mystery shoppers. All of these visits create a system of oversight that lends itself to a high level of customer service.
“We had our vehicle inspected recently at one of your locations,” says Jan Andres of Acworth, Ga. “There were several cars ahead of us, but your tech ran over, greeted us and said he would be with us soon. It was a pleasant surprise. He was efficient, personable and very pleasant. He had a welcoming smile and kind words. I found out he was a new employee. What a find for your company!”
How to reach: Speedemissions Inc., (770) 306-7667, www.speedemissions.com
Purchasing Power, an e-commerce company that offers a program enabling its clients’ employees to purchase computers and home appliances via payroll deduction, was founded on the belief that people who can’t afford to pay for expensive items up front should have the opportunity to make such purchases responsibly without incurring high interest rates or prolonged payment periods.
Led by President and CEO Richard Carrano, Purchasing Power is in business to give people a better way to buy by providing a responsible alternative to other consumer financing options, but it is the “why” that drives the company. Purchasing Power is committed to its service and its customers.
The company’s phenomenal growth in the past four years has been driven by how it listens to its customers: what’s good for Purchasing Power’s customers is good for the company.
Despite Purchasing Power’s fast growth, all its customers are treated as VIPs with opportunities to receive personal product mailers, promotions and discounts. Customers who enjoy Purchasing Power’s program can share their experiences with their co-workers by participating in the company’s referral program, which rewards every customer who refers new customers to Purchasing Power with a gift card.
Longstanding customers have been extended larger spending availability, personalized policies and white-glove service. And Purchasing Power is in the process of developing a loyalty program to reward more frequent users of its program with additional benefits.
Dave Van Nostrand of Wappinger Falls, N.Y., has been a Purchasing Power customer since 2009 and has placed multiple orders with the company. “I’ve had so many great experiences with Purchasing Power that it’s hard to narrow it down, but one that stands out the most would be when I ordered my son’s HP laptop,” he says. “They were very helpful and informative about the product. They just do everything right. I am a customer for life.”
How to reach: Purchasing Power, (404) 609-5100 or www.purchasingpower.com
Philips Arena, the home of the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks and the site for many other events such as concerts and circuses, hosts 1.5 million visitors annually. Led by President Bob Williams, the employees of Philips Arena endeavor to create a world-class “moment of truth” for each of their guests. That moment occurs when the arena becomes a point of contact for its guests, whether it’s when they first enter the arena or at the moment the show begins.
The arena’s workers analyze those moments, identifying all of the touch points that can occur during an event so they can provide their guests with the best service possible while they are there.
The systems at Philips Arena are designed to provide an efficient, seamless encounter for customers. The arena integrates new technologies such as an in-game text messaging system so guests who have questions or issues can text the arena’s base operations staff and receive assistance.
The venue also offers additional in-bowl cameras to allow employees to observe, identify and respond to issues and an instant seat upgrade app that allows ticketholders, while sitting in their seats at a game, to identify better seats that are empty and upgrade from their phone.
Philips Arena encourages its employees to take the most common tasks and find ways to customize and go above and beyond for its customers. The company measures the results through periodic customer experience surveys that provide benchmarks for performance throughout each department.
The Philips Arena customer service department has created a robust worker recognition program that includes monthly recognition for one employee selected to receive a “high end” gift for his or her work and a Star Performer of the Year Award in which the top performers from each department are honored at a banquet put together on behalf of the arena.
How to reach: Philips Arena, (404) 878-3000 or www.philipsarena.com