Since its revolutionary staffing change in 2010, First Second National Bank (FSNB) has seen a 40% increase in its Customer Satisfaction rate.
“Our Customer Sat scores used to always be in the toilet,” explains Robert Abernathy, CEO of FSNB. “Then, when the recession hit hard in 2008, we noticed many of our customers were losing their jobs. We saw a big opportunity. The very people who for years had been telling us how crummy our service was and what we needed to do differently were now in the market for a job. So we thought, ‘Why not bring them in and see what they can do?’ Of course, we, too, were hard hit by the recession, so we had to let all our existing staff go to make room for the new blood.”
Abernathy acknowledges it took a while for many of the new agents to get up to speed, as most of them had never worked in customer care in their life. “We took a real risk in bringing in out-of-work engineers and software developers and writers and butchers to provide customer service to our valued banking customers, but once we told them to just treat callers the way they would like to be treated, things really took off. That said, most still haven’t come even close to learning all the acronyms on their daily performance reports, thus they aren’t really sure what they need to work on.”
As much as service has improved since the bold move, FSNB agents know they can’t afford to become complacent. To keep them focused on the customer and continuously improving, the company has a unique policy in place that allows highly dissatisfied callers to fire agents with whom they interact. The customer who does the firing then has the option of applying for the opening they have created. “Our customer creed is, ‘If you think you can do the job better than us, prove it.’”
Giving Social Customer Care a Starring Role
Hiring customers isn’t the only innovative initiative FSNB has undertaken of late. The contact center recently implemented a one-of-a-kind social customer care strategy, outsourcing all social media monitoring and interactions to famed television/film star and Twitter junkie Ashton Kutcher.
“Our regular agents just don’t have the skills and experience to truly captivate social customers,” Abernathy explains. “We figured, who better to engage people who have nothing better to do than tweet all day than a really famous guy who has nothing better to do than tweet all day. It’s a win-win-win: FSNB is able to sustain a strong social presence, customers get to interact with a celebrity, and Mr. Kutcher is kept busy enough to keep him from making any more movies.”
Two Very Different Types of Agent Recognition
FSNB management understands the direct correlation between agent engagement and the customer experience. That’s why the bank doesn’t fool around when it comes to employee rewards and recognition. Agents who consistently meet or exceed key performance objectives – or who at least don’t smash anything at their workstation – receive occasional plaques, “thank you” notes and gift certificates. Those who truly excel contend for the center's “Agent of the Month” and “Agent of the Year” awards – each of which comes with a cash prize, a premier parking spot for a limited time, a dinner for two, and free Valium during the peak season.
That’s not to say that only those who perform well receive recognition. Agents who demonstrate incompetence or who simply don’t give a damn receive plenty of recognition, as well – just not the kind one should be proud of. For example, an FSNB agent named Bob, who is routinely tardy and out of adherence, recently showed up to work and discovered the message “Bob is the reason we missed our service level objective for the month and why our customers despise us” flitting across the center’s readerboard. Another agent, who continually struggles to resolve customer issues and to identify up-selling opportunities, found his picture on a poster with the caption “Wanted for Sucking” hanging in the breakroom.
“It’s all part of our ‘You Get What You Deserve’ initiative,” explains Abernathy. “If you work hard and achieve, you’ll be duly rewarded. If you don’t, you’ll likely face a beating.”
Abernathy adds that, while he’s proud of FSNB’s unique programs and bold approaches, this entire article has been one giant APRIL FOOLS gag!
FSNB – the Big Picture:
Location: Cannot be disclosed (the entire contact center is in the National Witness Protection Program)
Hours of operation: Open 24 hours – just not in a row.
Number of agents: Between 50 and 100 – depending on their mood
Products/services provided/supported: Customer service and sales for the bank’s entire line of products. In addition, the center handles overflow calls for cast members of Jersey Shore.
What’s so great about them? Don’t be so lazy – read the freaking article.
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS!