FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
Teresa Hartsaw, president and CEO of ePerformax, has revolutionized the purpose and potential of call centers.
Some would consider call centers a necessary evil. Not Teresa Hartsaw. She sees them as an opportunity—and a lucrative one, at that—for companies to increase profits and customer loyalty through strategic management.
“I was in the business of marketing and sales when I learned how much power customer service representatives wielded with customers. They could undo millions of dollars in marketing and destroy a sale in a matter of minutes,” Hartsaw says.
In the early 1990s, she began helping companies leverage call centers to grow sales through service, not just put out fires. However, she soon recognized the limitations of the current practices for hiring and training customer service reps in most companies. With vision and optimism, Hartsaw established ePerformax, growing it to a $100 million, full-service call center management company with a portfolio of mostly Fortune 1000 clients.
“No one grows up saying, ‘I want to be in the call center industry.’ But people who arrive there from one avenue or another end up finding a lot of success if they do it right,” she says.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
Hartsaw says employee turnover is the No. 1 reason for unsavory call center experiences because the job takes training and experience to do it well. But when the right employees are properly hired, trained, and valued within the workplace, magic happens.
“You have to have people who can do what robotic interactions cannot. Our representatives must be amazing communicators, critical thinkers who can solve problems quickly, and creative with the tools they have available to make things happen. If customers believe the representative has their back, they’ll want to work with that person instead of being confrontational,” Hartsaw says.
The company’s signature Global Customer Experience & Management Academy was created to find and develop raw talent. The management team employs the Performance Maximization Model to give structure and consistency to the company’s best practices.
“We also treat our employees like customers,” says Hartsaw. “We want them to feel what it’s like to be treated well so that they can, in turn, treat our customers well.” To wit, a concierge team is available to make employees’ lives easier, and each team member is given a free smartphone to streamline communication to management.
Working with eager, educated talent in the Philippines has been a game changer for ePerformax. The relationship commenced in 2002 after Hartsaw’s visit to the country, when she saw firsthand how Filipino people not only spoke English well, but “had the most gracious and caring spirit.” Those qualities, combined with Hartsaw’s passion for bringing out the best in people, formed a powerful dynamic that continues to place ePerformax as a frontrunner of the field.
“Our mission statement is very straightforward: We perform,” concludes Hartsaw. “Our clients and our employees stay with us because they share our passion for making every customer experience one that builds loyalty.”
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