Jen Wright, director of trade reservations with Princess Cruises, defines customer service as something that, “We know when we experience it, and we certainly know when it doesn’t happen.”
She and her colleague Lorna Warren, vice president of guest services, recently presented at College of the Canyons on how businesses can apply best customer service strategies.
Princess Cruises agents handle about 15 million customer calls a year, urging for top customer service from each employee; but how do they accomplish that?
Throughout the demonstration, four focus points highlighted their efforts:
The North American-based cruise company has about 70 percent of its agents working from home across various countries. To keep employees connected and engaged, they must be invited to participate.
“When we are making updates, developing training materials, planning communication or planning new processes, we invite people from different areas and experiences and invite them to contribute,” she said.
Representation is key when trying to engage agents, she added. For example, training content developed in North America would not feel as authentic to an agent in Australia.
“We have to make it work for everyone. We can deliver better customer service when we find what is the guiding principle first,” said Wright.
Perhaps one of the most challenging for employers is to make training as interesting as possible. But “it has to be interesting to make people want to come back and watch your training.”
Princess Cruises has created training content that strays from a marketing tone to using more informal, relaxed language.
“There’s a time and place for a public relations statement, but our goal is for our team to watch and understand this content and not say, ‘Okay, I read this. What does this mean?’”
One of the ways the company creates training content is by producing smartphone-recorded videos that appear casual or via comedy skits inspired by the popular television show “Saturday Night Live.”
The goal is to have employees participate and understand the content at their own pace with pre-recorded material.
Employee and customer feedback is vital to Princess Cruises.
The company offers multiple forums and surveys for agents to fill out, detailing areas needing customer service improvements to receive feedback. Other online systems measure guest sentiments, with comment sections for team members to include if they receive a call from a customer about the topic. Social-media related sites also allow agents to connect and fill out polls.
Culture of success
To create a culture of success, Wright said, it’s important to define key factors to all frontline agents.
“We clearly tell them what we expect, what is being measured and how it’s being measured, and what performance results do we expect,” she said.
Online tools provide employees with real-time feedback to help them better understand their performance.
For example, she added, if an employee did not offer their best customer service because of poor health and could have stayed home instead, that feedback should be made known immediately rather than two weeks or six months later.
“It’s better to provide feedback as soon as possible so that (agents) can connect it to the behaviors that had just happened,” said Wright.