2009 1to1 Customer Champion: Ron Kelly, Vice President of Customer Care and Logistics, Drugstore.com

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

Ask Ron Kelly's peers what makes him a customer champion, and they would say he's the voice of the customer in all management meetings.

As vice president of customer care and logistics at Drugstore.com, Kelly says his mission is to remind colleagues what customers think about the company's products and services. "The folks who work for me coined the phrase 'WWRD': what would Ron do?'" he says.

That's because Kelly continuously provokes thoughts about how to manage customer problems and deliver quality service. He might, for instance, post a situation on an internal blog about a particular customer interaction and ask how the agents would resolve it. "It's meant to create discussions," he says.

Now, posed with a challenging customer situation, agents ask themselves WWRD? to help successfully solve the customer's issue.

Kelly's thought-provoking blog posts follow his belief that executives need to establish service criteria and to voice their strategic directives so employees understand a company's philosophy around customers. "It's setting standards and ensuring we meet those standards," he says.

In addition to communicating on a regular basis, Kelly also makes it his job to listen not only to the content of calls, but also to the agents' voice and tone, to ensure the agents are maintaining a friendly inflection and that they remain calm and helpful during challenging customer calls. To ensure Drugstore.com agents provide quality service, he requires managers to listen in for two hours per week on calls. "It speaks to how important we take [service]. It's one thing to do it through quality assurance, but it's another thing to have the managers look at it. I think from that standpoint, it's always in the back of the agent's mind," he says.

Such requirements can turn a contact center into a challenging environment, but Kelly says helping agents to grow in their role is part of creating the most positive work conditions they can. "In order to have happy customers, you have to have happy employees," he says. "It comes down to...communicating with our team about how they're vital to our success."

Kelly instills such a favorable environment by celebrating agents' anniversaries and birthdays. He also created an intranet-a kudos board, if you will-that features customers' remarks about the good service they've received. One customer recently wrote that Drugstore.com is the "Nordstrom of drugstores." Kelly keeps that comment close to his heart because he says the company aspires to be like the famed customer-centric retailer. "We have to stay one step ahead of customers and their demands," he says. "You really have to do whatever you can to create loyalty given the environment."