When Tom Probola joined Ricoh Americas Corporation, the company lacked a structured VOC program. However, as senior manager, customer excellence, Probola set out to understand and improve upon Ricoh's existing customer feedback program. He merged the customer relations and customer retention teams into a single customer excellence group designed to respond to customer needs, improve the program's impact, and route customer opportunities more easily.
The team gathers data and insights to guide customer-specific process improvements through customer studies, corporate complaint management, and employee education initiatives. Probola established several listening posts, including social media, Web, customer councils, inbound complaints, and employee feedback, in order to embrace the voice of the customer and reinforce Ricoh's "customer first" culture.
Under Probola's guidance, Ricoh also teamed with Qualtrics to further the team's analytical abilities. By implementing Qualtrics' research suite, Ricoh can automatically trigger customer surveys as a proactive response to emerging customer issues. Impending concerns will then be routed to an employee immediately so they may actively nurture customer relationships and cultivate trust through experience. Each quarter, loyalty surveys are also randomly deployed to Ricoh's customer base, allowing employees to take immediate action and drive resolutions. Since its implementation, customer satisfaction scores have increased by 20 percent.
Yet, while Probola and his customer excellence team put great emphasis on customer satisfaction, much of the company's success relies on nurturing internal relationships and morale. "Our mission in customer excellence is simple-improve overall customer experiences," Probola says. "To be successful, we also need to focus on our internal customers. We recently rolled out a customer experience program to our call center agents. One of the objectives was for agents to understand the impact they have on customer experience and ultimately business results. 'Value' was a key message of the program. We emphasized not only the value they deliver to our customers, but also the value of their roles.."
By creating a workshop series specifically for Ricoh's six regional call centers-more than 1,000 employees total-Probola enabled his staff to develop a thorough understanding of the customer experience, while also venting frustrations, as they often didn't feel empowered to satisfy customers. Ricoh works to ensure value for those who embody the value-driven efforts of the company itself. In the 18 months since merging the two teams, customer satisfaction scores have risen to a 95 percent satisfaction rate in the customer issue resolution department. Such success comes as a direct result of Ricoh's internal communication and employee education program that imparts the benefits and the tools necessary to drive and maintain exceptional, excellent customer experiences.