• August 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Publishing a Plan for Making the Grade

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RR Donnelley shredded its customer service training-and-development problem. The provider of print and related services had more than 20 of what Shirley Lloyd, manager of customer service training and certification, refers to as homegrown offline training initiatives--ad hoc training efforts in response to service issues that cropped up. The company, however, realized it needed to provide a consistent level of service, Lloyd says: "Customer service is strategic to us as we leverage relationships with our customers to drive growth." Lloyd, a 15-year Donnelley vet, was tasked with creating a companywide customer service training-and-development curriculum in 2004. She started the Customer Service Training Advisory Council, comprising representatives from RR Donnelley's business units; it helped pinpoint common employee behavioral patterns and skills the company needed to develop to ensure customer service levels would be met. Donnelley set up a curriculum, but, Lloyd says, "it didn't feel complete." After evaluating several firms to help develop a more inclusive program, the printer selected AchieveGlobal, a company specializing in skills training and consulting service. Lloyd paired with AchieveGlobal to craft the Professional Skills Development Program, launched in January 2006, that focuses on five concepts: learn, practice, apply, grow, and achieve. "AchieveGlobal teaches the skills to address not only the business reason for the call, but the human dimension as well, in order to create positive and memorable experiences that earn customers' loyalty," says Joe Wozniak, AchieveGlobal's account executive on the RR Donnelley account. Phase one comprises four e-learning courses, while the second phase (based on AchieveGlobal's Creating Stellar Customer Relations program) is a two-day classroom course on communicating with customers. Senior-level CSRs can test out of phase one, and are not required to participate in the class. Phase three, on-the-job application, underscores the skills studied in the first two phases. CSRs are also paired with a veteran CSR, allowing "mentors to develop their leadership skills as well as share their knowledge," Lloyd says. Intended as a continued-learning step, phase four features several AchieveGlobal programs (Reaching for Stellar Service, Healing Customer Relationships, Dazzling Your Customers). More important, however, is that CSRs can become certified to teach AchieveGlobal programs. Phase five is internal RR Donnelley certification for high performers, known as the Wall of Fame. Candidates must meet several requirements including an overall job performance rating of "key contributor." Progressing from phase one to phase five can take between six months and a year. The results of Donnelley's initiatives are clear. Internal and external customer satisfaction increased about 20 percent by using AchieveGlobal's "Seamless, Trustworthy, Attentive and Resourceful" service quality concepts. Internal employee recognition has improved by at least five percent, and emails from clients to thank a team member for excellent service jumped about eight percent. Meanwhile, internal and external communications have improved by about 10 percent. The capper? Since Donnelley began focusing on customer loyalty, profits have increased roughly 25 percent. "We're meeting our objectives, which were to not only retain and grow the customer base but to lower costs by avoiding mistakes that result in reprinting of customer materials because of our errors," Lloyd says. "We're also exceeding our compliance requirements--and, most important, we're meeting our revenue targets." The Payoff
RR Donnelley's improved training efforts have:
  • increased internal and external customer satisfaction by about 20 percent;
  • improved internal and external communications by about 10 percent;
  • increased internal employee recognition by five percent or more; and
  • increased emails from clients to thank a team member and supervisor by about eight percent.
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