Athleta, outfitting active women since 1958, promotes the empowerment, performance, and positive esteem of women. The Athleta Customer Service team in Petaluma, CA sought to assess its current new-hire training approaches in preparation for the opening of a second Customer Service Center in Grove City, Ohio. PowerHouse was engaged to assess Athleta’s current training program and practices based upon criteria such as alignment to business goals, ease of use, content relevance, methods and approaches, structure and organization, delivery methods, use of support tools, and evaluation. We then convened a design brainstorming session with designated Athleta leaders that resulted in a realistic and workable training and job support blueprint to guide future development efforts. The blueprint included program goals, assumptions, program structure, content topics, media, approaches, evaluation methods, and resources. To jump-start development, PowerHouse created templates and a set of preliminary development standards. The result was the design of a rich, scalable, and flexible program to serve future new-hires at both Call Centers.
Bare Escentuals is one of the fastest growing premium cosmetic companies in the U.S. and a leader in the mineral-based cosmetic market. The company began an initiative to migrate from its outsourced Customer Service Call Center provider to one that would better align with the evolving business objectives of the organization. PowerHouse supported this initiative by providing industry expertise and guidance throughout the process of identifying the right provider. We conducted an Operational Assessment that focused on Bare Escentuals’ Customer Service requirements, including the critical business processes of customer retention, general inquiries, and order management. We also analyzed technology platforms, reporting requirements, workload forecasting, and management integration. PowerHouse facilitated an RFP process that would determine the most appropriate partner for Bare Escentuals. We provided the guidance and oversight to insure that the relationship began on the right foot – based on shared philosophies, effective contract language, and sound measurement tools.
Gilt is an eCommerce retailer of off-price designer label products operating in a time sensitive “auction” environment. The Gilt Executive Team sought to assess the ability of the Contact Center to support the growth and Customer Experience expectations of the company. The goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of the current organizational model, capabilities of the technology infrastructure, and the effectiveness of hiring and training practices. PowerHouse was engaged to provide support for four initiatives: executive strategic planning, assessment of current processes and procedures, telecommunications and technology optimization, and facility improvement (including facility requirements for a new Distribution Center). In a subsequent initiative, Gilt engaged PowerHouse to replace its enterprise telephony system with Interactive Intelligence’s CIC platform. We also assisted in the implementation of a Contact Center at Gilt’s Brooklyn Navy Yard location.
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts is a global hospitality organization with widely recognized, industry-leading brands and a tradition of innovation developed over more than fifty years. Hyatt manages, franchises, owns, and develops Hyatt-branded hotels, resorts, and residential/vacation ownership properties around the world. Its mission is to provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of its guests. Hyatt has three Contact Centers located in NE, OK, and IL. These perform administrative activities and Contact Center services and employ approximately 700 active agents spread across the three Centers. The sites were served by Avaya Communication Manager (version 3.1.5) PBXs with the CMS 13 Call Center Reporting application. They were networked together using the Avaya Advocate functionality. Contact Center premise systems were several revisions behind current and required fairly extensive upgrades of hardware and firmware to become current. Contact Center business leaders sought to evaluate a managed solution, one that would eliminate time and effort required to keep the system current, ensure redundancy, and allow Hyatt to link more closely with the Contact Centers. Hyatt selected PowerHouse to evaluate current Contact Center requirements, conduct a review of various options to pursue, and manage an RFP process/vendor selection process for the procurement of a solution. The impact of the new Contact Center technology was significant. A standards-based, flexible, and scalable telecommunications environment will serve Hyatt Hotels and Resorts today and into the future.
Mason Companies (Mason and Figi’s)
Mason Companies, Inc. has been in the Direct to Consumer business since 1904, with operations centrally located in Chippewa Falls, WI. In its first 100 years, Mason was dedicated primarily to the sale of footwear and related accessories. The last several years saw the business expand beyond footwear via the launches of an apparel catalog and a general merchandise catalog. Mason also began offering its customers a revolving credit plan in four of its catalog businesses. In 2013, Mason Companies purchased Figi’s, a direct to consumer food and gift business based in Marshfield, WI. In an initiative to integrate two separate companies with different eCommerce platforms, processes, systems, and Customer Care functions, the Mason Companies engaged PowerHouse. First, our consultants evaluated the current state of the Mason and Figi’s Contact Center operations: Mason’s inhouse Contact Center in Chippewa, WI; Figi’s outsourced Contact Center in Columbus, OH; and Figi’s inhouse Order Processing Operation in Marshfield, WI. We then conducted a Telecommunications Assessment to evaluate Contact Center technologies and their ability to support Customer Service operations in the future with a focus on utilization and effectiveness. PowerHouse set forth future state recommendations for both operational optimization and technology. Recommendations included a proposed Contact Center structural and organizational model as well as recommendations, requirements, and design specifications for Contact Center hardware, software, systems, and platforms. The result of the initiative was a plan to merge Mason’s and Figi’s Contact Center functions into a virtual, consolidated Contact Center. PowerHouse was subsequently engaged to assist in the planning and implementation of the Mason Virtual Contact Center (MVCC). Our consultants performed several functions. We spearheaded an RFP process to evaluate the marketplace and select a cloud-based WFM partner, facilitated the RFP process to select a new outsource partner for peak holiday inbound call volume, managed the implementation of third party voice, and participated in the recruitment and selection of a new Director for the new MVCC. PowerHouse continues to support this ongoing client.
Founded 30 years ago, Paul Fredrick is an eCommerce retail store specializing in men’s dress shirts, ties, and accessories. Its collection has grown exponentially; Paul Fredrick offers great style at everyday prices. The company needed assistance in improving CSR success rate for cross-selling and up-selling its fashions. Fifty% to 60% of inbound calls to the Call Center were for order placement. Due to this high percentage, Paul Fredrick sought to achieve more than just taking orders by instilling in CSRs the desire and ability to identify customer buying signals and effectively act on them. After attending one of our conference presentations, Call Center management selected PowerHouse to provide fresh and creative ideas for improving CSR ability to cross-sell and up-sell the wide variety of men’s fashions offered. The goal was to “inject” a higher level of motivation, positivity, and renewed energy within both supervisory and frontline staff. The engagement focused on (1) identifying key factors related to this issue, (2) jump-starting solutions by eliciting supervisor input and creativity at the outset, and (3) using information gleaned to “coach” supervisors via a set of creative and do-able strategies documented and presented in workshop format.
Peapod, an Ahold Delhaize company, is the country’s leading Internet grocer, serving 24 U.S. markets throughout Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Founded in 1989 by brothers Andrew and Tom Parkinson, Peapod is a smart shopping option for busy households and has delivered more than 40 million grocery orders. Customers can order online or on Peapod’s free mobile app for delivery to homes and workplaces or pick-up at many convenient locations. PowerHouse was asked by Peapod business leaders to assist and support Peapod in reaching its goals for growth and the Customer Experience. We conducted a Scalability Assessment of Peapod’s Customer Care operation located in Lake Zurich, IL. The goal was to identify optimum short- and long-term solutions to position the Contact Center for growth, standardization, and scalability in support of areas related to organizational structure, staffing, work processes, reporting, training, and technology. Our consultants were asked to evaluate key business functions: B2B Business Customer Care, Residential Customer Care, Billing, Receiveables/Collections, Web Care, and Social Media. PowerHouse paid particular attention to the utilization and effectiveness of current technology to meet Peapod’s future needs and to the review of statistics, reports, and data collection/analysis practices. We identified gaps, for each area analyzed, between the current operation and the envisioned Contact Center. The output was a comprehensive set of recommendations to identify areas for enhancement, optimization, and alignment to Peapod’s business goals. PowerHouse also set forth a high-level Work Plan for the implementation of recommended solutions.
Ralph Lauren (RL) is a leader in the design, marketing, and distribution of luxury apparel, home products, accessories, and fragrances. RL utilized an outsourcer to fulfill the company’s eCommerce site, RalphLauren.com. The decision was made to bring Fulfillment Center and Contact Center functionality in-house to better control the Customer Experience. RL turned to PowerHouse to assist with the design, procurement, and implementation of all the technology, infrastructure, and furniture for the new Contact Center. For this long-term project, PowerHouse played a variety of leadership roles to meet RL business goals. We first conducted a Contact Center Assessment to describe the current state and capture the process, organizational, and technology models that existed with the outsourcer. This resulted in a set of strategic and tactical recommendations for both the short- and long-term that were used to develop design requirements for the new Contact Center. Our consultants provided direction related to technology, organizational design, pre-hire screening, operational practices, work flow, call flow, workforce optimization, and new-hire training during the transition from the outsourced operation to the new Contact Center. The impact of this multi-year relationship with RL has been significant. The company experienced a seamless transition from outsourcer to in-house operation with no disruption to customers; Fulfillment and Contact Center operations were integrated into a single facility; and transactional costs were reduced. Since this initial project, PowerHouse has continued to support Ralph Lauren in several strategic activities including participation in and facilitation of executive planning sessions; Contact Center expansion decisions; determination of outsourcing feasibility; training design; outsourcing requirements; and outsourcing vendor evaluation.
SmartPak is a premier online provider of horse and canine supplies and supplements. Highly-knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives are available to place orders and provide varied levels of product support and information. SmartPak sought to evaluate the technical ability of its Call Center to support future market expansion and increased sales. Several issues existed, including limited functionality of the current PBX system, problems with call handling, an inadequate call recoding system, and the inability to forecast call volume and schedule staff to meet call demand. PowerHouse was selected to assess the areas of concern, identify opportunities for improvement, and document the business and design requirements that would guide future technology initiatives.
SnapAV manufactures and exclusively provides more than 1,200 high quality products to the custom audio and video industry. The company, supported by a best-in-class online ordering system, sells directly to more than 3,400 professional audio and video installers each month. It is the market leader in organic growth and dealer retention. With anticipated revenue growth and increased product complexity, SnapAV wanted to ensure that its Customer Service and Technical Support operations were capable of scaling to meet increased call volume. SnapAV sought to evaluate existing tools and technology, determine the validity of existing KPIs, and ensure that proactive short and long-term staffing plans were in place. SnapAV engaged PowerHouse to evaluate the overall health and performance of the service operations as they related to overall processes and practices. As part of the assessment, PowerHouse evaluated the utilization and effectiveness of current technology to meet future needs and reviewed statistics, metrics, reports, and data collection/analysis practices. Our consultants developed a comprehensive set of recommendations and identified areas for enhancement, optimization, and alignment to SnapAV’s business goals. We provided recommendations to SnapAV on how to best meet customer expectations and which KPIs would best evaluate performance. PowerHouse also recommended scalability of the processes and systems to meet anticipated growth for both the short-term (12 months) and the long-term (3 to 5 years).
Tory Burch is an attainable, luxury American sportswear brand defined by its co-founder and creative director, Tory Burch. Since its inception, Tory Burch has experienced tremendous growth. Its eCommerce division produces a large percentage of sales and investment in new systems and support is ongoing. Customer Service calls were handled currently by an outsource partner, with plans to eventually bring functionality in-house in order to retain Tory Burch’s high-touch brand. The company engaged PowerHouse to (1) help plan for and design a new Customer Experience Center and (2) assess existing processes, procedures, and call volumes of the current model to operate in the interim. In addition to assessment activities, PowerHouse was asked to perform key functions related to Tory Birch’s relationship with its outsourcer. This included redesigning the current Customer Service operation to better serve customers in the near-term; rewriting the Statement of Work to better manage the outsourcer’s operational requirements; developing a performance scorecard; developing a Communication Plan to manage information exchange between the outsourcer and Tory Burch; and design and development of brand-appropriate training to support the company’s dynamic growth and branded experience. The collaboration between Tory Burch and PowerHouse yielded an improved partnership with the outsourcer and an operation better aligned to Tory Burch operational and Customer Experience goals.
Uline is the leading distributor of shipping, industrial, and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America. The Customer Care organization is based on a virtual model. Contact Centers are located in Branch Offices throughout the United States. Over the years, Customer Care has experienced changes related to customer preferences. Customers now order via electronic channels; web and email surpass call orders. The nature of calls has changed from ordering to order confirmation, product information, and problem resolution. With anticipated growth as a business driver, Uline leaders sought to assess the overall health of Customer Care to ensure its ability to support future goals. PowerHouse was engaged to conduct a comprehensive assessment and identify areas for enhancement, optimization, and alignment to Uline’s strategic initiatives. The assessment centered on work processes, contact handling, management practices, technology, hiring and attrition, training, metrics and performance, workforce management, human issues and morale, and quality.
Vera Bradley has earned a reputation as a leader in the gift industry by creating stylish quilted cotton luggage, handbags, and accessories. The company has experienced tremendous growth and opportunities continue with possibilities for international expansion and ongoing recognition as a “top notch” company. Vera Bradley’s in-house Call Center in Fort Wayne, IN supports all Customer Service functions for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer customers. In order to assure that the Call Center was positioned optimally for the future, Vera Bradley management engaged PowerHouse to conduct an Optimization Assessment. The goal was to better position the 35-seat Call Center in supporting company growth and offering a stellar experience to all customers. PowerHouse began the engagement by validating Vera Bradley’s vision, values, goals, and business drivers that would guide the assessment process and serve as the baseline for future state planning. Our consultants then assessed the current state of the Call Center with particular attention to those areas identified by Vera Bradley. We also assessed management practices, training and job support methods, quality monitoring practices, workforce planning and utilization methodology, and report creation and distribution. PowerHouse developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to identify areas for enhancement, optimization, and alignment to Vera Bradley’s business goals. As well, a high-level plan for reaching the desired future state was set forth.