Yellow Customer Service Centers Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary


Yellow customer service representatives invite you to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the Customer Service Centers in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Urbandale, Iowa. The representatives form a team committed to anticipating, understanding and satisfying your needs. Their goal is to make you pleased that you selected Yellow Transportation as your transportation services provider.

Around 10 years ago, Yellow decided to centralize customer service, moving it from the individual service centers to centralized call centers. That move allowed Yellow to create an organizational structure that would provide for more-consistent service and greater efficiencies, particularly as technological advances and training enabled representatives to decrease the time needed for various tasks.

"Take for example, a PRO search," says Rick Hoogendoorn, director of the Sioux Falls center. "Under the old system, if a customer called and didn't have a PRO number, it was a very intensive process to try to find any information for them. But thanks to the technology we have at the centers, we can pull that information up very quickly. It was a 'Wow!" when we first trained for it."

And if someone called for a Bill of Lading, "It might be four hours before you could find it and call them back," Rick Hoogendoorn,  says. "When we centralized, we got imaging. Every customer service representative has the ability to type in a PRO and within seconds, have an image of the bill on their screen. And now we can e-mail or fax it to the customer and don't even need a hard copy. The entire transaction takes only a fraction of the time it used to take in the field."

Because of the standardization of procedures and policies that came with centralization, "We can provide more consistent service," says Gregg Sigmund, director of the Des Moines Customer Service Center.

"One of the most important aspects of our work is our ability to provide an outstanding experience every time a customer contacts uswhether by phone or by e-mail," he adds.

The success of that outstanding experience hinges on many things.

"The right people with the right attitude and a passion for customer service" is at the top of the list, says Sigmund. And it's followed by having those people know the Yellow system inside and out.

Every customer service representative (CSR) receives up to 10 weeks of training before they begin to solo on the phones.

"Training entails everything from how to use the computer and the various screens to tracing a shipment, giving rate quotes, the customer master file, invoice resolution situations, shipment flow through the system, service recovery and more," says Hoogendoorn.

"We take a lot of pride in that," Sigmund says. "When CSRs sits down to take calls, they are well prepared to deal with just about anything customers throw at them. In addition to knowing what they're talking about, CSRs are also highly trained in 'soft skills'people skills."

"We're passionate about what we do," says Sigmund, "and it comes across to the customer."

To ensure that you spend as little time on the phone as possible, CSRs have a goal to answer calls within 20 seconds or less 80 to 85 percent of the time. Considering that the average CSR handles anywhere from 90 to 150 calls a day, one might think that providing an outstanding experience to every person would be a challenge.

"It doesn't matter if it's their first call or it's the last call they take for the day," Sigmund says. "Every call is handled equally, whether it's 8 a.m. or 5 p.m."

Technology is key to a CSR's ability to handle such a large volume of calls and to do so with efficiency.

"If a customer wants to schedule a shipment or get a rate quote, we try to do all those things in about a minute," says Sigmund. "And that transaction should take about the same amount of time, every time. We recognize that the customer wants to get off the phone quickly."

In addition to having access to the CSRs, many people also use the self-help tools available online through MyYellow. Once they know about the service and feel comfortable using it, thousands of Yellow customers schedule pickups or track shipments without having to talk with a "real person."

"Consequently, the calls the CSRs get are those that are more difficult and challenging," says Hoogendoorn. "You've got to shake that off and take the next call as if it was your first one for the day. To keep positive, upbeat and professional is tough. That takes a good person to be able to do that. And we have lots of good people who can."