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HomeAway, Inc: Kristen Simmons

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: HomeAway, Inc., Austin, TX
Company Description: Founded in February 2005, HomeAway is the world's leading online marketplace for the vacation rental industry. Our mission is to make every vacation rental in the world available to every traveler in the world. With more than 1 million live listings in 190 countries, we're committed to helping families and friends find the perfect vacation rental to create unforgettable shared travel experiences.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Young Customer Service Professional of the Year

Nomination Title: Kristen Simmons

Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

HomeAway, Inc. is the world’s leading online marketplace for the vacation rental industry, with sites representing over 1 million paid listings of vacation rental homes in 190 countries. Our mission is to help travelers take the best vacations of their lives and to provide the owners and managers of the vacation homes a full range of services to help maximize their success.

Kristen Simmons, age 28, joined HomeAway as a front-line, entry-level Customer Support Representative (CSR) in January 2012. She was immediately impressive with her ability to support our property owners and travelers, and she distinguished herself as an advocate of both customers and HomeAway. Kristen quickly moved through the ranks with high Customer Satisfaction marks and by exceeding internal contact center metrics. From very early on it was clear that Kristen had not only an eye for servicing our customers but also for internal continuous improvement and attention to detail.

Just six months after joining HomeAway, Kristen was asked to join the Senior Agent team, helping some of our owners with the more challenging situations. Kristen readily accepted and rose to the challenge. Kristen quickly became one of the top Senior Agents and was frequently asked to handle the most difficult cases, including the ones that came through the desks of our Executive team. She also identified root cause process improvements and demonstrated strong persistence to work to close any gaps within the team.

During the start of 2013 HomeAway continued to grow and expand. As part of that growth, the Customer Experience team expanded into a 24 by 7 by 365 operation. This required an addition of an overnight support group. Kristen was asked to become the Lead of that group and help launch overnight support to a department that previously did not have it. Kristen’s knowledge and people skills were instrumental in the success of this new service offering. Operationally, HomeAway’s customer service satisfaction rose 7%. This key performance indicator was buoyed by a 14% increase in phone service level and a 21% increase in email service level. The successful move to 24 x 7 support was a big factor in these increases.

Once again, 6 months later, HomeAway’s growth required the Customer Support department to continue to expand. More CSRs and more Supervisors were needed. Kristen was offered a promotion to Supervisor to lead her own team. As expected Kristen answered the bell and took on this new challenge. Her commitment and passion for her team members came as no surprise and just added to a long list of Leadership qualities Kristen has successfully demonstrated in her time at HomeAway. Soon after Kristen was asked to pick up internal stewardship of our agent metric package. This additional responsibility requires great attention to detail and care as exceeding metrics is part of our internal HomeAway DNA. As with everything else Kristen lead that effort to success and is currently working with outside groups to automate and enhance this package that gives Representatives and upper Management more real-time access to current trends and performance.

In everything Kristen does, she exudes a professional maturity beyond her years. She brings an attention to detail as well as big-picture look to every task she tackles. Representatives, Peers, and Upper Management all see Kristen as someone who sets the HomeAway bar high. She has risen from front-line Representative to one of the top Leadership members with Customer Experience in a little more than 2 1/2 years

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