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Pacific Life, Newport Beach, CA

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

Company: Pacific Life, Newport Beach, CA
Company Description: Offering insurance since 1868, Pacific Life provides a wide range of life insurance products, annuities, and mutual funds, and offers a variety of investment products and services to individuals, businesses, and pension plans. Pacific Life counts more than half of the 100 largest U.S. companies as its clients.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Contact Center of the Year (Up to 100 Seats) - Financial Services Industries

Nomination Title: Capturing the Customer Service Representative’s Voice to Drive Engagement and Retain Talent

Tell the story about what this nominated contact center 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:

The 20th anniversary of Pacific Life’s Retirement Solutions Division Call Center marks two decades of both extraordinary growth, and the solidification of the organization’s reputation as a premier service leader. Despite ever-fluctuating markets propelling the call center into a multi-state expansion in support of increasingly complex product lines, the organization managed to maintain a surprisingly simplistic one-stop-shop call center model that has always distinguished it from its competitors and kept clients returning. To maintain this experience, the call center regularly solicits direct, constructive client feedback, and then moves quickly to adapt processes, ensuring the customer voice is the key driver in its deliverables. Despite extensive behind-the-scene efforts, this simple “Pacific Promise” service model remains seamless to external clients, earning Pacific Life a multitude of industry accolades each year, including the prestigious 2013 Dalbar award, ABA Customer Service Department of the Year and Stevie Contact Center of the Year awards, as well as top rankings from key partner firms.

Regularly capturing the client’s feedback has been the organization’s key to continued success, but has required the call center to stretch itself in a multitude of ways, resulting in an environment of continual change. After difficult financial climates, these changes often resulted in employees having to work more efficiently, with fewer resources. Recognizing the potential toll of ongoing organizational change, the call center sought to utilize this same direct survey process with their most critical internal customers- its employees.

An engagement-focused survey was launched to all call center staff, designed to capture anonymous commentary on which factors they valued most in the work environment, and how effectively the call center delivered on them. Results made it overwhelmingly apparent that both development and advancement support were the most critically valued factors. However, employees emphasized that these factors required enhanced focus, as continual workflow increases had marginalized allotted time for professional skill-building.

Using the employee voice to refocus efforts, the call center completely re-energized its career development initiatives. Its mission statement was reworked to set the tone for the organization’s commitment advancement support, and career development resources were built for direct employee access. Headcount was increased to commit personalized development time, and a regular publication was created, highlighting opportunities, success stories, and senior employee guidance on advancement. Performance goals were put in place for managers, building accountability for putting career plans in place for each employee, while resources were built to help strengthen coaching communications.

As with customers, the organization understood the necessity to shift and adapt resources to meet the needs of the user. By June 2013, the call center experienced dramatically positive results, with attrition rates reducing from 52% to 30%. Of those who left the call center, nearly half advanced internally within the company. Employee replacement costs reduced significantly, and an unexpected surprise emerged when the team began experiencing a significant increase in employee hiring referrals, demonstrating the staff’s renewed willingness to recommend their workplace. As one employee shared, “I recommended my friends because this is the best company I have worked for top down. Pacific Life just doesn’t say they treat their employees well—they do. The perks are good but mainly management cares about employee input, and actually does something with it.” The success of these initiatives was further echoed in a recent follow-up survey, with statistically significant increases in employees’ self-rated levels of motivation, likelihood of recommending the company to others, and expected tenure with the organization.

Before these initiatives, the call center’s primary goal was to distinguish itself among competitors as a premier service provider. The evolution of this vision is to balance this goal with a strengthened reputation as a premier call center employer, committed to building, engaging and retaining internal talent and regularly capturing the employee voice to continue delivering on these commitments. This re-energized investment in employee capital has built an even stronger foundation for continued change in this ever-changing financial environment.

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