Search past winners/finalists

CarMax - Customer Service Department of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: CarMax, Richmond, VA
Company Description: CarMax is the nation’s largest retailer of used cars and operates more than 170 stores in 39 states nationwide. CarMax revolutionized the auto industry by delivering the honest, transparent and high-integrity car buying experience customers want and deserve. CarMax has also earned a place on FORTUNE magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For® list 13 consecutive years.
Nomination Category: Customer Service Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Department of the Year

Nomination Title: CarMax Customer Relations Department - Driving World-Class Customer Service

Tell the story about what this nominated organization/department has achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

CarMax knows that purchasing a vehicle is one of the biggest decisions a person can make; cars can be like family members and are even given names. As the nation’s largest retailer of used vehicles, CarMax is committed to making the car buying and ownership experience an enjoyable one by providing world-class customer service. Day in and day out, CarMax’s Customer Relations Department proves that great customer service is alive by addressing customer inquiries quickly, resolving customer complaints seamlessly, bringing joy to customers and driving a culture of customer service within the company.

CarMax’s Customer Relations Department is not a typical contact center. Analysts who handle customer complaints are highly skilled professionals with a broad knowledge of the car buying and ownership process. Analysts are responsible for investigating a wide range of complaints including service, registration, financing and merchandising. Each Analyst exhibits a natural ability to genuinely connect with customers, which is further developed through intensive training and coaching. On average, the Department spends 16 hours per month in training, developing skills in empathy and connection, and Managers dedicate 40 hours per month reviewing calls for quality. This unique skill set allows Analysts to build trust with customers, who may be feeling stressed or concerned about their vehicle. Analysts work hand-in-hand with business area experts and store management to investigate customer complaints. Working as customer advocates, Analysts are empowered to identify the root cause of customers’ concerns and to determine win-win resolutions. Analysts’ communication with customers are never scripted and resolutions are tailored to each individual complaint.

Historically, Analysts handled both complaints and general inquiries in various contacts types, including phone calls, letters, social media and Better Business Bureau complaints. This resulted in slower responses, as a customer who required a quick answer to a question waited for his/her inquiry to be answered while Analysts worked with customers who had more in-depth complaints. The Department has provided more efficient service to customers in 2016, while freeing up time and resources for more complex cases, by creating a new team dedicated to answering general questions in all contact types.

In 2016, CarMax Customer Relations also established a specialized Social Care Team with the expertise needed to respond to customers on social media. Previously, customers who reached out via social media were redirected to the phone to have their concerns addressed. By hiring a team that specializes in written communication, CarMax is now able to resolve customer concerns through customers’ preferred method of communication. By leveraging tools and technology, including social media customer engagement tools, Analysts can respond to customers on social media, on average, within 36 minutes. The team also began responding to and resolving one or two-star customer reviews on Google+ and Yelp.

In addition to issue resolution, CarMax Customer Relations works to bring joy to customers. Analysts are trained to connect with customers genuinely. This not only builds trust between the Analyst and the customer they are assisting but also deepens brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. As a continuation of the company’s emphasis on delivering world-class customer service, CarMax launched a program called Surprise and Delight through which Analysts deliver heartfelt “Wow!” experiences to customers, through personalized gestures of goodwill. In 2016, CarMax sent 265 Surprise and Delight packages and brought countless smiles and tears of joy to customers. Packages range from new baby kits, customized keychains and stress-relief kits for customers facing personal challenges.

In addition to working with customers, CarMax’s Customer Relations Department serves as a subject matter expert for the entire company. In 2016, 127 store managers received hands-on customer service training from the Department through a rotation program. Additionally, 479 store associates were recognized through the Department’s Above & Beyond program which rewards individuals who demonstrate exceptional customer service at a store level. These programs help to instill a focus on world-class customer service across the company and within all retail store locations.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated department since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

• Launched a dedicated team to respond to general questions, resulting in decreased average wait time for complaint calls
• Launched a Social Care Team that responds to inquiries and concerns on Twitter, Facebook and review sites
• Sent 265 personalized gestures of goodwill to customers through Surprise and Delight program
• Recognized 479 store associates nation-wide for outstanding customer service through the Above and Beyond program, 36.5% increase over the prior year
• Integrated new technology, including Interaction Client, Sprinklr and, resulting in increased efficiency
• Responded to customers on Google+ and Yelp review sites, increasing the ability to identify and resolve customer concerns
• Achieved average of 4.85 / 5 on Gallup’s associate engagement survey
• Trained 127 store managers on customer service skills through the Manager in Training rotation
• Dedicated 16 hours per month on group training for connection, empathy and accuracy
• Completed 40 hours per week on individual call quality review