Search past winners/finalists

Delta Vacations - Shelley Knight

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: Delta Vacations, Minot, ND
Entry Submitted By: MLT Vacations
Company Description: Delta Vacations, managed by MLT Vacations, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines and one of the largest providers of vacation packages in the United States. Delta Vacations has been in the vacation business for more than 45 years. Delta Vacations, offers travelers convenient, one-stop shopping for custom-designed vacation packages to more than 300 of the world’s top leisure destinations.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Contact Center Leader of the Year

Nomination Title: Shelley Knight

Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since the beginning of July 2016 (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: TEXT REDACTED FOR PUBLICATION

Shelley Knight, Vice President, Delta Vacations leads more than 300 employees in an award-winning Customer Engagement Center (CEC) in Minot, North Dakota. Shelley and her team are dedicated to providing outstanding sales and customer service.

Shelley joined Delta Vacations in February 2000 and has been a member of the executive leadership team since 2002. Shelley exemplifies our brand attributes, being thoughtful, reliable and innovative, and continually inspires others to do the same.

Taking care of people

Shelley has a slightly different philosophy when it comes to customer service. She believes that when you put employees first, they will take care of customers.

As a leader, Shelley takes pride in ensuring that employees and customers are cared for as if they were family. Customers repeatedly cite the CEC as the primary reason they book Delta Vacations, trusting everyone is invested in ensuring the best vacation experience possible.

Shelley’s focus on employees has created a dynamic, engaged workplace culture. Hard work and dedication are recognized through employee award programs as well as fun, competitive activities. As a result:

-94% of employees participated in our 2017 employee survey
-91% of respondents indicated Delta Vacations is a great place to work

This high level of employee engagement is also demonstrated by our annual retention and attrition rates. CEC employees have an average tenure of more than 7 years, with 22% of employees having worked for Delta Vacations for more than 15 yearsShelley encourages employees to take care of each other and their neighbors. CEC employees annually spend more than 2,400 hours volunteering in the community and in 2017 donated more than 4,500 food items to United Way. Shelley and the leadership team also established a care fund used to support employees in times of financial need.

Finding balance

Shelley works to balance the needs of the business with concern for employees. In 2017, the CEC expanded its hours of operation to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to be available to customers at all times. While convenient for customers, Shelley recognized the effect on employees and introduced a flexible holiday policy to lessen the impact.

Under Shelley’s guidance, nearly one-third of our front-line employees now have the capability to work from home. As a result, these employees can be counted on to pitch in during inclement weather, without having to leave the comfort of home.

Through both initiatives, the expansion of hours and work from home, Shelley has ensured business continuity while still providing work-life balance.

Raising the bar

Shelley’s direction has led to innovative business solutions that have increased sales, brought state-of-the art technology to the CEC, and helped reduce labor costs.

-Using performance data, we moved employees with a passion for sales into sales-focused positions, leaving everyone else to focus on service. As a result, our close rate has steadily increased year over year, from 13.9% in 2012 to 28.4% in 2017 – an improvement of 204%!

-In 2016, Delta Vacations integrated a new web based reservation booking system to replace the 20+ year old legacy DOS system. This new system provides enhanced tools and can evolve based on future business needs. Since the system’s integration, in-house booked revenue has increased 17%.

-Employee-friendly scheduling system provides improved work-life balance and reduces labor costs. Designed and developed internally via a web application system to allow for optimal employee flexibility while still meeting business needs.

Shelley’s thoughtful, intentional approach with both customers and employees sets her apart. We are honored to nominate Shelley Knight for the distinction of Contact Center Leader of the Year.