Pro Athlete’s Take On Customer Service

As a follower of our blog and members of the Pro Athlete Fan Club, we are seeking new and exciting opportunities to give you insight into what’s going on around the office.

This week, we sat down with one of our own employees, Austin Hall. Austin has been a member of our team for several years and oversees our customer service experience that we strive to provide to all of our customers that have questions or need assistance when ordering a product from one of our eCommerce websites.

Q: What is your role within Pro Athlete?

A: My role at Pro Athlete is to oversee the entire operations revolving around customer service and the customer experience. We are a Net Promoter company, so we do our best to make sure that our customer's voice is always heard. A big component of our team is to be the voice of the customer. If the customer wants something done, we act as liaisons between the customer and the company to make sure the end user is always happy at every interaction. Lastly, the biggest component of our team is to make sure that our Customer Coaches are always available to provide expert advice on all of our products and available to assist our customers with any inquiries that come our way.  

Q: How does Pro Athlete make working in a contact center role an exciting and rewarding position?

A: We are very lucky at Pro Athlete to have a CEO who really sees the importance of providing excellent customer service.  After thorough on-boarding training, all of our Customer Coaches have the same authority to make executive decisions when it comes to making sure our customers are happy as the owner of the company would. Many contact centers have scripts, policies, procedures, and rules put into place that really limit the agent's ability to make a customer happy.  Our Customer Coaches are empowered to make their own decisions and really do their own thing to achieve the same results. Not to mention, our Contact Center is modeled after Kauffman Stadium, so we have an amazing office.

Q: Describe the environment that you and your team work in?

A: We have a very relaxed environment compared to the traditional contact center environment. We definitely have a state of the art set-up, we have a lot of fun, and we definitely have a team atmosphere. Our Customer Coaches answer phone calls, live chats, emails, questions & answers, and social media inquiries.  When we are busy you will find all of our Customer Coaches working extremely hard but between customers or during down time, you will see the team having a lot of fun interacting with one another or everyone tuned into the “big game” on one of the multiple flat screen TV’s we have in the Contact Center.

Q: Why do you refer those who work in the Contact Center as Customer Coaches?

A: At Pro Athlete everything seems to take on a sports or baseball reference, and this became part of that branding. Many others call their agents either agents or customer service reps, and we feel that our team is much more than that. The guys and girls taking care of our customers truly are experts in the field of products that we offer of whom many have real life experience playing or coaching at very high levels using the same products they are giving advice on. They do so much more than yield phone calls, they provide expert advice and really create lifelong customers. It is not out of the ordinary for customers to build relationships with any of our Customer Coaches and they prefer to speak to that person as they have trust in their advice and choose to deal only with that person. I would refer to our team more as inside account managers than a front line customer service representative as they build relationships and they handle every problem until it is resolved to completion. There are rarely ever escalations as the Customer Coaches have full-authority to do everything in their power to resolve every issue in whatever way needed to make sure the customer is happy.  

Q: You aren’t operating as a traditional contact center, why not?

A: We feel like traditional contact centers put way too many limits on the front line employees answering customer inquiries. If a frontline employee has so many restrictions, why even have them answering the phone calls, chats, or emails only to have to escalate the issue to someone else in the company?  Most traditional contact centers have scripts that the agents have to follow, the agents have to adhere to their schedule down to the minute and are very restricted in their day-to-day workflow. At Pro Athlete, our Customer Coaches are very intelligent and talented employees, and we want to empower them to use their talents to do whatever it takes to make sure our customers are always happy. We have lifted all of the traditional rules and guidelines that others have in place, and as long as we are achieving the same or better results, we don’t think there is any reason to not empower the employees to make their own decisions and control their own processes.

Q: What qualities and traits do you look for when adding MVPs to your team?

A: We really like to see someone who is definitely a culture fit within the company and shares the same values and believes in living out our core values not only in the office but also outside of the office. Some of the best Customer Coaches are social people who are very detailed, patient, and have a strong will to really help others and are passionate about making people happy. Real life experience in the field of the products that we offer is a plus, but some of the best Customer Coaches have never played the game.

Q: Who’s your most memorable customer that you have interacted with?

A: It is so hard to narrow it down to just one of the most memorable customers as there are so many great ones. We have dealt with so many current and former professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MiLB, MLS, and NASCAR, so those are always fun but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is Chip Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Chip Gaines was a customer who called in and had a great experience with one of our Customer Coaches that he had one of his employees who works for their eCommerce site, Magnolia Market, reach out to me to talk to us about the way we ran our customer service department. I spent a week or so working with them and giving them tips on how we did things as their website was taking off with the popularity of their show. After working with them, I later received a handwritten thank you letter from Chip Gaines, and I thought that was a pretty memorable interaction.