Customer Care gets CEO stamp of approval
Every week APM Terminals’ CEO, Keith Svendsen, takes time to acknowledge outstanding work by colleagues in a company-wide message. Here, we feature one colleague who was singled out for terrific work in a department that's happy to share its ‘trade secrets’ with the entire company. Meet Felecia, one of our Customer Service Heroes at APM Terminals Liberia.
"The ability of our colleagues to turn every interaction into a positive, low-effort experience is a testament to their dedication and skill, and I am proud of their work,” said Svendson recently, and you can tell he really means it.
The teams focus on reducing manual transactions through digitization and automation, resulted in a 97.19% automation rate for invoicing landside customers; ensured that 99% of import shipments were streamlined by the company’s global truck appointment system (TAS); and were the first to launch Care College – the pride of the company’s in-house customer care training - which took place in Monrovia.
In sending his thanks and recognition, as he does every week – and verbally every day - Svendson highlighted the results of Felecia Opoku whose customer feedback rates are nothing less than exceptional. Chalking up a 95% positive feedback rate would make anyone proud, but on hearing that number she furrows her brow. “I was just wondering how I can get to 100%,” she says.
Opoku joined APM Terminals in 2013 as an intern, and after graduating from the Marine Training Institute was offered a role in the operational department. From there she moved to the commercial department in 2017. “Back then, everything at APM Terminals Liberia was done manually,” she recalls. “Payments, receipts, printing invoices, everything was paper and filing. It's hard to imagine the changes we have seen in such a short time. Also, we were almost exclusively talking to customers face to face from the front office,” she says.
Engineering her career
While she loves her job and working at the terminal, customer care wasn't what Felecia was trained for. “I trained as an engineer. I was one of the high achievers in my college, and that's one of the reasons I was accepted on the internship with APM Terminals. But I took the opportunities that came to me and that led me to customer care.
Her work ethic is something she attributes to her family. “As a child, when my father asked me or one of my siblings to do something, he expected it to be done. He would not let us shift blame onto someone else or try to get out of doing our chores. He instilled in us the importance of taking ownership and taking responsibility.
"Maybe that's one reason why working as a customer care agent suits me,” she says. “Though it is not the technical role I trained for, it is nonetheless about solving problems. I get to take ownership. When a customer comes to me with an issue, even if it is initially beyond my ability to help, I will find a solution.”
Care and control
But as any customer care agent knows, daily work isn’t always about high-fives and positive interaction. “Sometimes we have unavoidably disappointed a customer. That's upsetting on both sides. The most important thing is to understand their situation. You need to listen. I give customers
my full and undivided attention. I don't rest until the issue is resolved. Where we can learn and do better, I share those learnings with my teammates, the entire terminal, and the entire company.”
Felecia has taken the APM Terminals Care College training to heart. So much so that she uses the techniques at home. "One of my sons is five and the youngest is just over a year old. They can be boisterous. Every parent knows that stress can be high. But I've found that giving them my full attention really helps. It's no different in work. People can tell if someone is not truly listening to them, and that can lead to frustration. In a busy environment or a noisy office, there can be a lot of distractions. It’s so important to be 100% focused on the conversation you’re having.”
Focus on the future
Felecia attributes many of her achievements to her wider team, her training, her manager, and to the implementation of Salesforce which she says has made communication and oversight of customer interactions all the clearer.
As for the future? Felecia says: “I’m happy in my role, I love working with the team here in Monrovia. Being recognized by Keith Svendsen was special. But the most important thing is to maintain achievements and take all the opportunities that come our way.”