March 30, 2011, 1:06 PM

There’s no place like home for developing engaged customer service

Hayneedle benefited by moving its call center back to the U.S., says an IRCE speaker.

Lead Photo

Tammy Van Donk

Moving a large customer service center out of the country and then moving it back just a year later would present a challenge for any retailer. But niche e-retailer Hayneedle Inc. has enjoyed significant dividends after opening a customer contact center in Guatemala in late 2008, bringing the operation back to Omaha in early 2010 and then opening a new center in June, says director of customer care Tammy Van Donk.

Van Donk will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in San Diego on June 16 from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in a session titled “Why one retailer brought its customer service back to the U.S.

Van Donk says the experience helped Hayneedle build a better brand and a superior customer contact environment. “The opportunity really gave us the chance to evaluate the brand, figure out where we wanted to be from a customer service perspective and then build the infrastructure to achieve the goals,” she says. Hayneedle is No. 69 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

During her conference session, Van Donk will discuss how launching a contact center with 150 full-time employees, and which handles more than 1 million calls and e-mails each year, gave the online retailer an opportunity to hire and train top customer service agents.

“In this session I will share the key points we considered in making the decision to return all contact center activity to our internally managed location in Omaha,” says Van Donk. “Recognizing the opportunity to engage our care center agents in building customer loyalty was supported from every level within the organization. Over the past 18 months our customer satisfaction scores have steadily increased.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Van Donk to speak because she is an experienced customer contact management executive. Van Donk joined Hayneedle.com in November 2008. She was instrumental in defining the customer experience for the brand and leading the creation and of a corporately managed customer contact center from inception to full operations. Van Donk is a direct-to-consumer veteran and has held positions with Williams-Sonoma, Hanover Direct and Spiegel.

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