According to Bridget Moscatello, corporate vice president of customer operations, customer service is a team sport.
By J.L Greene
As a customer, one is fortunate to have Bridget Moscatello on his or her side. Not only is she the Corporate Vice President (VP) of Customer Operations at Empire Today (Empire), the largest shop-at-home retailer in the U.S., she also sits on the Board of Directors for the Better Business Bureau in Chicago, participates in the Better Business Bureau’s Standards and Ethics Committee and is a three-time graduate of the prestigious Harvard Business School for Executive Education.
With that same drive and determination, Moscatello has led Empire triumphantly to receiving the prestigious Gold American Business Award for Best Customer Service in 2013, Silver for Best Customer Service in 2012 and Bronze in 2010 and 2011—selected from thousands of entrants nationwide competing annually for these coveted honors. In her company role, she owns the entire customer service experience and ensures that thousands of working processes within the company are consistent across the 70 U.S. markets and multiple product lines. She developed Net Promotor Score (NPS), a metric for tracking customer loyalty that has revolutionized the company. In addition, she wanted to ensure that the servicing experience was exactly the same across the country and worked with an outside partner to custom design a 24-month computer-based training course dubbed ‘Customer Service University.’ These vignettes ensure that regardless of location, all servicing personnel are working under the same expectations regarding how to deliver the best possible experience for Empire customers.
Inspire to Lead
Moscatello aims to provide top-notch customer service to every person touched by Empire, and her formula has yielded excellent results. What is her secret? Simply put, she thrives on change. Through her more than 20 years of senior leadership experience, Moscatello has reflected on what business decisions and leadership traits have worked and which have not. Her primary objective is to consistently attempt change to drive performance and analyze learnings on success and failures. Her quiet observation has led to several unique perspectives on leadership’s practical workings.
One of Moscatello’s primary goals is to provide inspiration in the workplace. In the changing current of technology, creativity remains key for businesses to stay ahead of the curve; fostering inspiration provides the solution.
“I think as a leader you have to inspire first, then lead, and then manage,” she said. “What I mean by inspire is that people want to follow you versus they have to follow you because you’re the boss. That’s the difference. I want people to want to follow because as a leader I want to instill passion and creativity. I believe people will follow this style of leadership and have better work product with better problem resolution.”
As an essential element to this goal, Moscatello focuses on providing a truly collaborative environment in which thoughtful employees come to the table knowing they will be respected and heard and that decisions will be made. In that highly functioning environment, she also stresses drive and determination to meeting customer needs.
“I’m very performance driven, so there’s always an end game. Companies hire you and expect that you will deliver a quality work product, so your job at the end of the day is to meet that obligation. You can’t do that by yourself. You need others, so in order to get people to do that, I think you have to inspire, then lead, and then manage and do the right thing 100 percent of the time rather than focus on being right.”
It is a mindset that has proven incredibly successful.
Paying It Forward
As she inspires her employees onward, one of Moscatello’s favorite traits to share is what she calls “paying it forward.” By this she means anticipating problems, issues or concerns before they arise. Such a mentality ensures excellence for Empire’s consumers as well as employees. The pay-it-forward approach builds a foundation for anticipating changes in consumer demands early in the game and altering polices and procedures to meet these changing demands.
This requires a research mindset—consistently monitoring data trends and remembering we are all consumers and want to be serviced in a specific way, and constantly asking, “How can we do this better?” and “What’s the right thing to do in this situation?” and “What do we need to change?” By matching the right customer need to the right associate at the right time and resolving/answering now, employees do their best for the customer, their team and themselves.
And the Answer Is?
Rather than the process along the way, Moscatello primes her team to concentrate on Empire’s goal in each project. “Everyone knows what the end answer is, but people disagree with how to get there,” she said. “When you focus on how to get there, you lose sight of the answer. Instead, let’s focus on the answer and get agreement on the answer. If we know what the answer is, then there’s only a few paths to discuss to determine the approach.”
Moscatello has found that focusing on the “end answer” rather than the process removes subjectivity, feelings and emotions that so often sidetrack a team. Once the team identifies the answer, allotted tasks ensure each team member becomes personally invested in meeting that goal.
In the end, Moscatello uses that same standard of listening and watching to improve company policy every day by reviewing customer feedback, monitoring social media, interpreting trends and carefully studying the NPS results from across the country. Her leadership and direction have led to a thriving company, nationally recognized for its customer service feats.
By inspiring her employees, exercising skilled leadership and focusing on doing what is right, Moscatello reigns as the queen of asking, “Can we use something else?” She does all of this behind the scenes, quietly problem-solving for you because she knows that you have got other things on your mind.
J.L. Greene is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.