Publication Date: 
Thu, 2012-02-23 00:41

It's work that she enjoys and she finds that it's also work well suited to women's traditional role as nurturing caregiver.
"As the manager of the call center, I have to really care about the customers and ensure that we provide the best service and support to them. If we don't care about our customers, they would find the call center useless and they wouldn't contact us again," said Benchekroune. "Personally, I think a great call center is one of the keys to the success of any major company. Call centers communicate directly with customers. If a customer knows that the call center is run professionally, he wouldn't hesitate to pick up the phone and call if he had any question or problem. If the call center is handling calls in an excellent way, then customers feel that they are important to the company. A great call center makes a great impression about the company in the mind of the customer. That stays with customers and influences them the next time they want to make a purchase."
Unlike some call centers in the Kingdom, the nasair call center operates round the clock, employing men at night and mostly women during the day. Benchekroune also remarked that as an aviation call center there are challenges that have to be dealt with that aren't an issue at call centers that handle consumer goods. For instance, if an early morning flight is canceled or delayed, customers must be informed, sometimes in the middle of the night. That of course results in the staff dealing with dozens of angry customers whose sleep has been interrupted in the wee hours of the morning. Call center staff are trained to handle such situations, but it's not a pleasant part of the job.
For Benchekroune, staff training is a primary responsibility. From their first day as new hires, the nasair call center staff are put through a rigorous training program to teach them how to provide a high level of customer service and to educate them on the airline's products so they can offer useful information to the customers. For 90 percent of the new hires at the call center, this is their first job and most of the call center employees are young adults, 20 to 30 years old.
"The first thing we have to do is educate new employees to put the customer's needs first. Many young adults think of themselves first and everything else in life is second," explained the call center manager. "Additionally, customer service jobs aren't attractive to many Saudis. They think of employment at a call center as something to do until a better opportunity comes along."
That is especially true for young Saudi men who are motivated by the amount of the salary above any other consideration. Women tend to stay in call center jobs longer than men. Benchekroune has noticed that women are looking for a comfortable work environment and if they are happy in the job, they don't go looking for another position. For men though, a salary offer of just a few hundred extra riyals will be enough to lure them away from the call center. Benchekroune has learned to deal with the high staff turnover by simply thinking of herself as someone training Saudi youth for a bright future.
"We are constantly training and educating the staff. That never ends. And I believe that some of what they learn can be used in other aspects of their lives," she said. "For instance we teach our employees techniques for calming upset customers. These techniques work well when dealing with anyone who is angry or upset whether in the call center or at home."
What does that technique entail? The first thing the agent will do is encourage the customer to express his anger. If the flight has been canceled, there's nothing the call center employee can do about that other than provide a listening ear. The call center staff are taught that the customer needs to speak and express his anger so that he can become calm in order to cope with the situation. Immediately after the customer expresses his anger, the agent will apologize on behalf of the airline and then offer the customer all the options available in the situation. After providing the customer any service required, the call center employee apologizes once again.
"Most times, the customer who was so angry at the start of the call, will actually apologize to us by the end of the call," said Benchekroune. "We expect that up to ten percent of the customers contacting the call center are angry, upset or have some sort of problem that we need to solve. If a caller is very aggressive, the agent will immediately escalate the call to a supervisor. In such a situation we ask the agent to drink a glass of water and walk around for a few minutes to let the incident leave her mind before taking another call."
While the call center is one way for customers to access nasair's services, the airline is hoping that it's recently launched mobile-optimized website will prove to be popular as well. Designed and hosted by NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), nasair flyers can now access to reserve and purchase tickets, update reservation details and inquire about flight schedules. Future plans include mobile check-in and the text delivery of mobile boarding passes through SMS, as well as Web apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android mobile devices.
“Delivering greater convenience to our valued customers is among our highest priorities,” said Abdullah Al-Ghanim, chief of information technology, NAS Holding. “Extending mobile access to nasair supports that commitment by allowing our travelers to more easily connect with us anytime, anywhere.”

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