Sean Van Der Horst, Customer Operations Specialist, may live down under, but he goes above and beyond when it comes to giving his customers and colleagues the best possible service.
Based in Sydney, Australia (APAC), Sean has worked at the Cloud Communications division of NTT (formerly known as Arkadin) for almost four years. He received our November 2019 Values Employee of the Month award for Entrepreneurial spirit and the NTT value, “Execute with Excellence”.
Comments from those who nominated him are laudatory, especially regarding a major project he worked on: “Sean single-handedly managed most of the events booked. Even though he was alone on the job at the time, he ensured smooth customer satisfaction. His cool attitude even led the client to sign up for another 15 events in the coming months”. Another commenter said, “Sean’s hard work and expertise are assets to our organisation, especially in Australia”.
We asked Sean about his win and asked him what makes him such a great employee.
Q. On your LinkedIn page, it says Customer Operations Specialist. But in your video, you say both Events Specialist and Events Producer. Which is it?
Well, when I started in 2016, I was in a hybrid customer service role. I was front line customer service for both our collaboration and events services departments. The Customer Operations Specialist title was created to cover this dual role. In July, I moved full time to the events team, where I currently manage digital events, mainly webcast services. In fact, I am both an Events Specialist and an Events Producer – but my official title is “Customer Operations Specialist”.
Q. About the project for which you were nominated… what challenges did it present?
I project-managed a client from beginning to end for 15 webcasts with full audio-visual setup. The biggest challenge was that the bookings were arranged in advance, so I had to manage them all at the same time. So, I set up a weekly meeting and created a work in progress spreadsheet listing all deliverables for me and my client.
After each webcast, we debriefed with my client to gather his feedback and build a continuous improvement plan. My main point of contact felt so comfortable with this format that he took a vacation before the last five webcasts took place. Which made me the point of contact for his PA’s, marketing specialists, and sales and product managers. There were so many cooks in the kitchen! But I managed to keep my composure. The remaining webcasts ran so efficiently that upon his return, other parts of the organization congratulated us and said they’d like us to provide even more webcast services.
Q. Can you tell us more about this new business you helped bring in?
The client asked to meet with me and the sales team to discuss a joint venture with a second client to run more webcasts in the same format as before. The previous webcasts involved both clients, and now they want to recreate them, but on a larger scale. Right now, we’re planning 15 webcasts in an offsite dinner setting over the course of two months.
Q. What do you think makes you good at building strong relationships with your colleagues, customers, and partners?
It’s a small thing, but I think being personable goes a long way with everyone. Asking questions and encouraging people to elaborate upon their thoughts and ideas without judgement and showing genuine interest in achieving common goals for the organization – these are important too. Making sure people can share common interests and current events in the workplace is also vital, because people have lives outside of work that contribute in many ways to their professional development. Enabling this inspires more open communication, trust, and offers a safe space to explore ideas and share experiences.
Q. In your video, you say you think the future of your professional journey will be rewarding. What are you looking forward to?
So many doors will open by collaborating with the other divisions of NTT. It will be extraordinary to see what new ideas and opportunities will arise in 2020. I believe it will be an exciting time for everyone.