The quality customer care that today is the hallmark of our Experience Center, Global Response, developed from life lessons learned by founder Herman Shooster.
Even at the age of 12, when he was pumping gas at his father’s service station in Chester, Pennsylvania, Herman learned the value of customer service. And he learned how important it would one-day be to his own company. Born to an entrepreneurial family, Herman’s mindset was developed early.
“It wasn’t a case of what kind of job I was going to get – it was what business I would start,” – Herman Shooster.
Herman made the move in 1974 that would be his crowning business achievement and that in the Shooster tradition, was a family affair. He and his wife, Dorothy, bought Ding A Ling, a small, Fort Lauderdale answering service that they evolved into Global Response following rapid advances in technology.
Today, family is still important at Global Response. The contact center and fulfillment company that represents world-renowned brands in industries including retail, healthcare, insurance and automotive, is led by four Co-CEOs – all of Herman’s children.
The steps that led to the purchase of Ding A Ling and the birth of Global Response took Herman and his family on a trail of different businesses that all focus on serving customers.
After serving honorably as a medic during World War II, Herman earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Temple University. Soon after he went into real estate, his father passed away, leaving Herman and brother Frank to operate the family’s successful restaurant, Shooster’s Drive-in.
Herman’s father had built the drive-in restaurant in the 1940s – years before McDonald’s even existed. Herman and Frank expanded, completing the restaurant with dance floor, regular radio station broadcasts and live music in the 1950s. Shooster’s helped give life to rock music, even welcoming Bill Haley and the Comets for a charity event. The landmark drive-in was eventually bought by the State of Pennsylvania and its land used to build a bridge across the Delaware River.
Herman then ventured into the new frozen food industry, building Houston’s Frozen Foods and taking it public before moving to South Florida with his wife and children. That led to yet another new chapter of his life: his purchase of Ding A Ling.
The answering service business model appealed to Herman and it let him showcase customer care practices he had nurtured throughout his lifetime. He liked the model in part because he would never have any inventory. And when he brought on new customers, he simply hired more people to answer calls.
Herman grew the business, purchasing other small answering services over time. And one by one, his base of customers grew. As the business expanded, Herman tapped the technology revolution.
At the start, toll-free 800 numbers had only been around for a relatively short time. In an age of costly long-distance charges, mid – to large-sized companies would use toll-free numbers to pick up the cost of the call and drive more sales, The evolution to contact center from answering service began when a new client approached Herman’s company to take orders for its swimwear line. Others requested order-taking for nutritional supplements and various catalog merchandise – marking the first time the company accepted credit-card payments over the phone.
Until this point, each agent handled calls for different companies from one call to the next. This was known as a “shared” call center environment. In 2000, Herman met the COO of a large cigar company at a trade show. To attract new customers, the company offered cigar sampler assortments in newspaper and magazine ads. The executive needed to follow up with the new customers made from the promotional offer. Herman built a dedicated team of salespeople to call the customers, enroll them in a monthly cigar club, upsell them and build a brand relationship. This was the start of the “dedicated” call center environment.
After the success of the first dedicated outbound group, more business came from larger companies that needed inbound customer service and order-taking. Global Response partnered with big-brand retail and healthcare companies that required more specialized customer care, providing each with a team that focused exclusively on their accounts. The group would be very knowledgeable about product, process and systems. The team understood the customers and they represented the brand. While Herman always practiced exceptional customer service, this was the formal start of Global Response’s focus on the customer experience.
Global Response was in growth mode and ready to add a second contact center. A new location would afford the company a new labor pool, staffing in other time zones and an alternate regional presence.
A retired CEO of a large chemical company approached Herman. The man sat on the board of a well-known retail brand and had heard of Herman from a fellow board member. He was on a mission to bring back jobs to his hometown of Iron River, Michigan. The region was once a booming mining town, but no longer. Iron River needed an environment friendly green business that would bring outside capital, income and jobs to the town.
Global Response needed its first regional client before it could open a contact center in Iron River. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages all camping reservations for the state. Its camping reservations were being handled by a company in Maryland. When the annual agreement with the Maryland company expired, Global Response won the contract and brought the business – and the jobs – back to Michigan. This would be our first account in Iron River. Global Response later opened a third location in Marquette, Michigan.
Herman’s willingness to take a calculated risk, along with the strong work ethic of “Michiganders” continues to make Global Response North a success – for the town, its people, Global Response and our clients.
Over nearly 50 years, Global Response has grown to become one of the world’s leading outsourced contact centers, serving some of the world’s most prestigious brands.
We specialize in building highly focused, dedicated teams around a trusted brand. Customer care has evolved to include more than just phone calls. We now handle chat, email and social media monitoring and response. Customer expectations have evolved and the mission now is to deliver high-quality, consistent customer experiences across multiple channels of communication.
From the development of this omni-channel strategy, the Global Response call center has emerged as a contact center. With our relentless commitment to faithfully representing the brand and delivering a high-touch customer experience, Global Response is now The Experience Center.