Ralin Nespeca, the customer contact center manager for Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, learned the value of customer service and an unwavering work ethic at a very young age.
Those skills have proved to be a valuable asset on her career path. She joined Love’s in December 2008 as the call center manager and now her job encompasses not only incoming telephone calls, but also other customer facing activities, programs and communications.
In her growing role, Nespeca provides leadership to the customer service team and spearheads the strategic expansion of the customer contact center for Love’s, which has more than 200 locations in more than 30 states.
“The company has experienced a tremendous amount of growth, and our customer-centric services are expanding along with the rest of the organization,” Nespeca said. “We are actively involved in the enhancement and expansion of these programs and actively providing a conduit of information from our customers to the entire organization.”
Nespeca’s team is now working on executing its next big program expansion: bringing the dispatch function of the Love’s tire roadside services program in-house. The task involves adding additional team members, developing new skill sets, expanding the hours of operation, providing new services and creating “a better customer experience that keep our customers rolling across the nation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year,” she added.
“It is very exciting to be on the ground floor of a new project within a progressive and growing organization,” Nespeca said of her increased responsibilities.
Preparing to Lead
Nespeca is no stranger to leadership positions. She joined Love’s with a diverse background having gained valuable experience early in life, helping out with a number of family businesses including Sohio Service Station, a full-service fuel station that was an affiliate of Standard Oil, and Kilbourne’s General Store.
“From the time I was about seven or eight years old, my siblings and I would unpack product deliveries, stock warehouse shelves and pack orders. From the time I was old enough to write, I answered the phone and took messages and product orders from customers,” she noted.
By age nine, Nespeca had developed a customer base that consisted of neighbors that would purchase products from her. Eager to earn her own cash, she’d ask her mother’s advice on what items would bring in more money. “Somehow, I had figured out that giving good service to customers and selling the items that were higher margin would get me to my financial goals much faster,” she said.
Putting Customers First
As the customer contact center manager, Nespeca said her goal is to continue to build a best-in-class customer service program, while expanding and developing new customer programs that enable Love’s to build on its strong brand and competitive position.
Among the challenges when dealing with new and expanding programs is managing changes and mastering flawless execution, she said. While Nespeca knows there will be many challenges ahead, she enjoys solving problems and views challenges as opportunity.
“Love’s strongly encourages and supports innovation and problem-solving, so I’m always confident that I will be given the necessary resources to help me lead my team and our company to a successful endeavor in the customer contact field,” she said.
She advises others starting out in the industry to never underestimate the importance of customer service. “We are a service industry. Providing products to customers is only part of the equation,” Nespeca said. “In order to be truly successful, you must realize the value of each and every customer. If you don’t, your competitors will.”