Geneva Rock’s dispatch centers are the heart and soul of its customer service efforts. Dispatchers are up early every day, working hard to make sure customers’ concrete orders are delivered on schedule.
Managing the delivery cycle requires constant, on-the-spot communication and exacting levels of teamwork — characteristics that Geneva Rock dispatchers have mastered — to provide some of the best customer service in the industry.
To offer a broader range of resources to its customer base across Utah and Salt Lake counties, Geneva Rock combined the two dispatch offices for Salt Lake and Utah counties into one dispatch center. The change went live in April 2020, bringing dispatchers from Orem and Salt Lake City together to work out of the new office in Murray, now called Valley Dispatch.
Centralization came with challenges. Combining systems, operations, and staff from two different dispatch centers and getting them up and running was no easy task. The challenge was exacerbated when COVID hit. Geneva Rock values its employees’ well-being over all else and, with a large group working in close quarters, many members of the new dispatch team were required to work from home to keep everyone safe.
“You’re working with people who you’ve never met and you aren’t meeting face to face,” says Jance Hall, a dispatcher from the Salt Lake City office. “That led to some interesting challenges and a lot of late nights.”
There were logistical changes to deal with, too.
“Before COVID we would just send the drivers to the plant where we needed them, and they would get in whatever truck was available,” says Ross Ellsworth, a dispatcher from the Orem office. “Now, they have to go to their home plant, pick up their own truck, then go to the plant we need them to. Geneva went to a lot of effort and expense — and is still going through a lot of expense — to make sure the drivers don’t have to share equipment.”
When Charlie Keller was asked in October to lead the new dispatch center, he jumped at the chance. As the manager of the IT service center and part of the construction materials systems team, he had previously supported the concrete operations across Geneva Rock.
“I was excited about it,” says Keller. “I had been supporting those systems all along and now I was actually going to be part of the operations that run those systems and utilize them.” He looked forward to helping the new dispatch center tackle its current challenges and evolve into a customer service powerhouse that could easily handle Geneva Rock’s growing workload. Other Geneva Rock departments jumped in to help. IT services provided laptops for many of the employees and set up the phone systems to work from their homes while the maintenance and facilities group often sanitized the dispatch facility at a moment’s notice.
The dispatch team stepped up as well.
They completely transformed the way they managed their communications. Before COVID they relied on being in the same room, which provided instant, face-to-face collaboration. But with this change, they had to beef up their technical skills, relying more on Microsoft Teams than ever before. They did it without complaint at a time when they were busier than ever. In fact, 2020 was the busiest year in Geneva Rock’s history and the workload on the dispatch team was enormous. Dispatchers who used to field 120 to 150 calls per day were now getting up to 250 incoming calls.
“When I look back on the last year, I don’t know how we survived it,” says Melissa Lazenby, who has been a dispatcher with Geneva Rock for 18 years. “It’s one of the hardest years we’ve had to get through at Geneva Rock. It’s definitely been a challenge.”
“One of the things Geneva Rock has always prided itself in is the highest quality and the best service at a fair price,” he says. “That is one of our core values. With the demands we had, it was challenging to give that kind of customer service. Dispatchers had to constantly roll with the punches, which they did day in and day out with a good attitude. That is admirable.”
Despite the challenges, the team is better because of it. Team members rose to the challenge, improved communications, and learned a new way to work that will allow them to manage the increased workload that Geneva Rock continues to see in 2021. They are confident that this new way of operating will result in even better service and stronger relationships with their customers.
“At the end of the day you just build a team that’s solid to cover for each other, and that’s what we’ve done,” says Crystal Jepson, Lead Dispatcher at Geneva Rock and a 21-year veteran of the company. “Everybody just jumped in to do more than they did the day before. And now we know what to do. It’s opened the door for so many more opportunities. It’s made us better.”