Stevie Award winner, Michael White (left)The secret to Michael White’s success is satisfaction — for his customers.

White, 29, was recently named the Customer Service Contact Professional of the Year at the 5th annual Stevie Awards honoring the accomplishments of customer service professionals worldwide. And White is definitely a man who turns frowns upside-down.

(Photo: Michael White receives trophy from Michael Gallagher, President of The Stevie Awards)



As the Service Desk Supervisor at Bethesda, MD-based Catapult Technology, White is instrumental in managing the help line for the General Services Administration’s 17,000 employees who ring whenever there is a hardware or software issue at their desk or in their division.

White and his team field a staggering 440,000-plus customer contacts a year – from phone calls and emails to automated requests.

That’s a lot of potentially unhappy customers with a range of issues. But White, who started as a service agent in 2007, came to a simple conclusion early on.

“We looked at the service desk knowing we cannot resolve every call,” he says.  “But we can make every call a rewarding experience.”

His goal was to raise customer satisfaction levels from the current 76 percent. His strategy called for cranking up the “soft” skills: “The technical expertise was great, but we needed to train the agents to smile while on the phone, to be polite, not to use technical terms, and to treat every customer as if they were VIPS.”

A little bit of the human touch can go a long way – even when you’re dealing with technology.

Apparently the satisfaction came shining through: In 2008, customer reviews of their performance rose to 92 percent and then spiked again the following year to nearly 96 percent.

Part of White’s job is to personally step in when a problem or call escalates. He feels particularly satisfied whenever a customer begins a call “angry and swearing” and ends up thanking him by the time the call is through.

“It’s pretty much something I’ve always been able to do,” he says.

And where many others might feel the stress and strain of a job which, by its very nature, invites complaints, White says: “I have found a way to enjoy work no matter what the stress level.  Most of us have to work for many years, so we might as well enjoy our jobs.”

The Fifth Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service were presented February 21 at a ceremony in Miami Beach.

Winners of multiple Stevie Awards this year include, Rosetta Stone, Bulldog Solutions, CIGNA Government Services, Marsh U.S. Consumer,, Canada’s SMART Technologies, and SuiteAmerica Corporate Housing. Other notable Stevie winners include Apple, L.L. Bean, the United Kingdom’s T-Mobile, and A complete list of all honorees by category is available at

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