Business bulletin: Randy Dickerson and Chris Merideth, Farmers Claims Center
With 1,000 employees at its Oklahoma City location, Farmers Claims Center has a massive impact on the community – and not just in terms of economic influence. According to Chris Merideth, regional legislative affairs manager for Farmers, the company’s focus on volunteerism offers a tangible impact on the Oklahoma City community.
“One of the strengths of having this facility in Oklahoma City is we’ve got 1,000 people to volunteer and help people,” Merideth said.
“People want to be a part of something. Those are the employees that we want to attract.” - Randy Dickerson, contact center site leader
The people who work at the Farmers Claims Center are already front-line responders to clients in need. Randy Dickerson’s team of 200 employees receive the first notice of loss phone call, or the first point of contact between a client and the insurance agency.
“The training that we provide our team is much like 911 training because we deal with customers who are very emotional because of the situation,” said Dickerson, who serves as the contact center site leader. “It’s not uncommon to walk up and down the aisles and witness one of our team members crying with a customer on the phone. It just happens.”
Working in that capacity requires employees to refine a higher level of soft skills. The culture of the Oklahoma Standard is one of the strengths of the community that allows its residents to develop these skills unintentionally.
“I do think the personality and the work ethic of our community played a big role in the company deciding to have the footprint that they have here,” Dickerson said.
The company also has a corporate culture of giving back. Whether it’s responding to natural disasters or providing $200,000 in grants to Oklahoma teachers in the last three years through the Thank America’s Teachers program, Farmers uses its corporate culture of giving to attract employees who understand the company’s purpose and vision.
“People want to be a part of something,” Dickerson said. “Those are the employees that we want to attract.”
Like many Oklahoma City companies, recruiting and retaining talent is a challenge, but one that they meet with robust amenities and professional development. With employees taking calls 24 hours a day, the on-site company store makes it easy for employees to get an oil change, drop off their dry cleaning or purchase stamps, for example.
The company also offers ongoing education and professional development to help their employees create a career path for themselves. Instead of just training employees on how to take calls and work with clients, Farmers offers individualized development plans and mentorship opportunities that keep employees growing as a person.
“Our development programs help you perform better here, it gives you a career path and it helps you perform in life,” Merideth said. “I’ve participated in them for 15 years. I am where I’m at today because of that program and the mentorship I have received.”
“One of the strengths of having this facility in Oklahoma City is we’ve got 1,000 people to volunteer and help people.” Chris Merideth, regional legislative affairs manager
Corporate training programs are only one part of the continuing education puzzle, however. Dickerson and Meredith both reinforced the need for Oklahoma’s education system to produce graduates who are ready to enter the workforce.
“People are and always will be the No. 1 asset of a community,” Dickerson said. “Are we going to have the right people? Are they going to be educated like they should be? Starting early in the education system is the only way we are going to address this.”