Building a better place to work helps develop long term customer relationships – Interview with Sebastian Henkes and Claire Clifford of Sabio


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Today’s interview is with Sebastian Henkes and Claire Clifford who are the Managing Director and Head of HR and People Development respectively at Sabio, a systems integrator that specialises in providing contact centre solutions. Sebastian and Claire join me today to talk about the fact that Sabio have recently been named as one of the best places to work in the UK, what makes Sabio such a great place to work and what lessons other firms in the contact centre space could learn from their experience.

This interview follows on from my recent interview –Millennials and how they engage with insurance companies – Interview with Dr Paul Redmond – and is number 148 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Highlights of my interview with Sebastian and Claire:

  • Sabio has recently been named as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work® Institute in their annual survey of great workplaces.
  • This is the first time that Sabio has entered the programme and they ranked 39th in the 2015 UK’s Best Workplaces – Medium Category (for organisations with between 50-499 employees).
  • Sabio have always placed a huge amount of importance and focus on their people and their culture. But, they haven’t benchmarked themselves against the market before and that was the motivation behind participating in the survey.
  • Therefore, without any prep they asked their employees to participate in the survey and answer the questions as openly and honestly as they could.
  • 92% of all employees participated and this gave Sabio a real sense of how the organisation ranks against other high-performing organisations.
  • The fundamental thing that makes Sabio such a great place to work is their people.
  • They spend a lot time recruiting the right people with the right attitude and behaviours into the organisation to maintain their culture and ensure that their organisation remains a really positive place to work.
  • Other important things include that they reward their people well, allow them to grow, both technically and in the softer skills area, and they also have a culture based on trust and autonomy so they don’t micro-managed their people.
  • Sabio know that this is a journey that they are on and the first year was a benchmarking exercise and focused on understanding where they are at. They are committed to continuing for the next couple of years so that can measure the improvements that they make through the lessons they are learning.
  • All of the lessons that Sabio have learned around how improving the business and employee engagement are transferable to all organisations and, particularly, those in the customer service space.
  • Sabio’s business model is based on building long-term customer relationships so having and developing individuals that remain with the business for some time allows them to better understand their colleagues and their customers and this helps them deliver better service.
  • However, for other organisations thinking about participating in a survey like this for their own organisation for the first time, rather than jumping into the survey Sebastian and Claire suggests that organisations must first:
    • 1. Understand its core values and how their organisation is performing against those values; and then
    • 2. Pick one or two of those core values and work on getting those secure and really embedded into the organisation.
  • Sebastian adds that you should never assume that you know what is important to your people. When you ask for someone’s opinion on something, never assume and always listen to the answers. There will always be something in any feedback that will surprise you.
  • Never pick more than one or two things that you want to work on or build on at one time. Don’t try and do too much too much too quickly. Follow this approach and keeping things in ‘bite-sized’ chunks has had a bigger impact than Sabio imagined.
  • One of Sabio’s core values is communication and they have worked hard on how they communicate throughout the business as well improving their softer communication skills too. This has had a significant impact on the business.
  • It’s very difficult to over-communicate if your communication is structured and joined up.
  • Change is all about momentum and, therefore, starting small and getting things moving is critical to success.
  • The success of their improvement programme is underpinned by the fact that their employees have told them what direction they would like to go in terms of developing the organisation. If they hadn’t listened to the opinions of their employees they wouldn’t be as successful in their improvement efforts.
  • Sabio is focusing on continual change and improvement rather than seismic change.
  • They are always on the look out for great people so check out their current vacancies and get in touch here.
  • Sabio have not been known for offering cloud-based solutions but they are now moving into that space via their Sabio OnDemand solutions so do check them out.

About Sebastian and Claire

Sebastian HenkesSebastian Henkes is one of Sabio’s founding directors. As Managing Director he has been instrumental in driving the company’s development over the last 15 years,and successfully delivering year-on-year organic growth for the business.

You can connect with Sebastian on LinkedIn here, check out Sabio’s website: and say Hi to them on Twitter @sabiosense.

Claire CliffordClaire Clifford leads a team responsible for the employment, development, engagement and wellbeing of Sabio’s global employees, driving the delivery of effective, efficient and innovative HR management initiatives. Claire was instrumental in Sabio’s entry for the UK’s Best Workplaces programme.

You can connect with Claire on LinkedIn here and on Twitter @CClifford75.

Photo Credit: pic fix via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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