How Culture Can Improve Customer Service


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A key challenge faced by customer service organizations is the issue of attrition. Replacing lost employees costs significantly more than retaining experienced staff. According to The Economist, on average, it costs half the annual salary of a non-C-level staff to replace an employee, and that’s not including the soft costs. Experienced and tenured team members directly correlate to positive customer experience. Keeping talented staff is critical to meeting customer expectations.

Tuning out?
And what about those unsatisfied employees that have not left? They invest less – professionally and emotionally – in their job. The results?

• Decreased customer satisfaction
• Lack of partnership growth
• Business inefficiencies
• Eroding financial performance

The bottom-line? Keeping your employees engaged and happy can be the determining factor in keeping your customers equally engaged and happy. Otherwise you risk losing their business.

Culture clubs
The best companies in the world attract and retain the best people. How do they do it? By making sure their organization has a culture that matches the values of their employees and ultimately the values of their customers. Call center workers are predominantly Gen Y. This generation values:

• Meaningful work
• Collaboration
• Fun
• Freedom of choice

So how can you build a corporate culture around these values?

Make meaning
Making emotional connections is important, and not just between your service agents and your customers. Agents want to be emotionally invested in the place they work and corporate social responsibility (CSR) can play an important role. Employees (and customers), especially Millennials, often want to be a part of something meaningful. Giving back to the community allows employees to feel good about where they work, and this often translates into better engagement and agent tenure. A sense of pride in self translates into a sense of pride in work. In our game, engagement and tenure translates into better customer service.

Make it social
It’s important to communicate in ways that Gen Y will listen to, and that means making it social. At TELUS International, we’ve started to roll out our own internal social media network called T.Life. Not only is it a place to “work socially,” but T.Life allows our agents to monitor their performance, chat with management, provide feedback, upload videos and photos, swap schedules, arrange car pools, and even have coffee delivered to their workstation! Creating a collaborative atmosphere has been a huge motivator.

Make it fun
At our Central American operations, we have “Family Cinema Saturdays,” where our team members can bring their kids to the office to watch movies. During their shifts, employees can also access our entertainment rooms, which are equipped with games including Wii’s and air hockey tables. Our offices also house themed rooms that were designed around ideas from our staff.

Make it personal
Creating a positive culture also means investing in your staff outside of the office whether they plan to stay with your company or not. As an example, our team members can obtain university degrees at subsidized costs while still working in our centers. Classes are held right in our call centers before or after shifts, even at night. Access to education in countries where commuting or education costs are prohibitive creates a culture that celebrates the individual as well as the team. Making it personal fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment, while building a very talented pool of employees.

Frontline results
The best corporate cultures make employees feel like their workplace is designed for them. Companies can offer enjoyable amenities such as themed break rooms, gaming rooms, and sports facilities, or they can go even deeper, re-vectoring policies and procedures to better support how team members want to work. In fact, after “culturally aligning” our agent incentives in one client program, we saw Net Promoter Scores jump five percent in a short period of time. The right culture can foster amazing customer service experiences.

Carolyn Crews
Carolyn Crews is senior vice-president at TELUS International, a global business process outsourcing company with over 15,000 employees around the world. With over 150 million customer interactions annually via voice, email, chat and social media, across the telecommunications, utilities, finance, retail, and high-tech industries, TELUS International enables customer experience innovation through spirited teamwork, agile thinking, and a caring culture that puts customers first.


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