Customer service as an innovation pool
When the wind turns in the direction of change, you cannot remain in a safe haven for long – it is better to do as the Swiss Post does, and set your sails. It anticipates its customers’ needs with targeted innovation management and sets the right sail in every sort of wind with appropriate products and service innovations. They also strive to remain “ideally trimmed” when it comes to customer service. Jean-Luc Morchetti, Head of Customer Service, spoke in an interview about agility in customer service and the contribution that each individual employee can make to the company’s future.
The Swiss Post has implemented active innovation management. Is Customer Service able to profit from this commitment?
We not only profit directly from the company’s innovation management by upgrading our services, we are also able to actively codesign this dynamic. I am pleased to be able to say that both Management and my team fully live up to and support this commitment. This is not something that goes without saying. It is very important to me to convey and reflect this in my organization in an exemplary manner.
An open innovation culture is the most important basis for continuous further development. How do you encourage idea management in customer service?
The most important prerequisites are promoting confidence, strengthening key competencies, involving employees and keeping the organization dynamic. We established an ideal platform for involving employees in the development of our customer service three years ago, called “Café Débat”. These rounds of discussion take place on a voluntary basis and are very instructive and successful. Many needs and improvement suggestions have already been implemented with this framework.
What innovations have arisen from “Café Débat”?
We launched six action fields in follow-up to the first session. We have made the working hours model significantly more flexible and made planning possible according to preferences. We also defined a new development model. This enables agents to further develop themselves after 12 to 18 months. Our ISO 9001 and EN 15838 certifications have led to an improved image of Customer Service with-in the Post, as well as to a sustainable and continuous quality consciousness. In addition, we have developed a company health management program and a new education model with which we can provide training more effectively and in line with needs. This helps us to remain agile. Our professionalization process is indispensible to our Customer Service today.
«You cannot control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.»
Speaking of processes: Last year, you chose BSI Contact Center as your new Customer Service Solution. What processes have since been improved?
In particular, we have created a clear 360° customer view with BSI Contact Center. Employees are supported while providing consultation with guided processes. Furthermore, the BSI solution enables us to more flexibly and effectively design and improve processes. External systems can be connected and integrated much more easily.
BSI Contact Center has now been in use in the Post Customer Service for 100 days. Have you already been able to tally up some initial successes?
Without a doubt! The simple solution means that our new employees become productive more quickly. It only took us a month of operation to see that we will achieve both our project objectives and our business goals. We were also able to attain significant savings with licensing and operating costs. Another success is the pleasure with which staff has accepted the new system. We are still in the learning and consolidation phase, but you can see that the figures are improving month on month.
Why did you evaluate a new contact center solution?
We were confronted with stability problems, functionality limitations and greater complexity. Moreover, we saw no way to integrate our Post-wide workflow system for inquiries and customer reactions into the system we had back then. For this reason, we commissioned an analysis in which we compiled our current situation, our needs and expectations for the platform. The results revealed improvement potential and new perspectives. Therefore, we had a proof of concept created with the processes which occur most frequently in Customer Service. Our employees were involved in the evaluation process and subjected both the existing system and BSI Contact Center to a performance test. In the end, it was clear that we would be better off with the BSI solution.
What challenges confronted you?
The major challenge was switching from one work philosophy to a new one. We came from a system in which the processes were not guided. The agents had to keep everything in their heads or look it up. We first had to pour all the knowledge into processes and create a sequence – what do I want to see first? What is the next step? This involved a great deal of reflection and conceptual thinking. We have already implemented around 2,000 process instructions. The widespread acceptance at the beginning was followed by valuable suggestions for improvement. We take these very seriously. In the end, what we want is for our employees to be satisfied and for them to optimally support the system.
Employees are important providers of input. How important are customers when it comes to improving services?
With process support, we can make changes faster, which has an immediate impact. Post customers can enjoy higher quality as a result of rapidly accessible knowledge and an integrated workflow engine. In terms of customers, we can better evaluate the necessary processing steps through improved reports on the reasons for calls. This lends us agility when it comes to improving certain issues early on in the process and to offer our clients greater transparency about our services and to undertake potential improvement measures.
What statistics do you consider to be superfluous and what key figures do you like to replace them with?
As you know, Contact Center is guided by numbers, which could be seen as a paradox if you consider that our primary task is to communicate with people. Hence, we have a lot of – too many in my opinion – statistics for evaluating an employee’s performance. However, I don’t think that these are superfluous, but that the appropriate key figures that better mirror the performance of an employee are missing. There is still progress to be made here...
If your team was to receive a large sum of money from the Innovation Fund, what service innovation would you implement first?
Money isn’t the answer to everything. In that sense, I would purchase time and resources to implement all the valuable input that we receive in Customer Service.