The Shared Service Centre was not providing a sufficiently high level of service to its customers:suppliers, clients, employees and the finance functions of the various Sodexo UK entities. There was a culture where many interactions were confrontational, where email created a defensive, oneway style of communication and where morale was low.
This had a number of implications: the emergence of shadow finance functions involving duplication of activity and costs; unwillingness to transfer additional services and limited joint working together on process re-engineering, all resulting in lost opportunities to add value, reduce costs and working capital or improve billing and cash flow.
The Energize Customer Service Programme was designed to support a transformation in the Centre.
To help individualsand teams understand and believe they are in control of how they work and the quality of service they both provide.
To create an environment where centre staff treat customers as they would like to be treated.
To effect a change in attitudes and behaviours that will significantly change the service culture.
To introduce specific, appropriate skills to enable staff to deliver excellent customer service.
What did Energize do?
At speed, Energize developed a programme that exactly addressed Sodexo’s needs and was according to Lisa Crawley, Shared Service Director, “unlike any other programme we have seen. It was highly participative, engaging, fun, and amazingly effective.” The programme immediately generated a buzz so that, after the first day, getting attendance of subsequent groups was easy. It was also non threatening which made the world of difference to the front line, often quite junior team members.
Although there were a wide number of issues to deal with, the programme built on strengths rather than start from scratch. Indeed, the Energize team really took “time to understand us, our teams and our challenges”observed Lisa. A key part of the programme was to ensure that the various parts of the Transformation Programme were complimentary and not competing.
There has been a significant change of atmosphere and performance. Tangible changes include:
Faster resolution of issues. Less wasted time
More initiative and ownership, less dependency
More collaborative work across functions with the Business
Less blame and more problem solving
Fewer complaints and more compliments
Less email traffic and more conversations
More humour, smiles and laughing
At an individual level many influential – and not necessarily the most senior – members of the team have become exceptional role models.
Some less helpful staff have improved significantly their attitude and performance.
The overall improvement in attitude has also enabled other changes to be introduced more easily.
“The improvements achieved significantly exceeded my expectations” commented Aidan Connelly, Sodexo UK Finance Director “and created substantial value through greater accuracy, greater insight, greater speed and all of these with less resources. But the real prize is that we have moved most of the UK Finance Operations into the Shared Service Centre. Previously each process moved from each area was a challenge – now the businesses are queuing up to move. The value created from this has been very significant.”
“A further major benefit is enabling the Finance team to move from being a processing factory to a business partner. Putting a value on this is very difficult but very large.”
“For me,” added Lisa, “one of the most satisfying results is that the change is lasting. Sustainability was one of my key priorities and now all the teams use phrases and tools from the Energize programme in their daily conversation.
It’s not part of a customer service programme - it’s part of our culture.”