Three years ago, Genevieve McLean was hired to provide a diagnostic for Australian telecommunications provider Optus. She was tasked to answer a key question: how could Optus improve its Net Promoter Score, enabling cost savings and improved CX across the business?
Her answers, which came from an exhaustive analysis of customer data and multiple stakeholder interviews, led to a multi-year global transformation project that included eleven different outsourced partner sites in India and the Philippines and the more than 4,000 people who comprise that workforce, along with 3 of Optus’ Australian contact centers.
“We made sure we included everyone from across the globe in everything we did,” McLean recalls. “There was this real sense of ownership and pride in what we were all creating together, so that when it came to life, the team felt responsible.”
As a CX professional, collaboration is in McLean’s DNA, and she knew early on that she needed to get key executives on board with the necessary steps needed to effect change, and comfortable with the investment that it required.
Sell the Dream
McLean knew from her analysis that a lack of consistency across Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partners was harming CX and that the root issues were varied. “I used statistics from those key moments that went wrong, whether it be recruitment, quality training, real-time access to knowledge management, or coaching,” she says. “It was a real moment of truth for the business to say, ‘we can’t just do one or two, we have to do them all well.’”
McLean turned to McDonald's, which she calls “an icon of consistency,” to help paint the picture to senior leaders and make the business case for global alignment across business disciplines. After a visit to McDonald’s Australian HQ, McLean says she “pointed out the things that McDonalds does really well. The cheeseburger or Filet O’Fish is produced the same way globally in every McDonald’s kitchen every time.”
Starting with quality was important, McLean says. “If you don’t have quality, you’re never going to get the experience. If you don’t have a high-quality recruitment program, you’re never going to get a great employee experience, and then you’re never going to be able to deliver a wonderful customer experience.”
The approach resonated with senior leaders, and Optus’ “Six Standards of Customer Obsession” were born. They encompassed internal value and behaviors, recruitment, training, customer interaction standards, employee KPIs, and a commitment to continuous improvement across the customer ecosystem.
But for McLean and her team, the real work was just beginning.
“The first thing I did was arm myself with the most incredible team,” McLean says, recalling how she sourced talent who were both familiar with BPOs and who bought into the “six standards” approach. Next, McLean arranged for her newly-formed team to be seated amongst members of Optus’ Global Contact Center Operations team to promote collaboration—“we were almost a living and breathing extension of their team”—and finally, she tapped into their data centers to ensure they were getting the right data from their VoC program to guide ongoing decisions.
When it came time to deliver trainings and guidance to BPO partners on the six standards, the team embarked on a grueling schedule, delivering over 200 workshops across India and the Philippines over four weeks. “We were in theaters, we were in lunchrooms, we had thousands of cupcakes and balloons and all sorts of things,” McLean recalls, laughing. But those welcoming touches, along with others—such as how the training team dressed each day—were intentional. “My team and I didn’t wear corporate gear each day to the offices, it was just polos and jeans. The approach was all about making sure that our people thrived, and that they had all the right support.”
But it wasn’t just fluff—Mclean’s team didn’t just tell their partners the benefits of implementing the standards, they showed them the value. “We gave them the data to show, ‘if you don’t follow the standards, you will have attrition problems,” she says. “Then they got it, and they turned the standards on quicker than they had planned to, and their attrition stabilized.”
Now, after aligning their BPO partners around their six standards of obsession, McLean and the team are rolling out the standards to the rest of the business, which includes more than 3,000 additional retail employees in Australia, who are now handling customer inquiries in the wake of COVID-19. The groundwork that was laid with BPO partners is paying dividends. “Within three days, we started upskilling thousands of people via virtual classrooms,” McLean says.
The 2020 CXPA Innovation Award
For McLean, winning CXPA’s 2020 Innovation Award is something that the Optus team should be rightly proud of. “This makes it all very rewarding for them,” she says. Ultimately, however, McLean says the biggest impact is on the customer. “This approach to how you get consistency and the role that people play in getting there, I think that’s going to be a game-changer for customers. They’re the real winners in all of this.”
Finally, McLean advises that senior leaders considering investment in customer-focused innovation should make the leap. “You have to invest in making sure you hire the right people, that they’ve got the right tools and resources, and that they’re set up for success. If you’re customer-focused, that means they’ll do what you want them to do—which is act in the best interest of the customer. And if you nurture and support and allow that person to thrive, they will stay. And when people stay, then you have a higher level of competency in your business, and the customer experience is better as a result.”