Pitney Bowes - Press Release (Prit reviews construction plans)
Ask Régine Planchette why Pitney Bowes is creating a state-of-the-art Customer Contact Centre at Harlow and her reply is likely to be along the lines of: “How could we not?”
Régine, who will be manager of the centre and is currently involved in the massive programme of preparation and training, pointed out that listing the benefits that building a centre will deliver told only half the story. “This is not a case of change for the sake of change,” she stressed. “It is change being driven by powerful market forces that no company could afford to ignore.”
“We must meet the demands of our marketplace, and those demands are constantly evolving,” said Régine. “The rapid growth of e-services is transforming our business, our competitors are changing the way they do things and our customers are changing too. They have different needs and higher expectations than before, and we must meet those expectations or risk the consequences. When change is all around, you must change as well or be left behind. Staying where we are is simply not an option and one of our key challenges is to change people’s behaviour and do away with the ‘that’s the way we do thing around here’ approach.”
There are plenty of hard facts and figures to support that view, not least an array of comments from customers and - alarmingly - former customers who have made their views all too clear. In this day and age a customer who is dissatisfied with the service they receive can and will go elsewhere.
“This and other issues make the Customer Contact Centre a critical line of business for Pitney Bowes,” said Régine. “It will be a key business driver within EAME and at the leading edge of our campaign for continuous improvement.”
To help ensure this, the company has brought in contact centre consultant, Prit Ahluwalia, to advise on the implementation, structure, processes, people-culture, technology and health and safety issues within the new centre. Prit, an award winner for Call Centre Operational Excellence, is working closely with Régine, to devise a solution that will meet the spiralling demands of customers and, crucially, the hopes and expectations of employees as well.
“It was important we selected a consultant that really understands the operational, technology and people issues in call centres, Prit, fitted the bill perfectly,” said Régine.
“Excessive volumes of calls, repetitious work, poor ergonomics and badly designed working environments are just some of the pitfalls of today’s call centres,” said Prit. “The stress generated by spending all your time dealing with complaints can be a real problem and employees may feel frustrated and powerless. Consequently call centres are sometimes regarded as a bad career move, offering limited opportunities, but you only have to consider their importance in business terms to appreciate just how vital they are.”
“Many of the customer-facing issues are predictable enough. Being available at the times customers need help, resolving problems live first time and every time, avoiding unnecessary internal transfers of calls, filtering out inappropriate calls to avoid clogging the system which generate delays and, of course, reducing the level of repeat calls and rework - all matters on which customers have expressed the strongest possible views. It is with these and the people issues in mind we will be developing the new structure, processes and quality methodology”, said Prit.
“Many organisations focus on the investment of a new facility and telephony platform, without adequate consideration to their people, the underlying issues which cause stress and this intangible thing, called quality,” said Prit.
Indeed, Régine is determined that Pitney Bowes will create a Customer Contact Centre that will not only be a centre of excellence for the company and platform for continuous improvement and change, but also fun!
The best available technology is being introduced to make the call processes as smooth as possible and a comprehensive programme of training, multi-skilling and job rotation has been devised to create maximum flexibility and variety for employees. Careful consideration has also gone into the centre’s overall design and atmosphere, and it will include kitchen facilities, vending machines and a ‘breakout and rest’ area.
Conscious that the people best placed to advise on a working environment are those who work in it, Régine and Prit are planning a Reward & Recognition scheme to help generate positive ideas for progress, as well as carrying out extensive consultation that has included staff briefings, group sessions and one-to-one meetings with line managers and staff.
“I want everyone involved in the new Customer Contact Centre to have pride in being part of a benchmark operation not just within Pitney Bowes but across the industry,” said Régine. “This is a very important step for the company - one that signals big changes in the way we do things here.”
Several functions will either be integrated into the Centre or co-located on the same site, and so the it will be home to everything from Postage by Phone and the national service centre, to query resolution and credit control. Purchase Power, part of the Pitney Bowes Financial Services Europe business that has recently relocated from London Bridge to Harlow, will also operate from the new Centre.
“By bringing together these core areas of our business, we will be able to work more collaboratively, reinforcing our mission to deliver shareholder and customer value”, said Patrick Keddy, President of Pitney Bowes Mailing Systems EAME.
- ends –
About Pitney Bowes
Pitney Bowes Inc. is a $4 billion global provider of integrated mail, messaging and document management solutions headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The company serves over 2 million businesses of all sizes in more than 130 countries through dealer and direct operations.