One of the best parts of our job is being able to meet and speak, one on one, with members of our dynamic, interesting and fascinating network. Recently we had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Reuben Canagaratnam, Vice President, Caribbean Contact Centres (English & Spanish), Scotiabank, International Banking Contact Centres (IBCC) to discuss how sales and customer service have worked to position them as a leader in the industry.
What service/product are you most proud of to offer your clients?
We take pride in each and every one of our services and products as we believe they can make our Customers “better-off”, and this is their “right”. What we are even more proud of is the “World Class” service we strive to deliver to Customers every time, by providing them with the best solutions and a Positive Memorable Experience. I want to emphasize here that the term “World Class” is used deliberately to describe our Customers’ feedback about their experience with us. All of our Caribbean Contact Centres have been “World Class” certified for up to as many as four (4) consecutive years. Many of our Team Leaders and Agents are also certified World Class. Being “World Class” certified means that over 80% of our Customers surveyed consistently said they were “Very Satisfied” with our service and the overall experience. It gives us great pride to know that this feedback, this stamp of approval, comes directly from the voice of our Customers.
“It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it” – could you give us a few examples of what this means in your business.
Customer Service is a term people tend to use loosely, but for me, it is a “privilege” that I take very seriously. This kind of thinking is clearly expressed by my leaders and it is this same kind of thinking that inspires the belief that every Customer has the “right” to become “better off”. How do we achieve this? For us, it is by putting the Customer first and at centre of our decisions and actions. Of equal importance is our focus on a culture of high performance so that our Agents can deliver the right solutions and a Positive Memorable Experience every time. This entails taking our Agents through the journey of the Customers’ experience and is done by way of training, coaching and providing the right tools and resources to support their growth, development and performance. I think our definition of customer service is the same at every level, and that this is the “how” that enables us to deliver on our promise to our Customers.
It was once said that “You get one chance to be very good when a customer contacts you”. How do you select employees that are a good match for your culture?
Two of the dominant features of our culture are putting the Customer first and focusing on our people. We are constantly improving our recruitment and onboarding processes while also focusing on supporting employees to perform at their highest potential, so that they can in turn focus on putting our Customers first. Our recruitment process is guided by this culture and so every effort is made to identify people that are service-oriented and are as passionate as we are about service. Needless to say, we are very deliberate about whom we hire. Once the right fit has been identified, training plays a critical role, and while it can be costly, there
is never a compromise. We view training and development of our people as an investment that is ultimately rewarding for them and for our Customers. In my opinion, having the right people with the right skills who are focused on putting the Customer first will more often than not lead to “very good” Customer Experience.
How do you ensure consistent high quality service through all points of contact and/or locations?
“Right Customer, right channel, right experience”. This is an important objective which directly relates to the Contact Centres and how our Agents deliver a Positive Memorable Experience every time. While I am not able speak about all points of contact for the Bank, for the Contact Centre channel, the focus is always on delivering the right resolution on the first call. This we believe is one of the reasons why many of our Customers say they are “Very Satisfied” with our service. Ultimately it is our people that ensure the delivery of high quality of service and the right resolution, and we do all that we can to help them perform at their very best. I think it is important to create a culture in our people of always keeping the Customers at the centre of all they do. This is the right of the Customer, and it is our privilege to deliver this kind of experience to them each day. Based on the voice of our Customers, it is safe to say that we are focusing on the right things to ensure consistent, high quality service regardless of the channel.
Do you measure Employee Engagement? How and how often?
Yes, Employee Engagement is measured annually by the Bank. Within the Caribbean Contact Centres where I manage, a finger is also constantly kept on the pulse of Employee Engagement throughout the year. This is where I think the Caribbean culture and spirit really have an impact. Caribbean people are in my view born to be happy, and are full of vibe and energy. This is conveyed through many of the activities within the Centres geared at keeping the people engaged. It seems there is never a dull moment, as there is a celebration for everything, which is a feature of Caribbean culture. It is fascinating to observe Agents in friendly competition, singing and dancing, and how the “vibes” and energy in the Contact Centre are lifted during such activities. I will admit however that the dancing is a one aspect of the culture that I have not been able to grasp that well, if at all. We value our people and their contribution to helping Customers become “better off”. If our people are happy, I believe our Customers will be happy too.
In today’s environment, technology plays a large role in the service equation; how does your organization enhance the customer experience with technology?
A part of the vision of the Banks’ current CEO is to leverage technology in the delivery of the right Customer Experience. This includes making it easier for Customers to bank, and for employees to consistently deliver a seamless experience. There is no doubt that greater convenience is at the top of the list of things that Customers desire, and this is where technology adds great value. We are happy that our leaders have seen this value, and have embarked on the route of using technology to improve Customer Experience. For the Contact Centres, technology has added tremendous value in the ease with which our Customers are able to do business with us. It has also made it easier for Agents to provide the right resolutions, in a quick and easy manner, and on the first call. This is a good thing as it will only lead to more Positive Memorable Experiences for Customers. At the end of the day our Customers have fully embraced technology as a part of their day to day lives. In keeping with our culture of “Customer first”, the Bank has also embraced technology as a means of ensuring Customers’ experience is seamless by making it easy for them to bank with us.
What do you feel are the factors that contribute to great customer experience?
For me, it all comes down to providing the right resolution while creating a Positive Memorable Experience. At the end of the day, Customers want a solution, and they want it to be quick and easy, and presented in a way that conveys care. How do our Agents do this? The Contact Centres’ culture places emphasis on putting the Customer at the centre of everything we do. This is coupled with the focus of creating a high performance culture among our people. The Agents are guided by this culture and I believe this helps to ensure the consistent delivery of the right resolution. Through targeted training and development, Agents learn that it’s not only what you do, but how you do it that makes the difference. As such, the importance of delivering the right resolution with a Positive Memorable Experience becomes their objective on every call. Even if the Customer’s exact request cannot be granted, by taking ownership, providing clear next steps, and by following up, it shows them that they are at the centre of what we do, and that we care.
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