ITV Presentation: Overcoming Customer Resistance



The first of a two part series; this persentation was delivered by Ian Butterworth and Lousie Weaver of ITV plc at the recent Shared Services & Outsourcing Week in Budapest.

Ian Butterworth: We are going to tell a story today of what has happened to us and what we have seen as a result of the set up of the service centre. I think what we would like to do is roll through the presentation quite quickly and then just open it up to the floor and talk about maybe the experiences that you have had and if we can lend any of our knowledge from what we have gone through to help you through things as well.  So introduction to ITV, lets start in a typical media way.  Can I ask you all to stand up a minute?  OK, so we are going to play ITV bingo now, OK?  Os what I would like you to do is sit down if you have ever watched an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  That’s quite popular, Hell’s Kitchen, isn’t it?  Sit down if you have ever watched I’m a celebrity get me out of here.  OK, sit down if you have watched Coronation Street.  Interesting.  Nobody sits down at Coronation Street, wow!  That’s OK, I’m trying to think what we might find now.  Anybody who’s watched Champions League?  That’s better.  Excellent, well we’ve got some winners and we’ll sort you out with some take-aways later!  So obviously we are a producer and broadcaster and we make an awful lot of tv programs.  What’s happened over the last twenty years, ITV has consolidated so previously it was fifteen regional licenses consolidated now, eleven of those consolidated into one.  What happened was we had an awful lot of different ways of working, offline accounting, and what we then tried to do was to standardize and bring in the business service centre.  Ultimately what we tried to do there, as I say, is standardize and position our accountants in the business slightly different so they would be more commercially focused.  So what happened?

Louise Weaver:  I think when we went live in the BSC last July it was literally like the bomb had dropped - it was complete and utter chaos.  I had only been with ITV one week, we had a new team of staff, 98 staff and we had 22,000 phonecalls in the first month, we had over 10,000 emails and to put it into context, we were only 4,000 employees.  In truth the BSE became an emergency service and basically we were left just to pick up all of the pieces.

OK, so what kind of challenges did we face?  First of all there was a lack of business buy in and that was from all areas of the business, they just didn’t buy into the whole process.  We had a lot of hostile customers and I’ll take you through some of the quotes in a few slides but they were really abusive, the customers out there in the business.  They used to have golden resource before, previously they had been used to having a personal service which we had obviously taken them away from and standardized.  They were non-compliant, they did not comply to anything, whether it was month-end deadlines, trying to get them to adhere to timetables, whether it was complying and completing Pos, filling in there expense forms.  There was just complete non-compliance across the business.  The systems we had, we had put in a whole new oracle system and the system just wasn’t fit for purpose.   The processes were inadequate and they weren’t documented.  The business hadn’t been trained on the new system, the training hadn’t been mandatory; a lot of the users did not know how to use the systems.  It had been sold as an ITV finance project when in reality it was a change of culture, a change of culture across the whole of ITV.  The business perceived the shared service centre to be the servants, them being the masters and us being the servants rather than true business partnership.  We didn’t have any reporting solutions; we didn’t have any reports at all. Basically everything was urgent, we really had 70 CHAPS payments a day so same day CHAPS payments, 70 a day and they were requesting things, anything from a £5 jar of pickles to multi-million pound payments to TV presenters so it’s madness.  We had no collaboration from the business with the shared service centre.

Ian:  OK so we didn’t have much to do then, did we?  When you see all of that on a slide, it really puts things into perspective.  SO what did we do to try and overcome these challenges?  We kicked off basically by ensuring that we had KPIs and SLAs so if it moved - we measured it.  What’s great about  that is you always have the facts to hand so if someone comes back to you and asks any questions then you can deal with it and you are not dealing with emotion then, just dealing with pure facts.  Because of the number of phonecalls we were getting, which were quite abusive to quite junior people, we had to put an escalation procedure in place.  We wrote scripts for everybody and ultimately it came to my door which was a great time, I can assure you.  So anything that came in, if it wasn’t right, we sent it back and as far as our reforms were concerned we ensured then that we had all the controls built in to our forms so when it cam into us, we had all the information that we needed to process.  We reviewed systems, we brought in specialists from all over the place to be quite honest and we’ve still got five experienced change managers that are working through the process and procedural issues. 

Other things in there, training, we had workshops; we are still holding workshops every week.  We did desk drops; we had a very easy user guides for people, so that went out to 4000, 5000 people and team building exercise.  People went on team building exercises.  So, on the tables you will see that there are some CDs and ultimately what we were doing there, and this was in the depths of hell, it was in the very early stages and we wanted to try and promote our culture and get everybody bought in and doing together and working for each other.  So, we got a company in and basically took some of the guys out of the office for the day and they went over to an old bonded warehouse, we wrote songs, produced them and ultimately we’ve got a CD,  so ITV is hoping to become number one in the charts!  So that’s a real key start for me, 6000 hours of overtime in the first three months, you are going back to the role continuously to try and ask people to do more.  So, did we get through it?  Yes, it was really easy.  No it wasn’t but we did pull out all of the stops

Audience member:  I obviously agree with you on the KPIs but did you have a lot of manual collation of data and do you still have because that is one of the key issues for anybody trying to get data out of  the system, right?

Ian:  Yes, initially we did.  Initially we had a lot of manual worker hours just to ensure we know what was coming in and going out.  We have been working on automating an awful lot. We know exactly what is coming in and going out and it’s easy then when you get somebody that comes to you with questions and a recent one was somebody was asking about the number of calls we were logging through our answer phone and actually we just had the stats straight away.  We knew that we were going back to people instantly.  So just going back to that, we did pull out all the stops and was Lou at year end actually

Louise: OK in terms of the three ingredients, I think the success of the BSCs is down to three key things; great services, great processes and most importantly of all, great people.  When ITV decided first to set up a shared service centre, they envisaged that 80% of the staff would come from the retained organization and 20% would be new blood from external candidates.  In reality what happened was they put everyone through an external assessment centre and it was actually the reverse; 80% of the staff came externally and only 20% came from within ITV so we had strict assessment centers, we have nine day inductions so all the staff went through an induction, I think it was key to get the culture right   from the very beginning and I think that is one thing when you are setting up a shared services is to make sure you have the culture and the staff do live and believe in the values.  I think as well we had a training academy, we set up our own training academy so all the staff have training some of it mandatory, some of it is choice.  We’ve just gained CIMA accreditation so all the students are going through the CIMA program, we’ve got the quality partner status so we have achieved a lot with staff and staff development within the first nine months.

OK so we talked about customer resistance and you can’t please all of your customers all of the time but one thing that shocked me and I have worked in some tough industries, I have worked in the nightclub industry, I’ve worked for the Cordwell Group and I have had some abuse over the last twenty years but nothing to what I experienced at ITV.  We had our own internal finance staff saying you’re crap … we have lost confidence in the BSC, you don’t know what you are doing, let me speak to whoever’s in charge, they’re doing what?  Singing now, what will they be doing next?  Where are my numbers?  It’s a joke; do you know who I am?

So on a more positive note and we did have a lot of positive feedback as well.  I’ll just let you take a few minutes to read through the quotes that we received.  Some of them, the top half are from our internal customers, the bottom half from our external customers [intermission:  moving on up]

Ian:  Yes ultimately when you get some feedback like that actually, it just spurs you on to continue in your job after many of us decided at one point we were all going to  walk out so just going now to knowing your customer and it’s really, really important because if you can start breaking down the barriers with your customers, the people in the business or externally, it really puts you on the right track to getting things right so know your customer , have two way engagement and share transparent information so again your SLAs, your KPIs really really important.  So this is my kind of marriage guidance thing here.  84% of customer relationships fail.  Why do they fail?  It’s because of lack of trust, it’s a lack of respect, it’s a lack of openness and not knowing what your customer wants.

Audience member:  Why the 84?

Ian:  It’s a stat, I don’t know. It’s a stat

Audience member:  How do you measure that?

Ian:  That’s a stat that we picked up from; I think it was from HR

Louise:  It’s interesting because I think that anyone at the outsourcing session yesterday,  they actually had the reverse, they had 15% of relationships work so we are obviously 1% out somewhere, so yes they had 15% of outsourcing relationships work so that is the same for all relationships so I think it is a stat that is out there.

Ian:  OK, so how do you get it right?  You put a client relationship model in.  Really important.  If you are consistent with that approach and you are very business focused about that, if it is quite flexible so  OK you have a client relationship model there but actually tweak it all the time, so keep going back , key drivers again, the stats, we are going to talk about stats all the time because we measure absolutely everything and basically always have an open door to your customer.  There is never a time when your door is not open.  Basically get them in all the time, keep talking to them, it’s the only way you can break down the barriers.  Did we have all the right answers?  Well we didn’t.

Louise:  OK so nine months after we went live we declared business …I think in terms of overcoming resistance, resistance is futile. We worked on the basis that "I care, you deserve to be happy". The key focus: know your customer, keep it simple. Ian’s talked through the CRM model. I think one thing is, if you can get your customers on the dance floor to do the dance, you take the first step, lead the way and do the tango with them. It’s actually getting the customers onto the dance floor and into partnership with you. Are we there yet? Not completely, but we have started the dance. The next clip I’m going to show you, I’d like you to look at Simon Cowell’s first reaction.  

Ian: I think there are a few things there. Amanda’s talking about things coming out of left field, for one: that’s exactly what happened to us. Everything came out of left field. We had no idea what was going to happen to us next, so when we talk about the abuse and things like that, it was incredible actually just to witness what was going on. And certainly being in the business, I’ve been in the business for an awfully long time and some people that were and have been friends for an awfully long time, as soon as you move into the new role of being a service provider, suddenly you really are hated. The other thing is, just going back to Simon Cowell’s initial reaction for a minute, it was one of abstract horror as the Ian dances his way onto the stage - but it’s interesting how the perception changed, because what the boys have done there is, they’ve just put in one really good, solid performance and then suddenly the perception, the mindset has changed very, very quickly. And I think that’s what we’ve seen as far as the service centre’s concerned. We’re starting to build on our track record, we’re starting to get things right and as soon as you start to do that, perception does change, so now the rest of the business within ITV are coming to us because they’re starting to see us as a solution provider rather than just a service centre as well. So that’s our little presentation - who said ITV couldn’t do comedy, eh? I think really we just wanted to open it up and go through some of your experiences as you’ve been through this?

(End of part 1)