SSON Excellence Award winner 2012 (Europe): Customer Service

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Business context

During the first 12 years of its existence, Global Business Services (GBS) – HP’s internal shared services organization (SSO) – has built a strong track record in process delivery with high productivity, outstanding quality and client satisfaction.

Seeding customer delight, harvesting business success

GBS believes its Total Customer Experience (TCE) vision to evolve from a client focused service provider to a customer experience driven process & operations platform for HP customers that also creates business value for clients, is the breakthrough in SSO evolution.

‘Client’ = contractual partner of GBS and ‘Customer’ = recipient or user of day-to-day GBS service

Transformation journey towards "Total Customer Experience Management"

Historically, GBS client priorities determined everything from our operating model to our delivery priorities. To change this ‘client relationship management’ mindset and for consistent understanding of TCE transformation, GBS EMEA has qualified this journey into a series of milestones:

  1. Understanding our customers– For all employees to understand who our clients and customers are, their respective priorities and needs, what types of experiences they have with us, and lastly, what experiences do we want them to have with GBS.
  2. Interaction experience management– To capture customer feedback at every interaction point with GBS. To improve the interaction experience by elevating customer-handling skills and empathy, simplifying customer-facing tools and processes, and empowering employees to prioritize the customer.
  3. Process experience management– To capture customer feedback across multiple interaction points in an end-to-end process. To enhance the overall process experience by experience-based process reengineering, incorporating appropriate tools & technology.
  4. ‘Role-based’ customer experience management– To capture customer feedback and experience across multiple processes used in the performance of a role – as an employee, manager, vendor, channel partner, client, etc. To understand drivers of role-based experiences and to collaborate across organizational boundaries (pan-HP) to elevate the role-based experience.

Expected tangible benefits

This TCE transformation is expected to positively impact all stakeholders - customers, clients and employees:

  • Best-in-class GBS EMEA customer satisfaction scores: Improve from <58% satisfaction in Nov’2010 to >90% satisfaction in Oct’2012
  • Elevate GBS EMEA client satisfaction by eliminating delivery-related client and customer escalations. In 2010, there were 10 executive-level escalations related to GBS EMEA.
  • Experience-based process improvements to yield $25M of P&L impact in 2011 through revenue generation and cost reductions
  • Improvement in GBS EMEA employee satisfaction score in the annual ‘Voice of Workforce’ survey. Baseline of 68% in 2010

Improvement Methodologies

We chose to showcase our TCE methodology with the Travel andExpense Reimbursement (TER) process. This approach was adopted across our diverse service portfolio.

The TER team of 21 agents services >75,000 employees and handles 300 queries daily. Already 15% less costly and 3-times more productive than Hackett’s benchmark, the TER team set themselves the aggressive goal of elevating customer satisfaction from <50% in 2010 to >90% by 2012. The intention in doing so was to move away from the ‘satisfaction v/s cost’ paradox that usually plagues operations.

1. Leadership commitment

In line with GBS’ ‘customer delight’ strategy, GBS EMEA senior leadership focused on periodic, clear and consistent communications to all organizational levels on the critical importance of proactively driving the shift towards total customer-centricity. To further demonstrate commitment, senior leaders also made sure they engaged themselves both in war-room sessions aimed at improving customer experience and in direct dialogue with customers based on their feedback. Every GBS EMEA employee, starting with leaders, has SMART TCE-related goals appropriate for their level and role. Performance to these goals is a key parameter in the performance evaluation process.

2. Understanding the customer landscape & experience drivers

GBS EMEA has various customer groups based on the activity or process – (a) HP clients and customers, (b) vendors, partners & retailers, (c) HP employees, and (d) GBS employees delivering the service.

Our customers have different experience types: (a) interaction experience – when they contact GBS EMEA, (b) process experience – when they receive a service from GBS EMEA, and (c) role-based experience – when they receive multiple services in their role (manager, vendor, etc.)

Detailed workshops were conducted to:

  • Segment TER customers – HP EMEA employees – based on time at HP (new v/s seasoned), level (executive v/s manager v/s individual contributor), claim frequency (occasional v/s frequent), and role (approver v/s requestor)
  • Understand the differences in segment expectations and experience drivers, and how the TER service fits into the overall HP employee experience

3. Measuring customer experiences & capturing feedback

To be able to gather customer feedback in a structured manner, GBS EMEA launched ‘Point-of-Service Satisfaction Surveys’ (PS3) across both transactional and non-transactional processes representing 85% of GBS EMEA headcount. These concise but comprehensive surveys are either query-based (for transactional processes) or frequency-based (quarterly for non-transactional processes). The key metrics measured are customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer dissatisfaction (DSAT), first contact resolution (FCR), and agent performance index (API). TCE metrics and dashboards are reviewed monthly at all management levels and are also built into all employee goals sheets and performance evaluation.

Initial PS3 surveys for the TER team in 2010 revealed two interesting aspects. Firstly, customer satisfaction was alarmingly low: CSAT of 49%, DSAT of 38% and FCR at 47%. Immediate action was needed!

Secondly, and more positively, customers were very willing to share feedback. The survey response rate was over 20%. The TER team received >1,100 responses and >700 of these provided additional comments on their issues and offered suggestions for improvement.

4. Utilizing customer feedback effectively

This gold-mine of customer feedback was sorted based on the customer segmentation and query category and was embedded into the TER process war-room. War-rooms are governed by GBS’ Unified Process Improvement Methodology (UPIM). Together, they provide the platform (detailed process maps with layers depicting customer touchpoints, data and value flows, and IT systems) for Lean Sigma belts from different teams (operations, process and quality) to apply quality tools (fish-bone diagrams, 5-Why methodology, Statistical tools – Minitab, Moment of truth, VSM, FMEA) to analyse feedback, identify levers of satisfaction and create comprehensive action plans.

Using fish-bone diagrams, the main drivers of customer experience for the TER process were identified: ease of contact, understanding of process & policies, simplicity of tools, and agent performance - responsiveness, reliability & ownership. These drivers were grouped into two main work-streams:

  • Communication (agent performance during interaction and semi-automated mailing)
  • Process design (ease of interaction, expense reports rejection, lost reports via mail and third-party bank engagement).

Action plans and improvement targets were set for each work-stream, and progress measured based on feedback from subsequent surveys.

5. Building people & system capabilities

The most difficult and radical change was related to employee mindset and capabilities. Together with HR and L&D, people competencies of the full TER team were assessed against new ‘customer-care’ profiles created to match customer expectations. Employees were trained to elevate capabilities. All future recruitment is done based on these improved ‘customer-care’ profiles.

TER team employees are also coached on softer traits like showing empathy and active listening. Through a sequence of workshops, role-plays and customer call-backs, employees were coached on real-life TER case studies and interactions to hone the skills they were trained on.

Together with IT, the functionality of the back-end TER case-management system – HPSM – was enhanced to support the TER process. Categories of queries in HPSM were updated to ensure smarter feedback analysis. Closure codes were updated to ensure surveys were sent out correctly and were traceable a particular query and agent. The HPSM workflowwas streamlined and increased team productivity by 30%.

6. Integrating process, IT & policy in experience design

Based on the analysis of TCE customer feedback, 5 large experience design projects were initiated. The first one related to ‘lost reports’ and involved a straight-forward process and resource change. Over the course of a month, ‘lost report’ related customer complaints decreased by 57%. The next three projects targeting ‘automated communications’, ‘rejected reports’ and ‘third party bank engagement’ involved more complex system and process automations with a six-month time frame. Today, customers receive personalized and proactive guidance, friendly and jargon-free communication, increased legibility of messages and assistance with banks. Customers are also proactively educated through webinars and context-based ‘tips & tricks’ in the TER tool. The final project involves a global process change from paper to digital document handling. The workflow & IT solution will be deployed in April’12. This is designed to decrease turn-around-time (TAT), create an easy-to-use, no-surprises process and eliminate other problems like reports lost in transit.

Complexity of Change

Certain characteristics of GBS EMEA make the management of change extremely complex namely: (a) our broad and varied customer base across a diverse service portfolio, (b) organizational legacy of GBS client priorities driving GBS delivery and process priorities, and (c) cultural diversity of GBS EMEA employees across multiple delivery centers at varied stages of center life-cycles.

Broad & varied customer base across a diverse service portfolio

GBS EMEA’s diverse service portfolio ranges from services to HP employees like sales support, human resources, expense reimbursement and payroll to services to external customers like accounts payable, quotation processing, order management, partner funds management and financial account management. GBS EMEA provides these services to a broad and varied customer base of >75,000 HP EMEA employees across 5 large business-units, and >400,000 HP customers, vendors & channel partners. Every customer group and segment has different needs, experience perceptions and expectations, making it a challenge to drive a clear and consistent understanding across GBS EMEA employees.

Organizational legacy of GBS client priorities driving GBS delivery & process priorities

Historically, GBS client priorities determined everything from our operating model to our process and delivery capabilities and priorities. Client priorities of cost and productivity caused us to think very myopically, preventing us from connecting the dots across end-to-end processes and experiences. Changing the mindset to put the customer as the focal point of GBS strategy and client priorities creates additional complexity. The change is not only about people but also about the supporting ecosystem of operating models, relationships with teams within GBS and with other HP teams.

Cultural diversity of GBS employees across 2 delivery centers at varied stages of center life-cycles

GBS EMEA employs >2,000 employees in its delivery centers in Poland and Romania. The cultural differences in work ethic, national ethos and customer service standards in these countries have a bearing on consistently understanding the need and receptiveness to change. The centers are in different stages of center life-cycle. Having existed for over 6 years, the Poland center is stable and mature, with slower growth and fewer new processes being transitioned in. The Romania center, being relatively younger, is in the high-growth phase, focusing currently on ensuring business processes’ stability. Employees in this high-growth environment were more receptive to the transformation journey than those in the more stable center.

Benefits Achieved/Hard Improvements

Delivering truly best-in-class customer experience is GBS EMEA’s key differentiator and value proposition compared to other delivery regions, centers and operations within HP. This is a key enabler and driver of value creation for our clients and customers, business growth, and satisfaction and engagement of GBS EMEA employees.

Customers experience best-in-class service everyday

Being able to connect with customers and create trust-based relationships helped the TER team to clearly understand the direction in which radical changes were needed. In January 2012, CSAT for the TER team was 91% (up 42p.p.), DSAT was 5% (down 33p.p.) and FCR was 84% (up 37p.p. compared to pre-change scores from 2010.

The satisfaction levels of GBS EMEA customers show the magnitude of progress since deploying PS3 surveys in late 2010. In 2011, GBS EMEA had the highest TCE scores and greatest improvements across GBS compared to 2010: CSAT in Jan’2012 was 86% (28p.p.increase), DSAT was 8% (17p.p.decrease), FCR was 76% (17p.p.increase), and Agent performance index was 85% (48p.p.increase). GBS EMEA has set the ‘best-in-class’ bar very high at GBS and HP, and probably in the industry as well.

During 2011, customer and client escalations were almost completely eliminated. There was only 1 executive-level escalation in 2011, compared to 10 in 2010.

Direct business (P&L) impact to our clients through experience-focused process reingeneering

GBS EMEA’s process war-rooms provided the infrastructure and methodology for identifying and executing customer experience focused process simplification projects, integrating the appropriate tools and technology. Over 2011, GBS EMEA’s process war-rooms delivered 43M$ client P&L impact (170% of target), through revenue generation, cash flow improvements and cost savings.

Elevated GBS employee satisfaction & engagement in providing excellent customer service

Through this TCE evolution, GBS EMEA employees are measurably more satisfied and engaged because they feel more empowered and rewarded for their efforts to delight the customer. This is reflected in the 9p.p. increase in employee satisfaction from the 2011 ‘Voice of Workforce’ survey. GBS EMEA employees appreciated the manner in which leadership involved and empowered them in this transformation.

The resulting business growth for GBS EMEA provides our employees with career progression opportunities into more complex and advanced roles. In 2011, GBS EMEA added 430 new jobs (27% of 2010 workforce) in advanced marketing and sales support roles, and over 200 people (10% of 2011 workforce) progressed into more complex roles.


Clarity of vision and sponsorship of GBS EMEA leadership

The TCE vision of GBS EMEA, its alignment to corporate strategy, and the evolution involved have been clearly communicated at all levels of the organization. Leadership commitment and sponsorship has been crucial to its adoption. This is reflected in aspects like goal-setting, performance management, review rigour, employee recruitment, training, and recognition. TCE metrics are now positioned at the top of all individual and regional scorecards.

Consistent & significant improvement in customer satisfaction metrics

The improved satisfaction levels of GBS EMEA customers show the magnitude of progress made since 2010. In 2011, GBS EMEA had the highest TCE scores and greatest improvements across GBS compared to 2010: CSAT in Jan’2012 was 86% (28p.p.increase), DSAT was 8% (17p.p.decrease), FCR was 76% (17p.p.increase), and Agent performance index was 85% (48p.p.increase).

Customer experience design in war-rooms with UPIM methodology:

Process war-rooms bring together customer feedback, UPIM methodology, detailed process maps, the right mix of people, and a portfolio of quality tools. War-rooms have proven to be the right platform to incorporate customer feedback into experience-based process design and improvements.

Comprehensive and transparent recognition system

TCE goals and metrics form a key parameter in employee performance evaluations at all levels. To further incentivize customer-centric behavior and performance, leadership allocated 50% of our awards budget to TCE. A comprehensive TCE rewards program was deployed, covering all aspects of customer experience:

  • ‘Customer Champion’ (for individual customer-centric behavior) – 13 awards per month
  • ‘Team Service Excellence’ (for teams and supervisors significantly exceeding TCE metrics) – 2 awards per quarter
  • ‘Impactful TCE project’ (for process engineers delivering tangible & significant TCE impact projects) – 2 awards per quarter


The leadership of change involved in seeding customer delighthas been extremely complex and will continue during 2012. The journey has been worth the effort and the benefits have far exceeded HP’s expectations. HP and GBS are harvesting business successover 2011– satisfaction of customers (up 28p.p.), P&L impact for HP businesses (up 170%), business growth for GBS (up 27% in HC-terms), and a highly engaged GBS EMEA workforce (employee satisfaction up 9p.p.).

In the final stage of this TCE transformation, GBS EMEA aims to connect with the synergies across different processes and interaction points within HP EMEA to focus on ‘role-based customer experiences’ for sales, manager and vendor. After all, it is this holistic approach that defines the true experience our customers have with HP and GBS EMEA.