Case Study: Culture Change

A tech company sells to an industry with high expectations of customer service. Many of its employees come from that industry and are in sync with those expectations, but most employees involved with software development and escalated support do not have a customer service background and it wasn’t a priority for them.

The result, unhappy customers.

We recognized that the company needed to instill a customer service culture, and culture change is hard. A comprehensive solution was called for.

We took a multi-faceted approach. First, we identified and defined key customer service competencies. These provided a focus for our further efforts, as well as a common vocabulary for all employees regardless of their function or background.

Second, we conducted a training program for all employees. This consisted of a discussion of the importance of excellent customer service to the continued success of the company, an introduction of the competencies, and training on a specific set of customer service skills.

Third, we introduced a new performance evaluation system centered on the competencies. The evaluation included internal customer feedback, with an emphasis on improvement from one evaluation period to the next. It also required that each employee have one customer service development goal each evaluation period. People knew that they would be held accountable, and that they were expected to show growth in this area.

Finally, we instituted a recognition program that publicly praised winners for specific instances of customer service excellence. By telling these stories in detail, we reinforced the positive behavior of the winners, we provided concrete examples for all other employees of what great customer service looks like, and we actually created an informal company “mythology” around customer service, as certain stories achieved “legendary” status. The awards were presented in a way that highlighted the company’s continuing focus on customer service, and became, for many, the favorite part of company-wide meetings.

Customer feedback improved dramatically over the course of 18-24 months.

  • I have had the opportunity to work with Jack in multiple organizations on compensation related strategies, programs and design.  He is a very skilled compensation practitioner who understands strategic business and compensation alignment, complex incentive and executive plans and base compensation.

    Mary M. Lee Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development Champlain College
  • When Jack joined Springer-Miller Systems we were a rapidly growing tech company. Jack did a great job building an HR department that supported our growth and evolved along with the company, through recruiting, training, compensation and benefits, and policies and programs aligned with the strategic direction of the company.

    George von Trapp, CPA Former COO Springer-Miller Systems
  • Working within a complex corporate structure, Jack gathered and analyzed data from a variety of sources to ensure Ben & Jerry’s received the credit we deserve for our workforce-related policies and programs for our B Corp recertification.

    Rob Michalak Global Director of Social Mission Ben & Jerry’s
  • Jack is a strong and trusted HR adviser who provides deep thinking and HR competence in developing solutions for complex business issues. He quickly establishes trust at all levels across diverse sets of employees making him invaluable as an” in source” HR partner.    You can be assured that once you hand off a project, it will be independently deliver with proficiency and abundant clarity.

    Jane Bowman People Mission Manager at Ben & Jerry's