Moving from outsourcing vendor to partner with TXU Energy

Note: This article was created from a joint TXU Energy / TELUS International presentation at the Annual Utility Credit & Collections Symposium.  

Our relationship with TXU Energy started back in 2005, and over the years, it has grown into a true partnership. Like many outsourcing agreements, the initial focus was on productivity and cost savings. Over time, as we continued to show our commitment to the relationship, the focus shifted to that of achieving better quality, with TXU Energy looking to us for our customer service insights and experience.

The partnership journey – lessons learned

Brand and corporate culture are among a company’s most important assets. Handing the keys over to your outsourcer can feel unsettling. On our journey from vendor to partner with TXU Energy, we’ve learned a number of important lessons about how to make that process more comfortable and effective.

Here’s a short recap of our Top 7 lessons learned:

  1. Align on culture

Perhaps the most critical realization is the importance of corporate culture and making sure your partners align with your company’s values and vision. First and foremost, you need partners that can work as one team, with one goal, delivering one customer experience regardless of call center location. The big question – does a cultural fit exist in the first place?

  1. Make innovation part of your DNA

TXU Energy focuses on making it easier for their customers with innovative products and services to manage energy consumption. But these innovations require investment, not just in the development of the products themselves, but in the people that support them via customer service. Knowing that we need to keep pace with TXU Energy’s speed of innovation, TELUS International agents are armed with the latest tools, training, and knowledgebases. It’s about transparency and trust with your partners.

  1. Deliver omnichannel service

Customers are creating more interactions across more service channels than ever before. As TXU Energy continues to evolve the way in which it interacts with customers (voice, email, mobile energy apps, web self-serve energy dashboards, social channels, and so on), our agents must share the same mission to deliver a unified customer experience regardless of channel.

  1. Invest in your people

Another key element of our partnership success is the fundamental belief that we need to invest in our people both inside and outside of work. As one example, we created T.Life, our internal social network,and launched it globally throughout our call centers. It includes features that truly empower our agents, while building a sense of global community. Both TXU Energy and TELUS International continue to explore ways to make our people better whether captive or nearshore.

  1. Deliver on your customer experience commitment

When it comes to measuring CSAT, it takes time to get it right – and it’s a shared responsibility. For TXU Energy, with 40,000 calls per month, this eventually took the form of Post Call Surveys measuring customer effort, satisfaction and agent ownership. TELUS International then proactively developed a dashboard to integrate all survey information across all sites. The lesson learned here: agents need to be truly empowered to magnify the voice of your customer and have a process to share that feedback to continually improve the customer experience.

  1. Build a “caring” culture

Both TELUS International and TXU Energy see tremendous value in fostering a “caring culture” beyond our call centers. It’s this caring culture that attracts talented people and makes them proud of the work they do. In addition to TXUE and TELUS International supporting important causes independently, we also believe in doing things together. For example, 26 TXU Energy team members from Dallas, TX, joined 150 TELUS International team members in Guatemala to build an entire classroom from the ground up.  Here’s the video of our teams in action.

  1. Invest in recognition and fun!

Like any partnership, it’s critical to have fun and give recognition along the way. We make a point of hosting team-building events and awards programs to keep our teams engaged. We also take it a step further by sharing TXU Energy branded items with our team members, as well as creating themed rooms in our centers (even ones that look like a western saloon!), so that we can build a real affinity with the client. The best part? TXU Energy equally recognizes our team members and makes them feel that they are an extension of their internal brand.

Results of a true partnership

When you work with a partner – not just a vendor – good things happen. Both sides are equally committed to doing the absolute best for customers, and it shows in the metrics. We’ve achieved some amazing results as we’ve continued to learn our lessons over the years.

From becoming TXU Energy’s number one partner in sales for more than three consecutive years, to achieving the lowest historical attrition in our programs, to becoming the partner to beat for conversion and customer retention rates, we believe it’s our commitment to the partnership (and not just our vendor contract) that enables our mutual success.

 

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TELUS International’s robust onboarding process, which included documenting our processes, identifying gaps and forcing us to address issues before we outsourced the work, was critical to the success of this implementation.

Director, Purchasing & Inventory Management
National telecom provider