It still smells of fresh paint when you walk through the entrance door of ista France's new service centre. The large stairway in the entrance area is even still covered with some building dust. You can see that the offices here in Olivet have only been occupied for a few weeks. And you can feel it. It is not only the façade of the beautiful timber building that's new – the atmosphere inside is also fresh, full of life and energy-charged.
Customer service at its best in Olivet, France
The scene is Olivet, a small town in the centre of France, south of Orleans and just outside the metropolis of Paris. Here, 35 employees in three teams are preparing for the rush of orders which ista France is expecting from the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The service centre is called “istalink” – because it is intended to link all the branches in France. The three teams, “Customer Care”, “Sales Support” and “Forecast & Planning” will, in future, support the French branches, especially in customer care: customer calls from all over France will then be received at the centre in Olivet and answered by the Customer Care team. In future, e-mails will also be dealt with centrally by the service centre in Olivet and the field representatives will be assisted by the Sales Support team.
Large service displays show live how many calls were received and taken per day and how long the customers had to wait for an answer.
“Up until now, our customer care has been organised at our locations throughout France. The system is working well at the moment but, when the EU directive comes into force in France, we are expecting a great rush on our call centres. So we must be prepared,” says Antoine Prioux, head of the service centre, explaining the reasons for developing customer care.
The offices in Olivet were officially opened at the start of the year. In the open-plan offices, you can already follow live on large service displays how many calls are received per day, how many are taken, how long the customers wait for an answer and how many calls have been placed on hold. The service rate is then calculated from these figures – the target: at least 90% of calls answered. This is both self-monitoring and motivation for the employees as satisfied customers are an incentive for the young teams.
You have come to the right place here if you want to experience a real start-up atmosphere. The three teams are in the midst of the discovery phase: processes have not yet been fully established, the teams are made up of completely new employees and the interfaces with other departments are still being set up.
Start-up atmosphere at istalink
But that’s exactly why the atmosphere in the service centre is so energy-charged. You can feel that the employees are motivated. The mood is extremely good – that is also confirmed by Pierre Simon, a member of the 16 strong Sales Support team. “I really enjoy working at istalink. We have a great team spirit. We help each other and often work together to develop the right solutions. That may sound like an advertising slogan but it really is true,” the 31-year-old, who has been at ista since November 2015, stresses. He works together with two field representatives and supports them in customer care. Preparing contracts, contacting customers – typical back-office work.
However, he could not do this work if the knowledge transfer between colleagues in existing departments and those in the new service centre did not work so perfectly. Sylvie Fegan, head of the “Customer Care” team, also confirms that. “We are in constant contact with our colleagues in Massy, the ista branch in the Paris region, and also we have international support in the initial phase. The knowledge of the colleagues is very helpful for establishing smooth processes here at our branch.”
And it’s all paying off. “The feedback we have received so far confirms our decision to establish a central service centre. Firstly, the employees at the branches can concentrate more on local activities again and, secondly, we are able to provide a top-class service here with standardised processes,” says Antoine Prioux, summarising the benefits as he casts a glance at the service displays. The figure of 98% comes up and he smiles with satisfaction.