Embedding Customer care in Piramal GBS
“I have the Power – Leveraging the power of highly engaged employees to drive Customer Centricity”
– By Narendrra V Arora, Vice President, Global Business Shared Services
“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers and that people flourish when they are praised.” Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Atlantic.
In many ways what Richard Branson once said, sums up my experiences as well with Talent Management & Customer Centricity.
In Feb.’16, almost 1.5 years into the phase 1 of deployment of Shared Services operating model within Piramal Enterprises Ltd.’s Healthcare businesses and with completion of planned process transitions very much in sight, an obvious question bothering me was what’s next? With an able team at the helm & strong leadership support at all levels, the Global Business Shared Services (GBSS) team had been able to manage systematic process transitions and achieve rapid process stabilization thereafter. However the larger question was about sustaining the momentum achieved, keeping the Shared Services team engaged & motivated and leveraging the Shared Services model in other operating entities within the Piramal Group, so that they can also reap the benefits the Shared Services operating model.
I could already see some of the challenges that lay ahead, like:
- Process/Operations teams operating in silos,
- Inability of the GBSS team to appreciate beneficiary Business Units/employees as (internal) ‘Customers’ rather than colleagues &
- Poor communication with the Customer (including delays and at time failure to respond to incoming customer emails/queries/complaints).
The internal Customers were, perhaps, beginning to perceive that the GBSS team took a very narrow process view, without taking an End to end view of the value chain/workstream and it doesn’t take accountability for Business Outcomes in the manner they (as customers) would like GBSS to.
While it was necessary to address these immediate challenges, having a hard look at the GBSS strategy for future was an imperative. It was time to go back to the drawing board.
The strategic themes that emerged from this exercise were as under:
- Talent Management with sharp focus on Employee engagement
- Building a Customer Centric Organization
- Process Accountability & Execution focus
- Innovation led Productivity improvement
We felt that the logical sequence would be first to address matters concerning people so that we can create a right environment, right mind-set for addressing Customer and other strategic imperatives. The timing was also right as we were already a 50-55 member team, by then.
By June 2016, we were in execution mode, working on several initiatives to address the following Talent Management related strategic priorities such as:
- Targeted hiring for right skillsets
- Succession planning for key positions
- Career & Development planning
- Domain specific/Functional and Behavioural training
- Effective employee communication
- Drive Employee engagement
A few of People related initiatives worth highlighting are:
- Identified critical positions for all Bands above Team leader level & successors for most of these roles. We also started working on the development plans of these successors.
- Monthly Townhall meeting to share operational results and how Shared Service Operations are driving business results. Besides, we also share progress relative current process transitions, introduce new GBSS employees, introduce what various teams do as part of their day to day operations ie “Know your function”. We also celebrate the birthdays of employees having their birthdays during the month.
- Monthly Functional review meetings
- Organized unique training programs for the GBSS team, like:
- Order to Cash and Procure to Pay workstreams, such that the Supply Chain and Finance teams within Shared Services have an end to end understanding of the broader workstreams rather than only the processes managed respectively by these teams.
- Transactional to Transformational (T2T) – Through these 6 half-day training modules, the entire Shared Services team was trained and provided orientation on key concepts like Customer Centricity, Importance of Communication, Planning, Problem Solving, Quality etc. within the context of Shared Services.
For example : Procurement Operations team members need to understand what happens in downstream Finance process ie. Accounts Payable. Similarly, Accounts Payable team gets to understand what happens within the Procurement Process.
- Frequent performance review and development progress review meetings. For example, for the leadership team within GBSS, performance review discussions are religiously done every two months and the development plan progress catch-up meetings are done every quarter.
- Encourage Job Rotations at all levels & have policy guidelines in this regard.
- We actively participate in CSR activities organized in partnership with Piramal Foundation (philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group).
- Mission 10K (a 100 day challenge for walking 10000 steps daily), was conceived as a time-bound community project with a view to creating awareness and commitment to regular physical activity for improving general health and fitness levels amongst the GBSS team members. The objective was to create a community (called PEL walkers group) of at least 50 team members who would collectively cover a distance equal to the circumference of Earth (ie. 40,075 kms) in 100 days.
On 3rd August, 2017 (ie. at end of 98th day of the 100 days challenge), PEL Walkers group (the community comprising of a total of 69 members) successfully scaled the Summit by collectively walking a distance of 42,947 kms. Ie. an excess of 2,872 kms. over the circumference of earth.
As part of one such Employee Social Impact (ESI) initiative conceived by GBSS, called ‘Aao Banayein Swachh Bharat’, the shared services team took a target of painting 10 Municipal Corporation schools with Visual Learning aids within 10 weeks. We actually did 11 such schools, positively impacting lives of almost 4000 students.
The ESI work done by GBSS was recognized by Piramal Foundation & we won the Best ESI team award for 2017.
All of the above initiatives helped in bringing the team together and in driving Employee engagement. This manifested in healthy engagement scores during our Annual Employee engagement survey (called Bandhan Survey) done last year.
Alongside the work on People priorities, we had simultaneously started working on various fronts to embed Customer Centricity within GBSS. By end of FY 2016-17, we had already done a fair bit of work in the following areas:
- Visible Leadership Commitment to establishing high standards of Customer Service.
- Understanding the Customer needs (VoC) through Weekly Operations meetings, Governance and other review meetings, other communication channels and annual Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Surveys.
- Designing the Customer Experience. We had mapped end to end processes (with clear splits) with clear SOPs for what GBSS does. Service Levels had also been agreed with the business/plant teams.
- We started tracking key Metrics tailored to company goals. Improvements in Operational metrics was aimed at driving key Business Metrics.
- Drive Continuous improvement based on insights from Customer feedback from annual CSAT Surveys, Customer feedback calls, performance review feedback and progress updates during governance meetings.
At the start of FY 2017-18, the Shared services team was already an 80+ strong team. GBSS was managing Finance & Accounting, Supply Chain and Human Resources Operations for various plants/offices within the Healthcare businesses.
As the GBSS Leadership team started looking beyond healthcare businesses to expand the Shared Services franchise, it was imperative that the frontline staff took upon a bigger role in managing the existing business. Until then, the GBSS leadership team used to front-end all key Customer interactions. But it was now necessary to consider empowering the frontline team so that they feel confident of addressing day to day customer issues without there being a need for leadership escalation.
‘I have the Power’ as an initiative was therefore conceived to institutionalize and fast track the Employee empowerment objective.
‘I have the Power’ is a time bound program where nine cross functional teams (comprising of Band 1 and Band 2 employees within GBSS ie. junior frontline staff without people management responsibility) would get to work on two big impact projects each, which would positively impact:
- Operational Efficiency
- Employee Productivity
- Cost of operations
Given the significance of what we were trying to accomplish, a lot of thought went into putting a structure to ensure successful execution. With this in view:
- The Program duration, together with start and end dates of the program were communicated (in advance) to the GBSS and the Leadership team
- Band 1 and Band 2 GBSS employees were divided into 9 cross-functional teams. A team leader and a deputy team leader were identified for each team. Functional or Process Team Leaders (ie People Managers) were given the responsibility of being ‘Mentors’ to each team. The roles of Team Leads and Team mentors was clearly defined & communicated.
- The team leads and their respective teams were tasked with:
- Choosing a team name ie team’s identity
- Suggesting ideas to be pursued as 10-week/20-week long projects
- A review committee comprising of Senior Leaders ie Functional/Business Leads (internal stakeholders/customer groups) was formed to review the project ideas & score the same. Top 9 projects (based on cumulative scores) were to be selected as Customer Mandated projects.
- A similar review was carried on by an internal committee comprising of GBSS Extended Leadership team.
- This process was used to build a list of top 18 project ideas (including the 9 identified by Customers) to be pursued by the 9 teams. Each team would thus have a total of 2 projects each – One short term, 10-week project and another 20-week project. Though a few of these Project ideas represent improvement opportunities which were identified long back, these could not be pursued in the past for various reasons including lack of bandwidth within the business/functional/GBSS teams.
- To ensure project progress and monitoring, a proper governance framework was put in place. The team leads were to meet Mentors once in 15 days and GBSS head once in a month besides providing progress updates in monthly Town-hall meetings.
Besides the above, post completion of the 10 and 20 week Projects, the teams would also present to the Review Committee.
- Best Project & Best team (overall score for 2 projects) would be suitably recognized.
As I write, most of the teams have completed their respective short term (10 week) projects and are gearing up to start their 20 week projects.
The design of the program ensured that besides Employee Empowerment, we have also been able to achieve the following broad objectives:
- The Larger GBSS team now has a platform where they get to interact with the Senior Leadership team of the company and gain from their perspective.
- Leadership skills of the team members especially the team leaders are getting tested and honed as they get to interact with customers and senior stakeholders. This will also help us identify future leaders and build leadership pipeline.
- This has put cross-functional learning on a fast track.
- Has helped in releasing some GBSS leadership Bandwidth and this has allowed the GBSS leadership team to focus on new business.
- Continuous Process Improvement.
- Team Bonding & ‘One-ness’ in the team.
“Business is simple. Management’s job is to take care of employees. Employee’s job is to take care of the customers. Happy customers take care of the shareholders. It’s a virtuous circle.” John Mackey, Founder & CEO, Whole Foods Market.
One of the Values of Piramal Group is ‘Care’. In keeping with our values and with the talent management & employee engagements initiatives at GBSS, we are committed to taking care of our employees. Through ‘I have the Power’ initiative, we are working towards enablement of employees so that they can take care of our Customers, both Internal and External.