It seems obvious that ensuring quality should be a top priority for outsourcing companies. But if that was always true, why does outsourced customer service have such a bad reputation when it comes to quality? At the core of that question is another, bigger question for support leaders: how do you scale quality?
As important as quality assurance and training programs are, we have found that the single most important thing we can do to ensure quality is more personal and foundational. It's investing in, and believing in, every single one of our people. When people are cared for and respected they do better work. Period.
One initiative that has grown over the years is our annual Wellness Week, an employee-led festival that tackles the many facets of wellness and invites our entire community to participate. Anyone who's ever worked in customer service knows that it can be emotionally challenging so at PartnerHero we have made wellness, and especially emotional wellness, a foundational part of our culture.
We just had our annual Wellness Week the last week of October and I caught up with Vivian Handal from People Operations who started Wellness Week and also happens to have a degree in psychology and a past career working in a clinical setting, Sara Klawinski who runs emotional wellness mentorship programs at PartnerHero, Luis Hernandez who helps bring Wellness Week to life each year and Marshall Foran, our Director of Wellness, to learn more about Wellness Week and wellness at PartnerHero in general.
Vivian kick-started Wellness Week three years ago after noticing that some people on her team were struggling with the emotional elements of work. To help her team better recognize and express their emotions she put together a workshop that has grown overtime to become a fundamental part of onboarding and a popular topic at Wellness Week.
“I’ve seen our associates struggle with having hard conversations with our partners, with addressing feedback, with managing challenges from their personal lives and with dealing with stress from work. I saw those struggles and that’s where the idea came from.” Inspired by different emotional challenges she noticed she started Wellness Week and it has been growing every year since.
Sara, who runs emotional wellness mentorship programs at PartnerHero has been seeing the benefits of focusing on this for years, especially since the work we do can be emotionally charged. “I’ve seen how people were able to completely turn their lives around once they had a better understanding of what they are feeling, why they feel that way, what it's connected to and how they can change, manage and improve it.” She’s developed exercises that associates can run through to best help them put themselves in customers’ shoes. “You can learn to not take things personally and be able to respond in a way that provides better customer service and sets the tone so that when they come back they aren’t as angry. We did example tickets and determined how to better respond to customers and understand where they’re coming from when they are experiencing an issue.”
These exercises allow associates to provide better responses to customers and set the tone for future interactions to be more positive. “Partnerhero is setting the standard for how to support your employees so that they can support your customers. By promoting wellness and being open about it, having Wellness Week and really pushing it and sharing these resources. We’re setting the corporate standard for how companies can better take care of their customers by taking care of their employees.”
This year there was a big artistic component to Wellness Week. Our teammates submitted paintings, photography, poems, even some jewelry to express their emotions through different outlets. Last year our engineering team built a "stress relief" game called "Stress Snake" which has become a popular meme at the company.
Luis, who helps coordinate and build engagement for Wellness Week found particular value in the artistic nature of this year’s Wellness Week. “I think it's a way for people to express themselves this year. It's been such a hard year, no matter what hub you are in. I think it helped people vent about what’s happening around them. For me, I have my meetings in my room. I don’t leave my room. I only leave to exercise and right now with the rain and hurricane I’m not even doing that. We need to find ways to get out of our heads and I think a lot of people did it last week with the conversations and webinars that we had.”
When asked about the evolution of Wellness Week at PartnerHero Luis answered, “It's ingrained in who we are. I’m a firm believer in PartnerHero’s core values. One of them is “Care for Others” - at the beginning of PartnerHero it was about giving back to the communities that we came from but we can’t do that if we don’t start with our own community. If our own community is healthy, mentally and physically, we can then help our communities. If we don’t take care of ourselves or see each other as humans and know that we might be dealing with some issues whether mental or physical then we just become a number, just like other BPOs where you don’t even have a name, just a number. That’s why this initiative is important. It's a way to break free from stress and recognize our humanity.”
Marshall, our Director of Wellness' goal is “to provide awareness related to nutrition, mental health and dealing with the life issues that could come up for anybody at any company.” His strategy so far has focused on getting everyone at the company engaged on the topics related to wellness. He's noticed that working with such a large population there is a lot of variety of starting points. The most impactful way to get started is to help people find “the first step of the wellness staircase and then help them figure out where to go from there” based on their particular circumstance.
“From a physical standpoint you are just at your desk. Many people don’t move their bodies much throughout the day. The challenge is that they are not circulating their energy. If people want to move more they have to be really intentional on how to find the time and space to make it happen. As a result, our energy can stagnate, especially if people are making us anxious or frustrated. And then you have to go to the next call or task and you’re not moving around. That energy is inside of us and we need to move and express it.”
To help with these challenges, Marshall piloted a twice weekly meditation circle which became so popular it became a regular fixture. “Even though you aren’t physically moving you’re learning how to sit and get into your breath and disconnect. Within 10 minutes you are really reset. You come out of the meditation surprised about how refreshed you feel.”
When asked about Wellness Week, Marshall shared that he is impressed with how it’s grown over the years. “Wellness Week just shows the powerful current at the company of people wanting to address wellness and maintain it as an aspect of the company culture.”
Speaking of caring for others: we are still fundraising to support the victims of Tropical Storm Eta in Honduras. Please consider making a contribution and sharing with your network.