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Love Makes The Workplace Go Round

Written By Pinoy Tekkie on Huwebes, Pebrero 14, 2013 | 6:22 PM

“<” + “3” = LOVE

            Try to type this in Facebook, and you will get a heart. This graphic animation often used in social media messaging is a simplistic and lighthearted depiction of a complex emotion. Love in any form needs demonstration. When one sees love, watches it grow, feels it, lives it, gives and receives it, it becomes real and the most amazing thing, especially if it happens in, of all places, a customer contact center.

            The notion of love is alive and well in C3, a customer communications outsourcer, whose customer contact representatives are surrounded by love, literally as the word fills the spaces on the walls and cubicles around them, and figuratively.  Beyond the literal sense and corporate speak, C3 makes a difference in the information communication technology industry because of its culture of love.

            C3’s full name, C3/CustomerContactChannels, spells out its very essence: Customer, which means that C3 is a company that serves the customer above all else, with full intent to resolve issues quickly, and to do things excellently; Contact, as C3 is an expert in contact center management; and Channels, through which C3 says, for every issue there is a way, there is an answer.

           The company was founded by the same team that founded Precision Response Corporation (PRC), turning C3 into a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company providing customer management solution worldwide. The company has opened customer contact centers throughout the Unites States, Asia, Europe and Central America and boasts of several Fortune 500 companies as its clients. C3 is backed by Stone Point Capital, a private equity firm that has raised and managed private equity funds with aggregate committed capital of $9 billion.

C3 has become a pioneer in handling multichannel customer care and has created a unique, employee-centric culture that is innovative for the contact center industry.  C3 prides itself in having an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages everyone in its organization from every level of management and every type of employee to suggest new ideas and try new things to make the company better.

As a contact center in the Philippines, C3 continues to be a breath of fresh air since it was established recently. It passed the 1,000-employee mark and now has close to 2,000 employees and five accounts. One cannot deny that its growth is exceptional, but its rise to success is because of the contact center industry experience that its core of leaders brought to C3, along with time-tested methodologies and singular focus on customer solutions.

Love what you do

            At C3, “Love What You Do” is not a cliché; it is a way of life. From the point of hire, the tagline comes alive for every employee in C3 and it becomes an essential way of doing things.

C3 Philippines was organized by a core team of seven people, all of whom are seasoned professionals in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. They brought with them a shared history, the key officers having worked together for almost 10 years in different contact center industries worldwide; tenure; and, the best practices from the industry including their own innovations on how to make a workplace a love-filled hotbed of productivity. This core team knew what was needed to do to make their idea of a dream company become a reality. And this is exactly what they did. They built C3 to be a place of work where someone can love what they do.

            The Philippines being the number one call center destination in the world, employing over 600,000 agents and surpassing India’s 350,000, makes it the ideal place to plant the C3 culture of love. The Philippine contact center industry has grown exponentially in the last five years, contributing a staggering $11 billion (5%) to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This growth has spurred a growth in the income levels of contact center agents.
            But being paid well is not everything, according to Kevin Urrutia, C3’s Vice President for Operations. The contact center industry has seen a high attrition rate even if higher salaries and more bonuses are offered. While the industry average of attrition is 10 percent (10%), C3 only has an attrition rate of between 3 percent (3%) to 4 percent (4%), a significant indicator of how the culture of love in a workplace can affect employee longevity.
“I love people. There is a sense of joy and fulfillment from being able to help someone, which makes me love coming to work every day,” he enthuses. It’s this genuine love and care for people that reflect on the people around him. For instance, he calls everyone by their first names. Even if he is an executive of the company, he treats his employees as peers. “At the end of the day,” he adds, “everybody is equal.”

Do what you love

            It is everyone’s dream to get to do what they love. And when that dream comes true, it makes everything click: the job becomes effortless. Rick Ferry, CustomerContactChannels’ president and COO, explains, “The whole theme is to love coming to work in the morning, love where you work, love who you work for, love who you work with – it comes from the old notion that if you love what you do, then you never ‘work’ a day in your life. There’s a great deal of responsibility that goes behind that word and that overall theme; we have to live that every day. Essentially, we want our staff to enjoy what they do and be proud of it.”

            At C3, an employee’s life begins with a mutual understanding of respect, responsibility, and passion. And as this work culture blossoms, employees become enamored with the dream that indeed they can love what they do. He can learn to give all that he’s got; to be taught and trained so that he could offer solutions to clients; to increase his skills and therefore his confidence in looking for ways to help; to adapt to changing situations and rise to different challenges – and as he learns to do all these things at C3, he will end up doing what he loves and making his dream work become a reality.

            Jill Vivas, Senior Operations Manager and one of the members of the original core team, says, “At C3, we have an open door policy and employees can talk to us anytime. They can bypass their immediate supervisor and talk to any manager. Even the highest officer, our country manager Andy Sarakinis, is available anytime.”

Jill says she was touched when Andy opened his home to his employees during a string of storms in August this year. Another manager, Chris Cardenas, drove employees from their homes to the C3 building’s training rooms, which were made into temporary shelters for employees and their families. She says she has never heard or experienced such kind of caring from employers before. Things like these make employees fiercely loyal to C3, she observes.

            C3 is taking the Philippines by storm in an unconventional way: by helping its agents learn to love what they do, love where they work, love who they work with and love coming to work. Love in the workplace equals productivity and a rewarding experience. Love the C3 way opens the way to living the dream in the workplace.

Profile of Mark:

Living an adventure at C3

The opportunity of finding satisfaction and adventure in the workplace is not as difficult as one may think.
This Marc Espinosa discovered that as a new employee of C3, a leader in Outsourced Customer Management Solutions.  Armed with an AB English degree from the San Agustin University of Iloilo City, he was faced with the choice of either spending his post-school life teaching in his hometown, or to embark on a journey to Manila for greener pastures. 

“I wanted to become independent,” he recalls, adding that in the end, the lure of trying and experiencing new things clinched his decision to relocate. Almost immediately after arriving in Metro Manila, the driven Marc was able to find employment in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.  It was not at all a surprising career choice for him then as the industry was offering lucrative pay to fill the numerous job vacancies that has since made BPOs the darling of the Philippine economy. 

Considering his command of the English language and willingness to learn new things, he soon found himself on the fast track of success in the first BPO he worked for. After attaining a supervisory position, he began evaluating his next career move.

“I stayed there for five years,” he says, noting that he would have remained longer had things been better.  A chance encounter with a former colleague prodded him to take the next step in seeking professional fulfillment.  As it turned out, the former colleague started working for C3 and encouraged Marc to join the company.  Sufficiently intrigued, Marc did some research and found the company’s profile excellent.  “The word-of-mouth reputation of C3 got me thinking,” he relates, noting that the positive impressions he got from colleagues and friends weighed heavily on his decision to make such a drastic professional change.

There was, however, a catch.  After attaining a supervisory position in his former company, the prospects of being a “newbie” once again was not exactly to his liking.  In the end, the opportunity of working for C3 won out.  “It was a chance to work in a new environment,” he notes, adding that unlike other established BPO companies, there was undoubtedly more upward mobility in C3—something that the adventurous Marc looked forward to.

According to Marc, he breezed through the hiring process.  “After five years, I had done a lot of interviews and taken numerous exams,” he says, noting that he was quite confident that he would be hired.
And he was.  Nonetheless, it was only after he decided to join C3 that he soon realized how different the company was from his former employer, or even perhaps with other BPO companies currently operating in the Philippines.  “The training process was very different,” he shares, recalling that there were no boring PowerPoint presentations that put one to sleep.  Instead, the lectures proved to be more interactive with role playing activities included in the program.  This, he observes, made new employees fully grasp the company’s open and honest way of conducting business.

One aspect of the company’s culture that continues to surprise him to this day was how open employees are to one another—including their superiors.  “You can communicate your concerns to the company.  You can actually say if you’re not treated fairly and you can directly reach out to your employers.  In other companies, you don’t have that kind of a relationship.”

C3’s open door policy allows employees from all levels to approach even the senior officers at any time. Marc also notes that unlike other employers who cultivate a serious image, C3’s top officers keep their humor intact.  “My bosses are ‘kalog’ (zany),” he says affectionately, obviously referring to the crazy and fun environment that his superiors encourage to help diffuse the stressful aspects of being a contact center representative.  “It’s a fun place to work in.  We are serious with our work but we have fun and work at the same time.”

Marc and his colleagues are experiencing some of the ‘fun’ activities that the company has been preparing for its employees.  They just recently concluded their ‘Sportsfest’ he says, along with theme days like ‘Halloween’ that are part of the company’s calendar of activities.

In fact, caring for its employees is a responsibility that the company doesn’t take lightly. ‘C3 Cares’ is a phrase that Marc often heard at work. The veracity of how C3 truly cares is something he experienced firsthand during the disastrous monsoon rains that inundated most of the Metropolis a few months back. 

“I live in Pasig City and during the ‘Habagat’ (Southwest Monsoon) our community was flooded,” he recalls.  To add to his worries, the disaster took place during his training period.  When the company told him not to go to work until the floodwaters had receded, it put him at ease that he would be allowed to continue training. Days later, he likewise learned that C3 had actually allowed families of stricken C3 employees to take shelter in their offices until their homes became habitable.

During regular work days, C3 sets targets that employees can realistically achieve. “In other companies, they ask you to do what is impossible.  In C3 they ask you to do what is challenging, but certainly attainable,” he states, noting that the company knows how to prod excellent work by providing an environment that promotes optimum performance.

When it comes to compensation and incentives, says Marc, C3 has likewise proven to be very generous.  “You get rewards for the good work that you’ve done, including incentives for referring people to the company.  And not only financial incentives, they also give out trips to Boracay—which by the way is still ongoing!”

Indeed, C3 encourages friendly competition with its employees, though not, says Marc, for attaining personal scores for oneself, but for the team.  “You get to earn bragging rights, which inspires other employees to work even harder,” referring to the company’s public recognition of optimum team performance.   “It inspires other employees to work even harder,” he adds.

For its part, the company actually provides activities and opportunities that enable its employees to reinforce company camaraderie, as well as career advancement.  These include bazaars, vacations as rewards for accomplishments, sports fests, tree planting, museum trips with family members, financial wellness seminars, etc.

Suffice it to say, Marc has already mapped his goals and is appreciative that the company has in fact instituted programs that will help its employees attain new mindsets and develop skills that will help them on the way to success.  “We have C3 University,” he says, referring to the company’s free program that provides courses to enable employees to move up the company ladder.
The C3 University platform focuses on self and career development curricula. It houses all the courses under a free program which is open to all employees regardless of their tenure. Those who are willing to attend classes in their spare time for career and skills enhancement undergo particular courses that fit the level of skill that needs to be enhanced. Other various training programs are also offered like the C3 Plus and C3 Labs programs, which can also spell a faster climb up the corporate ladder.

At present, Marc has set his sights on the C3 University, but is equally cognizant of the different opportunities that can be found within the company in the near future.  “Next year, they are planning to open even more new accounts,” he observes, referring to the continuous expansion that C3 is experiencing at the moment. “Who knows?  I could apply. Something new could happen, I might get to interact with other people and that could be a new adventure.” 

Profile of Keisha:

Where love takes center stage


It is one thing for a company to proclaim that it 'loves' its employees, but another thing entirely to walk the talk.

Valentine’s Day may traditionally be the time to show people how much you care, but Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm C3/CustomerContactChannels (C3) takes the principle of V-Day to heart by making a company culture out of it.

This “love fest” is seen the moment one enters company headquarters—posters strewn across the company walls proudly declare, “Love what you do,” “Love coming to work,” and “Love the difference.” And if that is not enough to convince a visiting client or guest, the employees themselves are the best reflection of the company’s love-centric culture. For an organization that operates mostly at nighttime, the atmosphere teems with a vibrant energy that can only come from people who genuinely enjoy what they do, respect who they work for, and thrive in their work environment.

A Culture of Positivity

For 22-year-old Keshia Faculin, a fresh college graduate, learning about C3’s core principles cinched her decision to work for the company. “C3’s culture best reflects its core values of accountability, open and honest communication, and recognition of people and community—when I saw this, I felt that this was a company that’s not all about business, but also one I can see myself growing in,” she shares.

A born-again Christian, Faculin regularly conducts bible study groups outside of work. “I disciple people and teach them how to lead their lives in a positive way, to be vibrant in spite of challenging circumstances,” she shares, adding that this aspect of her personality is something she feels her company genuinely supports. “In C3, I get to help out people with their concerns. So, aside from being of service in church, I can also do that at work. It totally coincides,” she says.

For call center supervisor Dennis Escobar, it was the fact that C3 is a growing company in the Philippines that drew him in. “It’s the hope of a new culture, a different environment,” he admits. “I didn’t like how things were handled in my previous company—they were quite rigid when it came to their employees. The call center culture I grew into was good, but people would change as they went up the ranks. With C3, the bosses here are different. They listen to you, they treat you as family, and they ask for your input before making a decision. My past company would never ask for my take on the company’s operations. Here, we have an open door policy that is neither abused nor exaggerated. I feel that what I say matters,” Escobar says.

A Caring Employer

More than being an environment that injects fun into the workplace—C3 regularly holds monthly raffle draws, sports fests, and parties to further engage its 1,800-strong workforce—what makes the company’s average attrition rate significantly lower than the industry average is the management team itself.

Comprised of call center veterans that have been in the BPO business since it started in the early 2000s, C3’s team of executives has served the industry as agents themselves who experienced firsthand the negative aspects of the sunrise industry. “Where we came from, there were so many concerns coming out and nobody would listen. The average attrition rate for most companies would be ten to fifteen percent (10 to 15%) every month. But ours is just at three to four percent (3% to 4%) attrition. That’s a very big difference. Only when you show people you care do they become better employees on the phones when they talk to their customers,” says Kevin Urrutia, Director of Operations at C3.

Since people tend to spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, work happiness plays a huge role in overall happiness. More than providing opportunities for its employees to grow and stay motivated, C3 adds depth to this principle by reaching out to its people beyond work.

When the recent heavy monsoon rains struck Metro Manila, a number of C3 employees were left stranded; some even had their homes flooded. “When the habagat (monsoon rains) came, our office was converted into a ‘relief center’ for employees and their families,” shares Escobar, adding that it further added to the family atmosphere the company wants to cultivate. “We had grandparents here, kids and even yayas (nannies). The pantry was open 24/7; there were concession areas, shower areas, etc. It was basically letting employees know that we’re all family here,” says Escobar.

Apart from providing for its employees’ needs, what really struck Escobar was the physical presence of management during the storm. “In most companies I’ve worked for, during storms, you’d never see the bosses. They’d come up and send food, and that’s it. But here in C3, all the bosses were here physically, checking up on people. When we had agents who got stuck in Pasig where it was flooded, it was the managers who drove them from their homes to C3. Our country manager even offered his house for an agent,” Escobar shares.

Indeed, it is one thing for a company to proclaim that it “loves” its employees, but another thing entirely to walk the talk. “Many of our competitors try to do it this way, but it really boils down to execution and sincerity. You can always say that so and so are your values, but if your employee feels from the very beginning that he can’t even talk to his manager, then that automatically tells him that what you’re saying is a lie,” explains Urrutia.

At the end of the day, the golden rule still holds true: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treating people the way you would want to be treated creates more positive results. “For us, it’s all about presenting them opportunities for growth, giving them the right support and training to develop and move up, and showing them that when you work for a company, it should be the other way around—the company should be working for you,” Urrutia asserts, ending that, “it is all about transparency, open lines of communication, and living up to the company’s core values. Once employees see all that, they realize that C3 is not just all talk. It walks the talk.”  

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