ANZ Bank forges cultural change in contact centres

The ANZ Bank embarked on a three-year project to overhaul its contact centre operations in the region, a huge cultural change that required courage, heart and a commitment to stick around for the long haul.

The bank's Australasian head of contact centres, Vicki Shields, said the journey was similar to the one taken in the movie the Wizard of Oz and likened herself to Dorothy.

"It is daunting to embark on a project of huge cultural change but we had poor performance levels, unmotivated staff and dissatisfied customers and we knew we had to get everyone heading in the same direction; we needed red shoes to dance to the same tune," Shields said.

The ANZ Bank has five values, Shields said, with customers rated number one ahead of creating shareholder value.

"Efficiency is not about cutting staff but being smart about what you have; in the beginning we weren't sure what this change meant; we just knew we had to do it better," she said.

"Like the Tin Man we needed a heart to embark on this journey, to inspire staff and change attitudes. We knew if staff were happy it would spread to customers."

This involved consolidating six contact centres into a purpose-built building in Melbourne which boasted air hockey, table tennis, quiet rooms and an atrium ensuring there is no more than 12 metres of space without natural light.

"People are at the heart of everything we did; it takes courage to admit you have a problem and it's a big thing to own up to it. The yellow brick road is a winding one and the closer you get to the rainbow the more it changes," she said.

Initially, Shields said 20 projects were identified to tackle but this simply diluted resources and focus. This number was reduced to six including the introduction of a new routing system, upgrading the workforce management system and putting in place performance metrics for staff.

"Every month staff get performance snapshots; publishing this information really increased productivity and provided visibility and transparency," she said.

There are 800 staff employed at the contact centre and customer satisfaction scores are undertaken independently by a research firm. In two and a half years, overall customer satisfaction has increased 35 percent, but Shields said the journey continues.

"The rainbow constantly moves, but we are always getting closer to it," she said.

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