Energy Savings Group

Customer Service Contact Center

CCEOC Certified: Silver 2009/2010

Energy Savings Group
80 Courtney Park Drive East
Mississauga, ON, L5W 0B3

Company Description

Energy Savings Group commenced business in July 1997 and is a leading independent energy supplier serving close to one million electricity and natural gas customer accounts in North America.

Energy Savings operates in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec in Canada, and Illinois, Indiana, New York and Texas in the United States. The parent company, Energy Savings Income Fund, trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:SIF.UN). In 2007, Energy Savings Group received the OEA's Company of the Year award. In 2008, Energy Savings Group achieved their first Silver certification as a Contact Centre Employer of Choice.

Contact Center Description, Ergonomics & Technology

The Energy Savings Group Customer Service contact centre operation is located in Mississauga Ontario. Over one million calls and 20000 emails are handled annually.

The contact centre moved to a new facility in 2007. It is a one floor building with an expansive, open concept layout. Inviting, vibrant colours on the walls, carpeting and partitions help make the centre visually appealing. It has high ceilings and good air circulation. There is lots of free parking and it's close to shopping, restaurants and public transit. The building is designed to accommodate the disabled including wheelchair access. A spacious front lobby adds to the prestige of the facility. There are large windows and plenty of natural light. The cafeteria is well equipped with plenty of available seating. Clean, modern washroom facilities are really appreciated by employees. TVs are mounted on support pillars throughout the centre and used as a real time communication tool.

Workstations provide plenty of desk and personal space. They are arranged in rows and grouped by department. Low partitions allow the entire contact centre to be seen from almost any location on the floor. Each workstation is equipped with a 19 inch flat screen monitor, ergonomic chair, mouse, keyboard, wrist support and headset. Workstations are not shared.

Employees can use the various lounges, coffee stations, wellness room or games room for relaxing or taking a break. A separate prayer room is also available. The facility has good air quality and sound dampening.

All staff and visitors require security passes to get into the building as well as the contact centre. A security guard is available at night.

The entire centre operates on an Avaya phone system. The CSIS (CRM) software system houses the customer database and interfaces with other disparate company databases for knowledge sharing. ESG uses Aspect for workforce management, Verint for call recording, Cognos for reporting and Outlook for email. Everyone has access to MS Office from their desktops. An Avaya dialer is used for predictive dialing. An e-learning system has been established on the network and is accessible through the internal intranet and externally through the internet. Flat screen TVs are set up throughout the contact centre and display call statistics for monitoring performance.

CCEOC Certified: Silver 2009/2010

Energy Savings Group is the first energy organization in North America to be recognized as a Contact Center Employer of Choice®. They achieved Silver level certification on the first assessment.

The following issues were key factors in the decision to pursue the CCEOC designation:

  • Employee engagement
  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Career path development
  • Gain industry-wide recognition as a great place to work

Becoming certified through the Contact Center Employer of Choice® program allows the ESG Contact Centre to: benefit from promoting the designation, address key employee satisfaction issues and develop an action plan for continuous improvement. ESG is looking forward to promoting and maintaining their high standards of excellence.

Key Performance Measures

  • call adherence
  • attendance
  • punctuality
  • call quality
  • call wrap
  • call handle time
  • sales close rate

Training and Development, Coaching and Mentoring

ESG provides extensive training to frontline Contact Centre staff. Newly hired employees complete a 4 week new hire training program in class that encompasses job shadowing throughout the program. Once completed, newly hired CSRs spend an additional 2 weeks in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) where peer mentors provide support on the phones to assist in transitioning from the classroom to the phones.

All employees have free access to over 1000 e-learning courses ranging in topics from customer service, finance, MS Office, leadership, time management and sales.

A tiered system for CSRs was implemented this year whereby a CSR can identify the next tier level for career progression. To assist CSRs in achieving progression to the next tier, CSR Learning Paths were created. The learning paths are competency-based and identify the mandatory training required for the next tier level. The majority of courses utilize the e-learning program to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees.

Coaching is a key focus at ESG. Team Managers are expected to spend 80% of their time coaching staff.

Growth Prospects

The ESG Customer Service contact centre operation has grown at an accelerated pace over the last several years through corporate acquisition and organic growth. The number of employees has grown from 25 to over 300 in the past 5 years. The contact centre has long term employees but continues to attract a young, dynamic, enthusiastic workforce. The 50,000 square foot facility has the capability to house up to 500 CSRs. 50 Over 1,000,000 customers will be serviced from this location.

CCEOC Attributes

Overall, ESG Customer Service Contact Centre displays many positive Contact Centre Employer of Choice® attributes.

The following represent some of the main items that stood out as important from the management and employee's perspective:

  • young, professional, diversified workforce
  • fun workplace
  • people are great, friendly attitude
  • open door policy – approachable management

Work/Life Balance and Health and Wellness

Workforce scheduling is a very important element for ensuring work/life balance. Shift bidding is done regularly and is based on performance. Shift trades are also permitted. ESG is very accommodating with students, parents and part time staff. For holidays, ESG offers 10 days vacation for hourly employees and 15 days for salaried employees from start of employment. After 1 year of service, hourly employees receive 15 days vacation. Bereavement days, sick days and paternity leave are also offered as part of the benefits package.

ESG Customer Service understands that healthier employees are happier employees. Focusing on health and wellness helps employees develop better coping skills for balancing work with life. ESG has a Health and Safety Committee that provides advice on anything from dealing with stress to nutrition through articles on the internal company website. There is a CPR trained employee on the floor at all times and first aid kits accessible within the centre. There is a wellness room for employees who are feeling ill, stressed or just need a break. A prayer room is also available for employees when needed. Free flu shots are provided every year.

To help with stress, ESG provides on site massage therapy once a month that was fully covered by the benefits program. Employees are able to book a 15 minute chair massage.

Rewards and Recongition

Rewards and recognition helps employees understand the value they generate when they exceed performance targets. For all CSR groups, retention efforts and "saves" are recognized with cash rewards. Additionally, frequently ad hoc pilot or special programs become available for dialing by the specialty Sales team. This team is incentivized by cash incentives for sales. In addition, ongoing contests and prizes including gift cards, cash-o-nator, and draws for free breaks and time off are an ongoing part of the Rewards and Recognition program.

Employees who meet attendance objectives receive an attendance certificate and $1000 American Express gift card as recognition as well as an invitation to a special awards dinner.

Culture and Social Environment

ESG Customer Service contact centre culture is fun and dynamic. There is always a celebration going on. Employees who have worked at the company for one year receive a gift of their choice. This continues every two years after. Milestone celebration recognizes employees who have worked for the company for 10 years.

There is lots of food including pot luck lunches and launch party breakfasts. There is usually a supply of ice cream and pop corn available to staff. The social committee keeps busy planning: kids parties, the Christmas party and a summer party each year. They also organize bake sales, raffles and 50/50 draws – always popular activities. This past year ESG Customer Service hosted various fun events and competitions to engage employees. Events included: Rockband where teams competed using the XBOX; Iron Chef where teams competed through cooking; ESG's Got Talent where employees competed through their talents.

Community Support

ESG is continually giving back to the community through a variety of services and support activities including:

  • Food drives for the Daily Food Bank
  • Toy drives at Christmas
  • Funds put aside for team sponsorships
  • Financial support provided to employees in need
  • Green Energy – investment in renewable energy sources

Above and Beyond Factors

Above and Beyond refers to the little (or big) extras that differentiates the ESG Customer Service contact centre and makes it a Contact Center Employer of Choice. Here is a list of some of those attributes:

  • young, professional, diversified workforce
  • fun workplace
  • people are great, friendly attitude
  • open door policy – approachable management
  • flexible dress code
  • comfortable atmosphere
  • respect for employees
  • accommodates personal needs
  • free parking
  • supportive and encouraging environment
  • good communication