Earlier this year, TELUS was ranked Canada’s Most Respected Mobile Service Provider by over 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast, topping a list of 22 national entities.
In an especially competitive and difficult industry to be successful in, we asked Jill Schnarr, TELUS’ Chief Communications Officer what ‘respect’ means to her, how it applies in a corporate environment and how it guides her in her role.
When you reflect on the above result, what do you think are some of the reasons behind why Canadians have chosen TELUS as the most respected?
It’s our CEO, Darren Entwistle. For as long as I’ve known Darren, he’s driven TELUS’ deep commitment to quality product, helpful and timely customer-service as well as community programs and giving. This is all genuine for Darren. Our company and employees know this … and I believe our customers feel it. A memorable example for me was 6 or 7 years ago, Darren (quietly) asked me to develop a program to keep TELUS’ retirees engaged with the company. He was so grateful for their years of service, he didn’t want them to feel TELUS had forgotten them. We thus now have in place a ‘TELUS Ambassador Program’ which funds and supports local chapters or groups of retirees. He did not seek attention or accolades for this, he just knew it was right and wanted it to happen. This is how respect is earned in my view.
When you hear the word ‘respect’ nowadays, what are the 2-3 key qualities or elements that constitute that attribute?
You need to have a good product and be easy-to-deal-with. At the end-of-the-day, your product must be solid, trustworthy and reliable. If you don’t have a good product, your company simply will not survive. Then, you have to be easy to deal with: You need to be accessible, helpful and empowered-to-act. All of these demonstrate that you are respectful of people’s time and needs.
A reputation is built from experiences and interactions. What head-office or ‘Line’ action (or tool) do you think has most contributed how your strong, national ‘respect’ rating?
6-7 years ago, we changed how we measure TELUS customer-service associates, who answer phone/on-line calls from our customers. Previously, a key metric was ‘how many calls they would manage’. We realized this drove calls to be handled faster and (likely) not always fully resolved. So, we shifted the key measurement to how successful they were in resolving a customer issue on that first call, no matter how long it took. Customer satisfaction scores increased significantly.
What’s been a memorable/impactful “lesson” on ‘respect in business’ that has stuck with you from your career?
Early in my career, I was a phone operator for TELUS. Initially, I was somewhat surprised by the number of people who would call (the operator) with an issue, but then extended the conversation looking ‘just to talk’. I soon realized these were people who were lonely and simply wanted someone to speak with. I did not rush them off, but heard them out. This has stuck with me as a lesson to simply ‘listen’ and be respectful. There is always a meaningful reason someone is telling you something.
If you were to give advice to a young manager on ‘corporate respect’, what would that be (if at all)?
I have two things. First, when faced with a decision, take some time, and look beyond the business-numbers. Think about how it could impact relationships and/or view of the company longer-term. Good business decisions must include these considerations. Secondly, speak up. Everyone benefits from additional ideas, viewpoints or notes from new team members, employees or partners. Say what’s on your mind, in a constructive, helpful way.