Turning Around Canada Post: An Interview with Janet LeBlanc
Janet LeBlanc is the Director of Customer Value Management for the Canada Post Corporation. She is responsible for turning around Canada Post’s customer service offering. LeBlanc shares her tools and tactics for accomplishing this.
Who inspired you to work in customer value management?
Dr. Bradley Gale has been an inspirational leader for me in the area of customer value management. He is certainly the pre-eminent expert in this area, having published several books on value management. On a personal note, I was inspired to work in the area of customer value because I recognized that many of our executives and sales account teams were unable to communicate clearly the value that we provide to customers. What makes us different and better than competitors? Why choose Canada Post instead of an alternative? In my earlier roles, I was responsible for training the sales and customer service team. These fundamental answers were not readily available to the front-line several years ago.
What is the most surprising thing a customer has ever said to you?
I’m not sure if I have a most "surprising" comment, but I certainly have many very pleasing things that customers have said to me over the years since we have implemented this Customer Value Management program. I hear on a regular basis that customers have recognized and experienced a change with Canada Post. They have noticed Canada Post making improvements that make their experience better and more valuable. These comments are particularly important for us as we continue to implement this corporate-wide customer-focused program across our enterprise and we use these comments to motivate employees to continue to delight customers.
How do you incorporate customer feedback into business planning, process improvements and performance management?
Over the last several years, it has been my goal to "institutionalize" customer feedback into as many processes across the organization as possible. For example, in order to receive investment dollars for new initiatives, you must be able to link improvements to our customer value metrics; process improvement initiatives need customer feedback for validation; and our performance management system is so well integrated within our organization that employees from our CEO to our front-line have customer metrics on their personal scorecards.
What does the Post do in order to assign accountability for improvements across the entire organization?
Our customer value management framework allows us to assign accountability across the entire organization for the customer experience. We built a framework that examines the customer experience across such factors as product features/benefits, how our product is delivered, our price, how we service our customers and the overall reputation/image of our business. Depending on the role you have, whether it be in product management or brand development, we are able to assign specific targets and areas of improvement that you need to include in your personal performance scorecards. Of course, the old adage of what gets measured, gets done, certainly holds true at Canada Post.
How do you raise the profile of the importance of customer service and problem resolution to the customer and the business?
I have a very sophisticated analytics team who works to understand where are the best levers for the organization to invest in that will improve the customer experience. In our case, customer service and problem resolution are key areas of opportunity for improvement. We are able to link, as an example, the number of problems a customers has experienced with us to their overall loyalty to our company. When we were able to delight customers with our ability to resolve their problem, loyalty increased substantially. These results help us to understand the importance of our customer service department and its overall impact to our business.
How has the Canada Post been successful in linking improvements in customer service and problem management to bottom-line benefits?
We have made significant progress in understanding how, not only improvements in customer service and problem management link to bottom-line benefits, but also how our overall business benefits from customer experience improvements. Our linkage analysis, using customer service as an example, can tell us the number of problems/types of problems and number of days it takes to resolve a problem has on our overall loyalty scores. This helps us to improve our service performance agreements with the recognition that any investment in these areas will also realize a financial benefit in terms of revenue growth, decreased erosion, or cost savings.
At the Call Centre Canada event you will be speaking on customer value management–linking customer experience improvements to bottom-line results. What do you think is compelling about your case study?
I have presented to many organizations around the globe, and the number one comment I receive is "how were you able to have such an impact on an organization such as Canada Post?" When you think about the many challenges we face, namely a public sector company with an exclusive privilege to provide its services, a unionized workforce, this doesn’t provide for an environment that is conducive to a customer-focus. But I have been able to lead Canada Post to realize the link between customer experience improvements and bottom-line results and recognize the many important benefits.
Interview by Blake Landau