With a global footprint spanning 101 countries, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) systems have seen years of continual evolution and expansion to meet the present day demands of serving more than 5000 staff members around the world.
Three years ago, CRS took action to meet the increased need for ICT support as country program offices and field projects began to take greater advantage of technology in their operations and programmatic efforts. To support their staff without breaking the bank, CRS formed a partnership with iMerit, a social enterprise based out of India that employs marginalized youth and women in the delivery of IT services.
Working with iMerit, CRS has created a 24x7 global support system with a 98% satisfaction rate and an 89% first call resolution rate. Gradual increases in satisfaction and resolution speed reflect the system’s successful centralized reporting and ICT system issue routing, as well as the effective training of the iMerit service desk members that field those requests. Over the past two years, more and more staff members have taken advantage of the service desk – with the percentage of tickets coming in from overseas offices increasing from 30 to 70%.
“These metrics assure us we’re moving towards our goal of global coverage of all our staff around the world,” said Carol Bothwell, former CRS CIO and iMerit board member.
Today, the service desks answers calls related to more than 52 different applications used across the organization, including Salesforce, NetSuite, SharePoint, and iFormBuilder.
Drivers towards commercial success
In a recent webinar, representatives from iMerit and CRS shared their achievements and insight into how they built out the service desk. Mona Lisa Banerjee, senior manager of CRS/iMerit, and Andy Gross, senior director of Global Services at CRS, attributed their results to three core focuses:
- Developing subject matter expertise & mature onboarding processes
- Skill & troubleshooting development
- Customer satisfaction improvement
“Like any good service desk, we positioned ourselves as a single point of contact for the client,” said Andy. “We established a little bit of a brand and were really consistent with that brand… We developed templates for communications and standardized channels for easy access to the service desk.”
iMerit provided service desk employees with dedicated training around specific technologies and tools, which focuses heavily on the importance of customer service, troubleshooting and logic skills. The team takes a blended training approach, using a mix of conventional classroom methods and more interactive online activities. They also established standardized training documentation and clear guidelines to help employees’ arrive at (and prescribe) solutions.
Regular assessments and quality checks are made to ensure high standards and encourage improvement. Management also proactively reaches out to customers for feedback, and employees are encouraged to follow up and reach out to dissatisfied customers.
“There’s nothing better than actually getting feedback from a customer and to be able to use it for our improvement,” said Andy. “We need to understand how to turn a negative experience to a positive one.”
Satisfying customers, transforming lives
The CRS/iMerit partnership has created both commercial and social impact – supporting CRS staff while simultaneously helping thousands of disadvantaged youth and women learn and sharpen IT and customer service skills as well as realize their potential.
Two iMerit employees joined the webinar to speak to their experiences: Tanmoy Sen, a global service desk/CRS coordinator in Saltlake, and Rehana Khatoon, a global service desk/CRS senior coordinator operating out of Metiabruz.
Before iMerit, Tanmoy didn’t speak any English and was living below the poverty line – relying on fishing, farming and tailoring activities to make a daily wage. Now 23, Tanmoy has intermediate English skills and is dedicated to furthering his education in computer and mobile technology in addition to training others in IT.
The iMerit opportunity has also transformed the lives of hundreds of women who live in places where women rarely pursue education or have access to computers. Take Rehana: after completing training with iMerit’s partner foundation Anudip, she joined the local iMerit center as a data entry operator. Though she had no prior training or experience with a computer other than her exposure at the Anudip center, Rehana continued to climb the ranks and in 2013 she was promoted to her position as a senior tech coordinator. In 2014, she traveled to the U.S. and represented her office in front of 600 people at a celebration held by the American Indian Foundation in California and Washington.
“I wish in the future for more experience and more knowledge about IT and to set an example for and inspire the other girls in my locality to be successful,” shared Rehana.
“In our mind this is truly a success story in that we were able to accomplish our goals of providing high-quality global coverage but also partner with a social enterprise focused on moving disadvantaged youth and women out of poverty – something that is very aligned with our mission as an international relief and development organization,” said Carol.