Interview : Thierry Spencer, The Académie du Service

Thierry Spencer

Employee Experience. An actual topic on which we were able to discuss with several experts: how can we deliver meaning and get employee buy-in with respect to corporate values? How can we validate the work of advisers to deliver an optimal employee experience?

In this interview with Thierry Spencer, associate director of the Académie du Service, which created the registered trademark La Symétrie des Attentions©, he shares with us his feedback and best practices.


What is the role of the Académie du Service? 

At the beginning, it was a department of the Accor group, which had decided to improve employee engagement and their CRM skills. Our basic premise was that everyone likes to do a good job and that people generally find personal fulfillment in their work. Very few people are truly disengaged. The companies we support want to focus on the human factor and collective intelligence to serve others.

In some call centers, the employees can’t effectively help customers, because they don’t have the right information or the right working conditions. We believe it is important to take better care of them, provide more training, give them tools that are more user-friendly.


As a customer relationship specialist, how important would you say contact centers are?  

They are even more important than before! But many companies don’t seem to understand that customers really don’t want to have to call a contact center. Today, customers expect to be able to solve their problems on their own. By the time they contact Customer Service, they’re already frustrated that they haven’t found the answer. 

So today, the call (or the conversation on another channel), must be more personalized, deeper and more empathetic, to provide strong added value. 


Do you have any examples of companies that do this?

A mission-oriented company like MAIF is a good example. When you call your insurance company, it’s rarely to share good news. The adviser starts by asking “How are you?”, not just “What is your policy number” In other words, they treat the customer like a person.  And this corresponds to MAIF’s mission statement: “Convinced that only sincere attention paid to others and to the world can guarantee a real increase in the common good, we, MAIF, place this intention at the heart of each of our commitments and of each of our actions.”

But there are paradoxes. On the other end of the spectrum, Amazon is one of the world’s top-rated companies in terms of customer satisfaction. This is in line with Jeff Bezos’ philosophy that the customer should never contact them, that the problem should be solved automatically, hassle-free and seamlessly. If a customer receives something they don’t like, Amazon will often just provide a refund and let them keep the item as a courtesy, rather than initiate a return process, which costs more than the price of the item. 


What tools are most likely to create a higher value-added relationship?

Some of the best tools are artificial intelligence technologies that are used to listen in on conversations. For example, they can send an alert to the supervisor if the customer gets angry, or if they detect a certain mood or a particular subject. 

The tool pushes useful information to the supervisor. In a way, businesses need augmented employees, by means of information, AI, and their work environment, where they will be in symmetry with customers. So it’s important to strengthen the customer interfaces and employee interfaces with a unified solution. Employees who have to work with several different software programs and databases, and who do not have user-friendly tools, are asymmetrically equipped. This has a significant negative impact on their motivation. Businesses need to offer their employees an environment that is as fluid as that of their customers.


How would you define a good contact center employee experience?

We need to provide employees with a rewarding and fulfilling environment, and give them the resources they need to deliver high value added solutions. They also need the right tools so they can have a good experience. Because contact center employees are very important! 


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