Managing Multi-Cultural Call Centers

08 / Jul / 2013

By Jordan Linford

Walking the main hallway at the Focus headquarters office just off of the front entrance, a visitor or anyone interested, would be able to readily see the vast artifacts that seem to line the counter space there. Upon closer examination one will notice a Guatemalan school in a photo or an African village and even some figurines, art from children in a distant land saying Thank You for the random acts of kindness that were afforded to them from donations or support from Focus community. This isn’t an area one would come to taut the efforts of any single individual. It is a sacred place where any guest of an employee could see what our culture is really all about: service to others.

In 2006 Focus Services initiated their first international call center on the Philippine island of Negros in the city of Bacolod. In setting up this call center we came to learn that the culture of this specific center differentiated greatly from the call centers in Utah, Illinois and Iowa. Their ideals, values, and basic work environment wasn’t what we as a western organization entirely understood at first, yet we came to love and adopt quickly some of the aspects of their center because that’s what mattered to the employees and their families there. It soon became apparent that as a company we had a greater responsibility to the community of Bacolod than we had earlier anticipated.

How then, as a company is it possible to integrate a western ideology without losing or diminishing the values and needs of an entirely different culture of people? Focus Services has been successful in this aspect by closely examining the specific needs of its agents and their families while at the same time educating them on aspects of other cultures around the world.

By teaching all of our agents’ companywide about the different countries in which we have centers by leveraging social media platforms such as our newsletter, blog, Facebook page and other outlets, agents have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and activities we as a company sponsor around the world. Agents and management regularly have input and opportunity to serve on Humanitarian missions and service projects which help those in need of our efforts as a company.

By allowing our employees to take part and help in the decision making process of projects such as these we are integrating the education of different cultures and business modules, which in turn aides our employees in understanding the differences between each individual site yet work together to accomplish what needs to be done in each individual location. This approach has proven to be a way for Focus Services to fill the cultural void that exists when new cultures are introduced.

The memorabilia that one can see as they walk into the Focus Services headquarters not only speaks to the wide ranging cultural footprint we have left, but to the individual agent who has contributed to efforts which allow them to reach outside themselves and serve other communities giving each employee a sense of a companywide culture which places great emphasis on the value of service.