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iContact Support: A Family Affair

What do you get when you combine passion, energy, community and social awareness? If your answer is iContact Technical Support, you’ve passed the test. If not, allow me to briefly expound on what makes our call center’s culture so remarkable.

Derived from the Latin word culture, which means cultivate, culture should be intentional and at the forefront in the workplace. It should foster growth, improve one’s quality of life and positively affect those in the community.

At iContact Technical Support, our culture is always evolving. For example, within the past 12 months, we have not only relocated to a new office location, but we’ve also taken on support of a new product. As a result, our team has experienced increased collaboration, interaction and problem solving at the agent level that we’ve not seen before. Through it all, our departmental leadership did not hinder the change; rather it was embraced as a necessary and conducive component to the overall growth and strength of the department. The outcome has allowed management to take a "hands off" approach to many situations and allow the team to provide input and often time solve problems on their own.

The Keys to an Inspired Culture

Even as time passes and the faces change, our team is continually analyzing what we are doing and how we are doing it; this not only prevents us from becoming stagnant in our daily tasks, but also allows us to consider new perspectives and entertain innovative ideas. In order to accomplish this, there must be a strong level of trust between leaders and agents, but more importantly, there must a mutual respect when sharing opinions and ideas. At iContact, ideas are not given merit based on position or seniority; rather all good ideas are considered and given the opportunity to come to fruition.

This mutual respect for new ideas has allowed us to do great things both inside the office (e.g., winning the 2011 ICMI Global Call Center of the Year Award for Small-Medium Call Centers), and outside as well. Members of the iContact team have individually volunteered their time and resources to charitable causes that our coworkers are passionate about. With the help of our Morale Committee (affectionately known as "The Fun Bunch") we volunteered to two charities as a group during Customer Service Week 2011. Through our efforts with these charities, we realized that our commitment to serving those in need was major component of the culture within the organization. And, that this commitment is the byproduct of our affection and dedication to one another as a community – and as a work family. We truly care for one another, and we are committed to the success of each individual, as well as our entire group.

Oh, and did I mention the casual dress code, free snacks and drinks, cable TV and a game room?

I once asked my VP of Support how she makes her decisions as a leader. She told me that she makes each of these decisions with consideration to the agent’s experience, customer’s experience and the department’s experience. Her response took me by surprise. It was not what I would have expected her to say, and when reflecting on her response, I began to realize how she was shaping our culture in a positive and profound way. By taking the time to see things from the perspective of the agent, customer and department, she developed a greater appreciation for each. As a leader, her empathy and sympathy becomes an example to the team, which sets the tone for a compassionate and inspired culture.

The culture in our call center can be different things to different people at different times. It is forever evolving. Our culture can be characterized as fun, laid-back, exciting, and even goofy at times. (And all of words would certainly describe all of our personalities as well.) However, family would certainly be high on the list as well. We strive to operate with the same core values of a family such as mutual respect, accountability and compassion. The result is a group of diverse people who, while not always in agreement, are working for and caring about common goals.

As our culture is certain to go through more iteration, we will continue to hold fast to caring about the needs of our staff and empowering them to make positive impacts in and out of the workplace.