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The Intersection of Contact Centres and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

Any forward-thinking business may be advised to ignore environmental, social, and governance—commonly abbreviated to ESG—at its peril. However, as the world becomes more complicated and politics becomes more unpredictable, the teams handling corporate compliance and risk management are really stepping up. They’ve got a big role to play! Part of their job is ensuring the company abides by environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, which show off what the company is all about—its values, goals, and reputation.

In fact, according to new research by Thomas Reuters, ESG has become such a core part of how companies operate that two-thirds of businesses say their organisations really need to focus on these issues, not just for their own sake but also for society. Moreover, about 62% believe these ESG factors are crucial when making big decisions for the company. Interestingly, just as many think that companies should focus on these ESG issues even if it might cost them some profit in the short term.

So how has ESG impacted the way contact centres handle operations and do business? This article will track how contact centres integrate ESG principles into their practices.

ESG in contact centres

Contact centres are the heartbeat of customer service operations. For this reason, we could presume that consumer expectations are a reason for the heightened awareness of ESG in the contact centre space. However, the evolution of regulatory requirements has also made ESG an increasing priority for contact centres.

The incentives? Contact centres which put ESG at the forefront of their business strategies stand to see their brand reputation grow, attract the best talent, and make themselves more investible.

Environmental strategies for contact centres

What does ESG stand for in sustainability? The environment sits right at the heart of ESG, and contact centres are implementing various strategies to reduce their carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly operations.

Ensuring that the infrastructure and equipment within a contact centre are energy efficient is a high entry on the ESG checklist, as is adopting renewable energy sources where possible. Contact centres can double down on their ESG credentials by making all documentation digital, saving paper, and reducing waste.

Transport is also a consideration, contact centres can encourage remote work and client calls to reduce emissions associated with travel to work or external meetings.

Social contributions of contact centres

Then there is societal governance. How are contact centres positively impacting society through social initiatives? A starting point is promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace – a foundation for ensuring equal opportunities. Then there is offering support to local communities through charity or volunteering initiatives and prioritising employee wellbeing with careful attention to work-life balance.

To meet ESG social objectives, contact centre customer service should be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Governance and ethical practices in contact centres

Strong governance and ethical practices are ESG fundamentals. As customer-facing entities, contact centres must take great care to provide robust data privacy and cybersecurity measures and handle customer information ethically.

Depending on their sector, some contact centres may have anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies to discourage illicit practices, especially if staff may be put in a position where they are offered unlawful payments.

The business case for ESG in contact centres

From an ethical and moral point of view, there are plenty of reasons for contact centres to be big on ESG. But now let’s cover the business benefits in more detail.

There is no doubt that today, being able to demonstrate strong ESG credentials can enhance brand reputation and customer loyalty while attracting investment. Customers are drawn towards organisations and service providers who are responsible for looking after the planet and its people.

The ‘people’ aspect—with a conscientious approach to staff members—can put contact centres in pole position to attract and retain the best staff.

Then there is efficiency—more sustainable often means more efficient in practice—and that can impact the bottom line, enabling cost savings.

Global ESG standards and certifications

Contact centres can use various global standards and certifications to guide their ESG strategies and recognise their achievements in implementing ESG.

In the UK, these standards are often found in specific areas of ESG. For example, there are standards concerning customer data handling, such as The Data Protection Act, which is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Then there are the new Sustainability Disclosure Standards developed by the International Sustainability Standards Board, which are recognised by the UK government.

Contact centres can also use international standards such as ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) and ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility) as guides when creating ESG strategies.

Tools and technologies

What tools do contact centres use to facilitate and support ESG initiatives?

We can namecheck these technologies as; cloud computing (offering more energy efficiency), AI and automation (conserving resources), collaboration tools for remote working, and data analytics for ESG activity tracking.

Challenges and solutions in ESG implementation

Contact centres implementing ESG strategies will naturally face challenges, but there are generally ways to overcome these obstacles.

Limited resources, budgetary constraints, and organisational resistance can hamper ESG implementation, so it’s important to have buy-in from the company’s leadership.

A contact centre’s lack of ESG expertise and knowledge can require awareness courses and collaboration with specialist consultants.

Measuring ESG Impact

Contact centres can use metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) such as carbon footprint calculations, energy consumption, consumption of various resources, recycling rates, employee diversity metrics, and customer satisfaction rates.

Future trends: The evolution of ESG in contact centres

As we look to the future, contact centres can anticipate the need for ESG awareness to evolve.

Among the ESG trends expected to be prominent are a focus on supply chain transparency and accountability, ESG featuring more highly in stakeholder expectations, and integrating ESG criteria into investment decisions.

Engaging employees in the company’s ESG journey

This is a crucial factor in successful ESG implementation. Employee buy-in and engagement and buy-in can be encouraged by communicating the contact centre’s ESG vision and goals, recognising and rewarding ESG-related achievements, providing ESG training, and fostering a culture of sustainability and social responsibility across all levels of the organisation.

Partnering with suppliers on ESG goals

Contact centres that collaborate with their suppliers stand a better chance of meeting ESG goals related to the supply chain.

Companies can include ESG criteria in supplier selection, encourage suppliers to adopt ESG practices, report on their progress, and share ideas on ESG implementation. There is also the potential for sustainable solutions to be jointly developed.

Finding friendly suppliers and vendors with similar values and commitments makes ESG implementation much simpler for contact centres.

ESG at Cirrus

Cirrus integrates Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards into its culture, focusing on ethical business practices and sustainability. We’ve been recognised for our social responsibility with a finalist CSR nomination in 2023. Employees are encouraged to engage in community service through the company’s “Making A Difference” days, which involve activities such as volunteering at charities. Additionally, Cirrus is committed to environmental responsibility, holding ISO 14001 certification for its efforts to enhance environmental performance, along with the ISO 27001 and ISO 9001. We also prioritise accessibility, collaborate with RNIB to support contact centre agents with visual impairments, and actively participate in various charity fundraising events and sponsorships.

Cirrus redefines your contact centre experience with our AI-powered CCaaS platform, delivering seamless customer journeys and empowering agents. Learn more about the CCaaS platform here or call us on 0333 103 3333 and speak to the team