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Focus on Social Responsibility Leads to Improved Business Processes
Case Study

Focus on Social Responsibility Leads to Improved Business Processes

The most impactful businesses aren’t just residents of their communities, they are active participants in them. They partner with local organizations, encourage learning and growth, and create opportunities for community members. Through those sustainability efforts — and more important, through those mindsets — they are positioned to simultaneously give back and improve business operations. Read on to see how SYKES used the power of local partnerships to reduce chat support average handle time (AHT) for a global leader in online food delivery.

Brand Partner

SYKES’ brand partner is a global food ordering leader headquartered in the United Kingdom. Its app allows customers to search for local restaurants, order, pay, and select from delivery or pickup options. The brand’s founding in 2001 made it a pioneer in an industry that has become a facet of a daily life for consumers around the world.

Business Challenge

SYKES has provided online chat support for our brand partner’s customers since 2017. When a customer need arises to cancel or modify an order, the platform connects them instantly with helpful agents. But when those agents need to contact a restaurant, time is of the essence. A lengthy wait can lead to frustrated customers and restaurant staff as well as lost revenue for our brand partner. In order to improve the customer experience, the company wanted to improve the AHT for these types of support chats, which were just over 11 minutes.

SYKES’ Approach

To better understand what leads to long chat AHTs, we needed to better understand the chats themselves. One of the most thorough ways to accomplish that is through data labeling, which categorizes interactions into specific segments such as customer intent and solution types. To accurately label thousands of chats though, SYKES needed help from our local community in the Philippines.

SYKES’ Exceptional Circle of Learners (EXCEL) program partners with local universities to provide unique opportunities for students. For business major students at Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila, 400–600 on-the-job (OTJ) hours are required for graduation. These students — who largely already had applicable classroom training and firsthand experience with food ordering apps — were ideal fits for the data labeling program. Working closely with SYKES’ digital analytics team, the interns were invaluable in identifying and labeling chat data that would inform best practices for our brand partner:

  • Interns accessed, categorized, and labeled 1,200 chat transcripts
  • SYKES’ data scientists validated the labels and improved processes
  • Interns used the new processes for more accurate labeling

Partnership Outcomes

Focus on Social Responsibility Leads to Improved Business Processes


This process paved the way for a circular algorithm for continuous improvement. This not only helped SYKES better understand what led to long chat AHT, it helped improve business outcomes through actionable methods:

  • Use machine learning to predict dialogue sentiment and customer intent
  • Identify top performers and deliver precision-learning content to outlier agents
  • Capture best practices using DVR and recommend micro-learning content

Ultimately, the actions led to a 25-second decrease in chat AHT for our brand partner’s customers and less friction in the resolution process. Just as impactful, the improved training led to more efficient agents, surpassing productivity benchmarks and saving $13,000 in the first month for the brand.

And as for the interns, the outcomes go much further. The chairman of the FEU business school described the program as a “life-changing experience” and decreed it the most sought-after internship program at the school — for good reason. In addition to their OTJ requirements, students were provided resume writing classes, mock-interviewing sessions, computer software trainings, transparency into how their work positively benefited the customer experience, and post-graduation job opportunities. Stories like this one highlight just how beneficial it is for companies to see themselves as living, breathing members of their communities — not just residents of a building.

Exeptional Circle

About SYKES Exceptional Circle of Learners (EXCEL)

  • SYKES partners with educational institutions to provide internships for students
  • Students are selected based on experience through current course offerings
  • Participants are given on-the-job training hours, which are required for graduation
  • Additional benefits include hourly wage, transportation allowance, monthly bonuses, and team meals

Learn more about SYKES’ global sustainability efforts