How Focusing on Customer Centricity Helps Both Wipro and Its Buyers Compete in Today’s Economy | Article

Wipro Voice: A Conversation with Jagdish Ramaswamy, Chief Quality Officer, and Usha Rangarajan, General Manager, Wipro Way

Jagdish Ramaswamy, Chief Quality Officer, and Usha Rangarajan, General Manager, Wipro WayThe Wipro help desk in Scotland got a phone call. The woman on the phone was worried. She had an important conference call in an hour and couldn’t prepare because her laptop wouldn’t work.

The Wipro agent diagnosed the issue and fixed the problem remotely. But he was concerned that she could be having system problems in addition to her laptop failure. He sensed the urgency in her voice. So he drove in a heavy snowstorm to her office to check things out just to ensure everything was indeed OK.

The laptop owner was both surprised and pleased that the Wipro employee went the extra mile — way beyond the service level agreement — to make sure she got her job done. The Wipro employee had a surprise too. The voice on the other end of the line turned out to be a very important member from the customer’s organization.

This example represents Wipro’s new way of dealing with its customers, according to Jagdish Ramaswamy, chief quality officer and head of Quality Initiatives for Wipro. In the early days of offshoring, he says Wipro “prospered because of the strength of its quality processes.” Today, however, that has become table stakes in a mature market. “We want to be more than just their technology partner,” he says.

Customer centricity

The Indian supplier sought to distinguish itself in the marketplace by focusing on a new element: the customer itself. “We realize that each customer has unique needs that can change over time. We want to create a unique competitive advantage for Wipro and our customers by becoming a proactive, value-adding service partner,” he explains. Wipro calls this “customer centricity.”

Wipro’s buyers welcome another set of eyes. “In this economy, companies are scrambling to save jobs and costs. Now we provide technology solutions and wonder how we can help our buyers be successful in their marketplaces,” Ramaswamy says.

Customer centricity means “keeping the entire organization aligned so that the customer is at the center of what we do,” Ramaswamy explains. That mindset extends to every touch point from help desk agent to account executive. Ramaswamy’s analogy is a “swarm of bees. Everyone who works with a customer is now percolating ideas to create value. We want our buyers to think we are an extension of their organization,” adds Ramaswamy.

This new mindset helped Wipro improve the operations of a large telecom player. When a telecom customer orders broadband service, the job requires a series of steps including:

  • Taking the order
  • Processing the order
  • Ordering the equipment
  • Allocating the bandwidth
  • Installing the line in the customer’s home

Wipro performed these tasks in two separate silos that rarely if ever spoke to each other. The new customer centricity program brought the teams together and posed the question:How could they work together to improve the process? Their joint suggestions ended reducing cycle time by 10 percent — resulting in a big gain for the customer, reports Usha Rangarajan, general manager, Wipro Way. “Having everyone in a single forum helped transformed this customer’s business,” she continues.

Becoming more than a technology partner

The executive says Wipro’s original strength was creating a disciplined approach to technology. Now it is applying that framework to the much harder task of creating customer value. He calls these “the important intangibles.”

The supplier includes the buyer in an iterative way. “We tell them what we think they can do to improve the way they use IT to support their business. Then they validate our ideas,” Ramaswamy explains.

That’s exactly what happened when the supplier worked for a large U.S. retailer. Its assignment was to maintain its shopping Web portal. “We noticed the site had multiple problems,” recalls Rangarajan. Wipro studied the site and brought in experts from around the organization to provide input. Then the team suggested the buyer install a better user interface and make changes that would encourage a larger volume of business.

That’s exactly what happened when the supplier worked with another large retailer. Its assignment was to define a roadmap for replatting the existing dotcom channel and defining a robust integration framework. “We noticed the site needed to expand in e-commerce to attract more customers and leverage multi-channel retailing options,” recalls Rangarajan. Wipro’s team of business consultants evaluated the current dotcom channel against best- in-class competitors, then provided must-have and nice-to-have features.

The retailer incorporated all Wipro’s suggestions and re-launched its e-commerce solution. Wipro’s experience in e-commerce coupled with a low-cost model that tied cost to revenue and performance helped the client achieve its business goals.

Every quarter this retailer surveys its employees to rank all its suppliers. According to Rangarajan, this project and the ongoing Customer Centricity initiative led Wipro to emerge as the No. 2 IT service provider for this buyer.

To change the company’s thinking and improve a customer’s experience at every touch point, Wipro created a program called X-Serve, an acronym for Excellence in Service. Currently employees working on 300 Wipro projects have been through X-Serve training. “Most of them are at the ground level,” says Rangarajan. They are the people who will have the most interaction with customers; the training teaches them to replicate how buyers think and act and use a structured approach to enhance the customer experience.

To underscore the importance of thinking like the customer, Wipro runs internal campaigns encouraging employees to share what they have done to improve their customers’ experience.

“This is a huge mindset change for us,” says Ramaswamy. “Now we view things from the customer’s perspective.”

Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:

  • Having disciplined processes and reliable delivery are now just table stakes for suppliers. Adding value to the customer’s business and improving the customer experience are ways suppliers can differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
  • Focusing on the customer allows silos to work together. The conjoined teams can look at the entire customer experience to find ways to improve the processes and reduce cycle time.
  • In today’s tough economy, buyers appreciate any idea that can save jobs and improve their bottom line.

Wipro set up the Council for Industry Research, comprising of domain and technology experts from the organization, to address the needs of customers. It specifically looks at innovative strategies that will help them gain competitive advantage in the market. The Council in collaboration with leading academic institutions and industry bodies studies market trends to equip organizations with insights that facilitate their IT and business strategies. For more information on the Research Council visit www.wipro.com/industryresearch or email [email protected].


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