The South Africa World Cup Shows Providers How to Bid and Keep Outsourcing Business; “Vuvuzela” Aha! | Article
Wipro Point of View
The soccer fever that gripped the world was over. South Africa, a nation known for poverty, crime, apartheid, Mandela, and a reputation for an inability to execute, became the first African nation to host the World Cup championships successfully.
Soccer is known as the ‘’the world game.’’ The enthusiasm, the vibrancy, the hospitality and the vuvezelas created a sensation. South Africa, in spite of all odds, created a lifetime ‘’aha’’ experience for the 700 million viewers.
Organizations can’t succeed without the ‘’aha’’ of the customer. In an era of extreme competition, the South African experience teaches how to create that often elusive world-class customer experience.
The South African team surprised many in its group. In the end, South Africa exited the tournament with heads high and a performance to remember.
In 2006, Avon, the world’s largest direct seller of female lifestyle products, chose to outsource its call centers. Avon wanted to create an all-women call center in India with world-class infrastructure and a focus on employee welfare. Many analysts, suppliers, and even Avon employees believed an all-woman operation wasn’t viable. Everyone thought this would fail because of the inherent risks in the delivery model.
In the final round of negotiations, one service provider fielded an all-women team and presented 10 women agents for contract negotiations. This surprised the customer. It won the deal and built a successful relationship with Avon. Avon diversified its business with this provider into other areas such as shared services. Today, Avon is one of its top 10 customers, generating US$50 million annually.
Flawless performance and execution
In the all-important match between Germany and England, England had stars that could hurt the young and inexperienced German team. But the German team played to a plan and made no mistakes. In the end, Germany won comfortably against England and created a huge ‘’aha’’ for its team work, organization, tactics, and delivery.
During its pursuit of a claims processing opportunity for the Hartford, a service provider designed a process role play involving a team of Japanese employees. The role play involved the actual live display of a customer call, customer query, the response, the claims processing, and the closure of the transaction. Hartford executives felt it was a wonderful ‘’aha’’ experience and stood up and clapped.
During the same pursuit, the service provider chose to answer a question about the mail room transition even though the team was not sure of the correct answer. Instead of skipping the question, the provider chose to answer it. A small question ended up creating a big hole in the pursuit.
The tactics were flawed, and they were unprepared. Basics such as preparing, making no mistakes, planning, and just sticking to the point are equally important.
Reputations make an everlasting impression
A service provider’s commitment to its customers, the solid presence of its executives at all times, and the never-say-die attitude of the teams create a lasting impression in customers’ minds.
A leading bank was evaluating outsourcing of key functions involving IT, operations, and infrastructure. Its executives visited India to evaluate the supplier. They had four rough days travelling from city to city. One of the team members exhausted his clean supply of clothes. One of the suppliers immediately took it upon himself to send this man’s clothes to a laundry; a clean set of clothes was ready in four hours. The executive was visibly happy with this most unexpected service offering of that service provider!
The employees of a mailroom service provider have access to every floor and their teams can walk up to anyone. Recently, the team walked into the meeting room without a knock and started to untangle the wires and fix the projector and laptops. They didn’t notice the customer team was preparing for a meeting. This small incident was a bad start to a major presentation. It unnerved the service provider team that ended up having to apologize.
A reputation — good or bad — causes an everlasting impression. It is important to manage it well.
The difference between success and failure is in managing the crisis
The pulsating matches between Uruguay and Ghana highlight the importance of the never-say-die attitude. They demonstrate the importance of keeping nerves of steel in difficult times and managing the crisis with a positive spirit.
At one of the leading equipment vendors, Wipro was initially disqualified as its story on transaction processing came below their expectations. The buyer eventually selected another service provider and there were press announcements of the success.
However, during the due diligence and contractual negotiations, several differences emerged between the customer and the service provider. The credibility of the competitor reached its nadir. The buyer redefined the evaluation process.
Wipro eventually grabbed the opportunity and emerged from defeat. The persistence of the buyer helped Wipro succeed.
Be credible, trust people, and go with your instincts
Rediff.com, a portal focused on India, published an interesting story of Siddharth Pinto. Pinto was stranded without accommodation in Durban to watch the match between Brazil and Portugal. It was late morning and he had no idea of where to find food or accommodation. He felt an ever-growing sense of worry. He collected his thoughts and suitcase and headed to a bank to exchange a few dollars.
During the conversation, Pinto asked about a good bed and breakfast (B&B). Meghan Nelson Jenneker, a key executive of Standard Chartered Bank, not only processed his transaction but also provided a stack of photocopied sheets with various B&B directory entries and contact numbers. Unfortunately, they were too expensive. She almost apologetically offered a place in her mother’s apartment.
Pinto and the two Nelsons were three strangers. They built credibility, trusted each other, and went by their instincts in 10 minutes. Today, Pinto is a happy tourist who had an experience of his life in South Africa.
A buyer made a visit to one of Wipro’s facilities. The Wipro team sprang a surprise at the airport. They showed up unannounced and took the customer team directly to the Wipro campus. Typically this wouldn’t happen because it was near the close of the business day.
The customer was happy to interact with engineers at the development centers. The executives felt they would have missed the opportunity to meet the real people the next day due to their packed schedule. The customer was pleased as Wipro further surprised them with an entertaining dinner on the campus. In the end, they felt they achieved a lot in the four hours although they were mentally prepared to go to their hotels and rest.
Focus on the right objective, play to win, and don’t outdo the competition
Spain, the eventual World Cup winner, displayed a positive spirit and focused on basic competence. In the finals with the Dutch team, Spain started off tentatively. The Dutch, unlike in the past, were aggressive and wanted to create fear among their opponents. They attacked physically and played a very rough game. They lost.
In our business, we tend to have acute focus on our competition; there are times when competition gets aggressive in terms of pricing, accelerated transition, and business models, to name a few.
During an investment banking pursuit, our competitors focused on Wipro’s weakness in transaction processing and its lack of investment banking capability. One of our competitors had a captive operation of a German bank and another was incumbent to the investment bank. Wipro never retorted. Instead, we converted our weaknesses into a strength and focused on operational excellence. The investment bank wanted a strong process-improvement play rather than a domain/capability play.
Today, after three successful years, its operation has grown to over 1,000 people at Wipro. We built three other customers in the same space. During this time, our transaction processing business has also improved and is roughly 50 percent of Wipro BPO’s revenues.
The story of Wipro BPO’s transformation is a great story about focusing on the right objective and purpose. What we have accomplished is a real ‘’aha‘’ to analysts, customers, and our employees.
Now is the time to the blow the Wipro BPO vuvuzela loud in the industry.