BSkyB and Firstsource Solutions
“There is an alignment of our goals and aspirations. They completely buy into the Sky ethos of ‘Believe in Better’ and help us achieve this.”
Pritesh Patel, Head of Sales Centre, Sky
“Over the last eight years we have been on a journey with our outsourcing partners,” says Pritesh Patel, Head of Sales Centre for Sky, the UK and Ireland’s leading entertainment and communications company.
A key priority at Sky is offering the best service in the country to more than 11 million customers. The provider of TV, broadband and telephone services grew from eight to 11 million customers in just six years. “We are the fastest-moving company in our sector and we need a partner who can keep up and deliver at the same speed,” Patel explains.
In 2010 Sky reviewed its business structure and determined it needed a new script. The entertainment and communications company decided “to consolidate its outsourcing partners, identifying and correcting any inconsistencies in order to provide even better customer service,” recalls Patel. “Due to our speed of growth over the years, we needed to scale up the size of our contact centre base to be able to be there when our growing number of customers needed us. Consolidating to two partners means we are able to have our in-house and partner sites truly operate as one. Sky’s vision is to offer the best service in the country, not only in its sector but in the entire UK.”
Sky narrowed the field to two strategic players; Firstsource Solutions made the cut for many reasons. Patel says its position as a leader in the customer service industry “meant they clearly understood outsourcing and partnership.” He appreciates Firstsource’s scalability. The provider has been able to take over multiple customer services sites both inside and outside the UK. Finally, “its solutions matched our needs,” Patel adds.
The Firstsource Solutions connection
Sky first started using Firstsource Solutions in a pilot offshore program in 2001 to support the company’s in-house customer services; it started with 30 FTEs in Mumbai, India. The offshore element was successful, expanding in Mumbai and then extending to Bangalore.
Today Firstsource also has five dedicated UK onshore locations with 2,000 seats running multiple shifts daily to be there for Sky customers. In addition, there are more than 100 home-based agents.
The secret sauce of success
Patel says the base ingredient is “our relationship has grown from strength to strength.”
The bedrock of that strength is Firstsource’s “proactive nature. Like Sky, they are always looking for ways to improve our customer service. They look beneath the bonnet so they can support us in enhancing our business and add value. They understand our pains and pressures and what we are trying to achieve,” says the head of Sales Centre.
He appreciates that Firstsource “understands what we are working for. There is an alignment of our goals and aspirations. They completely buy into the Sky ethos of ‘Believe in Better’ and help us achieve this.”
From his standpoint, Patel says Firstsource always manages its relationship from Sky’s point of view. “We know they have revenue targets. Yet they never make a decision about our relationship based on finances. They never bring up money when we talk about important objectives.”
On the other hand, Patel respects the fact that Firstsource executives have the courage to speak up if the situation demands it. “They know how to be strong. They make recommendations we need to hear. They won’t just roll over—that’s important and we respect that about a partner,” he reports.
One cardinal rule in this partnership: Neither side ever mentions the contract. “We never go there! If there is a challenge, we work together to hammer out a solution that works for both of us . There is always a beneficial solution,” says Patel.
Sky executives also applaud what Patel calls Firstsource’s “people-centricity.” He says Sky employees respect Firstsource’s “professionalism and transparency.” These became key factors when Firstsource took over 700 staffers from other providers’ centers in Cardiff and Belfast after the consolidation. Both are areas with intense competition for experienced customer service employees.
Firstsource opened two new centres, investing £1 million in each site, and transferred the existing employees from the other partners, all the while delivering the business results Sky expected. And you know how people are resistant to change! Patel says “Firstsource HR was adept at maintaining personnel continuity during the transitions.”
Operational results from the spirit of partnership
At the same time, Firstsource was able to innovate Sky’s customer service process. It launched a new service, web chat, which both improved the customer experience, resulting in higher customer satisfaction numbers, and increased customer retention. In addition, First source introduced home-based agents to add flexibility and diversity to the onshore workforce; this is an affordable onshore solution but more importantly allows Firstsource to service Sky customers at peak times through employing great people who want to work but have families that need them to be at home. This solution also gives them an opportunity to have a career. “Firstsource is a great resource of new ideas through its many continuous initiatives,” says Patel.
Patel believes that the relationship Sky has with First Source does indeed deserve the Best Partnership award. “After 12 years, we are both in such a healthy place,” he says.