Tata plans first all-female outsourcing center in Saudi Arabia


Indian outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is breaking new ground with the opening of the world's first business processing outsourcing center staffed entirely by women in male-dominated Saudi Arabia.

Tata has unveiled plans for its "all-female services center" in the Saudi capital, Riyadh as part of a plan to access a largely untapped pool of workers in the segregated Middle Eastern nation. The center, to run as a joint venture with US manufacturer General Electric, will initially employ some 400 women, with plans to expand to 3000.

Conservative culture and strict rules on separation of the sexes limit female employment in Saudi Arabia. Most banks and some factories have women-only sections, but exclusively female operations are rare. "This is the first time to our understanding that anyone has done this, because this (Saudi Arabia) is a unique market," TCS CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran said. "In India, there has been huge opportunity for our industry to liberate underused talent and, while Saudi isn't on the same scale, there is still a big opportunity to help people, especially women, find good professional jobs," he said.

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Sean Douglas, head service delivery for American Express Global Business Travel's APAC operations says the company is seeing real benefits from its strategy or encouraging home-based customer service agents.

Douglas told Human Capital Magazine that some 75% of the division's staff are now working from home. "When a business traveller phones American Express Global Business Travel for assistance, they might be surprised to know that the counsellor they are speaking with is located on the Gold Coast, in Yass or in Cervantes in Western Australia," he said. "This is because the majority of our travel counsellors have gradually been moving from our offices to a virtual or home-based work environment."

Douglas said the initiative has increased the company's travel counsellor job satisfaction, improved their work-life balance, increased customer satisfaction and reduced overheads. "These are all great benefits, but truthfully, ones that we predicted and have been well-documented previously. The real surprises for us have been the noticeable increase in productivity and our ability to attract great talent."

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The founders of e-commerce site Wowo have developed a customisable customer service platform for travelers to China.

The travel booking platform, dubbed Jetbay, promises a better and more immersive experience to international travelers. The site offers 300 bookable routes throughout China that are fully customisable, and travelers can build their own tour or have Jetbay recommend personalised routes based on their browsing history, Facebook data and provided preferences.

The service was developed because Jetbay believed tourists generally weren't getting the full experience China can provide, said Jetbay's COO James Tan. "We just want to give people a favorable image of traveling in China," Tan said. "We hear of horror stories of people going overseas -whether it's China or some other country - and they have a horrible experience, whether it's not getting home or not getting what they sign up for."

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A Chinese conglomerate has helped fund two new weekly Queensland air services to Asia, with Qantas budget subsidiary Jetstar set to link the Gold Coast with the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The route, which would begin services on September 29 subject to regulatory approval, would be serviced by a 335-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner and be funded, in part, by a partnership with the Dalian Wanda Group.

The route would be driven by inbound travel, with Dalian Wanda Group selling integrated flight and holiday packages to the Gold Coast.

Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said China was an important tourism market for Australia.

"This new service opens up a direct link between South East Queensland and one of the largest travel markets in the world, delivering about 70,000 seats between China and the Gold Coast each year," he said.

The 9½-hour flights between the Gold Coast and Wuhan would operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

"We're expecting strong bookings throughout the week, as thousands of customers take the opportunity to travel to the sunny Gold Coast for a break during the long weekend," Mr Hall said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new service would provide seats for up to 35,000 passengers a year and add millions to the local economy.

"The new route represents an important aviation milestone for Queensland, marking the introduction of the first non-stop services from China into the Gold Coast," she said.

"Over two years the Wuhan-Gold Coast service has the potential to generate $53 million in visitor expenditure to the local economy, in turn supporting jobs and small business."

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said 60 per cent of all Chinese visitors to Queensland included the Gold Coast on their visit.

"City of Gold Coast has long recognised the opportunity of the Chinese market and working with Gold Coast Tourism has driven the push for direct flights," he said.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of a concerted campaign which will inject millions into the local economy and help create more local jobs."

Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan said about 186,000 Chinese tourists visited the Gold Coast every year.

"China is Queensland's largest international market by visitor expenditure, with visitors spending $591 million in the year to September 2014," he said.

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Dr Catriona Wallace defines Customer Experience Strategy.


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