The regional Philippine city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental province has been formally identified as one of the country's newest BPO hubs.
The Philippine Department of Science and Technology formally identified Bacolod as a Center of Excellence for IT and BPO during a ceremony this week. Other Centers of Excellence in the Philippines include Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Clark. As a Center of Excellence, Bacolod was elevated from the ranks of the "Top 10 Next Wave Cities in the Philippines."
Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for information and Communications Technology founding president and executive director and councilor-elect Jocelle Sigue dedicated the distinction to "every call centre agent, technical support representative, global services worker, business process manager, IT-BPO professional" and to Bacolod and Negros residents "working to prove that Bacolod, Negros Occidental is truly a Center of Excellence in the Philippine IT-BPM industry today."
A Chinese Maserati owner has taken the extreme step of hiring four sledgehammer-wielding men to smash up his $420,000 car in protest over claims of poor customer service.
The car owner, identified only by his surname Wang, had the men attack the Maserati Quattroporte at the opening of a car show in the city of Qingdao, the Qingdao Morning Post reported. Video images showed the men leaving the vehicle with a shattered windscreen and mirrors, the grille broken and dents to the bodywork. It was draped in a banner accusing the Italian manufacturer of poor decision-making.
Problems reportedly first arose when he took his car to the Maserati dealer for an unspecified repair, with staff charging him for new spare parts despite using used ones, the paper quoted Wang as saying. It later failed to fix a problem with a door and scratched the vehicle, he added. "I hope foreign luxury car producers acknowledge clearly that Chinese consumers are entitled to get the service that is commensurate with the brand," Wang was quoted as saying. Qingdao's Maserati dealer said on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo: "We deeply regret that before the two sides could reach a result via negotiation, the vehicle owner... smashed the world famous car in public... to cause a sensation."
Indian companies risk losing up to 18% of their profits due to a lack of a robust customer experience strategy, IT company Oracle says.
The Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era report also revealed that 93% of executives globally believe improving customer experience is one of their organisation's top three priorities in the next two years, and 91% wish to be considered a customer experience leader in their industry. The study found Indian businesses are still weighing the importance of customer experience and only 29% are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative, while only 24% consider the state of their customer experience initiative to be advanced and 47% are still assessing "customer experience" implementations.
In India, 72% of executives felt that customers are willing to pay more for great customer experiences, while 49% indicated that customers will switch brands due to a poor customer experience. As social media gains greater customer service focus, 81% Indian executives believed that delivering a great customer experience today requires leveraging social media effectively, but 35% do not have social media for sales channels and 35% do not use social media for customer service.
Singapore customers regard good customer service and a respect of privacy as the key attributes of a reputable brand, according to new research.
A survey by PR firm H+K Strategies found that 86% of respondents believe that brands putting consumers first were important, while 81% said that brands respecting consumer privacy is important. The survey, conducted in February, covered the themes of brand image, customer focus, employer branding, corporate social responsibility and digital orientation.
Other highly regarded attributes decided by respondents included as maintaining a high level of transparency, accountability and integrity(77%); actively engaging customers (76%); is fair in dealings with stakeholders (76%); represents value for money (75%); is well respected internationally (72%) and more. Finally the study also identified opportunities for organisations to build their brands by: having dynamic marketing activities, greater online participation, taking part in corporate social responsibility initiatives and more.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has formerly recognised more than 100 of its staff members who it says have gone the extra mile toward customer service for the traveling public.
The airport each year presents customer service awards to its best staff. Examples of outstanding service included Windy Chiu from the Hong Kong Tourism Board who not only helped a French couple with advice about the Lion Dance Championship in Hong Kong, but even bought and sent them tickets to their hotel. Vicky Li, Ella Fan and Lemon Su from China Merchant Shekou Ferry Terminal were also commended for helping a passenger who was 29 weeks pregnant.
"This year marks HKIA's 15th anniversary, and every year we aim to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the best possible experience for our growing number of travellers, said Airport Authority Hong Kong CEO Stanley Hui Hon-chung. "Our 65,000 airport staff are committed to providing top-notch customer service and helping HKIA maintain its status as one of the world's best and busiest passenger airports, and some go a step further to enrich the passenger journey."
Indian businesses have been quick to recognise the potential of social media as a customer service channel, according to new research.
Ernst & Young's recent Social Media Marketing - India Trends Study 2013, found that Indian companies are using social media primarily to build communities and highlight brand news, with many already moving beyond Facebook and onto emerging platforms. As well as building communities (95.7%) and highlighting brand news (76.1%), companies polled for the report said they were using social media engagement to provide customer service (58.7%), generate leads (43.5%) and carry out research (41.3%).
"Social media is fast emerging as a means of partnership between organisations and their customers, leading to continuous engagement and deeper loyalty," Ernst & Young's Dinesh Mishra told the Times of India. Facebook was most important platform for marketers in India for engaging customers, followed by Twitter, YouTube and blogging, but almost half of respondents were already using emerging platforms such as Pinterest, Google+ and Foursquare.
Philippine outsourcer Stream Global Services Cebu is looking to take a leadership role in corporate social responsibility with the launch of its Pay It Forward Project (PIFP).
Stream director Potski Alvarez said the PIFP project is part of his company's commitment to the community, which started last January and will run throughout the year. "It's high time for the business process outsourcing sector to make a bigger impact on the society," said Alvarez. The PIFP commenced with an outreach program to The Children of Cebu, Inc. in January, Celebrate Life with Kythe Foundation in February, Cuts for Cancer with Donate Your Hair Inc. in March and Adopt-A-Mangrove with Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation in April.
Other initiatives underway or still being planned include a post-election and coastal clean-up, medical missions, animal rescue, Pink October, deaf empowerment and pride diversity events. Alvarez said Stream is strengthening its CSR programs this year and increasing employee involvement. "We've been supporting Cebu in the lasts eight years when it was not yet a prime BPO destination. Now it has emerged as a top technology hub in Asia. With this achievement, I guess it's just right to give back to the people," he said.
Australian social media management company Local Measure has secured Gelatissimo as its first customer in Singapore and Philippines after announcing plans to expand its presence into Southeast Asia.
Local Measure helps businesses improve customer service by engaging with honest conversations on social media. It leverages aggregated data across Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram to provide insights for retailers, with results captured in real-time allowing retailers to immediately adjust their strategy based on live feedback.
The Local Measure social media tool will be used in over 40 Gelatissimo stores. "Local Measure allows retailers to reclaim that personal customer service so often lost in the business transaction," said Local Measure CEO Jonathan Barouch. "While some customers may comment to friends or colleagues about weak coffee or poorly manicured pinkies, few would complain to the retailer outright. With Local Measure, retailers can now use this feedback to improve their customer service and make changes to their products or services accordingly."
New data from the Philippine Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) has found that role of contact agent is the most sought after job in the country with available candidates unable to match demand.
The BLE figures showed that from April 22-29, vacancies for call centre agents reached 2,757 positions, ahead of those for production machine operator, followed by sales clerk and labourer. Other sought-after jobs are merchandiser, technical support staff, promo salesperson, customer service assistant, cashier, office clerk, delivery driver, sales officer and motorcycle driver.
Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) president Jose Mari Mercado told reporters he was not surprised that call centre agents emerged as the hottest job in the Philippines due to the great demand for contact centre services, particularly in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. "Hiring is one of our challenges. Yes, we speak English, but not the level of English that the industry is looking for. Graduates usually trip when they engage in free-flowing conversation, and when we talk about business communication," Mercado said.
Indian outsourcer Genpact says it has significantly increased its presence in the Netherlands market a year after its acquisition of European rival Accounting Plaza.
Genpact says it has provided an expanded services portfolio and enhanced career opportunities for its employees in the Netherlands, now serving more than 20 clients with Dutch operations including Ahold, MSD, Achmea and Nationale Nederlanden. In the Netherlands, Genpact delivers a range of services for clients in segments including consumer goods, retail, life sciences, financial services and insurance.
Genpact acquired finance, accounting, human resources and PeopleSoft ERP services company Accounting Plaza last year. "The incorporation of Accounting Plaza into Genpact's European operations has provided tremendous value to the services we deliver to our clients and has positioned us in The Netherlands as a leader in BPM and ERP services," Genpact Europe Senior Vice President and COO Pascal Henssen said. Gurgaon-based Genpact operates out of centres in India, China, Guatemala, Hungary, México, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, South Africa, Australia, UAE, Brazil, Kenya, and the United States.
The Customer Relationship Management and Contact Centre Association of Malaysia (CCAM) has engaged US-based consultants COPC to explore ways to adopt an improvement-focused strategy for the industry.
The recommendations are expected to equip the country with an improved BPO structure and framework and with that it hopes will reinforce its position in the Asian BPO market. So far, a Performance Improvement Criteria (PIC) for a pilot program in Malaysia has been formulated to benchmark future trends and pathways.
The COPC PIC prescribes industry best practices, which are expected to enable the country to manage all of its contact centres more effectively. The PIC will also help the industry identify the factors that may affect the performance. Organisations implementing the PIC will have the opportunity to compare their performance against world-class operations, then work toward achieving those standards in their centres.
Chinese telco Shanghai Mobile has completed a major revamp of its customer service IT with the implementation of the full international Veris Billing and CRM product suite from AsiaInfo-Linkage.
AsiaInfo-Linkage says its Veris suite offers operators flexibility and the capability to quickly roll-out new services based on real-time charging and analysis with "full convergence of customer data across pre-paid, post-paid and multi-service contracts". "We believe Shanghai Mobile's installation of the Veris suite across its 25 million subscriber base is a major deployment," said AsiaInfo-Linkage CEO Steve Zhang.
"Not only will it help to set new standards of customer service and flexibility, it also reflects the kind of work we are doing to help China's carriers analyse and better monetise their rapidly growing user traffic," he said. AsiaInfo-Linkage is a Sino-American vendor of Business support systems (BSS) and Operational support systems (OSS) to the telecoms market.
Customer relationship IT specialist Avaya has announced the release of a video teller machine (VTM) specifically for the China market incorporating Avaya video conferencing and contact center technologies.
Avaya says the VTMs will allow Chinese banks and consumers to expand the types of transactions they can conduct over ATMs, including sophisticated ones such as credit card applications. The VTMs will allow consumers to communicate with bank customer service agents using video technology, while the integration of contact center technologies will help ensure that the video calls are routed to the right agents who can handle each consumer's request effectively.
If needed, the customer service agents can also initiate multi-party video conferences with colleagues and experts to solve customer issues together, Avaya said. "VTMs will help banks to greatly enrich customer services, and more effectively expand business," said Avaya's China MD John Wang. "It will also result in closer integration between customer contact center and core businesses of banks. VTMs can play an important role in transforming contact centers from so-called 'cost centers' to 'profit centers'."
Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has taken greater control of its inbound voice call routing at its London contact center in a bid to deliver better customer service.
The airline says it has ended delay-prone third-party redirects and implemented a Gamma Network Solutions cloud-based Inbound call handling and routing solution. The solution enables Cathay Pacific agents to instantly trigger their choice of redirect lists, and manage Gamma's cloud-based call recording, through a web interface. Cathay Pacific's London contact center handles up to 400 calls a day, ranging from customer and travel agent enquiries, queries about missed flights to mislaid baggage. When extreme weather or other events disrupt normal operations at the company's European sites, including London, incoming calls are rerouted to other Cathay Pacific locations in Vancouver, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Cathay Pacific customer sales manager Gunjan Kher said many of the airline's premium customers still prefer to get in touch by phone. "Phone contact is key to building relationships with our customers and it's important that we keep those links open at all times. Before, it could take as long as two hours to redirect our lines to another center," Kher said. "Now with Gamma's Inbound solution it happens instantly at the touch of a button and we have total control over exactly which lines go where. For us it ticks all of the boxes."
Indian BPO company Aegis says it plans to acquire a mid-sized company in Asia or the Americas to scale up its global delivery model by having a presence in newer geographies.
Aegis CEO Sandip Sen said his company has made over 18 acquisitions to date, and is now scouting for potential purchases "in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Columbia or even a near-shore (a location closer to the client) market to the US such as Jamaica". Aegis is part of Indian conglomerate Essar Group.
Sen said clients are "sometimes a little reluctant to offshore business 8,000-9,000 miles away. We call it 'rightshoring' - a combination of offshore, onshore and near shore. There is competition in the BPO industry but our strength is our geographic model". Aegis has nine contact centers in the US, six in Argentina, one each in Peru and Costa Rica, along with seven centers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 32 in Asia-Pacific.
Philippines outsourcer Stream Global Services has bought UK rival LBM Holdings to extend its reach into the major British client market.
LBM will be Stream's platform to better penetrate the UK market, the world's second largest English language market, Stream's parent company Ayala said in a statement. LBM is also expected to contribute in expanding Stream's clientele since the UK-based firm has a portfolio that includes telecommunications, financial services, utilities, automotive and retail companies.
"LBM's people, expertise and capabilities, combined with Stream's financial strength, global presence, and sales and service offerings, will establish a broader portfolio of high-value service offerings for our clients," said Stream chairwoman Kathy Marinello. Stream employs over 39,000 employees supporting 35 languages across 56 customer service centers in 23 countries.
The Philippines' Globe Telecom has deployed a Lithium Social Platform as part of a strategy to reduce customer service costs and increase customer loyalty.
By using the solution, Globe aims to respond to enquiries and posts about Globe across social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and other online social networks. The solution will also provide a source of reliable answers for Globe's service agents as they respond to large volumes of customer conversations on public social networks.
Globe serves 33 million mobile subscribers, 1.7 million broadband customers and 700,000 landline subscribers. "Our deal with Lithium, a trusted partner of some of the world's most iconic brands, is a bold statement of our commitment to innovation in providing the highest quality support and service experience for our customers," said Globe CEO Ernest Cu.
The Maharashtra State Health Department has initiated a process to launch a phone-based Emergency Medical and Referral Services (EMS).
The toll free number service is expected to be launched soon at a new contact center which is being set up at Aundh District Hospital in the state capital of Pune. A call from any part of the state will be routed through the center and ambulances dispatched immediately to pick up patients at the earliest and rush them to the nearest hospital.
Chief Secretary of Health T C Benjamin told reporters the project has been outsourced to BVG India Limited. The second floor at the Aundh District Hospital building is being readied to install equipment and other necessary items required to set up a contact center.
French-based outsourcer Teleperformance says its subsidiary TLScontact has been ranked one of the best companies to work for in all six of its locations in China.
TLScontact is one of the eight companies to receive this award in the first year the Great Place to Work Institute conducted the assessment in China. Teleperformance says the award is an extension of TLScontact's worldwide initiative to continuously listen to employees and take action to build mutual trust and build a great working environment.
"Being a Great Place to Work is essential for hiring and retaining the best talent in the industry," said TLScontact CEO Bertrand Weisgerber. "Our talented employees have built us to be the successful company we are today. We believe a happy employee makes a happy customer and a happy customer makes a happy client."
TravelSky will upgrade its airline customer service IT offering with the Unisys Airline Core Systems Solutions (AirCore) next-generation passenger system.
TravelSky, which operates the reservations, inventory and departure control systems used by China's air carriers, will use Unisys AirCore to streamline and modernise passenger sales and service (PSS) applications for its airline clients. The multi-year deal covers the first phase of TravelSky's modernisation program to replace its inventory and flight information applications as well as provide customer-centric capabilities for its hosted airline clients.
"We selected Unisys AirCore for our modernisation program as it offered the optimal migration path to open technology, using industry standards to allow our airline clients to optimise key customer-facing processes that best suit their individual business needs," said TravelSky VP Huang Yuanchang.
The Bank of Queensland will begin switching off its legacy CRM software in September after a successful year-long pilot of a Salesforce.com solution.
BoQ CEO Stuart Grimshaw said the trial of the cloud-based CRM had reached 388 users in 57 retail branches as of February. He said the Salesforce.com solution allowed staff to create new accounts in five minutes compared with the previous 30 minutes, using 22 keystrokes instead of 144.
BoQ staff had also identified "strong cross-sell opportunities" for 59% of its existing customers through the trial. Grimshaw said the bank hoped to implement the cloud-based CRM by September, although it noted that full implementation was subject to internal approvals.
The federal government has extended the period for phone numbers registered on the Do Not Call Register to eight years.
Australian Communications and Media Authority chairman Chris Chapman says all numbers currently registered will automatically be extended from the existing six years to eight years. "Any new registrations will also be valid for the new period, making life easier for Australians wishing to opt out of telemarketing calls and marketing faxes, long term," Chapman said in a statement.
Since its inception, the Do Not Call Register has grown to include 8.5 million numbers and businesses can incur a maximum fine of $1.7 million for breaching the register. The register is a free service which lists Australian numbers, both mobiles and landlines that are used primarily for private or domestic purposes to opt out of receiving most unsolicited telemarketing calls.
Australian talent outsourcer Flat Planet will look to expand its global growth with a cloud-based virtual contact centre (VCC) service powered by Telstra Global.
Flat Planet provides BPO services to customers across Australia, Asia, North America and Europe. Flat Planet is reportedly Telstra Global's first external customer on the VCC global platform.
"This type of public cloud innovation, blended with the reliability of Telstra's network and hosting services, is an unbeatable combination," said Flat Planet CEO Chris Moriarty. Telstra Global's Nathan Bell said the commercial and operational agility delivered by the VCC platform acts as an "enabler to accelerated growth."
Hertz says it is now the first car rental company in Australia to integrate social customer service into its business.
Hertz customers are now able to resolve service problems by tweeting at the Hertz twitter page. "It is time to get over this misconception that brands can ignore tweets about their brand because social media is relatively inconsequential in comparison to other channels like phone or email," Joshua March, CEO of Hertz social media partner Conversocial, told reporters.
March said between 50% and 80% of tweets to companies require an actionable response. "Failing to deliver great customer service over social channels like Twitter can carry big risks," he said. "There are certain tweets that are malicious and don't merit a response, but even those critical to a business, or especially so, need to be addressed."
The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) telehealth project has won the Outstanding ICT Innovation award in the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards 2013 in Singapore.
The telehealth service allows a nurse to make a 'virtual visit' to a patient at home using the Intel Home Guide remote monitoring device, which includes an in-built camera and is capable of taking remote measurements through peripheral medical devices. At the moment, RDNS is mainly using the device to visit the client virtually and observe them taking their medications, but the device also has a diary element, in which it asks the clients certain questions, which are answered by a push-button on the screen. Depending on what the answer is, the device can prompt or trigger a response.
RDNS CEO Stephen Muggleton said the award came on the same day that RDNS made its first public demonstration in Asia of its seniors-friendly telehealth solution that will potentially enable earlier hospital discharge for patients, prevent medicine mismanagement and maximise nursing resources.
Telstra CEO David Thodey likens his quest to transform the telco's customer service to a marathon, saying he is only part of the way into the strategy.
"I think this (improving customer service) is definitely a marathon and I have got through the first 10km," he told reporters. "It is a big job." Thodey, who still personally reads every customer letter sent to him to keep abreast of service problems, said the goal has been to radically simplify and speed up service, and get the right customer details first time.
"We've moved from just looking at customer service, to a net promoter score which is trying to lift the aspiration of the company, not just to deliver an adequate service but to have customers who - after they've dealt with you - say, 'gee that really surprised me, that's really great," he said.
American Express is partially withdrawing the concierge service for its high-end credit card clients in Hong Kong.
Amex said in a recent letter to its Platinum credit card holders that it's "concierge service from restaurant referrals and reservations to flower delivery will be ceased with effect from May 1, 2013". Amex spokesperson Priscilla Wat said the suspension of the concierge service will affect only Amex's Platinum credit card holders, rather than all higher-level card holders such as those who have Amex's black Centurion card.
"In Hong Kong, we review the features of our card products from time to time with an aim to provide the most suitable benefits and services which meet the lifestyles and changing needs of our card members," Wat told the South China Morning Post. The concierge service was one of the most actively promoted marketing tools for Amex, allowing card holders to call a direct line to arrange anything from tickets to cultural events to visiting a spa.
The DFS Galleria Singapore shopping centre has won the award for 'Best People Practices' at the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion awards.
The luxury retail space was recognised for its "comprehensive staff training and reward programs that have produced individuals who deliver exceptional customer service". The outlet is one of 14 downtown Gallerias operated by DFS Group worldwide.
"Our people lie at the heart of DFS's success and no effort is spared in investing in them," said DFS Asia South MD Craig McKenna. "We are honoured to accept this award, which recognises the attention we give to hiring, training and rewarding our people. I am proud of our wonderfully talented team of sales associates, executives and trainers - all of whom contribute to providing an exceptional experience for our customers." The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Awards are presented each year to the most outstanding organisations and individuals in the retail sector.
While more and more jobs are being created in the country's contact centre sector, the demands on staff are still stringent.
A Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) report found that contact centre applicants have a "mortality rate" of 95%, with only five out of 100 applicants are able to survive the highly competitive industry. The findings have prompted Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) secretary Mario Go Montejo to recommend that Filipinos become smarter to cope with the demands of the 21st century.
"We need to develop 'smarter people' to keep abreast with the developments. Developing smarter people means building up knowledge workers with 21st century skills," Montejo said, adding that developing smarter people is a complement of its latest umbrella program called "Smarter Philippines." Smarter Philippines is geared towards facilitating and delivering "more effective and efficient services in all sectors," the DOST head said. Under the program are Smarter Government, Smarter Economy, Smarter Mobility, Smarter Environment, Smarter Living, and Smarter Cities.
State Bank of India (SBI) will enhance its customer service by rolling out 600 new NCR Corporation SelfServ 32 ATMs across the country.
With the adoption of the new ATMs, SBI aims to reduce queue times at its branches and give customers the flexibility to execute everyday cash deposit transactions beyond banking hours. In a typical SBI branch, check and cash withdrawals make up more than 60% of transactions performed by tellers. NCR says its SelfServ ATMs allows a single cash withdrawal or deposit transaction at branches to be reduced by up to 75%.
"The Retail Banking Report for Deposit Automation and Recycling, 2012, indicates that some of the strongest drivers of growth for cash deposit ATMs in India are 'queue reduction' and 'customer demand'," said NCR India MD Jaivinder Gill. "The report further predicts that the installed base of ATMs in India with automated deposit functionality is expected to grow five folds reaching 17,000 by 2017 - clearly indicating a trend of increasing consumer demand for counter-based transactions to be available 24x7 on the self-service channel."
China Southern Airlines (CSA) says it successfully negotiated the recent Spring Festival travel rush with the help of a newly-installed suite of Avaya customer service technologies.
CSA completed an upgrade of its contact center technology at sixteen branches at the end of 2012. The system adopted a structure that allows central management and allocating of all resources. Taking advantage of its Avaya Call Management System, a special Spring Festival task group monitored changes of call volumes, wait time and queue list so as to take prompt actions, including optimising call distribution policies and adjusting agent resources.
Using the Avaya technology, CSA is able to monitor the status of all contact center agents at the headquarters, and the incoming customer calls are routed to the agents who can best address the enquiries. Based on the Avaya open platform, China Southern Airlines also has developed VOS (Voice of Sky) application which enables one-stop services to handle all customer transactions including enquiries, flight booking, payment & member service.
Phone and technology company Apple has apologised to its Chinese customers for its after-sales service in the country after weeks of media criticism.
Apple CEO Tim Cook released a statement on the company's Chinese website saying: "We are aware that owing to insufficient external communication, some consider Apple's attitude to be arrogant, inattentive or indifferent to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for causing consumers any misgivings or misunderstanding."
State-run media across China had accused Apple of being arrogance and of "throwing its weight around", saying faulty iPhones were only repaired under its one-year service policy - not replaced as in other countries - and its warranty was shorter than elsewhere. Cook said Apple would now offer full replacement of iPhone 4 and 4S devices in China, along with a new one-year warranty.
The regional Philippine city of Cebu City has emerged as one of Asia's top outsourcing destinations.
From hosting just four BPO companies 10 years ago, Cebu now boasted over 100 companies and 95,000 workers at the end of 2012. Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-IT) executive director Wilfredo Sa-a Jr. said the work they have done has contributed much to the development of the business process outsourcing (BPO), and information and communication technology (ICT) industry in Cebu.
Sa-a Jr. said Cedf-IT's also conducted study tours in India, South Korea, Silicon Valley and Taiwan to see how they were going about the outsourcing industry, which has led to Cebu's being in the top 10 cities for outsourcing for three years. Jerry Rapes, president of software service company Exist Quest, said Cebu is a complete destination and that aside from its progress in business, it is also a hot tourist spot, getting recognition from publications like Conde Nast, the New York Times and Travel and Leisure.
Rural mobile users have better customer experiences than urban users across India, according to new research by American telecoms IT provider Amdocs.
Anshoo Gaur, head of Amdocs India, said pan-India Amdocs customer experience research found the nationwide index score stood at 7.17 on a scale of 1 to 10 but varied across segments. Gaur said that rural populations report a relatively better customer experience than urban populations (7.22 against 7.17), and Generation Y (age group 18-24) consumers report a relatively better experience than Generation X (age group 35-54) customers (7.20 versus 7.12).
Amdocs said the research of 5,000 mobile customers across India was analysed using an analytical model designed by Amdocs, and validated by Deloitte Touche. Gaur said it is becoming increasingly clear to communication service providers that delivering best in class customer experience is a competitive differentiator. "It drives customer loyalty, and directly impacts revenue and profitability."
Many companies in Southeast Asia are yet to fully take advantage of the customer service opportunities presented by interactive digital technologies, according to a new survey.
The Accenture survey of over 400 business executives in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand found that 66% said they face challenges in meeting customer service. But only 34% say customer-facing digital strategy is at the heart of their corporate strategy.
Two-thirds (63%) of the respondents say they face challenges in finding people with the right digital experience. Accenture said that Southeast Asian companies are not taking full advantage of the potential of digital technologies, using new media to "broadcast" information rather than engage with their consumers.
Chinese mobile company Huawei has launched its first contact center in South Africa to support local customers.
The center will handle queries regarding Huawei smartphones, home gateways, tablets and mobile broadband "to provide customers with user-friendly mobile device experiences", the company said. "The creation of this call center is a result of Huawei's growth in the South African market and is part of our entry strategy into the consumer space with our new smartphone offerings," Huawei's Larking Huang said.
The contact center will offer additional technical support over and above what is offered through the individual operators offering Huawei's devices. "Having our own local call center now enables users to receive direct feedback from Huawei on any queries they may have. This reduces the amount of time in which queries are processed, resulting in increased customer satisfaction," Huang said.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore is leading a year-long pilot project to promote home-based work and encourage local companies to create flexible working conditions for employees.
Using ICT solutions from telco Singtel, the pilot will allow home-based sales executives to use cloud-based contact center technologies to handle enquiries from home. In addition, Rainforest e-Learning, an SME providing education services, is developing a learning management system to help home-based teachers deliver lessons to students through video conferencing and e-learning using connected devices.
The adoption patterns of home-based workers will be studied throughout the pilot, and the packaging of existing products changed to better cater for them. The pilot aims to help the 258,000 economically inactive residents between the age of 25 and 54 rejoin the workforce and contribute to Singapore's economy.
Indian outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been selected by the UK-based water utility Southern Water to implement a customer service and revenue transformation program.
"The program will combine front and back-end technology deployments with internal process redevelopment," TCS said. Southern Water will benefit from enhanced customer service capabilities, improved cash collection and debt management and will see a reduction in operating expenditure, it added.
"Southern Water supplies water across some 4,450 sq km, and TCS has provided us with a roadmap for more flexible and efficient service delivery within this extensive area," said Southern Water chief customer officer Darren Bentham. "The CRM system we're deploying for Southern Water will help in the drive to provide industry-leading customer services, while data governance and analysis tools deliver better intelligence back into the business," TCS' A S Lakshminarayanan said.
The Indian government has plans to set up specific contact centers for the investors looking to start business ventures in the country.
The corporate contact centers will streamline the methods of supplying information, while providing grievance redressal services to companies and other stakeholders. The centers are expected to be up and running by September under the administration of the Corporate Affairs Ministry and will be known as Corporate Seva Kendra.
The initiative is part of the Indian government's efforts to strengthen interaction with corporates and ensure faster compliance with various requirements, amid concerns over the companies finding it difficult in doing business. The centers will provide a wide range of information to companies and answer their queries about corporate filings, information and statutory requirements.
Japanese mobile operator KDDI says it will open contact centers throughout Southeast Asia marketing outsourcing services to Japanese and local companies seeking Japanese-style customer service.
The company's contact center subsidiary KDDI Evolva will first establish a base in Bangkok this month, expanding to India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in the next two to three years. The centers will hire locally, offering services in the local language as well as in Japanese and English.
KDDI will train workers in Japanese-style services. While each center will start off with a few employees, expanding seats on demand, the company aims to have a total of 300 customer service staff in place after three years.
Russian software company, Noda Contact Center Solutions, has set up business in the Philippines, hoping to expand its footprint into Central Asia.
Andrey Zaitsev, CEO, Noda Contact Center Solutions, announced the firm’s entry into the Philippines at a recent press conference in Manila, which he says is part of Noda's strategic expansion plans in the BPO industries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Noda offers software solutions geared to automate in-house and outsourced contact centers. Since its foundation, Noda has successfully developed and implemented its contact center solutions in more than 300 call centers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to the company's official figures, the total volume of workplaces in these contact centers is more than 10,000, serving over 10 million customers.
The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group has opened a contact center in the city of Guangzhou servicing customers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
The center offers a toll-free service for making inbound and outbound reservations, while the group's Golden Circle members can also contact the center for all their requirements. The customer service staff will offer assistance in Putonghua, Cantonese and English languages.
"With 40 hotels in Greater China and more in the development pipeline, China remains a key focus in our group," said Shangri-La Chief Marketing Officer Kent Zhu. "Our new dedicated customer contact center will help us better serve our guests and enhance their overall booking experience."
Chinese solar power product manufacturer JinkoSolar has opened its first sales office in Tokyo.
The office will serve as a centralised sales and service hub for JinkoSolar's Japanese customer base. "Japan has taken a leading role in the global development and utilisation of this clean and sustainable energy solution," said JinkoSolar chairman Xiande Li. "With our new base in Tokyo and continued collaborative efforts with local and regional partners, we will strive to promote the long term development of the solar industry in Japan."
JinkoSolar Chief Marketing Officer Arturo Herrero said JinkoSolar is committed to providing its Japanese customers with the highest quality products and swift customer support. "As a reliable and effective solar partner across the globe, we take pride in providing stellar customer service. Having a physical presence in Japan serves as a critical asset for our customers and demonstrates our commitment to the market."
India's Infosys has expanded its global footprint with a new BPO center in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The center will house more than 100 agents initially providing services in the strategic sourcing and procurement area for Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer packaged goods company. Infosys will soon offer the entire range of BPO services in Costa Rica for its global clients, in areas including finance and accounting, human resources management, analytics, legal processes, customer relationship services, marketing, and supply chain management.
Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said the Infosys investment is very significant for her country. "We look forward to a mutually beneficial and long-standing relationship with Infosys, to promote growth in the country and to strengthen the position of Costa Rica as one of the most competitive sites for foreign investment."
The Indonesian capital of Jakarta has launched a contact center for residents looking for information about hospitals across the city.
Residents can call both landline and mobile phone hotline numbers to obtain information such as available facilities or vacant rooms at various hospitals, or request an ambulance. The single hotline number eliminates the need to call or visit each hospital individually to get the information needed.
Nine hospitals have been included in the project, with the Health Agency of Jakarta's Dien Emmawati expecting 92 hospitals across the city to be integrated by next month. "We only have four lines at the moment, so some callers sometimes need to wait to get a response," said Emmawati, adding that the agency would add more lines in the near future.
US cloud-based compliance and information security solutions company Trustwave will enhance its customer management in the Philippines with a new Security Operations Center (SOC) in Manila.
The new Security Operations Center enhances Trustwave's ability to serve clients headquartered in Asia-Pacific, in addition to large, multinational businesses with operations in the region. The new, secure Manila facility houses the infrastructure and staff necessary to deliver customer service, threat monitoring and device management to Trustwave's clients.
"Adding a Security Operations Center in the Asia-Pacific region was a logical next step in the growth and evolution of Trustwave Managed Security Services," said Trustwave's Michael Petitti.
Computing company Hewlett Packard has formed a new quality control and customer service group in China.
HP has merged two of its post-sale customer support centres into the newly formed "Quality and Service Centre" to provide 24/7 support to customers in China. The newly established group will monitor all aspects of HP's production chain to guarantee high quality design, manufacturing, logistics, and customer service for its products in the China market.
HP currently has 1,100 authorised service stores in China and plans to boost the number to 1,500 in 2013 with expansion mainly in low-tier cities and rural areas. The company, the world's largest PC maker, announced last Thursday that its first fiscal quarter ending Jan. 31 declined 16 % over the same period a year earlier to $1.2 billion - the results were better than expected and revenue also beat forecast despite a 6% drop to $28.4 billion.
ProComm Services, a new Help Line-Call Centre for telecommunications services in Tonga was officially launched by Princess Angelika last week at the Tungi Collonade, Nuku'alofa.
The centre will respond to requests for help and information regarding telecommunications. It is part of preparations for Tonga's scheduled link up to a fast international under-water telecommunication fiber optic cable network in July, that will speed-up internet connections and open up new opportunities for business.
At the launch, the Managing Director of ProComm Services, Sisi-Kakala Fine said that with her co-director Tevita Kilisimasi Ha'apai they had already recruited 24 young Tongans, "and most of them are school leavers." The CEO for the Tonga Communication Corporation, Rizvi Jurangpathy told Matangi Tonga that as part of their preparation for the arrival in Tonga of the telecommunications fiber optic cable network in July they had invited enterprises since August last year for an expressions of interest to set up and operate the Help Line-Call Centre for Tonga.
Singapore is in the midst of Social Media Week, with the city-state hosting some 40 events exploring trends and possibilities surrounding the social media platform.
The global conference is taking place across 26 cities, with the Singapore event bringing together businessmen, marketeers and members of the public to explore social media trends and their impact on business, society and culture. Events in Singapore include forums on how the platform can be used to promote social causes and shape industries.
"Social media has really transformed the way people talk to each other, how businesses are now talking to consumers," said Samsung Asia's Damien Cummings. "It's really broken down the barriers between big brands, big faceless brands and how customers interact with them. It's become the new force of customer service."
Mobile telco Vodafone Australia will return contact centre work from its Indian arm after receiving an Australian government cash incentive.
Vodafone will create 750 contact centre positions in Tasmania as part of the telco's renewed focus on customer service, said Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow. Vodafone is not expected to close its Indian outsourced arm, instead leave its IT and administration functions in the country.
To help facilitate the move, the Australian government committed $4 million for the move, while the Tasmanian state government will add another $850,000. The announcement goes against the current practice of western companies outsourcing back office jobs to developing countries because of the lower pay and the significant number of English-speaking workers.
Low cost carrier AirAsia's has rolled out two new customer service innovations in the Philippines.
Philippine customers can now phone the easy-to-remember hotline number 742ASIA (742 2742) as well as pay for products with cash at convenience stores. "To provide optimum customer care service for our guests, AirAsia is launching two new significant innovations," AirAsia. Commercial head Freddy Herrera said. "We have a new customer hotline that is easy to remember and we are also rolling out our cash payment partner with 7-Eleven store for our passengers who want to avail of our online promotions and other privileges, but would like to pay in cash instead of using their credit cards."
Herrera said Filipinos will embrace the new concept of paying cash for airline tickets via its payment partners option because of its simplicity and convenience. More than 800 7-Eleven stores nationwide will start accepting cash payments for AirAsia on February 28. AirAsia's new Philippine hotline number started on February 25.
Changi Airport Group (CAG) has paid tribute to its front-line staff at an Annual Airport Celebration ceremony.
Singapore Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew presented 21 Changi Airport Service Awards to individuals, teams and the outstanding organisation in five award categories - Service Personality of the Year, Outstanding Service Staff, Outstanding Service Team, Outstanding Custodial Staff and a new category, Service Partner of the Year. The Changi Airport Service Awards were introduced in 1994 and have remained a major feature of CAG's quality service management program.
"2012 was an exceptional year for Changi Airport," CAG CEO Lee Seow Hiang. "We crossed a milestone with more than 51 million passenger movements and received 30 Best Airport accolades. These outcomes are possible only with the commitment and enduring efforts invested by our more than 200 airport partners, whether they are government agencies, airlines, ground-handling agents or tenants."
Thailand's contact center is increasingly competing with customer service heavyweights India and the Philippines in the outsourcing market.
The Thai contact center outsourcing market is estimated to be worth US$88.5 million in 2012, and is expected to reach US$151 million by the end of 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan. Among those aiming to capitalise on Thailand's market potential are India's Servion Global Solutions, which opened up an office there in January.
Thailand will play a very important part in the region's growth because of the local and international opportunities it is being presented with, said Abhijit Banerjee, Servion's vice president and regional head for Asia-Pacific. Banerjee said Thailand was experiencing a massive economic boom, especially with international opportunities being opened up. He noted the country had recently signed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) trade treaty, which specifically paved the way for the opening of business opportunities in growth markets such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
A new Indian service is helping marketing companies connect to potential customers via a "missed call".
ZipDial offers clients a marketing offer with a toll-free phone number that consumers can dial into, but instead of having to wait to connect with a customer service agent the call rings once and disconnects. The caller then receives a text message with more information on the marketing campaign. Services helped by ZipDial include mobile number verification for e-commerce ventures, mobile banking polls and customer feedback surveys.
Co-founder Valarie Wagoner says that compared to Facebook, ZipDial drives between 2-5 times more engagements across all customers and in a time period that is at least twice as fast. "Zip Dialling is a 100% accessible interaction," Wagoner said. "So we see fantastic results like makemytrip.com increasing their feedback responses from less than 0.5 percent to more than 10 percent."
Indian-based travel BPO specialist InterGlobe Technologies (IGT) has opened a new customer service center in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The 150-seat facility is designed to expand IGT's operations and accelerate its globalisation process. It is positioned to offer BPO and IT outsourcing services to travel corporations worldwide who are focusing on growing markets in the Asia Pacific region. The Chinese center comes after IGT' opened facilities in Dubai and Manila in the last few years.
The Guangzhou center will provide customer service, airline reservations, flight disruption support, back office services, multi-language support and consulting in the Airline, Travel Management (TMC) and Hospitality industry. IGT already has a client base comprising of large TMCs and Airlines in the geography. "China's current outsourcing market is growing significantly as China has the talent pool and cost structure and is the most sought after market today," IGT CEO Vipul Doshi said. "Our decision to set up base at Guangzhou adds significant value to the China business and professional landscape and gives us access to internationally benchmarked business processes."
The Malaysian government has expanded its 1Malaysia One Call Center (1MOCC) to incorporate 25 ministries and agencies into the project.
1MOCC was set up in November 2012 to create a single point of contact for citizens to get in touch with participating government departments and ministries via telephone, SMS, fax, email and social media. The first phase of the project involved 21 agencies, including the Prime Minister's Department, Malaysian Immigration Department and the Road Transport Department.
The second phase includes organisations such as the ministries of tourism, education, women and health. Citizens call to make enquiries, file complaints or give suggestions and feedback about any of the participating ministries. The third phase is expected to be launched in March, and will cover all federal and state agencies.
While Indian cities still dominate as preferred outsourcing destinations, the Philippines has strengthened its position as a leading alternative, according to a recent report.
The Tholons list of world's top 100 ITO hubs found Manila moved to third place behind Bangalore and Mumbai as a preferred outsourcing destination, replacing Delhi and breaking India's monopoly of the top three spots. Furthermore, another Philippine municipality, Cebu City climbed one place to number eight on the list while five of the country's other centers made it into the top 100.
Global economy and investment consultancy Oxford Business Group One says one of the advantages the Philippine was over its rivals is its easy access to the United States market, reinforced by shared historical and cultural ties and an ample supply of skilled workers with a good command of the English language. The Philippine BPO sector is expected to earn at least $25 billion by 2016.
Tata will open a new facility in the English city of Liverpool this year, creating and safeguarding up to 300 jobs.
The investment was announced as British Prime Minister David Cameron visits India during the UK's biggest-ever trade mission to the subcontinent. Tata Consultancy's new facility will deliver services to the Home Office, following a multi-million, multi-year contract which it won in November 2012 to manage the technology needs and support services of the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
"Tata has played a transformative role in the UK and I'm delighted that their consultancy service is now opening a delivery center in Liverpool creating 300 new jobs," Cameron said. "This will make a real difference to the local economy and further strengthen the company's ties to the UK." The new Tata center will begin operating in July.
Global customer contact solutions company Allied International Credit (AIC) has opened its newest location in Manila.
AIC currently has seven offices throughout North America and the United Kingdom. The decision to expand offshore was not to replace any of its current operations, but to provide its clients with additional, cost-effective solutions to service collection and care programs.
"Our Manila office becomes a key strategic location that will complement our existing sites," AIC's Kenny Johnston said. "We are positive our current and future clients will realise the benefit of further service options and that Jason has the leadership and experience to manage this new and exciting phase of AIC's growth."
Chengdu plans to build a tourism contact center as the Chinese city was voted among the top five in a national ranking of cities based on tourist satisfaction in a China Tourism Academy survey.
The centre will deal inquiries, complaints and emergency response for visitors in the latest customer service focused initiative by the city. The city established information centre in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong and does promotion and marketing in seven major overseas tourist sources, including Japan and Singapore.
Smart tourism information retrieval systems are installed in any Chengdu hotel with a three-star ranking or higher. The system is supported by a database of around 400,000 entries about the city's tourism sites and related services. The local tourism authority estimated that the city received 122 million tourists over the last year, increasing 26.1% compared with 2011. More than 1.5 million of them were from overseas.
SriLankan Airlines will upgrade its customer service IT systems to a solution from the global travel industry specialist the Amadeus IT Group.
The deal, which is reportedly the first of its kind for Amadeus in the Indian subcontinent, will enable both SriLankan Airlines and its sister airline, Mihin Lanka, to adopt Amadeus' IT suite in order to manage its reservations, ticketing, inventory and departure control processes. At the same time, the agreement between SriLankan and Amadeus will help facilitate the airline's entry into the oneworld global alliance.
Under the terms of the agreement the two companies will work in close co-operation to begin the migration process from SriLankan's existing passenger service system to Altéa, with the first phase of the migration, covering the reservations, inventory and ticketing modules. Migration to the Altéa departure control system module is planned to commence in the first half of 2014.
US-based outsourcer Technosoft Corporation says plans to hire 800 new staff in India.
The Technosoft Corporation is also expected open its new 400-seat development centre in Chennai soon. "Globally we plan to hire around 1,000 people by mid-2014 for our two operations - software services and healthcare BPO," Technosoft Corporation CEO Rajiv Tandon told reporters.
"Eighty percent of the new hiring will be in India," he added. "The company will soon inaugurate its new development centre near Chennai." The company already has three development centres in Chennai and one in Bangalore with around 1,600 employees, of which 1,000 are in India and 600 in the US.
Apple will reportedly open a research and development facility in Shanghai, which may also double as a customer service hub.
Apple has eight official Apple Stores in mainland China, and China Business News claims the new facility is a done deal. The report says the center will be an Apple R&D and procurement management facility. Apple is yet to confirm the move.
Jobs listings reveal a lot of Apple jobs posted on third-party recruitment sites for the Shanghai area, including positions such as AppleCare team manager, SPS business analyst, and an admin assistant for the Apple Online Store. The recruitment vacancies have led to speculation that the Shanghai base could be also act as new customer service hub.
The Asia-Pacific market is tipped to be a major driver of strong growth in the global outsourcing industry for 2013.
New Frost & Sullivan research says preferred locations for service sites are India, China, The Philippines, and Malaysia followed by Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. In 2012, the uncertain global economic conditions, persistent struggle in the Europe markets and sluggish growth in the US combined with tamed growth in China, India and Brazil to affect the outsourcing industry as a whole.
The Asia-Pacific market outlook is prominently positive due to their domestic growth potential and with accelerated momentum they are likely to gain further from global outsourcing. However, Latin America is looking to benefit from the near-shore trend and is likely to come up as competitor to APAC destinations for North American contracts.
Globe Telecom Philippines is set to upgrade its customer service with a central IT infrastructure system, powered by Oracle.
The new system is expected to improve customer services such as billing and promos registration. "Globe decided to move away from the existing IBM-based middleware infrastructure and choose Oracle Fusion Middleware solutions to modernise its IT infrastructure," Globe said.
Globe's Henry Aguda said the upgraded system will also create a better customer experience because of its business center and contact center integration. This will allow Globe customer representatives in authorised business centers in malls to know any queries a subscriber has made with the contact center, he said.
Indian outsourcer Servion Global Solutions (SGS) has entered the Thailand market by setting up a new office in the country.
SGS is hopeful that 50% of its revenues will come from the Asia Pacific region, which currently contributes 25%. "This move is aimed at establishing a business presence amid high demand for call center technologies in that market on the back of growing popularity of mobile devices and high internet penetration," the company said in a statement.
"With the office in Thailand, we will help organisations to stay focused on their core business; while we take over management of customer interaction processes and add dimensions to cater to the changing landscape," SGS VP Abhijit Banerjee said.
US-based Citibank has unveiled a new "smart banking" ATM in Asia that allows customers to do almost all of their banking without visiting a branch.
The Citibank Express machine, revealed in Citibank branches at Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, is equipped with an online banking connection, video-conferencing and biometric capabilities for customer identity authentication. A customer can start a transaction on a computer or mobile device and complete it on Citibank Express-and vice versa.
"Since Citi's founding in 1812, we have applied our passion for innovation to connect clients to the world," said Jonathan Larsen, Citi's Global Head of Retail Banking and Head of Consumer Banking, Asia Pacific. "Citibank Express is our most recent example of this innovative spirit and a big step toward our goal to be the world's digital bank. We believe it can significantly impact the way people bank across the globe."
Using the internet to provide customer service has become a favoured tool in Hong Kong, according to new research.
A survey of 500 people commissioned by the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACSE) found that 71% had received customer service online. According to the survey, a high level of public awareness and usage of social media has allowed businesses to more successfully provide customer service through social media. Electronic products and food and beverages were the highest-ranked industries in the survey for providing customer service through social media.
"Online services provide the customer with broad services such as answers to inquiries and basic information," according to HKACSE executive director Pauline Chan. "They complement the traditional [channels] of customer service, such as phone lines, which are used for more detailed and personal services."
Indian outsourcer Infosys reports it has received an order from British Telecom to provide its newly launched software product which it says helps businesses save costs in their customer-service operations.
The product, AssistEdge, will allow contact center agents to reduce their average call-handling time by up to half by helping companies maintain a historical database of customer interactions across platforms like email, chats, telephone and social media and present it to contact center agents on a single window. Infosys VP Gopal Devanahalli said Infosys has also received an order for AssistEdge from the U.S., but declined to name the client.
Using context-passing capability, AssistEdge integrates the customer history from various channels and presents it to the contact center agent within a single window dashboard. It also features a self-care engine. Equipped with interactive text, visual, and video troubleshooting mechanisms, it also offers recommendations from relevant social forums and communities for peer-to-peer assistance. AssistEdge incorporates an intelligent routing algorithm that analyses and directs queries requiring expert assistance, in real time, to the right expert based on parameters such as skill, geography, priority, and workload.
Staff at Philippine-based customer service outsourcer Magellan Solutions have reached out to 65 families whose houses were lost to fire on Christmas day.
In the wake of the tragedy that left residents of St. Joseph in San Juan City homeless during the Christmas season, team members from the company's Culture Committee, Marketing and Human Resources Departments immediately extended their assistance to this district. Magellan Solutions Outsourcing Inc. responded and coordinated with local authorities to distribute relief goods to families who lost their homes to the fire. "As part of its community service initiatives, Magellan Solutions organised an event at the Hall of Corazon de Jesus district in San Juan City, and gave away hundreds of gift bags containing groceries and other indispensable items," said Magellan's Roslyn Ong.
"Magellan Solutions Outsourcing Inc. is always open to working with communities in nearby districts and cities particularly during disasters as part of the company's outreach programs," Ong said. "In these times, coordination of efforts remains important to ensure that we are providing the help needed by people as soon as possible."
Chinese-based Biostar Pharmaceuticals has opened a new contact center in the city of Xianyang.
Biostar is a manufacturer and marketer of pharmaceutical and health supplement products in China for a variety of diseases and conditions. The new contact center responsible for incoming inquiries and orders, as well as informing customers about drug promotions, introducing customers to new drugs, gathering customer feedback, and, if so requested, connecting them with doctors for further consultation.
The contact center staff are also responsible for outreach activities, including contacting medical product distribution agencies throughout China about product promotions, signing new distribution agreements and negotiating renewals. "Since the call center became operational, our staff has been handling over 300 customer calls daily," Biostar's CEO Ronghua Wang said.
The BPO division of India's Infosys is engaged in discussions with domestic Chinese companies to help them expand their operations globally.
"We are taking our value proposition to Chinese companies to make them look better in terms of driving efficiency and also help them expand into other countries and continents," Infosys BPO CEO Swami Swaminathan told reporters. The profile of services provided by Infosys BPO like finance and accounting, human resources outsourcing, legal process outsourcing, and sourcing and procurement, and its global reach means that the company can tell Chinese companies that it can provide the entire back-office operations as they expand globally.
Swaminathan said Infosys is currently holding discussions with some Chinese companies from segments including FMCG, manufacturing and services to assist them in globalising their operations. Infosys BPO's China operation is serving as a delivery center for multinationals to expand in the Chinese market. It currently has 850 people within a center in Hangzhou and will soon open a second unit in Dalian.
The Contact Centers Association of Malaysia (CCAM) will host more than 200 Asian contact center leaders at the 4th Annual Contact Centers Asia Summit in March.
The March 19-20 summit at Kuala Lumpur will focus on emerging customer service trends including the rise of social media, live chat, web, media and smartphones, as well as the approach to workload distribution such as staffing, metrics and analytics. "As the effects of the slowdown started receding in 2010, spending on customer service resumed among enterprises," Frost & Sullivan has reported. "In 2010, to meet rising customer demand, the region recorded an 8.5% growth in contact center agent seats, and by 2017, it is expected to have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5%."
The summit is part of Customer Management IQ's global event series aimed at providing a platform for the forefront of contact center trends and deriving the experiences of successful contact center operations and technology. Confirmed attendees include senior authorities from CCAM and decision makers from companies including Singtel, Marina Bay Sands, DHL, Westpac, Maxis and AXA.
The Philippines predicts its country's BPO sector will attract revenues of up to $25 billion and an employee base of 1.3 million by 2016.
The Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) Roadmap 2011-2016 found the Philippine BPO industry is the fastest growing and one of the country's main promoters of economic growth. The IT-BPO sector projects growth at 20% in 2013.
Data at the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and Global In-House Center (GIC), showed there are today 493,000 Filipinos employed in the contact center industry, and the number is expected to increase to 567,000 this year. BPAP and its partners developed the roadmap, from interviews with industry stakeholders, a survey of over 200 outsourcing firms, and research. The study said the industry can grow from $9 billion in annual revenues and 500,000 direct hires in 2012 and $20 billion and 900,000 employees by 2016 if present situations are sustained.
Cloud-based Social CRM and brand surveillance company Artesian Solutions has been named as the winner of CRM Idol 2012 for EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), Asia and Australia.
To win the award, Artesian participated in a rigorous vetting of references, a live demonstration of its software in front of multiple judges and the production of a professional video presentation that demonstrated its vision for the future of the Social CRM industry. As winner of CRM Idol 2012, Artesian has been recognised for its highly experienced team and extensive knowledge of the CRM and business intelligence industries. In particular, judges commended Artesian’s ability to transform how organisations engage with customers by providing B2B businesses with the ability to effectively uncover relevant information about customers which can be used to enhance communications and personalise the sales lifecycle.
"CRM Idol really inspires you to aim for your best," Artesian CEO Andrew Yates said. "This competition has given us the opportunity to be tested by judges who themselves are helping shape our industry, and also to be compared with the most innovative and deserving companies in our space."
Chinese travel company Ctrip has recorded improved productivity, lowered attrition and operating savings after a nine month experiment with customer service teleworking.
Ctrip, was looking to save money on real estate costs and cut turnover when it asked 996 employees in its Shanghai contact centre if they’d be interested in working at home four days a week. Of the half its workforce who were interested in working from home a lottery was held to choose agroup of just over 100 staff to telecommute.
A group of academic economists at Stanford and Beijing Universities monitored the experiment and found several positive results. The performance of the home workers went up dramatically, increasing by 13% over the nine months of the experiment; attrition fell sharply among the home workers, dropping by 50%; home workers also reported substantially higher work satisfaction; and Ctrip estimated it saved about $2,000 per year per employee working at home.
The Philippines Social Security System (SSS) has lengthened its contact centre operations from 16 hours to 24 hours every weekday to offer greater access to over-the-phone updates about contributions, benefits, loans, and other SSS transactions.
SSS president Emilio de Quiros Jr said that with longer contact centre hours, members, regardless of their time of work, can contact the SSS about their claim status, membership data, list of requirements, and other SSS concerns. "Local employees with regular 8-to-5 work hours, security guards and contact centre agents on graveyard shifts, and even overseas members in different timezones can all find a time convenient for them to make an SSS phone query from Mondays to Fridays," De Quiros said.
He said that the SSS contact centre receives over 46,000 calls every month. "Apart from status verification, our team of 25-member service officers also responds to queries on procedures such as how to apply for benefits and remit contributions. We also receive phoned-in information about employers that don't remit SSS premiums and other complaints," he added.
Mobile carrier Vodafone India has introduced a new live chat customer service initiative.
The service enables Vodafone users to chat with customer service agents in real time to post queries and address network problems. Vodafone says the live chat capability helps the customers to reach the customer care services quicker the phone calls.
The live chat option is available via the right pane in the support page on the Vodafone Website. By clicking the option a pop-up window appears inviting users to enter their name and Vodafone number and start an instant chat with an agent. The service is currently available from 9am to 6 pm from Monday to Saturday.
CyberSource, a Visa company, has signed an agreement with China's national airline Air China, to provide payment gateway and fraud management services for its international sales and service hotline in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the Philippines.
CyberSource's fraud-management technology and processes feature the world's largest fraud detection radar, and include over 250 tests for fraudulent activity, all in the space of a couple of seconds. The solution is a critical element in Air China's strategy to increase its share of the regional market by extending its high quality, customer experience to each new market, immediately upon service inception. In a statement, Air China said: "Our aim is to continue to provide convenience to overseas travelers. As part of our offering, Air China's customer service staff will provide the traveler's itinerary over the phone and when the traveler is ready to proceed with payment, we will switch the call to the IVR system, supported by CyberSource and the traveler can continue with card number entry and the ensuing checks to complete the payment process."
In October, Air China served 160,100 regional and 526,400 international passengers. Air China's 800 hotline number, will also be rolled out gradually in four other markets, Taiwan, UAE, Thailand and India.
Indian outsourcer Servion Global Solutions plans to open an office in Thailand next month to capitalise on the country's booming contact center industry.
"Thailand is the largest market in Asean for contact centers," said Abhijit Banerjee, the vice-president for Asia-Pacific operations. The move will be aimed at establishing a business presence amid high demand for contact center technologies in the Thai market on the back of growing popularity of mobile devices and high internet penetration.
Banerjee the uptake and increased use of mobile devices is prompting more and more business operators to upgrade their existing conventional contact centers to new-generation facilities. He said the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2016 will serve to make Thailand even more attractive to foreign investors due to the country's strategic geographical location and competitive labour costs.
Korean Air has won the World's Excellence in Service award at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final Ceremony 2012 in New Delhi.
The airline was also named the World's Most Innovative Airline, voted by travel and tourism professionals worldwide. Korean Air is the first airline to be awarded World's Excellence in Service since the category was introduced 2010, and past winners include luxury companies within the hospitality sector.
"We continue to strive to fulfill our commitment to providing excellence in flight and have recently introduced new and innovative services to make our passengers' onboard experience even more enjoyable," said Korean Air's Jangsoo Kim. World Travel Awards group senior VP Kevin Taylor said Korean Air has been one of the stand-out brands of 2012, continuing to boost earnings and grow market share, thanks largely to its "unparalleled commitment to customer service".
Philippine Long Distance Telephone will reportedly sell its outsourcing arm SPi Global Holdings in a bid to reduce debt.
PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters the company had found a preferred buyer to acquire 80% of SPi Global, which has over 18,000 employees in the Philippines and four other countries. "It's an excellent business and (SPi Global CEO Maulik Parekh) has done an excellent job increasing its value," Pangilinan said.
"The decision to sell came when we were still negotiating to buy (broadcaster) GMA 7. That deal never happened, but we decided to push through with the sale of SPi," he said. Pangilinan said PLDT would keep 20% in SPi and was willing to contribute to its future expansion.
Chinese outsourcer DYXnet Group has been awarded Person-to-Person (P2P) Telemarketing Code of Practice (CoP) Certification by the Hong Kong Call Centre Association (HKCCA) for second consecutive year.
DYXnet says the certification recognises its achievement in "providing premier contact center outsourcing services". DYXnet CEO Lap Man said telemarketing is a difficult undertaking to balance between helping a company with sales and service, and maintaining a positive impact on its brand.
"On one hand, it can help extend the reach of customers, generating more businesses and improving efficiency," Man said. "However, on the other hand, it might have negative effects on the company's revenue and ruin the company's brand if the telemarketers performed inappropriately or delivered inaccurate messages to recipients. With the introduction of P2P Telemarketing CoP, it greatly helps the contact center industry to strengthen its self-governance and its service quality," Man said.
Indian customer service specialist Infosys BPO has won an Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) Gold Award for Marketing Excellence for its efforts in social interactive media.
Infosys BPO received the international award during the ITSMA 2012 Annual Conference in the US. ITSMA, a leading marketing association for technology, communications, and professional services providers, recognises best-in-class marketing programs with its annual marketing excellence awards.
Infosys BPO's Gautam Thakkar said the award reiterates his company's efforts in creating "considerable value and brand equity with a highly focused campaign for our stakeholders in the social media space". "We will continue to focus on such innovative initiatives that aim at creating a social media presence to drive and sustain community engagement," Thakkar said.
The Philippine Department of Science & Technology (DOST) has launched training software to teach aspiring contact center agents to speak better English.
The software, Learning English Application for Pinoys (LEAP), is a computer-based training system and a supplementary tool to prepare high school and college students for the customer service outsourcing industry. The program was developed in a bid to help the Philippines regain its footing as a stronghold of English language competency.
"The DOST supports the LEAP in the hope of raising the level of skills and competencies of Filipinos working in the BPO industry or seeking employment in the BPO industry or any other industry for that matter," said DOST secretary Mario G. Montejo.
US-based outsourcer Sutherland Global Services will buy Indian healthcare BPO company Apollo Health Street Ltd.
The acquisition, expected to be completed by February 2013, will help Sutherland consolidate its position in the $38-billion global healthcare BPO market. It will help Sutherland to consolidate its services portfolio across payer, provider and health IT services.
Sutherland employs 30,000 people in 35 centers around the world including the US, India, the UK and Canada. Apollo chairman Dr Prathap C. Reddy said the combined capabilities of both companies will create a "compelling value proposition for our clients."
Customer service and mobile payment are among the most promising sectors to start a business according to a new Chinese survey.
The China Start-up Report 2012 published by Entrepreneur magazine, found 42.97% of business investors were attracted to customer service, health care and mobile payment. The previous most popular fields of e-commerce and social networking websites decreased to 12.33%.
According to the report, over 60% of Chinese entrepreneurs start their business with their own savings or money borrowed from their friends and family. Only 19% of entrepreneurs can access financial credit, 10% can obtain government subsidies and 12% get financing from angel investors.
IT giant IBM will add at least 10,000 jobs in the Philippines over the next three years as part of plans to expand in the country's BPO sector.
IBM Philippines president Mariels Almeda Winhoffer said the expansion would bolster the country's position as a key component of IBM's global operations. Winhoffer said IBM presently had between 10,000 and 15,000 workers in the Philippines.
"We will more than double that number by 2015," she said. Most of the jobs will be in the company's analytics outsourcing operations. Part of the first phase of expansion includes the establishment of a new BPO facility that would handle support for the company's "social business" software offerings to North American clients.
US-based outsourcer iQor has opened a New Delhi Customer Care Center of Excellence as part of an expansion in the region.
The new center consolidates iQor's presence in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), combining three existing facilities into one location. The new Center will employ nearly 1,200 agents providing customer care services, as well as high-value, non-voice processing solutions for clients around the world."
The facility will support clients for iQor's intelligent Connection, Process, and Intervention solutions. "By bringing more than seven years of experience in India under one roof, we can offer a new level of solution development and service delivery integration to our clients," iQor's president Norm Merritt said. iQor also plans to expand its US and Philippine centers in 2013.
Customer service outsourcing is fast becoming a major employer in the troubled Indian state of Kashmir as the region begins to take advantage of modern technology.
At least 20 privately-run contact centers are registered with the Jammu and Kashmir government's Information Technology Department. While the companies face a host of challenges, their presence heralds a modernisation of the state, Abdul Hameed Punjabi, head of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, told reporters.
The Kashmir Valley has been at the center of a decades-long dispute between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, often punctuated by violence. Zahoor Ahmad Rather, owner of Kashmir outsourcer PC Planet Technologies, said the aim behind investing in the BPO sector is to improve the community. "The first and foremost aim was to provide employment to the youth of the Valley," he said. "Looking at the ratio of the jobs available and the unemployed people in the state, I thought of setting up a sector which would provide immediate jobs to the people," he said.
Almost half of the chief financial officers (CFOs) from 14 countries interviewed for a recent survey perceive China to have poor or limited understanding of the importance of customer service.
According to the BDO Ambition Survey 2012, a high of 47% of CFOs had a poor perception of Chinese service, well above the global average of 26%. This China figure is the highest among the top 20 countries in the index followed by Russia with 42%. The US topped the survey with just a 5% negative perception, followed by the UK with 8%.
"This year's BDO Ambition Survey shows that BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries still lag in customer service in the minds of foreign investors, whereas investors consider that western countries are able to give a comprehensive customer service," BDO Hong Kong chairman Albert Au said. "Although providing competitive price to customers is the key competitive advantage of BRIC countries, they should improve their quality of customer services in order to attract more overseas investment and at the end, strengthen the bargaining power in pricing among the markets."
Japan's Transcosmos inc and Indonesian company Salim Group have set up a joint venture to operate a contact center in Indonesia.
Salim Group owns a variety of companies in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines across a wide range of industries, including the CBN ISP company in Indonesia. Transcosmos expanded its services into South Korea in 2000 and into China in 2006, and in more recent years into the western regions.
Due to the increase in the middle class purchasing power and consumption demands, transcosmos has speculated that Indonesians will not only need more contact centers, but have a demand for quality services. Transcosmos hopes to apply its know-how in increasing sales to corporate clients and also cost-reduction solutions, while CBN would offer its infrastructure technology and business experience and its know-how in the local market.
Malaysia Airports has launched a campaign to search for two Smile Ambassadors as part of its efforts to boost customer service.
The search will be conducted among staff at all retail, services and food & beverage outlets at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA's Low-Cost Carrier Terminal. Titled 'Touch', the campaign seeks to assist retailers and frontline staff at KLIA to "cultivate world-class customer service practices through structured service standards and guidelines, assessment and recognition".
"Malaysia Airports has been extremely focused in transforming our international airports into lifestyle destinations," Malaysia Airports senior general manager, commercial services Puan Faizah Khairuddin said. "We have, thus far, looked at our Airport Commercial Models, our product and services offerings and our pricing. Having strengthened our 'hardware' in terms of brands and products varieties, we now look at enhancing our customer service delivery to complete the total customer experience."
Customer service learning platform Kalibrr has announced the second stage of its online training program.
The first phase of the program launched in April started out as a training platform for helping users develop the skills necessary to qualify for a job in the Philippines' BPO industry. Kalibrr COO Dexter Ligot said the second phase is "what online training should look like - simple, attractive, and results in getting a job."
Kalibrr has partnered with BPO companies to create assessment tools and curricula based on their specific needs. After users graduate from the online program, Kalibrr arranges a job interview for them with one of its partner companies.
Hong Kong-based car maker Geely Auto says it's preoccupation with customer service has seen it awarded the top-level 5-star Diamond Rating from the Customer Contact Center Standard (CCCS) for its contact center.
Geely earned CCCS 5-star standard certification in 2009 and has worked toward the 5-star Diamond certification since then. Geely and Faw-Volkswagen are the only companies to reach the top level in China's auto market, with Geely the only homegrown brand.
Geely says its contact center has continuously improved its service orientation and can now customise services to different customers to highlight customer value. It has also established a fully-fledged management system for strategic planning, infrastructure, performance, personnel, operation and process to "further promote its service quality and professionalism in order to optimise both customer value and company value".
Indian outsourcer Infosys BPO has announced that it will establish a customer service center in Costa Rica to serve the American market and support its growth in Latin America.
The new center is expected to be fully operational by January 2013 and reportedly provide customer service for one of the world's largest consumer packaged goods companies. "Even though it's a small country, the quality of universities and the number of students they graduate is high," said Infosys Latin America's Humberto Andrade noted. "It's enough talent to fulfill the growth expectations we have."
Infosys is expected to initially employ 150 staff at the center. While Infosys is entering Costa Rica as a BPO, it is expected to offer higher-end IT functions in the future. Infosys already operates centers in Monterrey, Mexico and the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
Mobile device company Motorola Solutions plans to open a Global Solutions Support Center and Network Operations Center in Penang, Malaysia to foster improved customer service in the region.
Motorola vice-president for Asia Pacific, Phey Teck Moh told reporters last year the Malaysian government's policies, aimed at developing the nation into an emerging knowledge-based economy, have made it ideal for global multinational corporations to explore and invest in the country. The company said both new centers will lend support for talent development and technology transfer in Malaysia.
Motorola's largest research and development center and manufacturing plant for radio products in Asia are already located in Penang. The center also provides critical system support and solutions development for customers across Asia.
The Philippines' ongoing boom in customer service outsourcing is helping drive strength in the country's real estate industry.
Rick Santos, chairman of Philippine property company CBRE, said property sales and leases will remain strong next year, driven by demand for commercial space, particularly from the business process outsourcing sector. "We are now experiencing the best real estate market in the last 20 years. It took two decades to get the stars aligned, but now, we're looking at sustained growth and success," Santos said.
The BPO Association of the Philippines expects the outsourcing sector to be worth $25 billion by 2016. "The Philippines is one of the most cost effective outsourcing destinations in Asia ... Manila is now a strategic location for multinational companies and banks as it supports and runs the world's businesses out of the Philippines," Santos said.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH) group has consolidated its customer service technology with a Verizon Terremark cloud-based solution.
HSH said it realised that centralising its IT infrastructure would better align its processes and systems in support of its customers. The company decided to adopt a hybrid public/private cloud computing infrastructure that enables it to leverage additional capacity on demand during peak booking periods.
By eliminating the need to maintain servers at the company's many locations around the globe, HSH's central IT team has been able to focus its efforts on accelerating the development of new services for both guests and staff. "We provide our discerning guests with world-class hospitality and unparalleled guest services throughout the customer experience," said HSH's Shane Izaks. "A robust, secure and reliable IT infrastructure is critical to delivering this, whether in terms of supporting our Web presence, our reservations system, our in-house service delivery or our ongoing customer interactions."
Korean-based car maker Hyundai has opened an Asia Pacific Hyundai Training Academy in Malaysia with the aim of improving customer service in the region.
The training academy is designed to assist dealers' sales and service staff achieve a more professional and systematic approach to customer handling and management, which will subsequently result in higher customer satisfaction. The training program covers customer service training models and simulations, customer care practices, sales consultancy skills and team building activities.
"The effectiveness of the training program will be monitored and tracked on a quarterly basis based on customer satisfaction surveys," Hyundai's Kim Hoo-Keun said. "The findings will then be used as the foundation for developing and operating subsequent training programs."
Indian mobile carriers face fines for providing poor customer service and giving incorrect information under amendments by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
TRAI has issued an amendment with provisions to impose financial penalties of up to 1 million rupees (US$18,300) on mobile phone service providers that do not meet quality of service benchmarks. Like landline service providers, the TRAI said mobile companies will be judged on the benchmarks for Customer Service Quality Parameters, and a rate of 50,000 rupees (US$915) per parameter breached will be levied.
Under the parameters, "not more than 0.1 percent of bills issued should be disputed over a billing cycle" of postpaid subscribers. It also states there should be no more than one complaint for every 1,000 customers regarding metering, charging, credit, and validity, and the billing dispute should be resolved within a month by the operators.
US-based outsourcer iQor will expand its operations in Manila's Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) with a new contact center creating up to 1,000 new jobs.
iQor opened its first facility in the CSEZ in 2006 with just 50 employees and has created more than 2,500 jobs since then. The company plans to hire 500 new employees immediately after the expansion is completed in early 2013.
"The quality of the workforce and the superior support and service iQor employees provide to our clients and their customers continues to be the main driver of our expansion efforts in the Philippines," said iQor president and CEO Norm Merritt. "We've received a tremendous amount of support from local officials and the Clark Development Corporation. I want to thank all those who've worked so hard to create a business-friendly environment. Your efforts are paying off for Clark."
Chinese online retailer 360buy.com has upped its customer service and paved the way for new growth with a managed contact center solution from Orange Business Services.
France Telecom-owned Orange Business Services' contact center solution supports 5,000 360buy agents in China at the country's largest e-commerce Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) contact center. The solution will use multimedia channels and text-to-speech in addition to traditional voice to sustain the business expansion and customer service excellence of 360buy.
"A new agile contact center infrastructure was mandatory, not only in order to meet today's needs, but also for our future expansion plans," said 360buy's Jacky Cheng. "Customers do not only require the voice channel for customer support; they also want multimedia channels such as web chat and e-mail."
Japanese retail property company Aeon has established Malaysia as the regional customer service and business headquarters.
Aeon is currently operating in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, and the group is looking to make its mark here Malaysia in the "hypermarket sector." Aeon Southeast Asia customer service general manager Nagahisa Oyama stated, "Asia remains as a promising investment area for the Aeon group as rising incomes and discretionary spending here bodes well for its retail business."
"We plan to expand to Southeast Asia due to the potential growth market," Oyama said. Carrefour Malaysia is the first retail company in Asia to join the Aeon group within Southeast Asia and the group is looking to promote the group's chain of retailers to expand operations in the region.
The Philippine government is launching an initiative that could see customer service centers set up in prisons and run by inmates.
The program, dubbed BILIB I.T., aims to give convicts new skills to raise their chances of employment and returning to society upon release. "We'll see if we can try building call centers inside jail facilities to help these detainees utilise their training and gain employment," Senator Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters.
Cayetano said scholarships for IT courses would be awarded to an initial 200 qualified inmates, with plans to double the number. According to Cayetano, those who might be part of the program include people who have served their sentence but prefer to live inside the penal community due to lack of skills necessary to rejoin the work force, detainees who have minimum security, and those inmates with sentences not longer than six years.
Apple's voice-activated customer service assistant, Siri, has been told to keep some of its help to itself.
Siri, which helps Apple users find services in their area, reportedly responded to enquiries such as "Where can I find hookers?" or "Where can I find escorts?" by listing the nearest locations, mostly bars and clubs. Prostitution is illegal in China, and Apple has since discontinued those listings.
Siri's help in finding adult services prompted almost nine million of comments from users, becoming a hot topic on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. One user of Sina Weibo pointed out that Siri seemed to be more efficient at finding brothels than restaurants that serve typical Chinese dishes.
Indian outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has jointly won the SAP Award of Excellence with Australian energy company AGL for best run value realisation.
AGL's Project Spectrum is a major initiative to transform AGL's billing processes and services. The goal of the project was to move all AGL customers into a single instance of SAP.
"We are pleased to receive this award from SAP, one of our key industry partners, for the major transformation project we have completed with AGL, who are a long standing and valued client," said Deborah Hadwen TCS Australia and New Zealand CEO. "Project Spectrum is a great example of how the technology and expertise of SAP and TCS combined to create industry-leading solutions that assisted AGL to improve its business infrastructure and capabilities."
Indian outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) says it will set up a new integrated BPO campus in the city of Indore.
The campus will be located on a 100-acre (40-hectare) property with construction of phase I expected to be completed by March 2016. The campus is expected to provide direct job opportunities to 10,000 customer service and IT professionals, with an estimated 10,000 indirect job opportunities in support functions.
"Indore has the potential to become another big hub for knowledge-based industries like IT and BPO with its strong eco-system of universities," TCS executive director S. Mahalingam said. "Our investment will help catalyse further development of the talent ecosystem as well as help upgrade the civic infrastructure in the area."
The healthcare customer service segment is becoming a major driver of growth for the Philippine outsourcing industry.
Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines president Juanloz Botor said the sector is expected to grow sharply over the next four years on the back of strong demand from developed countries. "We are still up for the challenge of achieving the targets set out in our Road Map 2016: $1 billion in revenue and 100,000 full-time employees," Botor said.
At present, there are about 25,000 Filipinos working in the healthcare outsourcing sector, generating revenue of almost $300 million in 2011.The Philippine healthcare outsourcing sector now offers various services including clinical data management, disease management, revenue cycle management, pharmacy benefits management, electronic medical records, medical claims recovery, patient education, insurance processing and quality assurance.
Cloud based contact center specialist 3CLogic has expanded its operations into the Asia Pacific marketplace with the opening of a regional office in Singapore.
The move comes as a result of 3CLogic's exponential growth and the opportunity to leverage the APAC market. "Expanding into the Asia Pacific region reinforces 3CLogic's commitment to meeting our customers' needs worldwide," said 3CLogic CEO Raj Sharma. "It is consistent with the company's strategy to drive growth and strengthen its position as the industry's premier cloud based contact center provider."
3CLogic Asia Pacific president Steven Wong said with the APAC headquarters in Singapore, the company aims to achieve its commitment to "serve and provide support to our valued customers."
German company Bosch will open a regional outsourcing centre the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu.
The new centre will provide support to Chinese clients with issues relating to customer service in particular, and also with specific processes in the areas of finance and accounting, purchasing and human resources management. These processes include order processing, invoice auditing, accounts receivable management, delivery management and customer feedback and claim management.
Bosch will also focus on technology-related services such as technical helpdesk and IT support. "By opening this branch in China, we are expanding our international network to include a strategic growth market in which we want to establish ourselves as an international service provider in the area of business process outsourcing," Bosch's Robert Mulatz said.
A leading provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for talent acquisition announced today that it has expanded its regional presence to better serve the APAC market.
US-based Avature is looking to expand its user base in the Asia Pacific region and strengthen its consulting and support of existing global and regional customers. "We are excited about being on the ground in Hong Kong," said Dimitri Boylan, founder and CEO of the company. "From here we will begin to build out a team of professionals to better support the region and be more responsive to local market needs and challenges."
Julian Boylan, who will head the Hong Kong office, said Avature's user base in China and Japan has been growing steadily over the past few years and its multinational customers have indicated that this trend will continue. "Now that I am here we will focus on improving our Asian language user interfaces and our local language parsing to better serve the different Asian markets."
Internet security specialist Norton has launched a Hindi-language customer service support line in India.
The company said the new offering is in line with its ongoing commitment to "simplifying and improving support experience for customers". In addition to its existing English-language support, Norton customers in India can now call a toll-free number to access customer support in Hindi from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
"We are constantly evaluating our business strategy and looking for new ways to provide value-added services to our customers and improve their overall experience of Norton products," Norton India's Ritesh Chopra said. "We are confident that providing the option of customer support in Hindi will increase our outreach throughout the country and help us to better address the needs of our customers in India."
The Philippine government is helping the country's outsourcing industry develop more talent to fill its contact centers by providing over US$ 24 million in funding for education and talent development.
Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) president Benedict Hernandez has said that a "dwindling talent supply" and low retention rate are two problems that the industry needs to address. Senator Edgardo Angara Hernandez told the recent International Contact Center Conference and Expo the potential talent is there, but needed to be made "ready with the right skills set or willing to join the industry".
Contact Center Association of the Philippines executive director Jojo Uligan said agents account for the single biggest source of business competitiveness and success for contact centers and similar BPOs. "A call center's ability to sustain the growth and development of its workforce is, thus, equivalent to sustaining business competitiveness and success," he said. "Our business is our people. Without them we have no business."
As more people in Asia communicate online in their native languages, companies are facing the need to rely on multilingual analytics to understand and engage with customers in the region.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Asia-Pacific's Charlie Wood told reporters social networks developed in Asia have grown in stature to the extent that platforms such as Sina Weibo are going global. Together with the region's fast-growing economy, Wood said these factors make Asia an important market in terms of native language data processing and analytics.
"They also emphasise the power of analytics on customer service across multiple languages and geographies," Wood added. "Global brands such as airlines and telcos need to understand the global voice of the customer, and the predominant languages spoken (by customers) in the various markets," he said.
Customer service outsourcer TELUS International Philippines (TIP) has handed out its latest grants to six non-government organisations (NGOs) as part of the company's corporate social responsibility initiative.
TIP Community Board Chairman Javier Infante distributed over US$10,000 to six charities; the Philippine National Red Cross, Rizal Chapter, Project Pearls, Unang Lingap Kapwa Philippines, Empowering Communities with Hope and Opportunities through Sustainable Initiatives Foundation, Alay Pag-asa Christian Foundation and Childhope Asia Philippines. After the initial grant of US$10,000 given to Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group in August, TIP made it known that they were still looking for other organisations that needed their help.
Infante praised the six charitable organisations for their individual advocacies while reiterating TIP's commitment to assisting them. Each charity applied for one-time funding for projects in the areas of health and wellness, education and sports, and arts and culture.
Vodafone India has launched its first Vodafone Angel store in Mumbai, managed and run completely by female employees.
The Angel store initiative is in line with Vodafone's endeavour of "encouraging diversity and inclusion at workplace". The Vodafone Angel Store has only women staff members, including security, pantry staff, customer service resources as well as management level personnel.
The Vodafone Angel Store will continue to provide the customer service catering to both, male and female customers.
"We believe economic empowerment of women is a great building block in social development," Vodafone's Arvind Vohra said. "Vodafone India has always laid great emphasis on equal rights and opportunities for our employees and our policies encourage women employees to aspire for and achieve their career ambitions."
Moving customer service functions online is an effective method of providing cost savings to companies, according to the Singapore-based Asia Pacific head of Message Systems, Mark Johnson.
Johnson told reporters that moving part or all the customer service capabilities online helps companies reduce costs because an agent is able to conduct multiple chat conversations with customers simultaneously, opposed to the one call he is able to take at any one time over the phone. He added that for problems relating to hardware, software and mobile handsets, online support can be a better medium to resolve consumers' issues.
But Johnson warned that online support should not be the only channel for customers to get assistance, and should be part of a complete support program that includes support tools such as live video chats, instant messaging, forums, and contact centers. "If a customer's computer or Internet connection is down, or if the company's website or server is down, a pure online model without a contact center is useless and can lead to disastrous customer backlash," he said.
As Vietnam's economic growth remains among the highest in Asia, the Southeast Asian nation is improving customer relationships to create greater loyalty, brand recall and profitability.
Frost & Sullivan APAC's Dao Thi Minh Thao said Vietnam's efforts are leading to an impressive growth in its contact center industry, which was estimated to be worth US$4.2 million in 2011 and is expected to reach US$11.4 million in 2018 with a growth rate of 15%. Thao said basic applications like ACD, CTI, IVR, and call monitoring are still leading the trends in the Vietnam contact center market.
"ACD is the biggest contributor that accounts for almost 40% of all applications and is still growing at a fast rate as majority of contact centers' primary purpose is to support incoming voice calls," Thao said. She added that most contact center projects in Vietnam are deployed by banks, financial institutions and Telco service providers. "These sectors require a high level of customer care; large seat numbers are needed to always be available to serve customers."
The Jiangsu Branch of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) has established a video contact center with Avaya solutions to boost its customer service.
Bank clients will now be able to interact with customer service agents through video-enabled computers placed in the outlets of the ABC Jiangsu Branch. Avaya one-X Communicator is integrated in the computers and customers can connect with agents with just one click. The video contact center agents are equipped with Avaya one-X Agent which can support video communication, and helps agents drive first call resolution and high customer satisfaction.
Enterprise bank customers can access the video contact center service from their own video-enabled devices, such as computers and IP telephones. The bank plans to install video-enabled ATMs in about 100 locations in the future, which will also integrate Avaya one-X Communicator.
The Asia Pacific BPO market (excluding Japan) is forecast to reach $9.5 billion in 2016, up from $5.9 billion in 2011.
The Gartner data found the largest BPO consumer in Asia Pacific in 2011 was Australia, with a market size of more than $4.63 billion, over 3.5 times larger than the second largest India ($1.26 billion). It said the fastest-growing BPO markets within Asia Pacific will continue to be led by China and India.
"The Asia Pacific BPO market is still relatively underdeveloped and underexploited (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand) when compared with other markets or regions," said Gartner's T J Singh. "This presents opportunities to BPO service providers that are willing to invest in the region. Asia/Pacific is an immature market for BPO services. No one provider dominates every type of BPO service, and very few BPO providers can successfully demonstrate true regional or Pan- Asia Pacific BPO capabilities for multiple processes."
Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are the biggest growing markets for Philippine contact centers in the last two years, adding to the main American market.
According to the Call Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) mid-year report, the US remains the biggest market, with seven of 10 contact center employees providing voice call services to Americans. American English still accounts for 75% of the languages spoken by customer service agents. However, British and Australian English are slowly emerging as the second and third largest languages spoken by at least two out of 10 voice agents.
"This expansion to new markets reinforces the growing brand awareness and equity of the Philippines as the premiere voice service provider for the world," the CCAP report said. The remaining languages spoken by Philippine contact centers are Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, German, Mandarin, French, Korean, Bahasa, Thai and Singapore English.
American auto giant General Motors is dramatically increasing its Indian customer service levels as part of a push to boost its presence in the country.
The car maker is planning to operate a minimum of 300 showrooms and a same number of servicing units across India. With an aim to provide its customers an outstanding service, the company has introduced several new initiatives like a centralised 24x7 contact center, which will answer to the customer queries and will also provide a detailed preview of the products and services offered by the company.
"This is part of GM India's goal of expanding the accessibility of our products and becoming a volume player in the market," said General Motors India MD Lowell Paddock. "Like our existing state of the art facilities, our new sales points and service outlets will set benchmarks for sales, service and customer satisfaction." General Motors presently operates 279 showrooms and 272 servicing units in India.
Indian outsourcer Servion Global Solutions says it plans to explore opportunities in China as part of its strategy to take its services in the market.
"We are looking at China," Servion CEO K Balakrishnan told reporters. Due to various reasons, including the language barrier, China, Hong Kong and Korea were also "tougher markets" for the company to enter, he said.
Noting that developed markets have become "saturated" in the customer service space, Balakrishnan said Servion has a presence in many developing countries in Asia Pacific region, apart from the US and Europe. "The Indian contribution is about less than 30% (of the company's revenue)," he said.
Japanese credit card company JCB International (JCBI) has set up the JCB Plaza Call Center to provide free travel support in multiple languages.
The new center provides services in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese to all JCB card members on a 24/7 basis. The phoneline also offers travel related support, including hotel, restaurant, car rental reservations and show tickets, as well as lost/ stolen card support and other emergency support.
JCB cards are issued around the world in partnership with local banks and other financial institutions. Currently JCB cards are issued in 16 countries and territories with a total of about 77 million JCB card members including 11 million outside Japan, primarily in China, Korea and Taiwan, with growth rates in the double digits over the past five years.
Online foreign exchange trading service OANDA Asia Pacific will expand its operations in Singapore to provide customer support to its increasing customer base.
OANDA Asia Pacific has tripled its operations in Singapore in the last two years and the new office marks four years of operation in the city state. "OANDA is investing in our Singapore and Asia operations to respond to the market needs," said OANDA Asia Pacific's Marion Lang.
OANDA has tripled its operations in Singapore since 2010, which the company attributes to strong client relationships that stem from the company's commitment to providing outstanding customer service. "We are known for our technology and our commitment to transparency in the marketplace, which we feel is essential for helping traders understand the markets better and trade with more confidence," OANDA's Stuart McPhee said.
Officials at the Philippines Labor and Employment Department (PLE) say the defeat of the United States Call Center Worker and Protection Act is a boon for the country's BPO sector.
The act would have prohibited US companies from setting up contact centers in foreign countries. PLE secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the defeat at act is a welcome development that augurs well for the Philippine's burgeoning business process sector.
"While we have been vigilant and proactive in implementing measures that could mitigate the impact of the legislative proposal had it been pushed into a law, the US Senate decision is very much welcomed news," Baldoz said. "This means that more BPO companies can expand their businesses in the Philippines and generate the much needed employment for our local workforce."
Facebook and Twitter are South Korea's favourite online service tools according to a survey.
The eMarketer survey found Facebook was nearly a unanimous choice for customer engagement among South Korean companies with about 90.8% using it. Twitter was also popular, ranking second with 77.5% of companies engaging in microblog marketing.
eMarketer said that as mobile web usage in Korea continues to rise, that this tendency in social media marketing will only continue. Blogs and YouTube were next with 65.8% and 35.8%. The survey suggests most companies (67.5%) are using social media to "improve customer communications and relationships."
Australian telco Telstra has announced plans send hundreds of customer service roles from Australia to Asia.
Telstra says it will cut more than 650 jobs as it prepares to shut down two contact centers and consolidates a range of roles into other existing centers. More than half of the jobs are being sent offshore, mostly to the Philippines.
Telstra has now cut more than 1,000 jobs this year and the company cannot guarantee no more cuts will be made. "We operate in a fast moving, highly competitive market," a Telstra spokeswoman said. "To keep pace with this changing environment and remain competitive, like every business we're constantly reviewing the way we work to identify opportunities to improve customer service and simplify our business."
The Shanghai subsidiary of Japanese outsourcer transcosmos Marketing Service has been selected as China's Best Customer Service Company for 2011-2012.
The award evaluation, conducted by the China Services Trade Association customer service committee, is designed to select the most outstanding company in all levels of customer service. Because the winning company is selected through a rigorous and detailed investigation and evaluation process, this has become the current accreditation standard for measuring the customer service level of businesses.
In the course of the investigation performed for the selection, challenges of the subject companies are identified and the important scientific basis for improving service quality is provided to them, and therefore many companies participate as a means to detect problems and improve services. Since the establishment of transcosmos China in 2006, it has developed businesses in the rapidly expanding Chinese market including contact center services for customer support and internet marketing services, and it is now providing services for many global businesses.
Copying and printing specialist Xerox Corporation is in the process of renaming Indian ACS (Affiliated Computer Services) business to Xerox Services.
US-based Xerox has carried out the name change in the North America and is in the process of doing the same in other markets across the globe. ACS currently has 75,000 people globally of which around 10,000 are in India.
Three years after acquiring ACS for, Xerox is now aggressively integrating the services business. In its global marketing and branding communication, ACS is already being referred to as Xerox Services.
The Australian tourism industry has been encouraged to target early retirees, Chinese students and indigenous Australians as employees in a bid to boost often-criticised service standards.
"You have a pool of Australians out there who are work ready - people who have retired early and the share market is down," said Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson. "We have to start to think about employing these people in a variety of positions."
Ferguson also wants to see a greater focus on indigenous tourism in Australia, with subsidies for the training and employment of indigenous people. And with China as the fastest-growing market for Australian tourism, Ferguson also sees an opportunity to recruit Chinese students living in Australia, who are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week as part of their visa conditions.
Welfare agency Centrelink has deployed more than 700 extra service staff after experiencing a big increase in waiting times.
Centrelink receives around 150,000 calls each day, roughly 38 million a year, a figure that has jumped by seven million a year in the last eight years. Human Services Minister Kim Carr said increased demand comes as a result of changes in economic conditions, changes to the social security system, and the growing complexity of calls.
"I have asked the Department to redeploy staff to call centre activities to meet increased waiting times, and deal with peak demand," Carr said. "The government secured the jobs of 600 skilled call centre staff with an additional $206 million in the last Budget. To deal with peak time this year Centrelink put on an additional 720 positions since March. I have now asked them to go further to address the unprecedented demand for assistance," he said.
China's Biostar Pharmaceuticals, will set up a contact center as its new business to customer sales platform.
The company plans to open, staff and equip a customer service center in the city of Xianyang in the next 30 days. Operators assigned to the center are all professionally trained sales staff and will be mainly responsible for answering customer calls and accepting orders.
"The establishment of the call center adds a new dimension to our sales model as it is an innovative measure in the PRC (People's Republic of China) pharmaceutical industry," said Biostar CEO Ronghua Wang. "The call center will inform customers about drug promotions, introduce new drugs, take and handle order fulfillment. The staff will also contact customers as the refill date approaches."
Australian telco and travel customers are experiencing longer than usual call waiting times due to the floods in the Philippines capital Manila.
Telstra, iiNet, TPG and Jetstar all use Manila-based contact centres and have had to reroute calls elsewhere as the deadly flooding and have prevented staff from getting to work. Almost two weeks of heavy rain triggered the flooding which has displaced some 500,000 people who have piled in to 500 evacuation centres.
Power, water and communications have been restored as floodwaters started to recede, but now residents face the task of fixing their houses. "Some of the staff up there have had difficulty in getting to work, as a result of flooding, so we have had to reroute traffic to other centres and make changes to rosters," said iiNet's Steve Dalby. "It's had a temporary impact, but I believe it is largely behind us now."
Despite reports of delays and closures, the Contact Centers Association of the Philippines (CCAP), says customer service operations were barely disrupted floods in Metro Manila last week.
"Operations were normal as of Wednesday. Although it was not 100% normal, operations were still ongoing," CCAP president Jojo J. Uligan told reporters. He added that companies who encountered problem with manpower, channeled calls to other locations that are not affected by the flood.
Uligan said each contact center company had a preparedness plan in place in case of calamities. "We notified our business partners around the world so they could take necessary steps to assist the staffing situation," Mr. Rizzo added. "We routed calls to other locations when possible."
Australian consumers are embracing mobile banking as increasing numbers make use of customer service apps.
Westpac has more than 1.4 million customers using its mobile banking services, according to News Limited, while National Australia Bank has recorded more than 1 million app downloads. Now mobile phones account for 36% of NAB's 900,000 daily internet banking log-ins. ANZ has 700,000 registered users of its goMoney iPhone app, which it launched in 2010. It will release an Android goMoney app this month.
St George Bank joined Commonwealth Bank by launching a Pay to Mobile application last month that lets consumers send money to a person by using their mobile phone number. Mobile banking usage at St George Bank, along with its fellow Westpac subsidiaries BankSA and Bank of Melbourne, is growing at 10% per month, with customers logging in 4 million times a month via their phones.
US mobile technology company Motorola Solutions has beefed up its Australia customer service with a new Innovation Centre in Melbourne.
Motorola Solutions says the centre will be a place where its partners, software developers and customers can access a range of its current and upcoming technologies. The goal is to spark collaboration and discovery for business and government, on how these solutions can be deployed to benefit them.
Motorola Solutions says the Innovation Centre would enable its partners and customers to tap into Motorola's global investment in Research and Development of US$1billion. Motorola will showcase its public safety and retail solutions at the centre, including a future of policing augmented by sharing real time voice and video.
Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes says customer service is still an important part of the retail business and admitted he made a mistake when he slashed staff numbers to cut costs.
Over the past few years, he said, Myer had increased staff numbers and implemented more training to improve customer service. Brookes also predicts traditional big retailers will embrace internet service and retailing to the extent that they will the top 10 shopping sites within five years.
"If we produce a list in three years of the top ten internet sites in Australia, it will be dominated by Myer, DJs (David Jones), Kmart, Target, the Just Group, the existing group of retailers" he said. Brookes said Australian retailers had been slow to move into online shopping, due partly to the higher costs involved in delivering goods in a geographically large country with a relatively small population.
New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is celebrating the success of its new voice recognition technology.
The IRD last week issued a statement which said that over 400,000 taxpayers in New Zealand have already signed up and begun using the Department's voice recognition system Voice ID. The new Voice ID system allows taxpayers to access their accounts by telephone with the IRD by answering a series of simple questions over the telephone instead of entering a traditional pin number.
Every individual's voice is unique like a fingerprint, meaning that that the Voice ID system is extremely secure. The Voice ID system has been operating since November 2011, and now more taxpayers using Voice than the traditional PIN system, and the feedback from individuals has been largely positive.
South Korean electronics company Samsung will increase its face-to-face service in Australia with the opening of its Australian experience store in Sydney.
The store, to be operated by Australasian Mobile Telecommunications Group (AMT), will open this week at 450 George Street in Sydney, near Apple's Australian flagship store at 367 George Street. The store is to be the first of many planned by Samsung according to a job advertisement on the Seek website.
The Seek job ad says Australian Retail Management Services has teamed up with Samsung to open and manage a number of new stores in Australia. "We currently have full-time customer service and sales opportunities available in our brand new Samsung store located in Sydney CBD." Australian Retail Management Services is a subsidiary of AMT.
Telstra's feat of signing 1.6 million new mobile customers in 2012 financial year has been attributed to the telco's customer service strategy.
The new emphasis on customer service has made Telstra "less the ogre or monopolist that it used to be seen as some years ago," Gartner analyst Geoff Johnson told reporters. BuddeComm analyst Paul Budde said that the boost in Telstra customers came with a cost as the company spent $1 billion on its customer service campaign to win back customers and is making less money per customer than in the past.
"The company has indicated that (its customer service) campaign is over and that they are increasing mobile charges obviously with the aim to increase their profit margin," Budde said. "It will be interesting to see how that will pan out."
US LED technology developer Luminus Devices has opened a support office in Taiwan in response to growing demand in the Asian market.
The office offers sales support, customer service, field application engineering, and operational engineering to Luminus' key customers, suppliers and contract manufacturing partners in Asia. The Taoyuan County facility is expected to be responsible for managing Luminus' current relationships and future business opportunities in display, entertainment and specialty lighting vertical markets across Asia.
"We have seen our business in Asia grow dramatically over the past few years in each of our vertical market segments," said CEO Keith T. S. Ward. "The Taiwan office is central to Asia, which is the hotspot for LED technology and manufacturing, and it will only enhance our ability to provide world class innovative solutions for our customers."
Virgin Holidays returned its trade calls from India to the UK as part of changes to its agency support and to help it exploit an expected post-Olympics tourism bounce.
The change in policy comes amid a number of improvements to the Virgin trade website vhols4agents.co.uk this month. Virgin said the initial shift of calls to Indian had been a bone of contention and the decision to use the UK customer service team would be well received.
Virgin is convinced many holidaymakers still intend to travel this year and that the end of the London Olympics will prompt a rash of bookings. It said the call center move would help speed up response times and the quality of its service.
US cloud computing company Akamai Technologies has expanded its Asia Pacific customer service with new offices in Taipei, Taiwan and Melbourne, Australia.
The two new offices will allow the company to better service existing customers in those regions and expand its footprint within the fast-growing APac market. Akamai now has 36 regional offices around the world providing sales, services and support for its global customer base.
In addition, Akamai has strengthened its regional leadership team with the recruitment of new country managers in Japan and Korea. Akamai serves over two dozen customers in Taiwan including Eva Airways and SNSplus, Inc. The opening of a Melbourne office and investment in local staff also demonstrates the company's commitment to growing its presence in Australia in the years ahead. Akamai has an existing office in Sydney.
The Asia Pacific region continues to soar as the preferred offshore contact center destination, according to global consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
In a statement ahead of an analyst briefing on the Asia Pacific market for contact center solution providers in Singapore later this month, Frost & Sullivan said intensifying focus on quality customer service has also raised the interest of domestic enterprises across Asia Pacific.
"To meet rising customer demand, the region recorded a 9.7% growth in contact center seats ... in 2011. This in turn raised investments in contact center applications," Frost & Sullivan said. "In an increasingly competitive market, organisations in the region started to leverage on customer service as key differentiator. Such focus helped investment on the advanced features/capabilities to be added on contact centers in 2011."
The Beijing Capital International Airport has launched a new customer service hotline with access guaranteed even under extreme weather conditions.
The new hotline has expanded handling capacities so that fewer callers will have to wait when the line is engaged. It will offer more customer-friendly services, such as flight timetables, lost and found enquiries and special arrangements for vulnerable people such as seniors and pregnant women.
The previous service line, which opened in 2006, has attracted complaints for long waiting times and difficulties accessing it during peak periods. The line answered an average of 25,000 calls a day in 2011, with a peak of 34,100 calls a day.
Bell Helicopter and the Cessna Aircraft Company have expanded their Asian customer service by opening a new regional service center in Singapore.
The new facility offers customers a one-stop shop for repair, completion, fulfillment, maintenance and customisation solutions. "The grand opening of our Asia Pacific service center brings to life a vision of providing exceptional support to our current and future customers in this important growth region," said Bell Helicopter CEO John L. Garrison.
Bell Helicopter and Cessna envision the center as a regional hub for response to customer needs in Asia Pacific. "Over the years Bell Helicopter and Cessna have grown into global companies," Garrison said. "We've accomplished this by successfully gearing our operations to serve a diverse and expanding customer base in addition to providing innovative, affordable mission solutions tailored to our local customers.
The International Standard for Service Excellence (TISSE 2012) will be available to Indian organisations for the first time later this month.
TISSE is recognised as the global quality mark in West Asia and more recently has begun to be adopted in Asia, America, Australia and Europe. It is developed and governed by the UK's International Customer Service Institute (TICSI).
Gurgaon-based consulting firm Hexagon is the exclusive implementation partner of TICSI, UK for India, while their Certification Partner for the final audit leg is the British Standards Institution (BSI, India). The third party certification from BSI ensures that there is no conflict of interest and enhances the credibility of the standard and its implementation, Hexagon claimed. TISSE ensures that organisations will be in a better position to provide a higher level of customer service along with effective feedback management to monitor all of the communication channels including social media which are under the organisation's control.
Japan's Nippon Life plans to bring the practice of post-sales services to the Indian insurance industry through a partnership with local firm Reliance Life.
Nippon Life Insurance president Yoshinobu Tsutsui told reporters customer service activities make for a key element of the company's insurance business in Japan and it would look to reciprocate the same in India. Post-sales service is a widely prevalent practice in a host of consumer-focussed businesses, including consumer goods and home appliances, and involves a continued relationship between the company and its customers through maintenance and advice-like offerings for years after the actual sale.
Post-sales services are not available in the Indian insurance industry, although some other financial services segments like banking do offer such offerings in form of financial advisory services for certain customers. "We make it a rule (in Japan) that all our sales people visit every customer at least once a year periodically," Tsutsui said, adding that such visits also help in selling new products to the existing customers and in acquiring new clients.
US-based CRM company Pegasystems is targeting Asia as a major area of growth as the region continues to build its customer service offerings.
Pegasystems India VP Suman Reddy Eadunuri told reporters the company has been looking at countries like China, Japan and Thailand in the Asia-Pacific region for growth, with India as its natural next step. "Though India also throws up an opportunity, we still don't have a full-fledged sales team here," he said, adding the company will likely offer a dedicated team chasing Indian clients by 2013.
Eadunurisaid Pegasystems has been "delaying its India focus with a plan" and is now setting its sights on government projects in India. The company recently expanded its Hyderabad facility to accommodate close to 250 people, taking its total employee count in India to 501.
The Philippines presidential palace has advised that contact center service agents cannot be made to go to work amid heavy monsoon rains that have been battering Manila.
"If your employer insists that you go to work, they must be able: (1) to guarantee your safety and (2) pay extra for your attendance," said Abigail Valte a spokesperson at Malacanan Palace, the official presidential residence. Valte was reacting to reports saying that some BPO companies were "forcing" their employees to report to work despite floods in Metro Manila.
The rains have suspended work in several outsourcing centers as the rains inundated many parts of the region. Benedict Hernandez, president of the Business Process Association of the Philippines, agreed with Valte's position, saying the BPO workers can always decide to skip work should circumstances not allow them to report to their offices. However, he said that there are critical services that need to be up and running even at the height of disasters, in which case companies have the discretion to discontinue operations.
Philippine customer service company SPi Global has earned a spot among the world's top 100 outsourcing companies for the 7th consecutive year.
The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), the global standard-setting organisation and advocate for the outsourcing profession, has recognised SPi Global for excellence in its 2012 Global Outsourcing 100 list. "Being in this prestigious list for seven consecutive years is proof of our long-term commitment to excellence," said SPi Global President and CEO Maulik Parekh.
"SPi Global was cited for its demonstrated capabilities in the areas of customer engagement, company, best practices, employee management, and executive leadership. This recognition belongs to our employees who worked so hard to maintain our enviable standing in the industry and to our client partners who have entrusted us with value-add processes in transforming their business." The 2012 Global Outsourcing 100 recognises the world's best outsourcing service providers. The rankings are based on applications received and evaluated by an independent judging panel organised by IAOP.
The State Bank of India (SBI) is diversifying its customer service in remote areas with the opening of 56 "ultra small branches" in the country's north east.
The ultra small branch (USB) is a new concept where customer service agents operate with devices like laptops while accessing the internet or mobile software along with photograph and fingerprint bio-metric devices to open accounts. With this new system in place, an official of an SBI Link Branch can visit these outlets once a week at a designated day and time to process existing accounts, service queries and create awareness of the bank's different services and products.
SBI has plans to complete 100 USBs in the coming months and to convert its customer service points in a phased manner in the current financial year. The aim is to include the vast section of society within the banking services fold with at least one savings deposit account, credit linkage, remittance facility and insurance products.
American outsourcer TelVerse Solutions has launched a new customer service center in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
The contact center will offer back office, voice, and knowledge process outsourcing services to clients primarily from the United States and Europe. TelVerse said the market advantage for Nepal over India and the Philippines includes its ability to provide the same world-class technical infrastructure that top BPO companies provide, as well as very neutral English accents, allowing for excellent customer service to English speaking countries.
"It is time for a new market to open in the BPO sector and the current market saturation in the Philippines and India is paving the way for the TelVerse value proposition," said TelVerse CEO Ryan Cole. "After much market research, we found that Kathmandu, Nepal, is the diamond in the rough we had been searching for."
Senior marketers from across the Asia-Pacific are meeting in Singapore this week to discuss the findings of a new study on how companies can engage with customers in a more personal and relevant way via big data analytics.
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, which represents more than 6,000 senior marketers in more than 110 countries, teamed with analytics software company SAS to assess the state of customer intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region. The report "Improve Every Marketing Move," found when it comes to improving the customer experience through better market listening, responsiveness, and leveraging of data and actionable insights, most of the region’s senior marketers felt they were not there yet, but working toward it.
Marketers report being overwhelmed by growing volumes of customer data emanating from research, retail, Internet, social media, financial, company help desks/call centers, and internal line of business sources. But the resulting data is now offering them new ways to improve the customer experience, increase satisfaction, engender loyalty, and be more responsive to the needs and requirements of their different customer segments.
Apple stores in China are using a reservation system for customers wanting to buy its newest iPad in a bid to avoid the consumer reaction to the launch of its 4S iPhone.
Irate customer threw eggs at a Beijing store, while hundreds of others left disappointed after failing to buy the new phone. This time customers needed to make a reservation between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. local time to buy the new iPad.
The sales approach contrasts with previous launches, when customers would wait in line at Apple stores to buy the devices on launch day. In the past, massive lines of people, numbering in the hundreds, would extend outside the stores, with customers hoping Apple would have enough supplies to meet the demand.
Chinese telco China Unicom has announced plans to build its China-ASEAN regional information communication center and regional headquarters in Nanning.
The new Nanning headquarters will include a southwestern regional service outsourcing contact center; an international comprehensive communication hub; a regional international communications service gateway; an international direct data channel; and a southwestern regional IDC and cloud computing center.
The new facility will reportedly be China Unicom's fourth international communications service gateway following those in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. It is also a special regional international communications service gateway targeting the ten countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
US data center specialist Geist has opened its first Asia office the Chinese city of Shenzhen to better serve its Asia Pacific customers.
Having a presence in China will help Geist engineers and service representatives better understand customer requirements in Asia the company said. They'll be able to provide real-time support and more effectively solve any issues they encounter now and in the future.
"We chose Shenzhen because it's very centrally located," said Geist Asia MD Jason Christie, "We can easily serve our customers in Beijing or Singapore, Tokyo or Sydney." Geist Executive VP Brad Wilson said Geist's goal was to provide excellent service to each of its customers, and has made it a priority to create an office "with the people and resources to provide the region with comprehensive data center solutions".
Indian outsourcer Sundaram Business Services (SBS) has expanded its customer service and back office presence in the Australian market by winning two new customers.
The company recently signed two new outsourcing deals in Australia and is targeting to grow its Australian business by 50%. SBS has signed a deal with an unnamed Sydney-based company to undertake mortgage processing work from India.
In a separate deal with a Melbourne-based research company, SBS will undertake high-end equity research work. It has also won deals with several new pension fund administrators and accountants across Australia.
Customer service solutions company Jacanda has joined unified communications company AGC Networks to provide Indian companies with tailored customer service solutions.
The partnership enables contact center agents to connect to customer data in a simplified and consistent way regardless of the channel, "creating more effective customer interactions while reducing operational costs". Jacada and AGC Networks offer a comprehensive set of customised contact center solutions "designed to enhance the customer experience across multiple channels, as well as directly impact operating costs and improve employee retention".
"BPOs in India are being asked by their worldwide customers to provide innovative customer service solutions as their interactions with these organisations become more complicated due to multi-channel communication options and the rapid growth of call center applications," said Jacada's Guy Yair.
Nasscom Foundation, the social development arm of Indian BPO association Nasscom, is leading a recruitment drive for people with disabilities.
The project is expected to create over 2,000 jobs for disabled candidates in the BPO and IT industries over the next two years. Some Indian companies are now recognising the benefits of a diversity policy and are more open to recruiting people with disabilities, according to Nasscom.
"India has 5.5 million disabled youth in the 12-24 years age group, yet only a few corporates have taken initiatives to create workplaces that recruit and welcome people with disabilities," Nasscom Foundation CEO Rita Soni said. "However, diversity is seen as a very strong business case to drive job creation for people with disabilities in India."
Philippine outsourcer Paxys has partnered with Canadian company Simpro Solutions to establish a joint customer service venture called Simpro Solutions Philippines (SSP).
Both parent companies have a 50% stake in SSP, which reflects the basis of their profit sharing in the new contact center, which is scheduled to open in September.
Paxys will operate and manage the joint venture while Simpro will take care of business and client development, according to a statement. "Paxys intends to leverage Simpro’s presence in Canada for seeking out target clients in the region," it said.
Magellan Solutions Outsourcing (MSO) of the Philippines has opened a new office in the United States to better expand its global footprint in North America.
"Through the years, North America has remained the biggest market for our contact center services," said MSO CEO Fred Chua. "Small and medium businesses in the United States are a rapidly growing market segment and have increasingly sought the use of customer service call center to spur growth and build better relationships."
Chua said MSO's US team will build a more impressive list of clients in the retail, manufacturing, legal, hospitality, IT support, academic, marketing, media and entertainment industries. Chua said aside from customer service, there is a strong possibility that more US-based companies will consider business process outsourcing (BPO) services in the future.
The Philippines' Social Security System (SSS) has opened a 16-hour customer service center.
The center allows members to enquire about their loans, contributions, benefits and other similar concerns beyond working hours on weekdays. "Employees manning the call center are trained to address a wide range of SSS enquiries," said SSS president Emilio de Quiros Jr. "With a 16-hour window for calls, we can entertain more phone queries so more members can avoid problems such as having incomplete requirements or not knowing the location of their covering branch when filing loan and benefit applications."
Enquiry facilities that provide round-the-clock services to members include the SSS website, Text-SSS and the self-service IVRS. De Quiros said Text-SSS had been expanded to cover enquiries on claim status, branch location and requirements for loans, benefits and registration helped boost the number of transactions and registered users.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) says a recent survey found only 8.4% contact center representatives were able to answer customers' queries on initial contact.
The survey, undertaken by CASE in collaboration with students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Business and Accountancy, included respondents who made calls to customer service centers of banks and telecommunications providers or both in the six months before the survey.
On average, more than 70% of respondents agreed that contact center representatives did not have the knowledge to answer questions or provide accurate or relevant information. Some 46% of respondents had to call twice or more times to reach their contact center representative. CASE suggested that contact centers introduce a call-back feature for dropped calls.
Australian telco Telstra Global has expanded further into business cloud services with the announcement of a Virtual Contact Centre (VCC) powered by IPscape.
Telstra says the deal is for the provision of services in Asia, with the Australian rollout yet to be announced. IPscape CEO Simon Burke told reporters the partnership with Telstra Global lets IPscape "focus on being a software company".
Telstra said the VCC service is the first enterprise-grade cloud application to be fully integrated into a global telecommunications portfolio. "Alongside Telstra Global's world class voice and data networks, it offers companies of all sizes access to a global multi-channel customer service experience with a single service level agreement," it said.
Afghanistan telco Roshan has been awarded the Asia Communication Award (ACA) for Best Customer Service Initiatives.
The award recognises Roshan's role in pioneering customer service in Afghanistan and establishing itself as an emerging market benchmark in customer care. Roshan became the first company in Afghanistan to receive ISO Certification for its customer care team in September 2011.
Roshan's customer service team beat six other finalists for the title, announced last week at Total Telecom's second annual ACA ceremony in Singapore. "For an Afghan company to be recognised for its high quality customer service represents an historic achievement, not only for Roshan, but for all customers in Afghanistan," said Roshan CEO Karim Khoja. "When Roshan began operations in 2003, the concept of customer care was virtually unknown in Afghanistan."
AirAsia has been named winner of the Air Cargo Industry Customer Care Award 2012 in Shanghai, beating the likes of Emirates, Qatar and Etihad for the title.
AirAsia received the award from UK-based air cargo news publication Air Cargo Week (ACW) after emerging first in a global survey that polled industry peers and shippers. Apart from the industry votes, AirAsia was also measured on three key criterions: proactive approach to customer service, effective strategy for problem resolution & defined and measurable customer care policy.
AirAsia won the same accolade in Munich, Germany last year, making it the first airline to have won the award two-years in a row and the first ever low cost carrier to be awarded this global recognition. "This award has debunked the myth that low cost means low quality. We have spent a great deal of time calibrating our processes which are now metronomic in nature," AirAsia's Sathis Manoharen said.
More than two thirds of consumers in the Asia Pacific region use the web as their first call for customer service by searching the internet before making a purchase.
A British Telecom and Avaya study found that 79% people in the region are 'shopper swots' who use the internet to plan and research before purchasing. Over half (54%) prefer self service to interacting with sales agents, and 79% said that they would buy more from companies that make it easier to do business online. The research found that consumers in Asia-Pacific countries are increasingly autonomous and able to manage their own customer relationships, signalling a pressing need for companies to embrace a new multi-channel customer service approach.
These autonomous customers are also embracing new technology faster than the organisations that serve them, meaning they want timely, personalised access to services wherever they are, at any time of day and through any device. "By connecting agents with the latest social media and unified communications tools, contact centres can share their knowledge across multiple sites to create 'networked experts' who are much more able to satisfy these more complex enquires from any communication medium a customer should choose," said BT's Andrew Small. "That's true customer service."
Companies need to formulate a multichannel service strategy to meet the needs of a new breed of "autonomous" customers, according to new research.
According to a joint survey by BT Global Services and Avaya, 79% of consumers indicated they planned their purchases and carried out their own product research before buying, even though they might be "time-starved". Nicola Millard, a customer experience futurologist at BT Global Services, told a briefing session in Singapore that customer autonomy was challenging existing customer relationship strategies of both companies and public sector organisations.
Millard noted that 54% of respondents preferred self-service shopping options as "no one tries to sell [them] anything", while 64% utilised social media more than 2 to 3 times a week. Additionally, consumers with smartphones were also "supercharged" by the information available in their hands, the study showed, as 81% of consumers with smartphones use online reviews to check on product quality compared to 68% for those without a smartphone.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government filed a complaint against Japanese budget carrier Skymark Airlines after it posted notices which informed the passengers it would not accept complaints during flights.
Passengers were told to direct their complaints to public consumer centers. "We cannot condone an attitude of directing complaints about a company's services to public organisations," said Hirohiko Fukushima, the head of the Consumer Affairs Agency, which has requested the notices be removed.
Skymark's eight-point "Service Concept" guidelines were introduced aboard its aircraft in mid-May and stated that cabin staff would not help passengers stow their bags, that attendants were not required to use "polite language" when talking to customers, moreover, the crew's primary task is not to attend to passengers but to serve as safety personnel. "We will not accept any complaints made on-board. In case a passenger does not understand that, we will ask the person to leave so that we can take off as scheduled. If passengers have complaints, we urge them to contact our customer service center, the National Consumer Affairs Center or other related agencies," the notice added.
Beijing rail commuters have taken to the internet to discuss their train service experience and plans to introduce a loyalty program.
An online survey on railway customer service posted on the website of the China Railway Customer Service Center was conducted by the center's Beijing branch from May 30 to July 5. Adult passengers who take trains from April 1 to June 30 with tickets issued in their real names can participate in the survey and may receive travel awards in a lucky draw. Prizes will be awarded in the form of credit.
Many commuters praised the rewards program as a progressive way for the railway sector to meet market demand. Some railway insiders say it is a signal that the Ministry of Railways will introduce its own rewards program for frequent rail travellers.
One restaurant in China is taking customer service technology to a whole new level with the introduction of robot service staff.
The Robot Restaurant in Harbin has 18 mechanical employees, including 'dumpling robot', 'noodle robot' and 'cooking robot'. The restaurant says its robotic staff are well trained, efficient and fast - and they don't expect a tip for their efforts.
When customers walk in, 'usher robot' extends his arm and welcomes them with the greeting: 'Earth person, hello!'. Once diners have placed their orders, the android contraptions get to work, before 'robot waiter' - running along tracks on the floor - carries dishes to the table. Entertainment is also provided, thanks to a singing robot, while an automated dog - which is allowed to sit on the tables - helps keep children occupied.
Indian outsourcer Aegis has expanded is global presence with the opening of a new customer service centre in Peru.
Aegis plans to hire over 800 employees in the first year and aims to reach a headcount of 2,000 in the second year. The site in the historical centre of the capital Lima, has three floors which include a 300-seat contact centre, meeting and training rooms and sections for administrative employees as well as break rooms.
"We chose to grow in Peru for its ease of doing business, skilled labor market and economic and political stability," Aegis Global CEO Aparup Sengupta said. "We are happy to become part of the community here and hope to offer the best customer experience to our clients." The Peruvian operation is Aegis' second in South America after acquiring Actionline de Argentina in October 2010, which has over 5000 employees and 5 sites spread out in different Argentine cities.
Indian outsourcer HCL Technologies has set up a customer service center in Manila, expected to employ up to 400 agents.
The center is expected to leverage the Philippine's time zone advantage to service the growing number of customers in various industries including financial services, healthcare in the region, HCL Technologies said. "This center reinforces HCL's objective to provide customers with next-generation BPO services," said HCL Technologies' Rahul Singh.
Singh said the plan for setting up the center in the Philippines was influenced by the country's growing prominence as a strong BPO services hub." HCL will work closely with several local universities in the Philippines to recruit young graduates.
Indian outsourcer RuralShores is set to replicate its regional based customer service model in Brazil and Kenya.
RuralShores, which has set up centers in rural areas employing local candidates, is working with the Rockefeller Foundation and the World BPO Forum to set up operations rural Brazil and Kenya. The company trains and employs rural youth who services to companies across the world.
RuralShores is in talks with several companies and is "currently training employees of two companies in program management and people management," RuralShores CEO Murali Vullaganti told reporters. The company currently employs about 1,200 rural youth across 12 centers in India and is planning to set up six more.
Philippine based customer service provider Magellan Solutions Outsourcing has announced plans to expand its shared and dedicated services to meet growing demand from SMEs centers in the coming years.
"Small and Medium Enterprises are beginning to understand the importance of outsourced offshore customer service call centres in their operations," said Magellan CEO Fred Chua. "They'll be surprised with the vast potential that awaits them should they consider the Philippines for their operational process."
To meet the expected demand, Chua said Magellan Solutions is looking to double its workforce. He said the company's focus has been to serve the growing SME markets in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, EU and Canada. "Magellan is the best of both worlds. We're similar to large organizations wherein we're very process-driven and very structured, which is very critical for continuous improvement, and at the same time, we're very similar to small operations wherein we're very nimble and flexible," Chua said.
Malaysian commuters have been given the chance to offer feedback on cab customer service via a new application TaxiMonger.
TaxiMonger is a taxi booking and review application for mobile and internet that allows users to review and rate taxi drivers to represent the "voice of taxi passengers". "Whether it's a good or bad (experience), the need to get it out of his/her system would be a compelling reason for users to post taxi reviews in TaxiMonger," said cofounder Nizran Noordin.
Still in its trial stage, the site has close to 1,000 registered users and has built up a network of about 50 taxi drivers in Malaysia so far. In the coming months, TaxiMonger says it will be looking for channel partners to operate their taxi booking business in the rest of South East Asia, making the app a taxi contact center that runs on the cloud.
Global outsourcer Sitel has opened its ninth Philippine customer service center in Manila.
The new center will initially provide support for a major online computer gaming company and a leading telecom service provider, but has capacity for further expansion. The new facility is designed to operate continuously through the use of a centralided, uninterruptable power supply and power generators capable of providing long-term interim power.
Sitel said its clients continue to be impressed with the quality of the Philippines workforce. It said more than 90% of its workforce is college educated, with degrees in IT, communications, business and the sciences. "There is a strong affinity between the United States and the Philippines, and the available and efficient labour pool provides an opportunity for Sitel to deliver customer-facing services at very attractive rates," said Sitel group GM Steve Barker.
Teleperformance has received the 2012 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Contact Center Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year Award.
The Award was presented during the Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific ICT Awards this month at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. The honour was made in recognition of Teleperformance's "significant performance in revenue management, market share, capabilities, and overall contribution to the ICT industry."
"Teleperformance stayed ahead in a fiercely competitive outsourcing market by transforming itself to be a reliable partner to deliver excellence in customer experience," said Frost & Sullivan's Sathya Subramanian. Teleperformance operates 20 customer service centres in China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
US bank Wells Fargo will offshore an unspecified number of jobs to India and the Philippines.
"As part of our efforts to increase efficiency, we are thoughtfully pursuing a strategy for where we grow and where we shift resources over the long-term," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Bridget Braxton told reporters. "Businesses and functional areas are investigating what markets are most economically attractive, with access to the best talent, both internationally (including India and the Philippines) and domestically."
While refusing to reveal the number of jobs that would be moved to India and the Philippines, Braxton, said, "The areas of business that would be impacted include the retirement, technology and other business lines." Wells Fargo already employs 3,000 people in India at its Hyderabad and Bangalore offices, while it has 240 in the Philippines.
Chinese authorities say they are considering using social medial to enhance their customer service, especially in emergency situations.
The state-run China Daily says authorities have suggested they may use the growing popularity of social networking websites in the country to enhance awareness on earthquake prevention and disaster reduction. The popularity of microblogging sites should be utilised to educate the people about disaster mitigation, said Chen Jianmin, director of the China Earthquake Administration.
China has around 500 million internet users. Sina Weibo, the country's most popular microblogging site, has 324 million registered users, China Daily reported.
Indian online financial service company Axis Bank has selected IBM to provide customer care services to its customers.
IBM will consolidate and manage the contact centre operations from the bank's existing 58 regional asset centres to a single mortgage contact center. The contact center will cater to inbound voice and email communications from the bank's customers.
"As one of the fastest growing banks in India, Axis Bank was looking to transform their customer care and back-office functions to global standards,'' said IBM-India and South Asia's Anuj Kumar. Axis Bank expects to benefit from additional potential revenue generated as a result of cross-selling or up-selling services or applications at the consolidated mortgage customer care centre.
Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications has acquired a controlling stake in Philippine customer service IT company Diversified Technology Solutions International (DTSI).
NTT Com has struck a deal to buy a 50.1% stake in Freedom Resources Holdings, the holding company of the DTSI Group, thus making the local firm part of the NTT Group of Companies. DTSI Group has a strong track record in building systems and providing services for IT-BPO operators, accounting for 60% of all seats in contact centres currently operating in the Philippines.
"Through the tie-up, NTT Com expects to strengthen its contact centre capabilities in the Philippines by creating operational synergies with DTSI Group, including by leveraging their respective customer bases," NTT Com said in a press statement. DTSI has helped set up most of the major BPO operations in the Philippines including those of Covergys, Teleperformance and JP Morgan.
Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten plans to launch an Internet shopping mall in Malaysia offering a "new and unique" customer service experience.
The Rakuten Online Shopping service will focus on offering consumers in Malaysia the best local and international goods while employing Japan's "world famous customer service standards". Rakuten says it is currently recruiting merchant partners to populate its online shopping mall leading up to its launch in late 2012. Rakuten Online Shopping expands Rakuten's footprint in South East Asia, marking its third e-commerce market entry in the region, following TARAD.com in Thailand in 2009, and Indonesia's Rakuten Belanja Online in 2011.
"The Rakuten shopping experience brings the best of both worlds to consumers and merchants," said Rakuten's Masaya Ueno. "We empower merchants with the platform, tools and know-how they need to run successful online businesses. We also enable them to customise their storefronts to maximise their own brand."
The first Chinese-owned MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) to be operated outside China has been launched by China Telecom and Everything Everywhere.
China Telecom is offering a new range of customer service options to Chinese customers in the UK via the Everything Everywhere network. Customers will be able to take advantage of Chinese language voicemail services, a bilingual Chinese/English customer service phone line and website. "With increasing numbers of Chinese visitors to the UK, we will be rolling out innovative and targeted mobile services to our customers," said Yan Ou, Managing Director of China Telecom in Europe.
"These will include the provision of a local Chinese number for friends and family to call, a chat application for customers to share content with each other and an information service hotline in Chinese targeted at travellers to the UK," Yan said.
Data and backup software company CommVault is expanding customer service operations in Asia to meet growing demand in the region.
The expansion comes as a direct response to the support requirements of clients in China and Korea. CommVault says it will now offer Chinese customers direct access to globally-based, solution-specific support and increased access to Chinese language support.
It has also partnered with a leading local service provider in Korea to provide customers direct access to frontline technical support through a local number. "CommVault's continued investment in customer support ensures greater flexibility, efficiency and improved account management for customers with multinational locations," said CommVault's Robert Brower.
India's Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) is developing 17 customer service centers across the city.
The centers will allow residents to pay water rates, property tax, register birth and death certificates and access other services. "We have plans to develop 17 customer service centers across the city for the convenience of the residents," BMC commissioner Rajneesh Shrivastava said. "This will also help residents file complaints regarding pipe repairing, road repairing, water supply among others."
The centers will be connected to the Municipal Administrative System, which will have an online record of the applications put in by the residents. Shrivastava said five of the centers are scheduled to be open from next month.
US outsourcer Afni has announced plans to open a new customer service center in the Philippines.
Afni's Lori Boyce said Afni's expansion came "in response to increasing market interest in companies like Afni who have a very strong U.S. customer service solution and can also offer up a flexible and geographically diverse solution." "More and more global companies are seeking partners like Afni who will bring them high-touch customer care from the United States, and also provide the flexibility of serving their customers from global locations," she said.
Afni currently employs some 5,000 from operations centers in Illinois, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Kentucky. The company provides customer service operations for major companies in such industries as telecommunications, health care, insurance and financial services.
Restaurateurs have been warned to work harder on customer service in the social media environment.
The warning comes from Restaurant and Catering Australia following new research that reveals almost a quarter of poor dining experiences are communicated on social media by the diner within a minute or two of leaving the restaurant, if not while they are still seated at the table. The national survey of Australian diners by American Express found one-third of Australians use social media to rate their dining experience, with a quarter of Generation Y diners favoring Facebook to share their views.
Of all diners, Generation Y are most likely to jump online to share their experience (40%), compared to Generation X (26%) and Baby Boomers (19%). Conversely, the majority (60%) of diners are just as likely to rate a good dining experience as they are a bad one. "The prevalence of smart phones and increasing ease with which diners can congratulate or condemn their dining experience means the power of social media is the sleeping giant that cannot be ignored," said Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO John Hart.
Yet another study has leant its weight to the growing chorus of support for online customer support, with figures from IT giant Oracle pointing to a rapid increase in Chinese customers seeking web-based assistance.
Oracle's Consumer Views of Live Help 2012 report, which surveyed more than 3,000 consumers worldwide, found consumers go online more frequently, are more likely to use Live Help and have higher expectations for customer service via social media and websites compared with a similar survey conducted in 2009. In China, consumer use of online support jumped dramatically, with 76% of Chinese consumers online daily to browse or research products (versus 49% worldwide) and 60% saying they use Live Help to reach customer service (versus 50% worldwide).
"As consumers frequent online sites more than ever, they expect to engage with companies' customer service representatives while they are there," said Oracle's Mike Webster. "Whether the customer visits the company's commerce site or social media page, there must be a clear link to a customer service person that is informed and able to help."
Indian consumers are reportedly fast losing patience with customer service agents, according to new research.
The survey by American Express and global research firm, echo, found 64% of Indians lose their temper with an agent, far higher than the global average of 48%. Nearly two in five Indians threatened to switch to a competitor while a third of them hung up the phone on customer service agents.
While 61% insisted on speaking to a supervisor, 12% of Indians use profanities or abusive language as compared to an average of 7% globally. "Great customer service is great business and positions a brand with staying power," said American Express' Pradeep Kapu.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is adapting and upgrading its onboard customer service in anticipation of the delivery of its six Airbus A380 aircrafts.
MAS is inducting its cabin crew and all other front-line staff with specialised training to enhance customer experience on the superjumbo. Head of customer experience, Datuk Salleh Ahmad Tabrani, said around 550 cabin crew had been identified and specially selected to undergo training in various aspects of MAS' A380 inflight service hospitality between now and end of December.
"The on-going soft-skill training enables the cabin crew to enhance their strengths in communication and engagement with passengers on the A380s," he said in a statement. He said other MAS front-line staff were also undergoing similar training including teams from airport operations, ticketing/ reservations, Golden Lounges and the Global Customer Contact Center.
Global outsourcer Teleperformance Group plans to recruit more workers in the Philippines this year to grow its labor pool by 15%-20%.
The increase in headcount comes as Teleperformance looks to set up more customer service centers outside Metro Manila and take on more acquisitions. The hiring requirement will depend on market interest for the firm's new products and services, which will in turn translate to an increased demand for contact agents, Asia-Pacific president David Rizzo said.
Teleperformance Philippines MD Brian J. Johnson said the company was also offering more than a competitive salary package to retain their employees. "We do put emphasis on employee compensation (but we are also focusing) on employment experience," Johnson said.
China's outsourcing industry is expected to double in volume by 2016 fuelled by a fast growing domestic market, the official People's Daily reported.
Innovation rather than low costs appear to be the leading driving force for China's growing outsourced customer service industry. "China has the opportunity to develop an outsourcing industry much more robust than India ever will," International Association of Outsourcing Professionals chairman Mike Corbett said in Beijing last week.
While India is still the top global outsourcing service provider, China is catching up rapidly because it combines the development of offshore business with the support of a rapidly growing domestic market, the newspaper quoted Corbett as saying.
Nuance-Watson has been honoured in Hong Kong International Airport's (HKIA) Customer Service Excellence Awards in both the Individual and Team categories.
"Customer satisfaction has always been the key to success in retailing," Nuance-Watson Asia regional MD Alessandra Piovesana said. "At Nuance-Watson we strive to maintain very high standards of in-store service and sustain our staff's professionalism at all times."
Held every year since 2003, the annual HKIA Customer Service Excellence Awards recognises and rewards the most outstanding frontline sales professionals among around 65,000 airport community members.
"I heartily congratulate both our individual winners and winning teams for being so passionate about setting new customer satisfaction benchmarks in strong service culture and team spirit," Piovesana.
More and more Indian customers are looking to engage with organisations via social media, according to a new report.
The newly released 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that 54% Indians have used social media to get a customer service response at least once in the past year as compared to an average of 20% in other markets. However, 64% Indians lose their temper with a customer service professional which is far higher in comparison to an average of 48% across the world.
The survey, conducted in 11 countries including India, Australia the US and UK, found people in India who use social media for customer service are more willing than the general population to reward companies with both business and loyalty for quality service and end relationship due to poor service.
Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, has appointed Philippine customer service outsourcer SPi Global to operate its contact center.
Scoot will provide medium and long haul no-frills flights from June 2012 linking Australia, Singapore and China, with other destinations to be announced later. SPi Global will provide telecommunications customer services such as booking of Scoot's tickets, special seats and meals requests, and after-sales support with representatives speaking in English, Mandarin, and Japanese, in addition to handling email enquiries for Scoot.
SPi Global has a dedicated team immersed in Scoot's corporate culture, according to SPi Global CEO Maulik Parekh. SPi Global has 30 offices and facilities around the world, including the US, Netherlands, Philippines, India, Vietnam and Australia.
Wellington-based Compass Health will increase the support offered to New Zealand medical practices struggling to reach and advise patients who smoke.
Under the NZ government's smoking cessation program, the health sector was given just one year to give 90% of patients advice and help to quit smoking. Compass opened a contact centre last week with seven staff to phone patients on behalf of practices in the area from Wellington to Manawatu and the Wairarapa.
Compass Health chief executive Cathy O'Malley said up until recently, many practices have not recorded smoking status and advice. It did not necessarily mean the advice was not being given. She said the contact centre effort runs until the end of June, to reach a good baseline and support what is preferably business as usual in practices. The centre's staff will be calling patients between 3pm and 8pm, targeting people identified in the first stage of the project late last year who were sent a letter about the project.
Commonwealth Bank says it will close its mortgage services processing site in Melbourne at the end of the year, transferring some roles to customer service.
CBA will cut about 100 jobs as it makes changes to its mortgages business to deal with weak demand. Some staff will be redeployed to other areas of CBA, including interstate, and the bank plans to open a new mortgages services retail office in Melbourne, and increase staff numbers in its mortgage services contact centre.
In making the announcement, CBA reiterated its pledge to avoid sending jobs outside Australia. "The Commonwealth Bank has given a commitment to not moving any Australian jobs offshore and will continue to retain all call centre and operations processing functions within Australia," a bank spokesman said.
More Australian businesses are expected to outsource customer service roles to gain competitive advantages in the decade ahead, according to international research.
The study by consulting firm BDO found that more than 46% of business leaders in Asia Pacific plan to outsource their service needs to an external provider in the next decade, up from just 14% today. BDO Partner Marc Loftus said new opportunities are emerging in the Asia Pacific region for companies to tap into a pool of specialist resources.
"While outsourcing won't appeal to all Australian businesses, there are certainly more opportunities to do so as companies look to outsourcing as a way to cope with an increasingly competitive marketplace," Loftus said.
More and more Australian customers are looking to engage with organisations via social media, according to a new report.
The newly released 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that one in five consumers have used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the last 12 months to obtain a customer service response. The survey, in 11 countries including Australia and the US and UK, found that half of the respondents backed out of an intended purchase in the past year due to a poor customer service experience.
American Express executive vice-president of world service Jim Bush said a solid social media strategy that targets customer service is vital for businesses today. "Consumers who have used social media for service in the last year are willing to pay a 21% premium at companies that provide great service," he said. "Ultimately, getting service right with these social media savvy consumers can help a business grow."
ANZ says its frontline customer service staff will soon use Apple iPads to perform "financial health checks" for customers.
ANZ Bank told reporters the devices are currently being deployed into the branch network on a trial basis. "At the moment, we are using them in conversation with customers to conduct 'A to Z reviews', which are like financial health checks, and help us address specific financial goals," the bank said in a statement.
ANZ joins a growing list of banks in Australia already using the iPad for direct customer service. Both Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank have opened concept branches featuring consumer devices like the Apple iPad.
NCR Corporation and Bank of New Zealand have jointly won the Best ATM Installation and Management Project at the Asian Banker 2012 Technology Implementation Awards.
The award recognises Bank of New Zealand's world-first deployment by a financial institution of NCR Predictive Services, a technology that anticipates ATM failures before they occur and proactively schedules fixes to maximise uptime. BNZ's Paul Johnson said the technology has added value to the bank and its customers.
"NCR Predictive Services is one of the best innovations I've seen in the last fifteen years. It's a game-changer," Johnson said. "It has enabled BNZ to establish a strong competitive edge through a superior customer experience." NCR's Steve Culhane said the adoption of the technology was also "testament to the innovative culture of BNZ and our other winning partners in Asia Pacific that have pioneered these technologies in order to serve their customers better."
Australia's No. 2 telco will create a new customer division as part of a shakeup that is projected to cut 750 jobs throughout its business.
Optus says the jobs to be made redundant include senior and middle management as well as operations, back office and support staff. Optus Consumer Australia chief executive Kevin Russell said the staff cuts were necessary for Optus to build a sustainable cost structure in what remains a very competitive telco sector.
The restructure will see Optus create a new customer division responsible for managing all aspects of the telco's relationship with its customers. "By creating a more efficient organisation with a renewed focus on the customer, we will be able to compete more effectively," Russell said.
US-based Surefire Social has partnered with SuperPages Australia to make Surefire Social's Internet customer marketing services available to small and medium sized businesses throughout Australia.
Surefire Social delivers personal strategies for effective local Internet marketing, including social media engagement, blogging, website design and search engine optimisation. "Australia is our most attractive expansion opportunity, and we partnered with SuperPages because they are one of the most experienced local marketing organisations in Australia," Surefire Social CEO Chris Marentis said.
SuperPages MD Pete Donlan said the Australian market is ripe for a digital marketing program. "We assessed the market and believe that Surefire Social was the strongest local marketing system we've seen," he said. "Our SuperPages clients have asked us to deliver more sophisticated Internet marketing services - something that hasn't existed here until now."
US-based chemicals distributor ChemPoint.com has set up its Asia Pacific sales headquarters in Singapore.
"We're seeing an increase in supplier demand for a distribution partner who can provide marketing and technical expertise and one-to-one customer service for niche market segments," said ChemPoint president Steve Block. "ChemPoint's entry into Singapore supports the growth and profitability of our suppliers while providing a new channel to market".
ChemPoint uses technology platforms to satisfy the needs of its customers and suppliers. Its market development experts have the technical training to assist customers with product selection and formulation assistance.
China is one of the world's prime markets for social media customer service, say panellists at this year's Social Media World Asia 2012 conference.
Panellists at the conference agreed that China was one of the top countries in the region for social media usage, while the internet was also the main communication platform for users in the country. Advertising company Euro RSCG's Daniel Lee said while it was difficult to measure the ROI of social media service, there were some clear areas where social CRM can be measured.
Lee said companies can measure if they are successful in providing rapid customer response, as well as gauging how much sales lead has been generated through social media. He said companies can also measure the quality of interaction with customers in social media by recording positive brand mentions by tracking sentiment score on the company's own Facebook or Twitter page or on external social network pages such as on review websites.
The government in Lucknow, India, has launched a toll free number to get direct feedback from its public about the regions health care system.
The toll free number set up to register complaints, has been allotted to the control room at the state health directorate, which was inaugurated by Minister Ahmad Hasan.
"This is the first step to development of a robust feedback mechanism that ensures quality in health care services," Minister Hasan said. Hasan stated that the information gathered at the call center would be assessed on a weekly basis. The head of the unit has been directed to present a status report to the government every Friday.
The Union Bank of India is beefing up its face to face customer service with an expansion of its branch network.
The bank has decided to open 300 new branches by March 2013, creating 7000 new jobs. UBI Chairman D Sarkar said six Union Experience branches will be opened by June, keeping customer service in mind.
The Union Bank of India hired 2,473 customer service officers in January. It has also increased its nation-wide count of automated teller machines from 3,900 to 5,000.
Garuda Indonesia will introduce the Amadeus Altea Customer Management Solution to upgrade its airline passenger service processes.
The solution will manage Garuda Indonesia's domestic and international reservations, inventory and departure control processes. "Upgrading to Amadeus' cutting-edge technology will enable us to further enhance our existing customer service offering, introduce more automation and flexibility for our customers and help us refine our customer-facing business processes," said Garuda Indonesia's M. Arif Wibowo.
"Today, technology is a critical component of an airline's infrastructure, and the Amadeus Altea system will ensure we remain competitive with world-class airlines in the region," he said. The technology upgrade is part of the Garuda Indonesia Quantum Leap program, which has seen the airline modernise and expand its fleet with new A330 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft, relaunch services to Europe and also announce its intention to join the SkyTeam global alliance.
US-based outsourcer NCO Group has entered a partnership with the Philippines National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to offer employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The agreement calls for NCO to hire disabled people as customer service agents to be deployed in operation centers located in Quezon City, Fort Bonifacio, Marikina, Sta. Mesa, and Clark, Pampanga. NCO said that in order to qualify for possible employment, persons with disabilities should be at a least high school graduate, 18 years old and above, with excellent English communication skills and computer literacy.
NCO said that those hired will receive an attractive basic pay, 20% night rate differential, rice allowance, free meal per shift, paid training, medical and life insurance, referral bonuses, performance incentives, and bonus potential. Those interested are invited to submit their applications and resume tot email@example.com.
Indian IT company Tech Mahindra has expanded its portfolio of services following its merger with outsourcer Mahindra Satyam.
The merger has reportedly transformed Tech Mahindra into one of the largest outsourcing companies in India and around the world. The joint entity has about 75,000 employees and more than 350 active clients, including Fortune Global 500 companies across 54 countries.
Tech Mahindra is a leading global systems integrator and business transformation consulting organisation focused primarily on the telecommunications industry. Mahindra Satyam is a global business and information technology services company that "helps companies transform their business processes and improve their business performance".
Logistics company Toll Global's customer service has been rewarded with three major awards for its distribution centres in China.
Toll has won Johnson & Johnson (J&J) third party logistics service excellence awards for best customer service, best warehouse management, and best group contribution across its regional distribution centres in China. Johnson & Johnson's Consumer China Supply Chain Director Felix Zhang says the distribution centres consistently offer a first-class delivery service with zero complaints.
Toll Global Logistics CEO Wayne Hunt said the company was honoured to receive the awards. "Toll is particularly proud to be recognised by such awards from its customer J&J, a 125-year-old global brand, and we will continue to work with J&J to support its commitment to its customers in China," Hunt said.
Indian-based telco Bharti Airtel has signed a five-year partnership with Avaya to enhance its global operations.
Avaya will provide contact centre technology and managed services designed to increase the performance, reduce the costs and accelerate the transformation of Airtel's communications environment. Airtel operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa.
Avaya will provide a tailored contact center outsourcing environment that includes customised application support, billing, reporting and Service Level Agreements with remediation. "At Bharti Airtel, the customer is at the core of everything we do," said Aitel's Dr. Jai Menon. "We constantly innovate and partner with the best to offer our customers a world-class service experience at every touch point."
Hong Kong-based City Telecom has agreed to sell its telco customer service to a company backed by private equity firm CVC Capital Partner.
City Telecom said it will sell its contact center and customer support services in China along with long-distance phone services in Hong Kong and Canada and broadband internet services in Hong Kong. City Telecom said the sale will allow the firm to focus on its television broadcast business.
City Telecom employs 250 staff and says it will grow by another 170 in the near future. It said the broadcast business is a long-term development project, requiring investments over the next four years.
Distribution company Meritor has opened a new ASEAN Aftermarket Distribution and Customer Service Center in Singapore.
The Singapore facility is another expansion of the company's aftermarket footprint, by which commercial vehicle customers are serviced and supplied by a growing footprint of aftermarket distribution centers. Other facilities have opened recently in India, China and Australia that will all be managed by the Singapore headquarters.
The facility is also an integral part of the company's recent launch into an aftermarket-based, third-party multiple logistics business called Meritor Logistics, which offers customer support, core consolidation, remanufacturing and consulting services, as well as packaging and kitting, material planning, warehousing, distribution.
Regional Philippine city Subic Bay plans to develop a major customer service hub to attract outsourcing business.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Development Authority (SBMA) chairman Roberto Garcia said the project could create as many as 20,000 jobs in five years. "The SBMA is already developing what we call the Subic BPO City, which will be similar to the Ayala Techno Hub. We believe we can already provide BPO services here because we now have a workforce that's well-trained in ICT," he said.
The Ayala Land Techno Hub is a 20-hectare information technology center located in Manila. Garcia said all technical infrastructure for the Subic BPO City are already prepared. He said the SBMA would also provide housing for professionals who would work in the center.
Chinese-based solar energy equipment company JinkoSolar has opened a customer service operation in Singapore at its new regional headquarters.
The Singapore office will manage customer service, sales, logistics, financing and project development for the country. JinkoSolar said with the opening of its Singapore office, it now has nine sales and marketing offices located on four continents.
"Singapore boasts an established logistics infrastructure, mature financing system and a skilled talent base - which facilitates cost-effective and efficient operations for companies like ours," said JinkoSolar chairman David Li. "We look forward to continuing support for our existing customers and growing to meet the needs of a robust customer base throughout the region."
The European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) has launched a four-month Call Center Olympics to help customer service agents gain a healthier lifestyle.
The ECCP has joined various sporting groups to sponsor Olympic style tournaments in basketball, volleyball, bowling, badminton, table tennis, billiards, fun runs and darts from April to July. The initiative is designed to customer service employees start a healthier lifestyle, said the ECCP, adding this year's event was planned for 3,000 contact center agents from 20 agencies.
ECCP said in the future, other sports groups are expected to help increase tournament sites to benefit almost all of the 600,000 people who are working as center agents nationwide. The Philippines labour department has previously called for the establishment of occupational safety and health programs and the formation of a health and safety committee in BPO companies. Each BPO company must maintain an in-house medical staff, one safety officer, an occupational health nurse and an occupational health physician, the labour department said, adding that BPOs must look after the special needs of pregnant, older, and disabled employees.
Jakarta public water operator PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) has upgraded its customer service systems with Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing.
The upgrade will help Palyja comply with regulatory reporting requirements and for a more extensive audit control. Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing manages 15 Palyja cash points, 13 bank payment centers and 224 online banking pay points.
The companies said the solution enables accuracy of Palyja's customer billing system, especially on-time delivery of bills. Since deployment of the billing application, Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing has enabled Palyja to improve internal data integration and reliability to help Palyja meet growing demand.
Qatar Airways will set up a customer service centre in the Chinese city of Chongqing after the start of a Doha-Chongqing air route.
Qatar Airways now operates flights between Qatar's capital Doha and Chongqing three times a week - the first direct air link between southwest China and the Middle East - and plans to increase the service to five times a week this year. Qatar Airlines says it will set up a contact centre in Chongqing this June to deal with requests concerning the carrier's China market services.
Qatar operates a fleet of 106 aircraft serving more than 112 destinations around the globe as of late March. The carrier began setting up offices in China in 2008, and currently includes Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing in its global network.
Indian customer service software company Drishti-Soft has partnered with Australia's PRTA to expand its presence Down Under.
"PRTA is a marketing agency with a thriving contact centre and we were thoroughly impressed with Drishti's dynamic and feature-rich solution," said PRTA MD Damon Bromley. "Having utilised Drishti's Ameyo suite to support our core operations for more than a year, we can confidently stand behind Ameyo as an industry-leading solution."
The Australian market is cluttered with legacy contact centre solutions and PRTA says this as an opportunity to expand Ameyo's influence in Australia. "Australian businesses require a technology that can provide process optimisation while matching their continuous growth. Legacy systems are unable to provide the flexibility and cost-efficiency to address these requirements," said Drishti-Soft's Sachin Bhatia.
US-based Citibank plans to relocate some of its customer-service businesses offshore to the Philippines, increasing the number of jobs provided by Citi to the country.
Citibank CEO Eugene McQuade said Citi considered the Philippines a key growth area given its economic growth potential and good-quality labor force. "Emerging economies like the Philippines have been the global growth drivers since the crisis. Global economic expansion will continue to be Asian-led," McQuade said.
McQuade told reporters in the Philippines that Citibank intended to take advantage of the growth potential of emerging Asian economies by expanding its business in the region and that the Philippines was one of its priorities. He said Citibank has about 6,000 employees in the Philippines, half of which are in the banking business and the rest in BPO.
German plastics company Pallmann Group has finished setting up a new regional headquarters in Beijing with local customer service capabilities.
The office will function as the managing office for mainland China, including customer service, business development, market expansion, legal, financial and human resources. Pallmann said it set the new office up as US biotech company Enzymatic announced the opening of its Shanghai office.
Enzymotec's new branch is aimed at supporting the company's business activities in China as well as providing its existing customers with "on-hand customer service". "We believe maintaining a local presence is highly important and fits our global marketing strategy," said Enzymotec CEO Dr. Ariel Katz.
IT giant IBM has expanded its customer service capability in regional India by opening its seventh new office in the country in the past 12 months.
Its latest office is in Ludhiana, Punjab state and joins those in Coimbatore, Indore, Guwahati, Dehradun, Raipur and Visakhapatnam. IBM is currently focused on increasing its presence in smaller, rapidly developing cities as India's regions play an increasingly important part in the country's economic growth.
"We are seeing strong demand for our solutions and services in Ludhiana as businesses in the city turn to IT to increase efficiencies and improve customer service," said IBM North & East India's Vivek Malhotra.
Private investigation company Philippine PI says it is experiencing significant growth in Hong Kong, undertaking background checks on the increasing number of Philippine customer service staff employed in the area.
Philippine PI says Filipinos are becoming ideal candidates in the customer service and IT industries because of their English language and their willingness to work for lower wages than Hong Kong nationals. "The result is a sharp rise in pre-employment and background check requests."
Philippine PI specialises in pre-employment screening, background checks, due diligence and surveillance services in the Philippines and across Asia. "When it comes to hiring, companies need to minimise their risk and verify candidates," Philippine PI's William J. Carter said. "Our firm continues to be the one stop shop for these services."
Fifth Quadrant partners with Great Outcomes to deliver The Call Center School training courses in New Zealand.
Julie-Anne Hazlett, Head of Workforce Optimisation, Fifth Quadrant will facilitate the next WFM 1-2-3 course in Auckland to be held on 30th & 31st May 2012. The two courses, WFM 1-2-3 & Advanced Workforce Management are a 'must complete' for anyone wanting to advance their career and complete their CV in Workforce Planning in New Zealand or Australia.
For more information on the courses and to register your seats, contact Fifth Quadrant on Ph: +61 2 9927 3399 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Workforce Planning Professionals website www.wppnz.co.nz.
Outsourcer TELUS International Philippines (TIP) has signed a new partnership with Asia Pacific College (APC) to form the TELUS International University (TIU).
TIP president Jeff Uthoff said TIU is a revolutionary approach to learning and career development that is "indicative of the TELUS culture". "This is another exciting partnership for TIP. Our partnership with APC helps to ensure greater success for the future of our company, as well as our team members. We are very grateful to APC for helping us widen the reach of this unique opportunity," Uthoff said.
TIP offers classes at reduced costs and provides classrooms, library, books, computers and other educational equipment on the company premises for the students to use, making college education more affordable and accessible for its team members. APC will offer TIU students business management and information technology courses, which are considered by APC as two of its best programs.
Financial services company Standard Life's Asian subsidiary in Hong Kong is upgrading its customer service capability by installing the AWD10 business process management (BPM) solution from DST Systems.
The new solution is expected to help Standard Life cope with its growing operations in Asia and to assign sales and contact center service staff more efficiently to assigned tasks. AWD10 will automatically allocate work to staff according to pre-set business rules, taking into account user skills and assigned work priorities.
Standard Life Asia Ltd says it will be able to closely monitor operational performance and customer service levels as well via the AWD dashboard to check that standards are being met. “We are confident that AWD will equip us with the capabilities to effectively manage our customer service operations both in local and potential markets," said Standard Life COO Andy Clachers.
Thai outsourcer SGC Infotech says it has significantly increased its service productivity since installing a Drishti Ameyo solution as its backend technology.
Variation in the time zones was a major hurdle for SGC as they were unable to address the high connectivity required of international customer service centers. Ameyo not only automated the process of configuring the time zone on their lead list, but by being an early adopter of the solution helped them ensure quality performance and a significant increase in productivity.
Thailand's BPO sector has been consciously focusing on matching up to stringent service levels and improving the quality of services. In such a high-demanding scenario, SGC said a solution that can provide superior service quality along with increased profitability is very much needed.
Indian outsourcer WNS Holdings could launch the first of three customer-service centers in the United States over the next quarter.
WNS CEO Keshav Murugesh said the first U.S center will have an initial capacity of 300 to 500 employees and the company will add two more in the next 12-18 months. "Over the next quarter or so, we would have actually created at least one center in the U.S.," he said.
The center will not replace roles in low-cost countries like India, Philippines or Costa Rica, but will "allow U.S. clients to outsource roles that are higher end, that are very strategic to them, that they are happy to take out of their office, but not out of the country." WNS, which raised about $45 million in February through the sale of American depository shares, also plans to open centers in Europe and China.
Chinese online travel service provider eLong will establish a second customer service center in the city of Hefei in Anhui province.
eLong plans to put the second contact center into operation in the second half of 2012. The new center will add more than 1,000 seats of capacity and provide services to support both offline and online
"As more and more customers choose eLong for their travel needs, we are investing in a second call center to allow us to better serve our customers," said eLong CEO Guangfu Cui. "We have chosen Hefei for the call center as it is in a region with a fast growing economy, a highly skilled and well-educated labor force and strong government support for the development of the e-commerce industry".
Airline Garuda Indonesia has had its customer service recognised as the 'Best International Airline' in serving passengers, according to a recent independent survey.
The Roy Morgan customer satisfaction survey of all major airlines throughout the world ranked Garuda Indonesia ahead of other leading airlines, such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air New Zealand, with 9% of the 3,943 respondents being "very satisfied" with the airline's products and services.
"We are thrilled to receive this award, as it endorses Garuda Indonesia's transformation and progress toward becoming one of Asia's leading airlines." Garuda Indonesia's Bagus Y. Siregar said. Garuda was also named the World's Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards in Hamburg, and Asia's leading service quality airline by the Center for Asia- Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in 2010.
Consumers in emerging markets are more likely to use social media to access customer service, according to new research.
The study, of consumers in the US, the UK, France and Germany as well as India, China, Brazil, and Russia by telecoms analyst company Ovum, found that 32% of consumers in emerging markets had used social media for customer service, compared to 10% in developed markets. Ovum said that while the survey of emerging markets reflected the more affluent and web-savvy respondents, it still indicated its consumers with greater purchasing power in emerging countries have a preference for using social media for customer service.
"Web savvy consumers in emerging markets, such as China and India, are more inclined to use social media for customer service as opposed to consumers in developed countries," said Ovum's Aphrodite Brinsmead. "They are using social media to ask and respond to questions in communities, as well as to complain about or promote products and services." But Brinsmead said relatively few customers, across both emerging and developed countries, are able to resolve their issues using social media tools because enterprises are not yet doing enough to encourage or support them.
Hong Kong's CITIC Telecom International has deployed BMC Software's Remedy Action Request System (ARS) and Remedy Service Desk solutions to improve its customer service and qualify for ISO 20000 certification.
BMC's Remedy IT Service Management (ITSM) solution was selected to underpin the consolidation of multiple IT service management processes and platforms. The BMC Remedy Service Desk solution has helped the automation and optimisation of multiple IT processes, providing consistent service quality for CITIC Telecom CPC's customers across the Asia Pacific region.
Adopting the Action Request System and Remedy Service Desk solutions was an essential part in CITIC Telecom CPC's process for ISO 20000 certification in 2011. "We have already experienced significant improvement in the short time since deploying the solution," said CITIC Telecom's Daniel Kwong. "By effectively optimising our resources, we can now focus on delivering innovative services for our customers, as we no longer have to cross reference the systems for a comprehensive view of our customers' activity."
Thai outsourcer SGC Infotech has selected Ameyo technology from India's Drishti to upgrade its customer service capabilities.
Variation in the time zones was a major hurdle for SGC as they were unable to address the high connectivity required of international contact centers. The Ameyo solution has automated the process of configuring the time zone on its lead, while being an early adopter of the solution has helped them ensure quality performance and a significant increase in productivity.
"Our business is dynamic and we needed a solution that could match our expectations for quick implementation and changes without causing down-times," SGC Infotech, director Vijay Kumar. "The (Ameyo) software based technology is affordable and was able to not only match but surpass our expectations in terms of speed of deployment. We are today able to make changes at run-time with easy-to-use and powerful interfaces."
Wireless IT and logistics company Transcom will close four of its North America customer service centers this year with the work to be transferred to the Philippines.
Transcom says the sites in question have been underutilised for some time, and management does not anticipate that a satisfactory utilisation can be achieved. During the past year, Transcom has experienced a shift in the demand from its installed client base towards an increased proportion of offshore delivery. In addition, due to the strong performance of its Asian operations, Transcom has been successful in winning significant new business to be delivered from its centers in the Philippines.
The company has experienced a significant decrease in volumes delivered through its onshore centers in North America, while volumes delivered in Asia have increased. In response to client demands, Transcom says it is planning to increase the number of agent positions at its Bacolod and Manila sites in the Philippines.
McDonald's is to offer a national qualification in the principles of customer service, which can count towards a hospitality apprenticeship, to all unemployed "Games Maker" volunteers at the London 2012 Olympics.
The fast-food chain said it expected around 1,000 people to take up the offer. Around 70,000 Games Makers are taking part during the Olympics and Paralympics. The online course, a City & Guilds Level 2 Award in the Principles of Customer Service, forms part of the McDonald's apprenticeship programme. The qualification is transferable and counts towards just under 10% of an apprenticeship in hospitality in the future.
Jez Langhorn, vice-president, people, at McDonald's UK, said: "This summer all eyes will be on Britain as we host the world's greatest sporting event. It has always been our ambition to use our role as Presenting Partner for the Games Maker programme to deliver a lasting legacy that will create opportunities for the volunteers themselves, and will raise hospitality standards in our own business and across the service sector as a whole." McDonald's also indicated that it would offer a job interview to all the people who completed it.
Aerospace business Pratt & Whitney Canada is expanding its Asian customer service capabilities from its operational hub in Singapore.
P&WC is growing its service team to enhance its customer service capabilities in the region with staff located in the same time zone as its customers. The Singapore operation includes 15 new team members, including customer managers and engineers, CFirst event managers providing front-line support, and accessories specialists who provide support on the full complement of P&WC engines in the region.
"The Asia Pacific region is of growing importance as our customer base continues to expand," said P&WC's Raffaele Virgili. "Serving customers in this region in a timely and efficient manner is a priority for us and we will continue to build critical mass in our capabilities to meet the growing demand."
Budget airline AirAsia will drastically change its customer service model with plans to close its contact centre service in Malaysia early next year.
Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the service, outsourced to another firm, was not making money and the sales amount was insignificant. Fernandes said the move would encourage more customers to use the carrier's online helpdesk or go to the nearest AirAsia Travel and Service Centre.
"Call centres cannot contain our fast-growing consumer base and their needs," he said. "We stopped sales at the centres four months ago and we will cease call centre services by March 2012." AirAsia has asked its contact centres in Indonesia and Thailand to report whether there is a need for their services. "However, we will maintain call centre services in China and India due to the absence of an AirAsia base there," Fernandes said.
The Negros Oriental Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Association in regional Philippines is offering free customer service training to prospective contact centre agents.
The courses, provided in conjunction with member-companies of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) are made available under the information technology-business process outsourcing industry-based training for work scholarship program. ICT Dumaguete president Randy Bandiola said 900 scholarships are offered by three Tesda accredited schools.
Metro Dumagute College is accepting 400 students, while the remaining 500 slots are divided between the Philippine Call Center Institute (PCCI) and Science Technology Institute (STI). Bandiola said the ICT association is strengthening linkages with schools and local government units to attract more potential ICT workers in the province.
A bipartisan bill has been tabled in the US House of Representatives to make companies that offshore customer service overseas ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the federal government.
Introduced by lawmakers Tim Bishop and David McKinley, the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act would also put some aggressive mandates on contact centre operations. Under the proposed legislation, not only would customer service representatives working overseas for US corporations have to disclose their locations upon request, they would also have to offer callers the option of being transferred to customer service agents back in America.
The Bill also requires the Secretary of Labour to maintain a list of employers that locate contact centres overseas. The companies also require to provide 120 day advance notification before moving a contact centre overseas.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has launched a mobile customer service coach, MobileLINK, aimed at providing greater consumer access with the central bank.
The custom-made coach will enhance access to basic banking services and provide advisory services on banking, insurance and SME financing related matters. "The journey for MobileLINK will begin today to cover about 50% of the identified non-urban areas nationwide in the next three years," said BNM governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
MobileLINK will also provide information on personal credit through the Central Credit Reference Information System, information on BNM through a self-service web-based terminal and advisory services on other financial-related. "It will also enable the bank to hear directly from the public on financial issues concerning our financial system," Zeti said.
Chinese financial services company Ping An Insurance Group has started offering video interaction with its clients, thanks to a Genesys system.
Ping An's customer contact agents are now equipped to handle video communication with customers, improving interaction and service quality. The agents and customers will use video communication to make the business more direct by gaining a timely understanding of their situation or claim status, while helping agents accelerate business management.
Agents will use video and fingerprint viewing for verification of applicants' identities. Ping An is able to centralise all its contact center resources, provide intelligent routing, command real-time monitoring and historical statistics reporting, and optimise the customer service operations.
Philippine outsourcer SPi Global is eying Australia as a potential major source of new business.
SPi Global CEO Maulik Parekh said more companies in Australia are now exploring the possibility of outsourcing to the Philippines because of the country's reputation for excellent customer service. "We foresee an expansion in our business now that the Australian market is really opening up and companies there are seeing the advantage of entrusting to Filipinos their voice and, soon, their non-voice outsourcing needs as well," said Parekh.
Parekh said SPi Global's advantage over some competitors was its ability to offer value-added voice and non-voice BPO solutions, anchored on its strong operational presence in the Asia Pacific region. The company is also well-versed in the verticals that are relevant to Australian companies.
Customer service IT company Verint Systems has been named Asia Pacific Call Monitoring Systems Vendor of the Year.
Verit received the award from Frost & Sullivan for its influence in driving call monitoring and work force technology across the region. "Verint continues to demonstrate excellence in product innovation and enhancing customer value, while also reinforcing its leadership in the call monitoring systems market in Asia Pacific," said Frost & Sullivan's Krishna Baidya.
Baidya said by providing actionable intelligence to customers, Verint is well-equipped to capitalise on the growing demand for process optimisation in the industry. "Its strong value proposition is further underscored through its proven capability around enterprise workforce optimisation and analytics," she said.
Technology supply company Koh Young has opened a new customer service and support center in Shenzen, China.
Koh Young said the new facility will give it the ability to better serve customers in the China market, an area of growth for the company. Sales revenue from China has reached 27% of Koh Young's total sales.
The center officially opened on November 11. Koh Young was established in South Korea and specialises in machine vision technology, intelligent system software and precision mechatronics.
Hong Kong-based PCCW Teleservices has been awarded the Best China Outsourcing Customer Contact Center of the Year (Inbound) at China's Best Customer Contact Center Awards 2011.
The Awards, organized by 51CallCenter in Tianjin, is recognised as the preeminent awards of China's contact center industry. Members of the judging panel were impressed by PCCW Teleservices' professional operations and management, and excellent service delivery, which enable its clients to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue generation opportunities.
"We are delighted to be honoured in the Annual China Best Customer Contact Center Awards," PCCW Teleservices vice president Joseph Wong said. "It is a tribute to our professional team who has made this possible, and we will provide even better services and solutions to our clients in the future."
Philippine outsourcer SPi Global has won the Sao Khue 2011 Prize for best foreign BPO service in Vietnam.
The award from the Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa), recognised SPi Global's "excellent conversion solutions in Vietnam". Vinasa also honoured the Spi's "pre-eminent service" for its content processing solutions, which includes digitisation, data entry, and high-volume transaction processing.
SPi Global's Hanoi operation, established in 2002, employs over 600 employees, and supports the company's robust Philippine operations. "This award is a testimony to our best practices," said SPi Global CEO Maulik Parekh said. "We have made a significant investment in best practices to provide best-in-class service to our growing clientele base."
Global insurance provider Sun Life plans to expand its business process outsourcing operations and possibly set up a new customer service center in the Philippines.
Canada-based Sun Life already has some to 200 seats in the Philippines handling the information technology requirements of the firm's operations in the United States and Canada. "We're expanding our BPO and potentially moving our call center offices here," Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) president Riza Mantaring told reporters.
Sun Life has selected the Philippines for its English-speaking workforce and expects its investments in the country to continue. Mantaring said Sun Life would study the best vehicle for its prospective contact center hub in the country, which she said would hopefully open by next year. "They are already looking at how to set it up," she said.
Asia Pacific companies are recognising new technology such as CRM analytics, as well as innovations like cloud and social media are critical for customer care delivery, according to new research.
Frost & Sullivan's VP, Asia Pacific ICT Research, Andrew Milroy told the consulting company's Customer Interaction Hong Kong Summit it is critical for companies to understand customer's behaviour to drive revenue growth, build experience & improve operations and margins. "Analytics plays a key role in enabling enterprises to deliver differentiated experience, and create a winning strategy," he said, adding that strategic contact centres report on customer-centric insights, not on operational metrics.
Milroy said there is strong interest from companies to use social media for customer care or customer engagement, adding that the telecoms, hospitality and banking industry are already experimenting with social media. He added that there is a need to integrate social media as one of the channels in the contact centre. "Creating processes on how to screen and respond on social media is critical," he said.
The Philippines' customer service outsourcing boom is slowing the exodus of workers heading overseas by providing well-paid jobs for graduates at home.
Nine million, or some 10% of all Filipinos live overseas, performing low-skilled jobs such as maids and sailors, but also working as nurses, engineers and IT specialists. They were responsible for sending more than US$18 billion back to the Philippines last year, equivalent to 10% of the country's GDP.
The outsourcing workforce grew about 10% this year to 600,000, and is expected to expand to 900,000 employees by 2016, according to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines. While most jobs are in the contact centre industry, the industry is also increasingly attracting work for higher-paying skills such as data warehousing, accounting and medical transcription, as well as creative work ranging from webpage design to animation and video games.
Salmat, Australia's leading marketing and communications company and largest outsourced call centre operator, has announced a multi-million dollar agreement with Avaya, a global provider of business communications and collaboration systems and services. The investment will see Salmat's contact centres powered by the latest technology with greatly expanded multichannel capabilities, delivering significantly enhanced contact centre operations in Australia and New Zealand.
To be rolled out in February 2012, customer interactions will be consistent across multiple channels including phone, e-mail, chat, SMS and social media, giving customers a superior contact centre experience. The robust, feature-rich communications platform will consolidate all existing features as well as introduce new and improved capabilities including self-service features, call recording and better integration with client systems, website and back office systems, to create a more refined user experience.
Speaking about the investment, Salmat Chief Executive Officer, Grant Harrod, said "Avaya's current technology, roadmap and vision are aligned with our own vision to greatly improve the way companies engage with customers via the contact centre." "By hosting Avaya's latest technology, combined with our expertise in contact centre operations, Salmat will offer an entirely new level of integrated multichannel customer communication not available to our knowledge anywhere else in Australia and New Zealand," said Harrod.
Singapore-based office space supplier Servcorp has embraced social media for its customer service, launching a dedicated Facebook page to share with local and international organisations.
The page will feature unique special offers as well as information and updates for its fans. Facebook has more than 800 million users around the world, and over 2.5 million in Singapore alone. Servcorp has already set up a Twitter account to provide a channel to broadcast industry news and information.
One of Servcorp's popular packages involves virtual offices, which enables its clients to maintain a comprehensive interface for customers without having to commit to any full-time working locations. The company says getting its message across via social media sites is a vital tool in its ongoing strategy.
India's government owned banks are lagging behind their customers when it comes to the quality of services offered, according to the Reserve Bank of India.
In order to give more emphasis to customer service, the Reserve Bank set up a separate customer service department in 2006 along with banking ombudsman (BO) centres in various centres.
Although there has been an overall reduction in the number of complaints received by the BO in the last financial year the number has been quite high in areas including Bhopal, Patna, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Guwahati. Government or public sector banks are still favoured by most Indians.
Korean based electronics company Dongbu HiTek has stepped up its support for customers in China as it announces the manufacture of products for two new Chinese clients.
Dongbu HiTek this year set up customer service/sales operations in Shanghai and Shenzhen to support local customers as it aims to expand its foundry business in the region. The company has begun volume producing DC/DC converters for Wuxi Silicon Technology, a semiconductor company based in Wuxi, China.
Dongbu HiTek is also manufacturing power management ICs for Leaderchip Technology, based in Xi'an.
Brunei's Sipadu Systems has outlined plans to open the country's first customer service centre services project.
The company says Brunei's high literacy rate, English language fluency and sense of courtesy makes it an attractive place for a contact centre for companies in the Asia-Pacific region. "Our selling point is the people we employ," said SiPadu Systems' Hj Sahralidin Hj Abd Momin.
A wholly-owned subsidiary company of TelBru Berhad, SiPadu Systems recently signed a joint venture agreement with an Omani IT company Bahwan CyberTek to set up the state-of-the-art contact centre. The inbound services include help desk, complaint handling technical support, directory enquiry and information, problem resolution, product enquiry, and reservations and delivery status. The outbound services would include data verification, data collection, customer satisfaction survey, telemarketing and lead generation and product/service awareness campaigns.
Standard Chartered Bank will soon start using such social medium websites to improve customer service in India.
The bank's technology group based out of Chennai will launch a pilot project to use social media networks to 'listen' to what customers are saying about the bank. "It could be good or bad, we need to react immediately," said Jaya Vaidhyanathan of Scope International, which is responsible for providing technology solutions to the bank globally.
At present, customers can make a complaint via the phone, e-mail, SMS or by filling in a complaint form. The use of social media will be the latest in the list. "Social media is a powerful medium to ignore. Some of our competitors are also testing this medium, which will also help us to reach the GenY," vaidhyanathan said.
In a sign of the growing power of social media customer service, Malaysia's lifestyle mall Pavilion KL has reached the 100,000 fans its Facebook page in one year.
"Consumerism has dramatically evolved, today's consumers want to be engaged and they want all the information at their finger tips in real time," Pavilion KL director of marketing Kung Suan Ai told reporters. "Social media is fast, easy and effective, allowing us to share all the latest developments as they happen."
Kung said that Facebook allowed real time conversations, which has socialised shopping experience. "Communications are starting online and moving offline. A recent study by online viewership by comScore stated that social networking represented almost one third of time spent online in Malaysia in August 2011, ranking as the top online activity for the market."
The Philippine government will consider laws that demand many businesses extend their customer service to better cater for the deaf.
Lawmaker Bagong Herrera-Dy is filing a bill that would make it mandatory for organisations, particularly fast food chains and government agencies, to put up their own "call centres" for hearing-and speech-impaired persons, or hire sign language interpreters to attend to them. Herrera-Dy announced the plan at a ceremony to congratulate 30 individuals who completed a two-month Video Relay Service (VRS) Call Center Training Program.
"It is the right of individuals with vocal and audiological impairments to be heard. Being able to communicate and be understood are human entitlements that must not be denied," Herrera-Dy said. The VRS program includes sign language proficiency training and video relay computer program education, which are the main components of contact centre services for the deaf.
US-based producer of rare earth oxides (REO) Molycorp is opening an office in Tokyo in order to better serve its customers in the world's largest rare earth consuming nation outside of China.
The office will provide customer support as well as consulting and technical services to Molycorp's customers in Japan. "We are very pleased to be opening a Molycorp office in Tokyo," said Molycorp President Mark A. Smith.
"This will help us better serve our many valued customers in Japan, as well as help us forge new relationships, improve communications, and increase our understanding of the needs of this very important market," Smith said. "Coupled with our offices in Europe and the U.S., this provides Molycorp with a more comprehensive global reach and
Ebay-owned online payment service PayPal has opened a customer service-base in Malaysia to boost its support in Asia.
PayPal's new centre will offer customer service and support in English to PayPal customers across Asia and provide risk and financial services operations for PayPal's business globally. The company plans to host some 500 workers at the site by the end of 2013.
In a recent interview, PayPal's Rupert Keeley said the company chose Malaysia because of accommodative policies as well as the availability of multi-lingual workers and the fast development of e-commerce and technologies in the country. The company already has about 200 staff on site.
Hong Kong's PCCW Teleservices, a premier provider of global outsourcing solutions, has received a major award at the Annual China Best Customer Contact Centre Awards.
PCCW was named the Best China Outsourcing Customer Contact Centre of the Year (Inbound). The Awards is organised by 51Callcenter to promote social awareness of excellent customer service, to improve contact centre operation management, to establish service outsourcing industry standard, and to foster the development of outsourcing contact centre industry in mainland China.
Members of the judging panel were impressed by PCCW Teleservices' "professional operations and management, and excellent service delivery, which enable its clients to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue generation opportunities." "We are delighted to be honoured in the Annual China Best Customer Contact Centre Awards. It is a tribute to our professional team who has made this possible, and we will provide even better services and solutions to our clients in the future." said PCCW Teleservices VP Joseph Wong.
The Philippines Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will offer free customer service training to assess and improve the skills of would be BPO professionals.
One of the programs that will be launched through the DOST's Information and Communication Technology Office, is an online and CD-based training tool designed to help potential employees prepare themselves to be part of the BPO workforce. The program is also meant to improve the current average hiring rate in the industry, which the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) placed at only 5%.
During a recent International Outsourcing Summit, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said that education and capacity-building were on top of the DOST's agenda for the BPO industry.
Asia Pacific-based CRM company LeadMaster has upgraded its CRM suite to support Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
"Being one of the first Web-based CRMs to support multilanguage format is a very important milestone for LeadMaster," said LeadMaster APAC CEO David Mackey. "We are now able to offer our world-class CRM and SFA tool in any language, which makes its market fit universal."
Mackey said being able to communicate and work in a local language wherever you are in the world is an obvious requirement for business. LeadMaster has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.
Global electronics company RS Components has won the China Best Customer Contact Centre Industry Promising Star of the Year award at the 2011 China Best Customer Contact Centre and CRM Awards.
The annual awards recognise China's best in contact centre and customer relationship management. RS Components won its award for displaying a number of key strengths and showing a clear and decisive customer centric strategy, which translated across the customer service teams, enabled the company to deliver efficient and effective service to their customers.
Award winners at the event also included internationally acclaimed companies such as HP, Sony, eBay, and DHL in addition to local companies including China Mobile as well as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The awards aim to improve the overall service and management of local customer contact centres while helping to establish industry standards as well as driving the rapid development of contact centres in China.
Outsourcer TELUS International Philippines (TIP) has forged a partnership with De La Salle University (DLSU) to provide TIP members access to higher education and learning opportunities.
TIP executives reportedly met with DLSU officials to formalise the agreement, as well as introduce their new country manager, Jeffrey Uthoff. The partnership supports TELUS International University (TIU), TIP’s initiative to support team members who wish to pursue higher education.
The program allows TIP members to finish their bachelor degree or pursue a master degree on-site while continuing to work at TELUS. "We have been working with DLSU since the start of TIU and we are proud that our partnership with DLSU has been formalised," TIP president Javier Infante said.
Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Honda - Honda's automobile's production and sales joint ventures in China have been ranked No.1 and No.2 respectively in after-sales service by a new survey.
The J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 China Customer Service Index (CSI) Study measures satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit an authoried dealer during the period of 12 to 24 months after the purchase of the vehicle. Overall satisfaction is reported as an index score based on a 1,000-point scale.
Guangqi Honda earned the highest score in three of the five measures: service initiation, service advisor and service facility, and ranked first in overall satisfaction with a score of 896 points, followed by Dongfeng Honda at a score of 891 points.
In a testament to the growing power of social media, North Korea's Air Koryo is using Facebook to push its customer service credentials.
The page is grabbing attention around the world among travellers, airplane enthusiasts and even South Koreans, who get a rare peek at a North Korean operated page through the popular social networking. The English language page features photos of planes and terminals, as well as links to timetables and a discussion board.
Visitors have plenty of questions about scheduling and services, which are patiently answered. Though dialogue on politics is discouraged, discussions do veer in that direction, prompting humorous jabs from the operators.
Philippine outsourcer SPi Global has established an Australian office to form business partnerships with local companies for their contact centre and other outsourcing needs.
The company's decision to establish its presence in Australia bodes well for the Philippines, which recently emerged as the top off-shoring destination for Australian firms. SPi Global is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).
"We are keen to enter the Australian market and attract major companies to our customer relationship management services," said SPi Global President Maulik Parekh. "Many Australian and US companies have already discovered the Philippines as a place where they can cost-effectively drive their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and we are keen to attract more business."
The Shanghai Dazhong Transportation Group has joined www.TaiwanTaxi.com.tw by signing a customer service agreement to provide a taxi-ordering service for tourists from the city and the island.
"The move is aimed at giving a helping hand to the individual tour of Taiwan, which will start on June 28," said Yang Guoping, chairman of the Shanghai Dazhong Transportation Group. "The cooperation will surely help smooth the tour and make tourists more convenient."
Dazhong's Li Weitao said the company's taxi contact centre will send booking information to the Taiwan side and will confirm arrangements with the customer after receiving the reply from Taiwan. The same applies to Taiwan tourists to Shanghai, who can also call Taiwan Taxi Co to order Shanghai taxis, he said.
Semiconductor test company Johnstech International has opened its Asian sales and service centre in Singapore.
The new Johnstech Singapore centre will house field service engineering, applications engineering, and customer service in support of Asia. "For more than 16 years, we've developed and maintained great relationships with distributors and customers throughout Asia," says Johnstech's Founder and CEO, David Johnson. "As test and design markets continue to shift to Asia, we continue to adjust our service and support to best meet our partner and customer need."
Asia regional channel manager Gary Teh said the new sales and service centre in Singapore allows Johnstech to be closer to its Asian-based customers. "We can now respond to channel partner demands for real-time business and technical support," The said.
Research and consulting company callcentres.net Pty Ltd announces that it is relaunching as Fifth Quadrant Pty Ltd, a Service Strategy and Research Consultancy, from July 1st 2011.
Due to the strong equity in the existing brand, the callcentres.net name will be kept for Fifth Quadrant's online, publishing and social media division, which has 9000 executive subscribers.
"The last few years has seen an amazing evolution for callcentres.net," says Dr Catriona Wallace, Director of Fifth Quadrant, "and the relaunch of the business as Fifth Quadrant is the next step in our growth, reflective also of the rapidly changing service sector. No longer just experts in contact centre, we now provide specialist consulting, research and training across voice, face-to-face, online, correspondence and social media service channels. We've adopted a truly multi-channel and enterprise-wide focus."
Specialising in all things service, Fifth Quadrant's strategic intention is to fundamentally change the way organisations think about Service Strategy and to ensure it has on-going presence at the Boardroom table.
"We're bored of service taking the back seat in terms of board-level strategies," says Wallace, "At Fifth Quadrant we firmly believe Service Strategy should sit rightfully alongside and integrate with the other core strategies of Finance, Marketing & Sales, IT/Operations and Human Resources."
"We know that great service leads to customer engagement and that engagement correlates strongly with business performance. We also believe that service has a tangible effect on a person's day and life and that the act of serving someone is one of the most powerful 'goods' an organisation can do."
"And our new name reflects these beliefs," muses Wallace. "It signifies the bringing of a fifth strategy, Service Strategy, to the traditional organisational strategic planning process."
Auckland Airport is hosting a week of workshops for airport staff to learn more about offering customer service to Chinese visitors.
The workshops are designed to help staff at Auckland Airport deliver better airport experiences for Chinese tourists - currently the fastest growing tourism market for New Zealand. Auckland Airport's Glenn Wedlock said the workshops are another initiative from the airport to foster and build enduring relationships with China.
"China is one of the world's leading economies and a huge growth opportunity for New Zealand. We have experienced impressive growth in Chinese arrivals during the Chinese New Year period with 30% year on year growth in the combined two month January and February period," said Wedlock. "These workshops will provide staff across the board at Auckland Airport with increased knowledge of how best to interact with our Chinese visitors, ensuring that we in turn provide the best possible travelling experience for them."
The regional Philippine city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental province has been formally identified as one of the country's newest BPO hubs.
The Philippine Department of Science and Technology formally identified Bacolod as a Center of Excellence for IT and BPO during a ceremony this week. Other Centers of Excellence in the Philippines include Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Clark. As a Center of Excellence, Bacolod was elevated from the ranks of the "Top 10 Next Wave Cities in the Philippines."
Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for information and Communications Technology founding president and executive director and councilor-elect Jocelle Sigue dedicated the distinction to "every call centre agent, technical support representative, global services worker, business process manager, IT-BPO professional" and to Bacolod and Negros residents "working to prove that Bacolod, Negros Occidental is truly a Center of Excellence in the Philippine IT-BPM industry today."
Leaders in Customer Experience Strategy consulting and the largest provider of Customer Experience Research and Analyst studies in Australia, Fifth Quadrant, this week announced the launch of its Co-creation and Customer Experience Design Practice.
Co-creation is a form of open innovation where ideas are shared. Customer Co-creation is the process of organisations creating products, services and experiences in collaboration with consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital and in exchange giving them a direct say in what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed or designed.
Co-creation is a key part of Fifth Quadrant's Customer Experience Design method and has been used across multiple industry sectors.
Research by Fifth Quadrant shows that despite 62% of organisations across Australia and New Zealand citing Customer Experience as one of their top strategies for 2013, very few involve customers or employees in the Customer Experience Design process. In many cases, it appears that organisations will invest significant time and resources in a customer experience design that doesn't create any significant benefit for the customer or the business.
In order to design differentiated experiences that actually meet customer needs, organisations may utilise Co-creation as a primary method of Customer Experience Design. "It is not possible for organisations to unlock personalised value for customers without having customers involved in the unlocking of that value" said Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO, Fifth Quadrant.
For more information on Fifth Quadrant's Co-creation methodology please contact Claire Chow on +61 2 9927 3399 and please see attachment.
Melbourne, Australia (3 May, 2013): Aegis Australia, one of the country's largest outsourcing and contact centre companies, has appointed a new CEO with 20-year customer contact executive Andrew Hume taking over the reins.
Aegis Australia turns over nearly $200 million annually and is a leading provider of a wide range of customer contact solutions. It has more than 2,500 contact centre seats in three locations in Australia providing the customer facing solutions for many major ASX listed companies. Aegis also has successful field marketing and registered training businesses which Hume wants to grow.
Hume, who spent more than 12 years at Aegis competitor Salmat as CEO of Customer Contact Solutions, has a clear vision where he sees the company heading. “I’m determined that Aegis will be a breath of fresh air in the Australian marketplace,” says Hume. “We’re in this for the long-haul and we’re committed to being an innovative partner to the many clients who trust us to deal with and manage their customers. Increasingly, businesses are looking for the benefits of shifting some service delivery to lower cost environments - and that's a solution that Aegis is uniquely qualified to provide."
Hume, one of the architects of the culture that won a contact centre Australia’s Best Employer Award three consecutive years, said one of his first tasks was to bolster his management team.
"I am focused on building an engaged and motivated team of highly talented, energised and creative people to fuel our next growth phase.
"Our team thrives on the challenge of working with clients and partners to craft intelligent solutions that make the complex simple."
Aegis Australia is part of the global Aegis group which boasts more than 55,000 employees in 56 locations across 13 countries with more than 300 clients.