This past August, Shreekant Vijaykar, director for Asia Operations for COPC Inc., had an opportunity to sit with Gladys Labradores, regional director for Conduent, in Manila, Philippines. Gladys is a seasoned BPO leader with proven expertise in service operations and contact center strategies. Shreekant asked Gladys about industry trends, future challenges and opportunities, and Conduent’s relationship with COPC Inc.
Q: Gladys, can you tell me a little about Conduent and its current position in the business?
The Conduent brand name was created in January 2017. However, the organization has been around for a lot longer. It used to be part of this huge network of different kinds of business process services, and I have met colleagues that have been through several transformations and merges. Conduent, when it was formed, had over 30 years of experience and expertise in the space where we operate. We are the chosen partners of Fortune 100 companies and government entities. Conduent leverages the power of the best and emerging technologies, like automation and AI-powered solutions.
Q: You have been one of COPC Inc.’s ongoing clients across regions, and now you have several sites going through the COPC journey. What did you initially think about COPC Inc., and how has this changed over time?
Initially, we thought that COPC was just a checklist of things we needed to do to say we were operating at an excellent level. But as we executed, discovered and learned about how to operate to the Standard, I began to see that it was more than wearing a badge of excellence. The COPC Customer Experience Standard became a common language of how different leaders of different departments in different locations communicated. As our organization grew with our biggest technology client, where we operate globally, we worked with different people over time, yet the language in how we operate remains stable through COPC.
Q: What work is COPC Inc. currently doing for you?
COPC Inc. helps us meet our client and business goals. The modules in the HPMT training were instrumental for our managers, whether they were internally promoted or a seasoned contact center manager. It allowed for the department leaders to use a “common language” to communicate operational expectations and process improvement initiatives. Even when we see members move on to new roles outside their working group, COPC Certified locations maintained a level of operative discipline. It is amazing to see how people execute well and identify continuous improvements, even through temporary setbacks.
Q: How do you see your organization benefiting from this? What are the top impact areas of our engagement with you?
I am always proud and happy whenever I join a project presentation report of HPMT-trained managers who were free to identify and execute continuous improvement initiatives. They create the largest impact in improving performance because it creates and builds on a ripple of positive effects, no matter how simple or complex their projects are. With our partnership with COPC, our managers learn and understand different and correct ways they can utilize available data, tools or systems to identify correct actions or solutions. The learning and development of managers is faster through COPC Inc.’s training offerings. The methods and data-driven actions that COPC Inc. teaches help us achieve top-level performance.
Q: What unique propositions does Conduent bring to the table as an outsourcer? When clients are looking to outsource, why do they choose Conduent?
Conduent, as a brand, is fairly new, and yet we are a long-term and trusted provider of Fortune 100 companies and government entities. We have deep experience in business solutions such as end-user experience transactions. Conduent has innovation centers in India and New Jersey, U.S. that work on using emerging technologies, such as automation and AI-powered technology. Conduent has a wide range of platforms and can customize solutions specific to each client.
Q: What trends do you see in the outsourcing industry in terms of technology, tools, processes and business models?
The outsourcing industry will eventually have to adapt to new technology trends. For example, there are new technological solutions that balance supply and demand of transaction volume between end-users and customer service. But with new solutions, we will also have to deal with new challenges that do not yet exist. For example, the gig economy, while similar to services like Uber, seems like a viable option to become more efficient in staffing and reducing operating costs. Will paying higher wages for intervals where we need staffing the most translate to a long-term cost savings? If we move into this type of model, the whole operating model has to change too. How do you effectively select the right staff that can work at the time you need them most? How do you deliver learning and development for gig workers? Is attrition a relevant metric for gauging employee engagement for gig workers? There’s like a whole new world out there for the outsourcing industry that is waiting to be explored.
Q: Specifically for technology domains, what are the challenges and opportunities in the next few years?
The most immediate opportunity that I see is the lack of skills and talent in building and securing new infrastructures and using emerging technologies as part of the solution. There are multiple new, emerging and complex solutions that are becoming more available, but it is challenging to find talent that has deep knowledge and expertise to navigate. As the technology industry grows, it will demand new skill sets that understand these new systems and business models in order to navigate, support and improve the processes.
Q: What are your top three priority areas operationally for the next three years? What are you doing in terms of people, processes, technology, etc.?
My long-term goal is to help establish a digital global approach to delivering top-level service to our clients and, at the same time, operate them efficiently. I’d like answers to how do we explore, how can we learn and adapt from the gig economy and model it for the outsourcing industry? One example of how business is changing is that jobs are now offered through online boards and social media. I see opportunities for recruiting teams to adapt and take advantage of digital platforms to solve funnel and conversion rate issues. How can we adapt digital learning effectively? There are a lot of cost-saving opportunities if we will be able to deliver a true global approach to training and development.
Q: What success criteria would you recommend to leaders and managers of outsourcing firms?
Embrace the COPC CX Standards and track progress of your continuous improvement projects that are led by operations or department leaders. It will seem counter-intuitive at first as you will see your teams struggle to execute, understand how to fix processes and learn how to use data-driven actions. The COPC CX Standards guide leaders and managers to making the right decisions instead of what might seem like the most efficient or cost-effective solution. It helps them think about multi-faceted solutions. For example, I’ve encountered a situation where we needed to solve staffing between two clients with different volume patterns. The most obvious and cost-effective solution is to train and flip the staff whenever needed. But a COPC-trained manager will know that, prior to training, they will need to identify gaps in relation to the minimum skills required of the receiving group, identify the performance variations due to those gaps, and create solutions to reduce the gaps and variations. A non-COPC-trained manager might just expect that the typical training will be enough.
Q: In what cases and situations would you recommend that a company uses services from COPC Inc.?
I highly recommend the High Performance Management Techniques (HPMT) training for contact center managers and department heads in recruiting, workforce management and training, as well as other operational leaders. I also think that COPC Certification is a critical element in establishing continuous improvement approaches, operational cadence and discipline of contact center operations. The COPC CX Standard will seem counter-intuitive at first because contact centers have a habit and bias towards real-time corrective actions. But we all know that the best approach is to be data-driven and methodological in approach. COPC Inc. provides that advice and guidance where centers are making those biases. Established delivery centers who struggle to break out of established short-term, templated practices and approach to solving their operational issues would benefit from COPC.