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As customers demand more channels for customer experience communication and the workforce shifts to prefer a remote working experience, business process outsourcers (BPOs) will have to adjust their service offerings. Felix Serrano, CEO of Granada Corporation, lets technology enable smart business decisions to make the BPO a better fit for today’s call center employees and clients. In this Ask an Expert Q&A, Serrano shares his take on the future of virtualization and cloud technology in the BPO industry.
You lead Granada Corporation, which uses all cloud-based technologies. Do you think cloud-based solutions are the way of the future? Why?
Felix Serrano: My sense is that “cloud” will continue to grow in popularity and by extension adoption rates, at a steady clip. Yes, cloud is a modern infrastructure solution with a lot of advantages which presumably you could dub as being a component of the “way of the future.” Cloud enablement does a lot of things for business such as (1) provides access to the most up to date functionality and feature sets that might otherwise not be accessible to businesses, (2) unlocks flexibility and (3) has an element of cost improvement.
How has using technology enabled Granada to set itself apart from competitors?
FS: At a fundamental level technology has allowed Granada to provide one of the most secure work-from-home technology offerings in the industry. Our platform offers degrees of flexibility brands expect and something few offer, from speed to deployment to true variable cost solutions to bottom line price – Granada is positioned to offer clients modern-age support.
As the CEO, how involved are you in driving the tech-focused vision of Granada?
FS: It’s an essential component of my job to understand at a granular level what the industry is doing, what our competitors are doing and to take a position on what consumer trends require from an outsourcer both today, and tomorrow. I have clear vision on what modern means for Granada, most of this starts with technology and technology enablement.
How does using exclusively work-at-home agents set Granada apart?
FS: Granada is one of the only “pure-play” work-from-home providers which is significant in a time when client needs are more centered around degrees of flexibility and consistency of execution. It’s no secret that virtual agent models are more flexible, offer outstanding quality and now have technology features that make it just as secure, if not more secure than physical solutions.
Industry peers have long looked at virtual agents as a solution to their physical site constraints, a fix for clients with short term seasonal needs and more recently, a way to cover less desirable work schedules not popular in physical sites, i.e. early morning and late nights. In more cases than not, where virtual agents are used in this manner the model isn’t sustainable and quickly becomes plagued with high attrition, low quality, high-client dissatisfaction.
Granada sets itself apart by having a more complete, a more cohesive solution to current day client needs. Further to this, core to our strategy is a volume agnostic model that allows Granada to support clients irrespective size – we are just as happy to service clients needing 5 agents as we are supporting clients that need 250.
How do you overcome client concerns about using remote agents and cloud technology?
FS: As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding and we overcome client apprehension through a comprehensive review of our technology, client testimonials and an approach that pilots each deployment ahead of broader scale deployments. The reality is that a prospective client with a firm position in favor of or against virtual agent technology is unlikely to change their minds but I would say that brands competing in today’s era of customer driven experiences and meeting customers where they expect to be met are generally open minded to virtual.
How do you choose which cloud vendors to work with?
FS: Industry qualifications, referenceable and feel. Like with anything, you go through an exhaustive due diligence process, you talk to clients past and present and then you make an assessment about whether the business shares a similar value set. If a partner can’t understand your vision and can’t speak to you about it in the context of reality based “art of the possible” or if they keep pitching their preferred solution, you probably don’t have the right partner.
What trends do you foresee becoming popular within the outsourcing space?
FS: The domestic market is fraught with challenges ranging from raising minimum wages to increased indirect competition, I see the concept of site based solution steadily changing in the next 5 years.
Younger generations expect a level of flexibility that will continue to force outsourcers to evolve their people strategies.
Customers are driving brands to react faster, to evolve and to meet them in their channel of preference – bots, automation, self-service without losing the ability to speak to a person when needed are all things gaining traction within the BPO space. Popular in the BPO space, from my perspective, will be the evolution of the industry itself – the shift from yesterday’s way of doing business to a more progressive, ever learning, adapting BPO industry. We aren’t there yet.
Boutique specialization continues to gain traction, by boutique I am referring to highly customized solutions as a standard way of doing business, not in the context of expensive one-off programs. Sure, there will always be larger, transactional, commoditized solutions that focus on a more basic set of performance measures but customers are demanding more from brands and the focus on “customers serving customers” will continue to gain traction.
Is there anything “trending” in the field that you think will fizzle out soon? Why?
FS: The days when low complexity transactions are handled by an agent will all but end, automation and technology will disproportionately handle these.
The workforce is becoming more global. How do you keep up?
FS: I embrace the concept of a global workforce, it makes sense to leverage the best talent no matter where it is located. If you look at Granada, we have people across the US, in the Caribbean and Latin America and planned expansions soon. The concept of virtual is every bit as important for the domestic US market where we leverage agent advisors to support clients as it is in the broader context of a global workforce.