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Tech Mahindra Orchestrating CX Transformation: Interview with Birendra Sen

 

Earlier this summer, I spoke with Birendra Sen, Business Leader, Tech Mahindra Business Process Services, on the building blocks of customer experience transformation and lessons from the pandemic.

What are the main customer experience objectives for companies in 2021 and 2022?

Birendra Sen: The pandemic caused almost a reset of customer experience objectives for brands. It accelerated the need for digital to be pervasive: customer expectations have become digital and I don’t think they are going back.

All our clients are prioritizing scaling their operations as sales and support have rapidly moved online. The key is how to grow the operations without growing costs at the same pace while balancing experience objectives. The other objective is for businesses to adopt digital solutions for customers to be satisfied. Enterprises look for partners to assist them in this entire journey. Going forward, the goal is to ensure customer retention, satisfaction, and delight.

What are the main elements of this digital transformation, given that these changes are irreversible?

Birendra Sen: COVID-19 has been the Chief Digital Officer of sorts. The two facilitating factors have been the pervasive adoption of cloud infrastructure and the acceptance of work from anywhere. We quickly moved to work from anywhere as an integral building block of CX transformation.

Supporting all these shifts is crucial for brands to have the right aspirational purpose and enable it with customer journey design and CX consulting. All these elements have to come together for a brand to be relevant in post-pandemic times.

Where is this new CX vision typically residing in the organization?

Birendra Sen: We have started seeing in our enterprise clients the role of Chief Digital Officer becoming more common and at the same time new roles such as Chief Customer Experience Officer. The hope is that these new roles will unify the existing functions, break down traditional data silos, identify and prioritize opportunities to improve the CX, generate actionable insights quickly, and deliver hyper-personalization at scale. Most of these challenges will be the remit of whoever is the custodian of CX.

What proportion of organizations is going down this route?

Birendra Sen: Definitely more than half and more than a year ago. We are going to see a steady increase because our clients don’t have a choice. It is a game of relevance in a fast-moving current.

How is Tech Mahindra responding to these changes?

Birendra Sen: At Tech Mahindra, we try to bring together all the different parts of CX; for instance, we created an experience design services capability through acquisitions. Two years ago, we acquired BORN Group, Mad*Pow, and The BIO agency in the U.K. All these units form the fulcrum of our experience design services. Most recently we acquired a boutique CX consulting firm, Eventus Solutions out of Denver, with ~130 consultants with deep experience in providing CX transformation. Coupled with a technology-enabled BPS capability is an end-to-end CX playbook that allows us to execute the transformation. We apply continuous insights, automation, bots, conversational AI, and cloud migration, creating the right customer and agent experience with tools to manage the entire lifecycle.

I think this is the future of a provider like Tech Mahindra, to offer the full array of capabilities. Providers are at different stages of the maturity lifecycle, with some BPOs still operating with the same linear models. However, clients are ready to embrace the range of capabilities that Tech Mahindra offers.

BPS providers will play a pivotal role in offering these kinds of platforms and applications to enable data-driven insights using predictive analytics in operations and will run on a managed service model delivering outcomes. This model will be more common in the next 18 to 36 months, with an opportunity for providers to take a leading position.

This ability to bring together these capabilities is one of the reasons for Tech Mahindra to be a beneficiary, growing at 6 to 7 times compared to the industry average.

What are the limitations for enterprises to accelerate CX transformation?

Birendra Sen: There are several:

  • Some are generic such as disaggregated customer journey, caused by internal or external setup such as operating in multiple service provider environments, with vendors offering point solutions without looking at the end state
  • There is a need to innovate at a lower cost. The question is how to innovate in an agile and swift fashion with limited budgets
  • Many organizations have grown off legacy infrastructure and need to modernize it
  • Data maturity with the ability to generate insights quickly and leverage data
  • Getting the ROI and identifying the high-impact CX opportunities in a fast-moving technology environment.

But most important is for organizations to have the right talent and skillset to drive this transformation itself.

What is the impact of a truly transformed CX on service delivery?

Birendra Sen: Work from anywhere is the new normal, with cloud computing being center stage and pay-as-you-go pricing. The pandemic accelerated the gig economy with greater flexibility and an expanded talent pool.

At Tech Mahindra, unless the client has specific requirements for office delivery, all our workforce is work from anywhere. The model offers convenience and flexibility, which is a critical factor in the war for talent. Along with that is the proliferation of different technology to amplify the agents in their work; for example, presenting information to the agent during the call, sentiment analysis for active intervention, and automating the aftercall work.  

Also, the ability to leverage multiple delivery locations will be critical. We are very active in APAC, including Australia, New Zealand, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, and we are also exploring Japan. In India, we are looking at tier 2 and 3 cities to broaden our footprint. In EMEA, we are also looking at the Saudi market to address the requirement for “Saudization” of services. We are continuing to expand in Eastern Europe and planning for South Africa.

In North America, we are growing in the U.S. with a new site in the greater Atlanta area. And in LATAM, we are investigating new delivery markets such as Colombia and Costa Rica.

What CX technology do you see gaining momentum?

Birendra Sen: We see traction around real-time analytics throughout the agent experience, automation for agent assists, unified agent desktop with RPA, and the use of AI for specific elements of the customer lifecycle; for example, our m.ai.a bot. We have an AI-based search called SEER which provides real-time insights, and it has been hugely popular – we embed it in every solution we have. Another area is the option to move to asynchronous messaging at scale. These technologies are leveraged already and are part of our tech stack. The key is to make them a constant component for every client with a view that CCaaS will be the majority of the market.

We develop this technology internally or in partnerships. We want Tech Mahindra to be the orchestrator of superior business outcomes – to bring together the different components of this tech stack to meet enterprises’ CX expectations.

What lessons do we want to keep from the last 18 months?

Birendra Sen: Virtual work from anywhere will stay; the requirement to create improved employee experience to effectively manage the talent, such as health and wellness; a renewed focus on data security and privacy, and Business Continuity Planning will be extremely important.

I would also add an increased willingness by enterprises to do business, to deliver CX in a different way.

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