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Sitel Chennai: Improving Processes & People for Enhanced Customer Experience

NelsonHall recently visited Sitel at their contact center in Chennai to experience operations at first hand and to discuss the evolving CMS outsourcing industry. Only five months ago, in December 2015, the South Indian floods hit Chennai and access to the Sitel center was blocked. Over 70 employees stayed behind in the office at Ramanujam IT Park, where the company provided beds and food, while traffic was routed to Sitel’s redundancy operations.

The 50,000 sq. ft. (~4,600 sq. m.) facility has seven days of back-up for over 600 production seats and four training rooms. It was established in 2011, five years after Sitel entered the city. Its Chennai location is one of four in India, where it has over 3.5k FTEs, the others being in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Gurgaon. The company supports the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and domestic markets with clients from telecom, internet service providers, technology, BFSI, retail, travel and manufacturing sectors.

The Indian operations serve as a CoE for support, and the largest center, in Mumbai, also provides shared services for the group, including corporate finance, global WFM, corporate reporting, and IT development.

The operation in Chennai offers services primarily in English, but the center also has a small French-Canadian group for a telecom client. The center provides customer care, sales, retention and back office services, but its core strength is in technical support over voice, chat, remote assistance, email, and most recently social media such as Twitter, Facebook and online communities.

Continuous process improvement: a client case

For a global antivirus and security software company, Sitel has over 300 dedicated seats working 24/7, delivering levels 1 and 2 technical support since January 2015. Sitel also provides sales and multilingual support from its centers in Manila and Lisbon, and onshore U.S.

Sitel’s Chennai team supports the client’s customers with issues on their PC, tablet and mobile devices, for Android and iOS, maintaining a user community and posting public responses to free and premium support customers. To improve resolution rates, Sitel suggested introducing remote assistance for the level 2 support team and extending the remote access to customer refund cases. Approximately 30% of the inquiries received on the support lines require a technician to remotely access the customer machine. As a result, between Q2 and Q3 2015, NPS score improved from 14 to 37, while CSAT improved from 72% to 80.5%.

As part of a continuous process improvement program for the client, Sitel provides suggestions for the optimization of the knowledge base articles helping the agents in their answers, but also for posting on the public community, which in turn reduces traffic to the support lines. While directly impacting its commercial model, this call reduction is seen by Sitel as a means of strengthening the client relationship.

Due to a business decision by the client, the option for connecting over chat has been limited to premium product customers, and the team supports chat with a mixture of canned and free text responses, running a maximum of three concurrent sessions. Sitel and the client are aiming to drive traffic away from voice and chat to the communities and remote assistance, benefiting from a cost perspective, as agents can run multiple remote sessions, and from better customer experience. Sitel is aiming to reduce its current two hour window for community responses to one hour by September 2016.

Reskilling to address customer channel shift

The shift in customer channel preference has doubled Sitel India’s chat volume at the expense of voice and email, requiring the company to increase the technical knowledge and multi-channel skills of its agents. Sitel has been actively investing in its people development, for example for the antivirus account program, cross-training agents for a blended delivery, both across channels and functions. While not being a dedicated sales center for this program, Sitel Chennai identifies and closes opportunities for up-sells and cross-sell during the support calls.

In the last six months, Sitel has launched a performance monitoring and coaching platform called Sitel 2020, which tracks metrics and identifies coaching needs at individual agent level. For management, it has launched a global e-learning program, Sitel University. It has close to 1k interactive tutorials and instructor-led courses on various topics, from coaching to budgeting and accounting. All team leaders and higher personnel levels are required to undergo certification in order to apply for promotion.

Combining its ability for process improvement with its people development practices, Sitel India is adapting to a more non-voice geared channel mix. It utilizes its experience in technical support and looks to take a greater share in this growing space.

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