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Sitel Presents its CX Vision Nine Months After Acquisition by Acticall

NelsonHall recently attended Sitel’s European Customer Day in Paris. The event was an opportunity for Sitel to update the analyst community on the progress it is making with company restructuring following its acquisition by French BPO vendor Acticall, and to present to its clients and stakeholders a vision of the future – not just for contact center outsourcing, but for customer experience (CX), sales, support, and recruitment through the lens of digital paradigm shift.

Sitel/Acticall Nine Months In

The acquisition by Groupe Acticall, a Mulliez family backed company, was a significant financial and European delivery boost for Sitel (see more here). Now, nine months in, the company has kept the Sitel brand, combined the French and American executive leadership teams, and is relocating its HQ in September. It is aiming to benefit from the client, delivery, and experience scale of Sitel and the innovative, value-add, digitally focused, approach of Acticall.

Acticall combines its French contact center business (plus a Brazilian presence since 2012) with an array of independently run units previously acquired and still managed by their founders:

  • Learning Tribes – a training services provider, operating in France, Morocco, Brazil, and China (and from 2016, in the U.S.). The EdTech company offers learning tools, learning content creation and localization, and has actively invested in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform
  • The Social Client – a digital consulting agency offering social and web optimization services, creates online communities and develops web content, sites, and apps
  • Extens Consulting – customer experience consultancy offering CRM optimization, customer journey mapping, and channel shift strategies
  • Novagile – IT developer specializing in CRM and self-service technological solutions.

French origins, global markets

Both the challenge and the opportunity for Sitel is to expand these higher margin businesses from their mostly French origins to a global network of 70 markets and 22 delivery countries, with 146 centers and over 400 clients. The obvious target geography will be the U.S., which represents over half of the group revenues.

Sitel is following a firmly established trend for pure play CMS vendors by evolving their offerings to include advanced analytics, consulting, marketing and technology services, and value-adds beyond low cost customer care. In so doing, Sitel has the potential to bring to its client base a more attractive service portfolio.

The fundamentals are there. The client base is not overexposed to one or two verticals, with the largest, telecoms, representing less than 30% of revenues. Nor is there an over concentration on a small number of clients (the biggest accounting for only 6% of revenues) or geography limitations (70% of clients are served in two or more countries).

Above all, the company is innovating in its account management, bringing CX practices to its client relationships by running a NPS evaluation program (since 2014), and setting its teams ongoing improvement targets.     

CX is changing fast and not linearly

The CX demands made by customers are changing fast in multiple directions without negating the basics of 20 years ago, or the technological developments of the last year. Sitel is embracing this change.

The majority of Sitel’s European Customer Day presenters looked to a future of faster, more contextualized, and more expressive communication. For customer service providers this will mean:

  • More channels, e.g. The Social Client’s implementations of Facebook Messenger
  • Greater share of self-service, e.g. the customer community created by The Social Client for French horse racing betting house PMU
  • More added value in interactions, delivered by better selected and trained agents, e.g. the Learning Tribe project with La Poste
  • Increased localization, e.g. customer effort monitoring by country, as carried out by Extens Consulting for French gift provider wonderbox
  • Cultural alignment to the brand regardless of model, as shown by Airbnb with several outsourcing providers across geographies
  • Addressed customer needs, e.g. Uber’s continuous market growth and service innovation, from ice cream deliveries to helicopter rides.

The outlook for Sitel

While these proactive and personalized CX delivery developments are taking place, behind the scenes there is a whole host of technological, operational and cultural changes that vendors such as Sitel need to implement. The company’s growth for 2016 reflects over 4.3k additional seats globally, plus the introduction of its analytics platform, Sitel Insights, which combines analytics resources with technology accelerators.

These are the initial steps for Sitel on its ambitious growth path: to become a $2bn company, with 11% EBITDA, and the number one CX company, by 2018.

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