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Event Note: Sitel Focuses on Talent Development and Margin Improvement

NelsonHall recently attended Sitel’s analyst day and client advisory board meeting in Las Vegas, where I had the opportunity to discuss CMS market trends. Click here to view a brief video.

Sitel wants to be known for creating great experiences, and its focus now is ‘people first’. It recently hired a new chief HR officer, Elsa Zambrano, who has created a new executive position to focus on global talent management efforts. Brandyn Payne, in the role as VP of global talent management, is focused on talent development and measures for attrition and absenteeism. In addition, Sitel has created a new index with contacts at Vanderbilt and outside consultants. Sitel stated that it is ‘in the third inning of a nine inning game’ with this investment.

Sitel explained how it is leveraging technology to assist its agents in supporting clients. In an effort to improve agent coaching, Sitel is rolling out a proprietary platform, 20/20, so coaches will be able to provide ongoing documented feedback to agents and learn from tracking common issues. Sitel also highlighted its Intelligent Desktop, a cloud-based CEM platform that provides agents with a full view of all customer interactions across all contact channels.

Improving employee communication is another focus area for Sitel, and CEO Bert Quintana is acting on his commitment to connect with Sitel’s employees by recording a five-minute video segment for employees each Friday, wherever he happens to be in the world (including, to date, from Colombia, Germany, the Philippines, the U.K. and the U.S.). He has also introduced his leadership team, clients, agents, and industry analysts to Sitel employees: my colleague Mike Coo, and I had the pleasure of participating in one of these segments.  

Listening to its clients is another Sitel commitment. It illustrated this by providing more in-depth interactions with industry analysts at the meeting this year than in the past. The clients benefitted by posing questions to a panel of analysts, with topics ranging from site selection to use of work at home agents (WAHA), to vertical market questions and many more. The clients also participated in round table discussions with analysts on topics including site location selection, multi-channel, flexible labor force, metrics, analytics, agent retention, and web based engagement. Sitel even took that tough yet courageous step of asking clients to discuss with analysts what Sitel could do better; the feedback was shared with Sitel. This is a bold move, and it now has the opportunity to turn that feedback into positive change. 

Sitel also showcased its success in supporting clients in the retail industry sector and with its use of WAHA. Sitel supports 12 industry sectors in total but, based on expertise and revenue opportunities, is focused primarily on retail, communications, manufacturing (high tech), and financial services. The retail business has grown four-fold in the past five years, and Sitel is working to leverage best practices in the sector to support its business in other sectors. Another success story is Sitel’s WAHA program, which experienced two-fold growth in three consecutive years. In 2013, it hired a new leader for WAHA, Felix Serrano, Sr. VP & General Manager. In addition, it has leveraged WAHA virtual hiring for its brick and mortar sites.

From a financial perspective, Sitel has been focused on margin improvement - between 2010 and 2013 its revenue grew just 2.4%. It is now also targeting stronger topline growth in North America, plus continued growth in the U.K.and has appointed a head of EMEA sales.

From a delivery perspective, it plans to grow its language hubs in Portugal and Serbia. It also anticipates delivery growth in Eastern Europe, LATAM, Germany and Morocco. If client interest increases, it will grow its delivery capabilities in India and the Philippines as well. China is not a priority delivery location as it can be supported from the Philippines.

Sitel is recovering from a significant client loss at the end of 2013, which resulted in a $27.3m reduction in revenues for Q2 2014. Sitel has largely mitigated this loss with new business and some expansions from its current client base. Profitability continues to be an issue for Sitel. As mentioned earlier, it is focused on agent development and retention. Margin expansion should also be assisted by expansion in the Philippines, where Sitel is to open a new site before the end of the year. This, plus expansion in some U.S. sites, will be supported by additional funding from ONEX of $75m that was closed in Q2, 2014.

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