Sandeep Soni is the President & CEO of HERO BPO (A Hero Group Company). With over20 year of immaculate experience in the BPO industry, he has challenged thesaid and done and is committed to deliver revolutionary and innovative servicesto the marketplace.
Hero BPO is part of the $5-billion Hero Group which has over 30,000 employees and around 23 operating companies as its subsidiaries. Hero BPO has leveraged the Hero Group’s legacy and expertise into one of India’s leading BPO services provider.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, “Our mission to help our clients maximize their customer lifetime value and increase their competitive advantage by helping drive productivity and efficiency while delivering measurable results”.
You’ve been associated with SPARSH BPO Services Ltd & SPANCO BPO Services Ltd. What are some of the learnings or anecdotes you could share from here?
Having spent over two decades towards my passion, I moved ahead in my career as a start-up specialist and co-founded SPARSH BPO Services Ltd. & SPANCO BPO Services Ltd. During my years with them, I always stuck to the belief that the outsourcing industry had more to it. It had the potential to grow bigger and better. The fact that it is people who drive this industry, I therefore, from my past and current endeavors, place them at the highest pedestal. Basis these learnings, at Hero BPO we have started to offer services to the clients in niche areas.
What is your vision and mission for Hero BPO?
We at Hero BPO strive to be seen as the premier leader and provider of Technology Enabled Business Process Outsourcing services in our chosen markets and harness the enthusiasm and teamwork of our skilled workforce for optimal customer satisfaction. Along with this, it is our mission to help our clients maximize their customer lifetime value and increase their competitive advantage by helping drive productivity and efficiency while delivering measurable results.
Continuing with my commitment towards delivering innovative services to the marketplace, it became easy for me to recognize the change taking over the BPO sector in India, when I came to Hero BPO. Given the market dynamics, the outsourcing industry today stands at a juncture where it is not only trying to shed its 'call centre' image, but also spearheading towards becoming a larger entity - Business Process Management, as opposed to just outsourcing or off-shoring. I feel re-branding the term BPO to BPM is more appropriate to the industry considering the maturity level it has attained now. From just being a mere third party service provider to becoming a business partner who will manage the entire business process of their clients, this key transformation will help the stakeholders (both inside and outside the country) understand the value of outsourcing industry in India.
In the social media space, do you plan any direct or indirect offering?
Hero BPO follows a multi channel communication strategy with customers to ensure a seamless flow of excellent customer interaction and experience. We believe that for increased customer satisfaction and growing market share one needs to maintain a perfect balance between online and offline media presence. With our experienced skill set and workforce, we make sure that the customer gets to choose from an array of languages and channels to communicate. This, I believe is the most important part of forging a more trustworthy relationship with the customers and adding value to overall company asset.
Do you see the strategy of multi-skilled employees working well for the company?
In an attempt to increase efficiency and slash recruitment costs, we are constantly training our employees to turn into a multi-skilled workforce. We train them in different domains and ensure they are improving on their skills to cater to the current requirements as well as the new integrated deals which the company is pursuing by providing varied options to the clients i.e. data, customer service, sales, back-end and voice skills by a single team. This has helped increasing efficiency in planning and execution, improving turnaround time and in turn has given us an efficient number of employees with an aim to optimally using our manpower for varied organizational requirements.
To what extent has the client profile changed over the years?
From plain vanilla customer care service providers we have now transformed into an end-to-end Business Process Management (BPM) company with our prime focus being Social Media and Data analytics.
Your clients include the world’s largest credit card companies. How do you handle the data security issue?
We are PCI DSS compliant as well as certified ISO 9001:2000; ISO 27001 certified by KPMG. This coveted certification is a reflection of the company’s stringent Information Security policies & procedures.
Conformance to industry standards such as BS7799:2-2002 further assures Hero BPO’s clients of the security processes and methodologies followed by the company. Besides employee education, Hero BPO has also deployed very rigid access and physical control policies which are monitored around the clock. The BS7799:2-2002 Management Representative reviews the information security process and procedures periodically. Before the launch of any new program, a full information security audit is conducted as well.
Comment on the emerging technologies and what impact is it having on the BPO industry?
The connection between where you are what you’re doing would drive the next wave of digital services. Services that know the users’ needs and wants inside out will take businesses ahead. These services need to assist the user in the next step of a decision they make or a query they submit. Starting from letting a brand know about what trends its loyal buyers and potential buyers follow, to letting those buyers know more details about the brand pre and post they make the decision to buy the brand.
Converging data architectures
Though keeping to the old approaches of structured forms of data may make the IT leaders feel in control, but adapting to a new approach to manage unstructured data can give a completely different control- the control to provide a whole new conception from a set of data.
IT leaders should be evaluating their data portfolios for opportunities to rebalance the use of relational and non relational databases. Today’s data architects now have more choices for solving unstructured data problems than simply jury-rigging relational databases to do so.
Industrialized data services
Companies dynamically look for data within and without their own organizations and even look for opportunities to share their data outside. But this data sharing is mostly ad hoc, approach needed next is the data management.
This would enable the business to leverage data and gain insights that can facilitate better product development, customer loyalty and relationship management.
The one window into the mind of the consumer, in the words shared by the consumer himself is via social media. This can not only enable one to gain insights from the online audience but also facilitates in letting you communicate your customized messages to them. The initiation of leading organizations to take to social media has started but this will go a long way in getting imbibed in many departments and agencies of any organization.
What are some of the challenges facing the industry? What are the opportunities available? How is your company handling the same?
Some of the major challenges that the Indian BPM industry continues to face are:
a) Wage inflation: With increase in wages by 10-20 per cent this FY, India’s competitiveness is undermined and the cost benefit gap is closed out further
b) Attrition: With increase in recruitments due to business growth, attrition also has increased by 8-10%. To curb this issue, fresh talent needs to be recruited and trained in order to compensate for lateral attrition
Hero BPO ensures that a specialized training is given to the new talent that comes in, which in turn helps the employees to be absorbed in different verticals across the organization. People being the real assets of the company, we make sure to incorporate a good filtering system and build on their skills to reduce the possible attrition rates among the new hires.
c) Competition: While India maintains its top spot in the offshore BPO service segment, we face growing competition from Philippines, Egypt, China, and Eastern Europe.
At Hero BPO, we continue to join hands and be part of various industry forums and panels like NASSCOM that helps us in getting constant government guidance about the changing trends in the BPo industry.
d) Industry Infrastructure Constraints: Currently more than 80% of service delivery happens from seven tier 1 locations, we need to increase the number of delivery centers so as to continue to be number 1.
What would you describe as your key differentiators? Who do you consider your close competitors?
Values are not learnt, they are inherited. And being a part of one of India’s most revered names Hero Group, values come first to us. Our values help us drive our objectives and provide us with guidelines by which we achieve meaningful results for our clients. That is what differentiates us from our peers, for we continue to keep our focus on the following:
Customer is first: We believe that our customers are the central point of our business and when it comes to delivering quality to meet the customers' expectations, we shall never stop.
Innovation: We foster innovation and put Constant efforts to improve our services and process for market leadership.
Individual Dignity and Teamwork: We respect our employees and value their contributions. We are dedicated to creating a work environment that is professionally challenging and personally rewarding. We believe in teamwork, and as a team, delivering exceptional results to our clients and their customers.
Ethics, Integrity and Societal Responsibilities: We insist on open, honest and fair relationships with each other, our customers and business partners. We respect the laws of the land and professional conduct and are a responsible corporate citizen.
Competitors for Hero BPO:
- Genpact India Pvt. Ltd.
- ata Consultancy Services BPO
- HCL Technologies Ltd. - Business Services
- Syntel Ltd
- Serco Global Services Ltd
You offer services to the retail industry? What kind of growth do you see here?
With our SMART propositions we create an engagement model that puts the objectives of our clients and the wants/needs of their customers at the core of how we do business. SMART is more than just our approach to engaging with our clients. We have completely reorganized our operations to align with the outcomes of our propositions. From our executive team to our advisors, we all know what makes our client’s business a success. HERO BPO has developed SMART MODEL to ensure that these principles are part of our day to day operations. They are:
1. Customer Centric: We continuously work to understand the drivers that create advocacy and loyalty amongst our client’s customers
2. Multi-Channel: Customer habits are constantly changing and we are aligned and prepared to interact with customers through all relevant channels
3. Total Customer Lifecycle: Customers have different needs and are given unique treatments during different parts of their lifecycle
4. Smart Core Delivery: At the heart of SMART, is the execution of work streams to deliver against our clients core business objectives
5. Smart Accelerators: Our Insight capabilities create an environment of continuous improvements that deliver differentiated outcomes
6. Client Value Drivers: On all our engagements, from the onset, we define the value drivers that will impact our clients top/bottom line
What kind of value added services do you enable for your clients. Could you give some examples?
Hero BPO’s proprietary tools, methodologies & insight based analysis provide unrivalled opportunities to drive campaign optimisation & client innovation. Our market leading approaches to driving customer experience & advocacy provide strategic capabilities to enhance performance. We provide:
1. Data from Voice channels to profile customers using Hero BPO’s Insight analysis
2. Web interaction key to driving brand advocacy - Analytics drive effective targeted marketing
3. Mobile data key insight into customer behavior - Always on, carried and potential payment device
4. Social Media, a crucial tool to build brand image - User numbers growing and communities forming
Brief us on your financials. What has been your growth rate and profitability in the last couple of years? Going forward what are yours projections or targets?
Note: Due to company policy, financial details are not to be shared.
Any new verticals you plan to enter?
Opportunity lies in the growth of two key areas - Social Media and Data Analytics.
At Hero BPO, we believe that the chance lies in increasing customer interaction via stronger Social Media presence, effectively using latest technology to promote customer experience and thereby improving upon company’s image and building a stronger brand value. We continue to build on this model so as to provide service to niche customers.
Give us segment-wise revenue. How much does your top 5 to 10 clients account of your overall revenue? Name some of your major clients.
To describe a few:
- A leading global financial institution
- A fortune 100 financial institution
- One of the largest B2B portals in India
- India’s Biggest Florist company
- One of the largest telecom company in world
- And the largest mobile telecom in Europe
Note: Due to company policies, information on segment-wise revenue and client names cannot be shared.
What will be the future triggers going forward which will boost the industry?
The future of Cloud technology is huge. It has penetrated in human lives to such an extent that it is becoming an intrinsic part now. In the next 5 years, we will see an exponential growth in mobile applications. Also, the untouched “big data” is another key area of growth in the use of cloud based technologies not only to manage the huge amount of data but also to extract the useful information and business intelligence data at anytime, from anywhere. Increasingly, IT companies of all shapes and sizes are turning to this new technology since it lessens the time spent on lower-value activities and allows the team to focus on bigger strategic activities that have greater impact on the business. Other than this, the Software as a Service (SaaS) technology enables a BPO company and its customers to break the barriers of on-premise technology. Industry experts believe that these trends will only continue to grow and develop even further in the coming few years, since they are probably the most cost efficient methods to use.
Anything else you would like to add about your company?
Hero BPO has won several awards and accolades over the last decade and some of them include Nasscom's top 15 Indian BPOs, CCA Global Excellence Award 2010 and Top 100 Most Innovative Companies 2009: NeoIT & Global Services. We are an ISO: 27001 certified company.