Q: What are Pentafon’s business niches and how does the company improve the business performance of its customers?
A: Our operations touch upon several market niches, including customer support, collection, sales and back office operations. In 2016, 60 percent of our operations targeted the private sector and 40 percent targeted the public sector but those numbers have inverted since the beginning of 2017. Banking, telecom, airlines and retail companies are among our most important clients. On the public side, we handle the government’s channel for communications with citizens.
We manage MEXITEL, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ service that deals with issues concerning Mexicans living in the US, such as those who need to renew a passport or to get new ID. We have over 1,300 work stations in four centers: two in Mexico City, one in Morelia and one in Venezuela. Our most important differentiator is based on our three most important pillars: certifications, technology and human talent.
Certifications are important because they help us offer our clients the security that their customers’ databases will be safely guarded. We invest heavily in certifications such as ISO 27001, related to information security; PCI, which focuses on banking transactions; and the ISO 9000 certification. No more than five or six players in Mexico have both certifications, ISO 270001 and PCI. When it comes to technology, we focus on two aspects. One is our Genesys technology platform that guarantees the availability and efficiency of our centers. The other is a business intelligence tool that measures our staff’s performance.
People are the foundation of our business and our main cost. We have to take care of them because their training entails a significant cost for us and for our clients, especially considering the learning curve that is involved. Someone answering the phone on the first day of work is not the same as someone with a month of experience.
Q: What is the most pressing challenge you face in the contact-center industry?
A: The industry has a high level of personnel rotation because people who work in call centers usually do it as a temporary job. We have designed a plan to measure and analyze the variables that come into play in personnel rotation. We analyze how and where applicants saw the job posting, how many reach the training level, how many stay on board and how many leave.
In Apr. 2017, we managed to lower personnel rotation to less than 7 percent, while the industry average is in the double-digit range. Each area also has different rotation averages. For instance, sales is a high-pressure job so it has one of the highest rotation averages in the industry. Customer service, meanwhile, has rotation levels of less than 5 percent.
Q: What strategies does Pentafon use to keep up to date and ready to compete with new technologies such as online chats?
A: Our technology focus considers market communication trends. Today, the voice channel, which includes telephone, is the most important. Still, we expect that in 10 years younger generations will prefer digital communication methods. We have a voice channel and multichannel technology, which offers voice combined with web chats, web collaborations and call backs.
Q: What are the challenges of offshoring contact-center operations?
A: Offshoring has been a steady practice since the mid2000s when the US market started moving operations offshore. The Mexican market then followed suit, exporting these operations to countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador. Offshoring is basically a logical response to costs. Even though offshoring sometimes make sense, cultural barriers represent a challenge. Things like language and idioms play an important role.