The term “culture” is batted around in the BPO industry like a ping pong ball in a bounce house, but linking company culture to tangible business results is not always easy – so when clients mention it as a driver of success, it’s time to listen.
Speaking at the Itelbpo Summit in Montego Bay in April, some of the company’s clients revealed how Itel’s culture of transparency and accessibility has given them the confidence to ramp up operations in Jamaica.
“With Itelbpo, I saw a deep sincerity to what Yoni (Epstein, Itel’s CEO) and his team were saying, which is a different approach to how others try to sell,” said John Billings, Director of Vendor Performance at Hilton.
Opting for Hospitality, Engagement, and Nimble Execution
According to Billings, Hilton spoke to around 40 BPOs in order to diversify its vendor network and reduce its footprint in the Philippines. The hotelier had an interest in working with a smaller, boutique BPO, and, after eight years of working with top-tier players, decided to launch with Itelbpo in August 2017.
“I came from Teleperformance, so I’ve seen a lot of BPO sales presentations, and the pattern is always the same – they talk about who they are, how long they’ve been in business, mention some buzzword technologies, and show off their client portfolio. With Itel it was refreshingly informal, and what you see is what you get – the entire leadership team was always in the meetings, and they have been completely frank and transparent throughout the process.”
The company has 245 agents with Itel in Jamaica today, with expectations to grow that during the summer seasonal peak. Billings cited Jamaica’s geographical accessibility, culture of hospitality, and neutral voice and accent as nice surprises, with Itel’s high level of engagement and its ability to execute quickly being the deal breakers.
“We started with reservations and sales, but moved into customer care, which is something we have historically not outsourced, but we are giving it a try with Itel, starting with around 50 agents,” said Billings. “The best metrics we have are the voice of customer, and the team has delivered scores that are on par with the Philippines just a couple of months out of the gate. I expect this to continue and for Itel to be one of our top centers.”
The Proof is in the Presentation
BPO summits and analyst days can often feel like stuffy, corporate affairs with too much information and not enough opportunities to experience the company for yourself, but Itel’s summit was a different experience from the outset.
Upon arrival, delegates were instantly greeted by Epstein and his leadership team, as well as a few agents and photographers. The entrance lobby was converted into the introductory conference area, with dozens of colorful bean bags scattered across the floor – initially an intimidating prospect for the attendees, but everyone soon settled in.
“We want you to experience what we and our agents experience every day – a culture of fun, quality, integrity, reliability, and also family,” said Epstein before his tour of the facility, which was accompanied by a selection of reggae tracks being quietly played from numerous speakers – a unique atmosphere for a call center, but one that keeps agents happy, according to Itel.
During the presentations, Claude Duncan, VP of Sales and Promotions at Jampro, Jamaica’s investment promotions agency, pointed out that “The Jamaican workforce is very loyal and will treat your company logo like a badge of honor if you take care of them”, something that Itel has taken on board with what it calls a “family day”, which delegates were invited to attend that evening.
Resembling something out of Lollapalooza, the company erected a sound stage, an outdoor bar, and a number of food tents to entertain the troops outside the facility – and Epstein himself was one of the main attractions. Just look at the energy that he created as his agents treat him like a rock star.
Valuable Industry Disruption
Itelbpo was founded in the Montego Bay Free Zone in 2012 with just 7 employees, growing to a headcount of 1,250 people across 4 countries following the recent acquisition of Granada. With the benefits of culture contributing to that growth, the company has started down a potentially disruptive path that will help change perceptions of BPO and contact centers, not only in Jamaica, but also the broader Nearshore region.
As a younger, more vibrant workforce is changing the industry from outside and in, they bring with them certain expectations or demands, both as employees and as customers. Itelbpo has been listening to those demands and delivering, which is leading directly to client satisfaction, agent happiness, and improved customer experience.
“It’s very simple, there are no frills. It’s not a bunch of big words and data. It is simply about getting the job done,” said Epstein. “This is important, because when we make our clients look good, they make us look good. The more we diversify, the more other lines of business open up and other opportunities come on stream.”