A new year needs a new outlook – by Gary Gilburd
The start of a new year often gives the opportunity to not only reflect on the previous 12 months, but to set targets to meet the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.
Here at Sigma Connected, looking back on 2022 stirs a variety of emotions. It was hugely challenging for our teams and our clients in so many areas, but ultimately, amongst national and global uncertainty and insecurity, we managed to grow. That progress wasn’t just in the UK, but also in South Africa through our domestic and offshore offering, and little-by-little in Australia where our Brisbane-based team are on the cusp of more success.
Those are great achievements to look back on as we start the next 12 months – a year when we aim to further grow every one of our divisions and take Sigma across the Atlantic into the thriving US market.
A year for quality conversations
Looking wider, and with the cost-of-living crisis failing to fade, I believe that 2023 is a year where we will see many more people looking to engage with their supplier – whether that is in energy, financial services, telecoms, or even on the retail side. Inflation is rising, interest rates are up and certainly over the next few months, the pressures of Christmas spending, coupled with a stinging cold winter, will put pressure on finances.
In short, the market remains volatile and we can’t get away from the fact that mounting debt means that professional debt recovery will become more and more vital. Key to that recovery will be ensuring the customer has the best possible experience whilst the debt is collected so they remain loyal to the brand.
This all means more contact from price-sensitive or vulnerable customers who are craving more engagement, and even to support their wellbeing or unique personal situations. Linked to this, we are seeing an increase in demand for our ReachOut service which supports vulnerable customers to reengage with service providers. I can see that the demand for services like ReachOut only increasing as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
But turning to the wider BPO sector, these additional conversations we will be having means that we must impart quality at each and every contact point – meaning empathetic conversations, and exceptional training and product knowledge – both of which drive the best outcomes and resolutions for customers.
The right people and the right models for 2023
To have those conversations, and for large businesses to put their trust in an outsourced solution, BPO providers need the best trained and motivated people.
We are currently recruiting hundreds of roles in the UK and South Africa and know we are competing with so many others. It’s clear that needs us to provide not just attractive salaries, but desirable packages which also cover lifestyle and wellbeing options. It’s something everyone must get better at, including us, if we are to attract and retain the right people. But it’s more than money and benefits when it comes to people.
To me, it’s about business models too. That’s partly the reason for our own success in South Africa where we are showing, through both through our strides in the domestic market and offshoring, that the quality is there for clients, all led by highly motivated people. I can only see offshoring growing in importance this year as businesses realise the cost savings and learn to trust the quality of delivery from places like South Africa where the high emotional intelligence of the people and their desire to deliver a great service trumps many other locations.
It wouldn’t be a new year message without thanking our employees, partners and clients for all their support last year, but also the organisations which have joined our client roster in recent months. Our growth with every one of these businesses is one thing, but keeping our culture, maintaining our DNA and our values are all of huge importance this year as we keep moving forward and doing things differently.
Let’s keep focused
To sum up, and as the title of this new year message suggests, 2023 offers the opportunity for new ideas and fresh approaches. Central to that is quality and ensuring the queries driven by a growing number of customer contacts are approached and solved promptly, efficiently and even creatively.
More than ever people want support and engagement. 2023 will be the year when the industry simply has to raise the bar even higher and the value in doing things differently cannot be ignored.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous new year.