Staying ahead of today’s customer “mega-trends” - TELUS International Europe

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  • Staying ahead of today’s customer “mega-trends”

    July 14, 2016

    ^71E9FBEA2DD4720A1307FABF832479228B77917C22CF593E2B^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrThis article is from the premier issue of Customers First magazine – sharing global insights on customer strategy and innovation.

    Florin Grama is the Director of Support and Engineering Management for Microsoft in Bucharest, Romania. He is also president of The Association of Business Service Leaders (ABSL) in Romania, an organization working to bring together high profile companies across the Shared Services Center (SSC), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) and Research and Development (R&D) sectors.

    We recently spoke with Florin to get his perspective on how big global mega-trends like Big Data and Cloud Computing are impacting customer expectations and customer experience delivery in Europe and beyond.

    Customers First (CF): What is your role at Microsoft?

    Florin Grama (FG): I lead Microsoft’s largest Customer Service & Support (CSS) team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which consists of over 600 IT software and service support professionals and consultants based in Romania. The team is responsible for assisting partners and customers in the enterprise, mid-market and small/medium business segments. We deliver services and technical support related to all Microsoft services and products, ranging from Cloud platforms and services – Office 365, Azure, CRM, InTune to Windows, Office, Sharepoint, Exchange, Skype, Active Directory, System Center, SQL, Developer Tools, and others.

    CF: Romania is often described as the new “outsourcing valley of Europe.” What do you think are the top strengths of Romania from the outsourcing standpoint?

    FG: Romania has one of the most developed IT infrastructures in the world, but our most precious resource by far is our people. We have a well-developed education system which graduates tens of thousands of university students a year, most of whom speak English and are multilingual. Like other attractive outsourcing destinations, the cost level is reasonable for the value provided. And our people continue to improve every year!


    CF: How have Microsoft’s customers changed over the years, and how have those changes affected the company’s approach to customer service?

    FG: In a mobile-first, cloud-first world, customers want services to run on any device. They want self-service and automation. They expect real-time interaction and to have their services up and running at all times, with fast resolution of their issues. We like to say that “customer obsession” is now deeply embedded into the company culture. Especially with the advancement of the Cloud, this trend will only grow as we are now firmly into the “service based model” and moving farther away from hardware all the time.

    CF: What are the keys to offering effective multilingual customer support?

    FG: Microsoft is present in nearly 200 countries across the globe and delivers services in many different languages. We deliver services from many countries, because we believe services tailored to different cultures make a huge difference to our customers. Customer service must be globally standardized, consistent, but also localized at the same time, so that customers know what to expect and that they will receive similar quality levels regardless of geography.

    Ensuring “follow the sun” delivery models and approaches, integrated technology platforms and automation are key ingredients to success. There are also lots of new technologies that can help improve global service standards. For example, one technology that could become standard in customer service organizations is Skype Translator, which allows agents to interact with customers with real-time text or voice translation from one language to another.

    CF: What does “putting customers first” mean to you?

    FG: Putting customers first means making sure we understand the needs of customers and that we are delivering services and solutions that are up to their expectations. I have a strong belief that in a services business, highly motivated and engaged employees do make the difference in providing those services that customers want. They are the key to both understanding the customer and delivering the highest-quality experience possible.

    CF: What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received? Any good stories to share?

    FG: Recently, my bank called and emailed me, proactively mentioning that I might have a potential issue with my credit card. Namely, they asked me to renew my credit card in order to avoid improper use or identity theft, which they believed could eventually occur. They provided me with a very simple and easy way to fix the problem, which took me no more than 10 minutes to complete. That solution was quick and exceeded my expectations of how long such a solution would take.

    CF: What’s your “word” to describe the outsourcing industry in 2016, and why did you select that word?

    FG: “Transformation.” The four mega-trends of Mobile, Cloud, Big Data, and Social significantly influence the world and the IT/outsourcing industry, and the speed of change is massive. Innovation and creativity are more important than ever. Speed to adapt to the new realities is key.

    CF: You mentioned four mega-trends – Big Data, Social, Mobile, and Cloud. Can you share some of the ways Microsoft’s operations are at the forefront of several of those trends?

    FG: Microsoft has developed and brought to market platforms and services in the Cloud such as Office 365, Azure and CRM online. Apart from our own hardware business, we have developed products and services like Office, Office 365, Outlook, Skype, SQL on non-Windows operating systems (Linux, Android, MAC, iOS) in order to provide customers with seamless experiences on any mobile device.

    Yammer is a leading enterprise social network for businesses to get work done smarter and faster, used for private communications within organizations.

    With Power BI, you leverage your data and create dashboards that keep you informed about what’s most important about your business. Just like a dashboard in your car displays important information about your vehicle, such as its speed, its fuel level, or how healthy the engine is, the dashboard in Power BI interprets Big Data and displays important information about your business.

    CF: As you noted, creativity and innovation are more important than ever. Do you have any specific examples of why that’s true, particularly in your industry?

    FG: The speed and ability to bring in new innovative products and services, and develop the existing ones to address and anticipate customer needs are of huge importance. You have to understand where customers’ businesses are going and what they need in order to achieve more. Recent examples at Microsoft include the launches of Office or Skype for non-Windows operating systems, or SQL Server for Linux. I truly believe that anticipating and serving rapidly changing customer needs will be the key to success for companies of all sizes, now and in the future.

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