AS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE slowly makes its way to penetrate the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector across the world, companies are pushed to take an active part in leading the upgrading of the skills of their employees.
In the Philippines, BPO company 7.ai is putting premium on digital proficiency as a key trait to keep its manpower relevant and competitive.
“Our focus this year has been to hire talent that have high digital proficiency. Customer experience today is now influenced by an individual’s digital traits. Customers are mobile and digital first so the experience they are expecting is no different from how they interact with their apps and their devices,” 7.ai President and Country Manager Jose Rienzi L. Ramirez said in an e-mail interview.
“Any friction will drive high customer dissatisfaction so we look for talent that understands that context, uses data to delight the customer, and drives to very intuitive resolutions… [W]e have a big belief in the skills and competencies of the Filipino talent in delivering customer service so we complement their aptitude with more skills that allow them to understand the new digital environment that they are in,” he added.
The 12-year-old BPO company highlights the use of artificial intelligence to produce predictive results and intent-driven engagement in handling the customers of its clients. Mr. Ramirez said its current portfolio has four “marquee clients” from United States and Australia, and he expects to sign two more going into 2020.
“The industry will evolve into handling processes that require superior human intelligence and human emotion to address specifically what a customer wants and needs. As new products emerge, the needs and wants of customers also become more complex and personalized,” Mr. Ramirez said.
“With that direction, as technology takes out repetitive processes, humans will continue to emerge to deliver some of the best customer experiences that the new customer also expects,” he added.
Industry experts and researchers had earlier flagged the need for the BPO industry to increase the value proposition of its work force to address concerns that their jobs will become obsolete. 7.ai, for its part, said it is now extending its efforts to elevate the skills set of employees.
“We spend almost 8 weeks to make sure our employees are ready to deliver a world-class experience. Our training strategy is very personalized. We believe that the new Filipino learner is experiential and wants to learn from different platforms,” Mr. Ramirez said.
He added the company is eyeing to double its employee base to 7,400 this year from 3,600 when 2018 ended. Mr. Ramirez noted 7.ai keeps a consistent attrition rate of 48% every year, and maintains an average tenure of 3.5 years for employees.
“Behind these numbers are elaborate programs that focus on people and people relationships… At the core of all of this, we make significant investment in Learning and Development. Our people learn when they stay with us and they will learn a multitude of skills and become competent when they attend 7 University,” he said, referring to the company’s own training program. — Denise A. Valdez