A Moment of Transformation with the “New Sitel”


Acticall Sitel Group is undergoing a “moment of transformation,” as they put it – “pivoting from a contact center to a group of global services, innovative and socially engaged, dedicated to providing exceptional customer experiences.”  What this really means in a world overflowing with overhyped CX buzzwords isn’t easy to tell, and here’s what I learned as one of the analyst community members that spent time with Sitel executives and 70+ clients and prospects at its 2017 Miami Analyst Day and corresponding Customer Summit this week: that a company in transformation needs a North Star – one that is bright and shiny to illuminate the path forward. Acticall Sitel has a lot of stars, but it’s not yet clear which one will stand out to lead the way.


Diversification: The Ventures Ecosystem

The “New Sitel” is the portfolio of companies: the traditional Sitel contact center business and a number of other “venture” companies brought on with Sitel’s acquisition by French based Acticall Group in 2015.  This new Sitel has been a couple of years in the making, but the story that is emerging is an interesting and compelling one to buyers of contact center services and those of us who are enthusiasts of the contact center being a core element of customer experience design.  A few highlights from the event:

  • The Social Client, one of the ventures, is a customer experience consulting and strategy company focused on implementing design elements like visual IVR, employing design thinking and journey mapping.
  • The Learning Tribe, a training and learning entity focused on digital aspects of learning, i.e. mobile and social learning, brings gamification and certification elements to training environments in need of transformation. As the head of training for a major corporate bank said, “we need to be digital internally within our organization as well as externally with customers.”
  • The Premium Tech Support venture is providing white glove services to clients and generating revenues through cross-sell and upsell opportunities while utilizing the Customer Insights analytics venture to optimize its services using predictive customer analytics. 

The big picture of the new Sitel still seems a work in progress, especially in terms of commercial engagements, as the service provider retrains its sales staff and restructures incentives to more effectively sell across the ecosystem—but the passion and vision is certainly present. And Sitel is also investing in AI with a quality monitoring tool, empowering a trend the provider calls “botshore,” the use of bots as a lever along with offshore and nearshore options– a concept which jives well with HfS’ vision of using increasingly intelligent automation as just one of the levers to pull when it comes to engagements with service providers. 

Pivoting the ventures toward American business will be a challenge, but very recent leadership additions, including a creative agency veteran in the role leading The Social Client and a BPO sales mogul in place leading sales in the Americas will bolster the potential for execution across the organization.  Sitel will need to continue to think through the messaging and branding of these ventures: What truly represents the capability and value of each one and as part of the whole new business? For example, the name “The Social Client” is limiting and not representative of its capabilities. Sitel seems to be sitting on a gold mine and needs to unearth the potential to let it shine.

The Bottom Line:  The time is ripe for a legacy call center provider to really transition to a customer experience design leader

In this world of “digital transformation”, many enterprise buyers are asking the question, who do we go to for design?  Instead of paying boatloads of money to a traditional consulting firm, can they leverage their trusted contact center service providers who already know their customer inside AND out, and are investing in capabilities?  I think the opportunity is there.  We have been talking about it for years, but have yet to see a pure play contact center BPO provider really cultivate and hone a brand for the customer experience design element.

One of the elements that has consistently made Sitel’s events relevant and useful in the past (even pre-Acticall) is their transparency and willingness to give accessibility to their clients—especially at an event like this one, where we had the opportunity to meet with customer experience leaders from many industries and with various goals.  The customer presentations were extremely valuable in understanding these enterprises’ mindsets and they were clearly getting a lot of value from each others’ stories as well. It’s quite a network that Sitel is establishing here. 

What we now need to see from Sitel and its peers is real life examples of using the “value-added” services” – including digital marketing and customer experience design- which are presently a tiny percentage of revenues for Sitel and other contact center companies.  On the same note, buyers who are constantly screaming “bring us innovation!” need to get involved and work with their service providers about the opportunity engage in these services.  As soon as we start seeing more case studies and success stories of turning this theory into practice, the doors will open wide for those providers and buyers willing to invest and take the risk to really transform.


Posted in : customer-experience-management


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