I had the pleasure of interviewing Miranda Collard, Chief Client Officer of Teleperformance. As the Chief Client Officer for Teleperformance, Miranda serves the clients in their end to end delivery across the Teleperformance global footprint. She has responsibility for day-to-day leadership and strategic direction as well as business transformation/disruption.
Miranda has spent 25 years in the contact center industry — spanning operations and client solution teams across the globe. She’s held senior leadership roles across various operational and support departments and has experience driving results across a broad spectrum of industry verticals.
Thank you for joining us Miranda. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started with Teleperformance as my college job back in 1993 as we were just opening our first US office. My first position was a frontline agent making outbound sales calls for different clients. I quickly moved up the ranks inside of our operations organization landing as the President of the US Region in 2008. From there I moved into our client solutions organization and now serve as the Chief Client Officer & Chair of TPWomen.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I can remember my very first outbound dial as I was preparing to make a call. We had scripts at our terminals and I remember being so incredibly nervous. The dialer was kicked on and I remember someone saying hello on the other end. I froze, like a statue, that couldn’t speak. My heart was pounding and I’m sure my face was 10 shades of red. Of course, what would happen then? The CEO walked by and I must have looked like I was going to pass out. He stopped by to ask me if I was ok and I explained what happened. He pulled me to the side and told me that everything would be ok, “it was just a phone call” with a small chuckle. He showed me so much compassion and empathy, I was so relieved. I’ve learned for well over 26 years that’s who TP is, we pick each other up, learn our lessons and just do better.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Many years ago, as a young leader in the organization, I was given the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman from our Chairman and CEO Daniel Julien. This undoubtedly had a very strong impact on how I saw the world, what was possible and how we must adapt with change vs. resisting. Teleperformance believed then as much as today that our global approach was critical to our success.
I also spend much of my time in coursera.org taking online courses within different verticals or in building different traits such as emotional intelligence. I’m constantly reading books on gender equality, diversity and inclusion and how a service-driven life enriches your life both personally and professionally. I would recommend “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and “Becoming a Dangerous Women” by the incredible Pat Mitchell.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle is people first. That humanity is what connects all of us and finding the purpose within us is what generates our success. Having the opportunity to cultivate those traits, create winning teams and ultimately a culture of compassion is the ultimate gift.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Like many working women and mothers around the world, we are looked upon from our families and colleagues to know that everything is going to be ok. The best advice is to have open and honest communication. Expressing our fears and anxiety is not a sign of weakness, it’s completely normal given the circumstances. I personally take time in reflection daily to count my blessings and what this time at home has offered me. Most of all, I feel confident that we will get through this. Will we be changed? Absolutely. But let’s hope that it’s for the better with much more kindness and love.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. — Maya Angelou
I appreciate the simplest definition of happiness and this quote has always rung true to me. I give myself the confidence to achieve my goals, do so with integrity as my foundation, and hoping that each day I’m helping with positive changes in lives of those around me. I may not get it right the first time, but I’m a constant work in progress.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Overnight, the daily lives of people around the world were upended by the pandemic, as it forced people to self-isolate at home and make the unprecedented transition to remote working. Almost half of the U.S. workforce shifted to work-from-home as a result of the coronavirus, and now forward-thinking companies are considering instituting a permanent change. With more time to spend with families, and less spent commuting, we will start to see a trend towards flexible and agile working practices, and a multitude of other benefits — from the improved mental health of employees to greater productivity.
Even as COVID-19 subsides, the majority will remain vigilant and cautious from a health and economic standpoint and will continue to encourage the long-term trend of digital transformation — in every corner of life. Lockdown restrictions and new hygiene concerns have acted as a catalyst for mobile trends, such as online banking, which are likely to gain more traction in the post-COVID-19 economy. Although the country was slow to adopt the innovation, overall contactless usage in the U.S. has surged 150 percent since March 2019, marking a significant shift in consumer behavior. Looking forward, business leaders should embrace the accelerated maturity of virtual living, and continue to accommodate the behavioral changes that were thrust on society, in order to navigate the path to the new normal.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Just a few weeks after the first lockdown measures were implemented, we had to fundamentally recalibrate our entire business model, to both avoid the transmission of COVID-19 and ensure business continuity for our clients. Working-from-home isn’t uncharted territory for us, but distributing a network of 200,000 agents across 80 countries, deployed in a short space of time, can invite a number of complex data security and logistical challenges, that impact delivery. Prior to the pandemic, Teleperformance was already working on an enhanced model for improving performance through virtual teams. Today, this takes the form of our Cloud Campus Hub– the ultimate work-at home-model, designed from the ground up to specifically support dispersed teams from one central command center. By combining hiring, training and managing capabilities into the hub, we are proud to say that we’ve been able to deliver consistent customer experiences virtually and mitigate the risks of outages and data leaks.
As first responders during the pandemic, working in critical public and private sectors particularly such as Healthcare and Financial Services, many of which were categorized as essential services, our teams were quick to serve those impacted by the pandemic. To meet this need, the fast and seamless transition to a work-at-home (WAHA) model was critical in meeting our employees and clients virtually, and helping the team work effectively in a time of crisis.
America’s helplines have seen a 50 percent increase in queries since the start of the pandemic, therefore we have to ensure that we can respond quickly and empathetically, whilst ensuring the safety of our employees. It’s thanks to our TPHeroes across the globe, who have delivered the right resources, WAH training and health and safety practices, that our interaction agents have been able to consistently provide the best-in-class support and empathy, which Teleperformance is known for.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Technology was key in minimizing the impact of COVID-19, and I envision that it will lay the path to the new normal as well. Adapting to the post-pandemic marketplace will inevitably be more challenging for certain companies and industries, but the opportunity to take advantage of emerging technologies that have been critical to our response, is there for the taking. Emerging trends, such as the increased adoption of Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI), are providing companies with an opportunity to stay ahead of the game. With an influx of claims and enquiries pouring in from concerned customers, these technologies have provided businesses with a greater capacity to respond to changing needs, with faster turnaround times — bridging the gap as human agents work-from-home. A quarter of U.S. consumers now prefer to have their queries handled by a chatbot, so those companies that have already implemented some degree of automation into their ecosystem, will be in a prime position to manage frustrations and deliver a fulfilling customer experience.
As the recession takes hold, businesses must be agile and amplify their automated support systems, in order to strengthen a man and machine workforce. This will help companies find cost-efficient solutions to handle high contact volumes more effectively, improve productivity and ultimately future-proof businesses in times of uncertainty. They say “necessity is the mother of invention”, and this has never been truer than in a post-COVID-19 economy.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Having addressed the urgent topics to conquer the crisis, Teleperformance is now working to build on the strengths of our new business model and looking towards a bright future. Seizing the trend towards digital transformation, my overarching goal is to augment our alternative support channels. Chatbots alone will have nearly twice as many users in the next two years, and considering our new extraordinary circumstances, virtual assistance may arise as the most available service — for all generations.
We are well-positioned to meet our clients in this new way of business, with our High-Tech, High-Touch approach. By embedding Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities into our service representatives’ resources, and training them to address queries across all communication channels, we are ultimately going back to our core values of supporting our customers, and limiting their stress. When combining emotional intelligence with automation, we are realizing greater agility by making the service representatives’ job easier, and less time-consuming.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
My advice to the vast majority of business leaders, who have had to reimagine their operating models these past few months, is not to rush to undo the work that’s been done. Many have found ways to not only survive but also thrive with a distributed workforce. Moving forward, I would encourage a hybrid model of remote and office-based teams. By utilizing virtual collaboration tools, companies can overcome geographic constraints to source global candidates, and expand their inclusive talent pool. With business resiliency being the priority, this blend will allow business leaders to leverage the strengths of the workforce in a dynamic way, to support changing customer demands and navigate challenging post-COVID-19 market conditions.