“It’s good to be in the Philippines,” Raj Wadhwani says, even as he adds he should have made this trip 10 years sooner. It is his business after all, to be at the forefront of events involving contact centers worldwide, where the Philippines happens to hold the top position among all voice call centers around the world.
Wadhwani is the president of Contact Center World, a global association for contact center best practices and networking. He recently visited Manila as one of the panelists at the First Annual Noda Contact Center Forum, sponsored by the leading Russian software solutions vendor Noda Interaction Platforms and held at the Intercontinental Manila.
He liked what he saw and plans to come back soon to establish a more solid network, he says.
In an interview with The Manila Times after the Noda Forum, Wadhwani explained further the services provided by Contact Center World. “We enable contact centers around the world to share information on what the current state of best practices are, whether it be in technology, process, or human resource, to help our members understand how they can improve their businesses.”
To do so, he said they built some powerful networking tools, and developed their own communication channels, which allow their members here in the Philippines to connect with fellow members in the United States, Japan, or wherever they may be, and start exchanging information by sending communication and even live web chat.
“We help people in the industry to become stronger, become more efficient, to become more knowledgeable,” he adds.
Wadhwani conceptualized the Contact Center World in 1998. He was running a consultancy and training company at that time in the UK, he says, where his clients were mostly blue chip organizations all over Europe. While doing so, he found a distinct lack of information in the industry about what was going on.
“There were some magazines, but there were no common resources that would allow my customers to actually go to see what’s happening in the industry, not just domestically, but internationally.” In 1999, he set up his brand new business, became successful very quickly, and sold his interests in his consultancy and training company to put all his resources into Contact Center World.
Today, Wadhwani says, they have almost 138,000 members worldwide, where a typical member would be a seniorlevel manager or executive who works in contact centers across all industry sectors around the world. He breaks down his members’ demographics, saying that about 35 percent are from the North and South Americas, another 35 percent are from Europe, Middle East and Africa and the remaining 30 percent from the AsiaPacific region. Contact center World has also evolved into much more than basic sharing of information and best practices. According to their website, their new mission now is to provide worldclass research, conferences and even awards.
Now headquartered in Canada, they launched their Members’ Choice Awards in 2003, to celebrate the best vendors in the industry. Two years later, they launched what they described as “the most extensive” Global Benchmarking Study with participants from over 50 countries. In 2006, the association launched the Top Ranking Performers Awards and Best Practice Conferences, as well as the Top Outsourcer Awards. In the Philippines, Wadhwani cites DHL Philippines as one of the companies that have been involved in one of their global awards programs.
When asked what set them apart and made them successful, Wadhwani says one of the reasons could be that his members are very happy that they have created a unique opportunity for them to network and share best practices. “If you go onto Contact Center World today, you’re dynamically rooted to your local edition, but you have the opportunity of stepping outside of that and going on to another edition in a different part of the world.” He adds they are also very responsive to feedback, suggestions and even criticism.
Before coming to Manila for the Noda Contact Center Forum, Wadhwani says they did two surveys—one on outsourcing, and the other in business challenges. In the business challenges survey, he says the first thing companies were concerned with was quality, reputation of the outsourcer, and location as the top three, while cost was only number four. In the outsourcing survey, cost came out as the number concern, quality of staff is number two, and location is third.
Like most CEOs, Wadhwani says his job entails travels quite regularly to the places where they are involved in, and also to areas where they intend to broaden their network. “Its a tough one being away from your family when traveling, but its one of those things every business professional who wants to broaden their horizons has to deal with. But it’s also a lot of fun where you get to see great places and meet amazing people, especially people who are passionate in this industry.” He does, however, manage to pursue his other interests despite a hectic schedule when he’s back in Canada, he says, like engaging in mixed martial arts, or simply hanging out with his family and friends, or even taking care of his two pet dogs. What’s important, he says, is that one is passionate at what he does, be it in work or personal pursuits. It is about enjoying what you do, and liking the quality of life that you have built around yourself.