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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bharti Airtel outsources customers’ service to IBM, 2 others

Bharti Airtel African operation, Monday announced the outsourcing of its various aspects of customers’ services to the International Business Machines (IBM), Spanco and Tech Mahindra, reports, REMMY NWEKE.

Joint Managing Director and chief executive officer for international operations at Bharti Airtel, Mr. Manoji Kohil made this disclosure at a press meeting in Lagos, saying that the partnership is expected to grow Airtel subscriber-base from the estimated 40 million to over 100 million within the next three years.

Though he said that the first phase of the partnership would be for five years, Kohil noted that the selection of world class partners like IBM, Tech Mahindra and Spanco was in the bid to ensure that customers on its network relish quality best practices based on their experiences.

This, he said, would boost the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) of the continent, especially given Nigeria’s influential position in Africa and precisely in telecommunications.

Under the agreement, Mr. Kohil said that Bharti Airtel, which owns and currently operates the ‘Zain’ brand in 16 countries across the African continent, has outsourced its core customer service functions like call centres and back office as it prepares for significant growth in the region.

He pointed out that African Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector which promises to deliver economic growth to many countries across the continent is all set for rapid growth as the outcome of the partnership, even as an agreement is expected to be finalized soon.

The widespread adoption of BPO model by Bharti Airtel across its operations, he said, would have tangible benefits for development of the sector in each country, create additional job opportunities and develop local talent.

“The partners will provide services in each market which will sustain and build skills, capabilities and resources,” he said, highlighting that the outsourcing of customer service operations would play a key role in making Bharti Airtel competitive in Africa as it focuses on making mobile communications affordable and available to everyone across its 16 markets of operation.

“Our partnership with IBM, Tech Mahindra and Spanco is aimed at redefining and providing a world class and seamless customer experience in all 16 countries. The BPO model has significant benefits for our customers, the countries in which we operate and their economies,” he said, stressing that the partnering would galvanize the BPO sector in Africa and catalyze growth in the sector.

“These partnerships will offer career enhancement opportunities to our team in this specialist field as they will now get exposure to global best practices and the latest technologies,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that this is the second major partnership announcement from Bharti Airtel on the African subcontinent since acquiring Zain in earlier in the year.

General Manager, IBM Managed Business Process Services, Mr. John Lutz, remarked that his firm’s strategic relationship with Bharti Airtel illustrates its focus on emerging markets like Africa.

"IBM's business process outsourcing unit helps clients manage functions like customer care so that they are able to channel critical resources to essential growth activities such as product design and marketing," he said

Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra, Mr. Vineet Nayyar noted that practically, “there are three major benefits to Bharti Airtel from outsourcing its customer service functions, include quickly scaling to manage its expected growth, customers will receive first class service to global standards, and each market will benefit from talent training and development.

“By seeding the African BPO market with these three world class partnerships, Bharti Airtel is effectively kick-starting the onshore business process outsourcing sector across Africa,” he said.

Chairman and Managing Director, Spanco, Mr. Kapil Puri, said that Bharti Airtel has been a pioneer in adopting the BPO model across all its areas of operations in India and was not taken aback that it extending this benefit to African operation.

“The experience and success that it achieved created a whole new sector in the country that is now regarded as the global centre of excellence for outsourcing,” he said, noting that Bharti’s vision is to replicate that success in Africa, not only for the benefit of its customers, but also to create an entire industry in Africa as a centre of BPO excellence.

ITRealms Online recalls that Bharti Airtel has operations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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