TheCustomer Interview: Fara Haron, Regional CEO of Majorel

“It’s really about how to incorporate those things into getting the best customer experience – not really just trying to automate everything, but to integrate that in a very personal way.”

Fara Haron CEO MajorelI was lucky to sit down recently with Fara Haron, Regional CEO of Majorel, to talk about what Majorel is up to (a lot) and her role there (also, a lot).  As you’ll see, she has a lot on her plate, especially but not only, because of the breadth of what Majorel does as a provider of an entire suite of CX technologies.


 

TheCustomer

Fara, great to meet you and thanks for your time.

So, Majorel is a leading global provider of CX or customer experience services. And I think when people hear that phrase, everybody’s really wondering what does that really mean?

 

Fara Haron

Thanks Mike, great to be here. I think CX has really grown into an industry that provides a lot more than people realize. I think the first instinct is a call center and that’s definitely a lot of what we do, but it’s really about the customer interaction. Everything’s much more personalized nowadays, especially I think what we experienced through COVID.

 

TheCustomer

I’m sure.  If the scope and requirements of customer service were in flux a few years ago, the pandemic threw all of those requirements into hyper-speed.  The shifts in consumer habits and expectations meant that literally every aspect of consumer / brand interaction had to be re-thought.  How does a company such as Majorel cope-with & excel with this kind of upheaval?

 

Fara Haron

When you couldn’t go into stores, how could you interact with companies, customer interaction and the services that we provided became really, really important, to really be basis of that brand. So that’s just one element of what we do and that’s, you know, the typical customer service tech support, but then we also do a lot of things, um, specific to different industries. So, from a business process standpoint, we help our banking clients come up with new digital platforms and how to integrate that overall customer experience.

And of course, everybody likes to talk about AI and, and robotic process automation, but we do have some tech services, but it’s really about how to incorporate those things into getting the best customer experience – not really just trying to automate everything, but to integrate that in a very personal way. And I think that’s, what’s really unique about Majorel. We really like to combine the human element as well as the technology element, because at the end of the day, we’re all people and we’re sort of very people driven business.

 

TheCustomer

Having been through your portfolio of services, that really is the nutshell version of Majorel because the company does an awful lot. But you mentioned something a moment ago that I think is important. You know, the pandemic forced so many shifts that, some were brand new, some were already kind of underway, but you know, for a company like Majorel, who is let’s face it big, and has your hands in all kinds of different aspects of customer engagement, what was it like to I would “endure” that shift and how did a company as big as Majorel, and as, wide and as broad and scope as Majorel handle that?

 

Fara Haron

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it was twofold, right? Because as a, you know, I think we’re north of 60,000 employees, and in my region alone, being the regional CEO covering North America, Ireland, Southeast Asia, Kenyan, India. Um, so it really transcends the globe.

I do also have a secondary role here. I’m also responsible for half of our global clients as their executive sponsor. So, yeah, it did add to my role. But going back to the question, I think the first thing was really, how to pivot our employee base because we wanted to keep them safe.

But then at the same time, um, partner with our clients on how to pivot their business. So, we were literally doing two massive undertakings at the same time. And the great thing that we found in common was that everybody really prioritized. So, they wanted our employees to be safe. They wanted their customers to be happy.

 

TheCustomer

So, 60,000 people! That’s actually bigger than I than I thought you were – and I knew you were big. I’m just guessing here, but because of your perspective on the world, as a CX provider with a huge suite of services and a lot of people underneath you, you probably had a view to the brands or the sectors that were able to adapt to these new norms the best. And I’m curious, did you see any sectors or categories who were ready and able to make those shifts quickly? And then maybe some that maybe weren’t as able to?

 

Fara Haron

So, I think the tech sector, obviously, I think had a natural advantage just because their customers were used to different channels of interaction. And their policies have been quite flexible to begin with. So, I think that was an easier pivot. And we saw the demand for their businesses grow. So, it was really more a question of how to meet the growing demand, rather than changing things too much.

But then we had other sectors like the banking industry, who, having people work from home was really not something that they would like to do because of compliance and security reasons and things like that. So, we had to find a lot of work-arounds on how to make them feel comfortable with them. They were surprisingly more agile than I would have expected, to be honest. Um, yeah, everybody likes to pick on the banking industry as you know, this big, slow moving behemoth.

There are a lot of privacy statements, a lot of things that we had to check at the employee level – location – to make sure they met certain requirements. So, we literally, in some cases took photos of where the employee was working to make sure it met all the different compliance standards. And had frequent audits to make sure people didn’t have their cell phones at their desk and things like that are not allowed.

And then there were other companies like in the travel industry where their business just completely declined. One of our clients was extremely successful and then suddenly to have, you know, very little, it was a huge pivot for them. And luckily for us, because we had other customers in growing sectors, we were able to retrain our employees into the areas that we’re growing.

And they really appreciate that proactive partnership from us to do something like that. Because they also didn’t want us to lay off thousands of people either.  So, we managed to pivot for them, but then also help their other customers. So, in the end, I think working with a partner like us really allowed for flexibility for multiple companies, different industries.

To be honest, a real concern that I have is the pivot back. And I think that’s where we’re going to see some challenges in certain industries and really wanting to go back to what things were before and not being prepared. I think a lot of people don’t want to work that way anymore.

This is going to be an interesting next, say nine to 12 months just watching people read it. It scares me more because I think people had a year of reflection as well. So even if they loved their job, everyone’s looking at, “should I still be doing this or doing something else?” And then you have to compete with other companies that are willing to be more flexible and dynamic. And the job market is still relatively healthy. I would say that that’s going to be a huge shift.

 

TheCustomer

We touched on this a little earlier. Could you give us a snapshot overview of the portfolio of services that Majorel offers because, as I’ve been through it, there’s an awful lot there. What does the portfolio look like?

Fara Haron is Regional CEO of Majorel

 

Fara Haron

So, the first focus is on customer interaction and that’s really the entire life cycle of a customer. So, when you first become a customer, to retaining you, to selling you more things, or just maintaining that connection with you – we use a lot of customer insights that we get from talking to you.

We really look at the entire customer life cycle as one of the key things that we do. Then we look at like our business processes. We do a lot of work in the content services space – we do a lot of content moderation. We work with companies that are advertising things online and sort of deciphering all the data and figuring out what keywords are useful for them.

And then we also look through sensitive material making sure that stays safe – a lot of different policies and things that, that take place as well. So, we’re big in that sector. And I mentioned we do a lot of consulting services on how to improve your customer experience.

In China we have quite a large marketing services component. They use a lot of different technology that we use, let’s say in north America. And so, we have a very unique proposition in China where we’re doing a lot of e-commerce support, looking at branding and marketing for international brands, but only for the Chinese market. So, our global reach really allows us to maintain a global consistency, but having a real local flavor for all the customers that we’re supporting.

 

TheCustomer

Because of some of the cultural and political differences between countries and continents, do you have – does Majorel have basically everything operate out of one central location or where are your main centers of operation?

 

Fara Haron

They’re literally all over the world. So, we’re a European-based company. We’re headquartered in Luxembourg, but essentially Amsterdam serves as our home base. But each region has a lot of autonomy to use our global processes. I think it’s really important for us to provide local services for local customers in-country. We’re growing a lot, for example, in Africa, and it’s not just to serve the English-speaking market in Africa at a lower cost – that’s really not it – but it’s also providing services to the local African work.

So, we’re both a very global and local player wherever we go to. And I think what’s great about this company, is we really try to encourage management teams coming in from whichever country we operate. So, you don’t see us flying in ex-pats everywhere. The management teams that you’ll see in each of those sites are going to be very local based people.

 

TheCustomer

That’s interesting. I have all kinds of personal curiosity about how you manage something that’s so sprawling and to work at such scale but that’s probably another series of conversations.

So, if you could look ahead two to five years down the road and anticipate the challenges that brands are going to face, then what would you see? Or put another way – what advice would you give to C-level executives now so they can get ahead of whatever shifts may be coming down the road.

 

Fara Haron

I think you really have to understand how the newer generations are communicating. I mean, I’m not that old, but I can definitely see when I have my friends’ kids who are 10 and under, they’re definitely using technology and communication skills in a different way. And if you’re not able to capture that and sort of distill the way that we know today, you’re going to lose certain demographics.

 

TheCustomer

So, Fara, thank you so much for your time and your perspective. And as I mentioned earlier, I would really love to catch up maybe in six months or so, and just see what has shifted and how Marjorel is affecting all that.

 

Fara Haron

Thanks a lot, Mike. It will definitely be very interesting to see what happens in six months.


Photo by Cristian Grecu on Unsplash.

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