We talked to William Pattison of Mindpearl Group on how to provide seamless 24/7 customer support services in multiple languages and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
William Pattison: Considering the year everyone has had (and still is having), suffice to say I am just pleased to be here doing this interview and looking forward to the New Year ahead.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Mindpearl Group.
William Pattison: My career started in the Cayman Islands, working in the airline & travel sectors. That took me through to 1999 via various roles in London, Dublin, Frankfurt and Zurich and I started with this company at its inception in 1999. At that time the company was owned by a consortium of airlines, and in 2006 myself along with the senior management team successfully undertook a Management Buy-Out. The company has been wholly owned and run on a confidential basis by management heavily involved in the day to day running of our global operations.
How does Mindpearl Group innovate?
William Pattison: The approach to running this company has always been flexibility, the need to change, and its people’s immense strength & value. We moved with the times and started up in locations that saw us as pioneers within our industry. In some cases, what we do, had not been attempted before in certain parts of the globe.
Key to the success and the longevity of the business is, without a doubt, its people. I always say that we have many brains in our organisation and I want to hear ideas and inspiration. Since our business is all about communication, we should not underestimate the human element.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
William Pattison: Some of our customers are in the Retail, Mobile Telephony and Financial Services sectors – and thankfully, those businesses were relatively unaffected, and some even saw increases in activities during this year. However, a large proportion of our client base is well-known names in the travel and aviation sectors, which are amongst some of the worst-hit by the crisis as everyone knows. Ultimately, our overall global operation is smaller than when we started the year. However, as a business, we have experienced major global setbacks such as 9/11, tsunami events and the global financial crisis. While I would never even start to make any comparisons, it is in keeping with our desire to survive, get up after a knock, and keep going. The support and quality of people we employ have helped see us this far and will see us move into 2021 with a renewed desire to build up and move forward.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
William Pattison: Definitely, we had to react in the most responsible way possible for our people’s safety and the relationships with our clients. While keeping in line with the policies and restrictions and shutdowns imposed by various governments worldwide and consequently as business volumes reduced, we deployed short-time working and WFH (work from home) policies across the globe. Ultimately, as the pandemic deepened, we were forced to make some redundancies which were regrettably unavoidable at that point. However, we are beginning to see some tiny green shoots of recovery – but only in some business regions. It has allowed us to start to address a small percentage of the short-time working situation.
Lessons learnt would include having an over-reliance on specific areas and sectors. The WFH concept has proven to be of benefit to employees, the company and our clients alike.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
William Pattison: By looking forward and by realising from what we see and hear every day on the media, that whatever this crisis has thrown at Mindpearl, we are more fortunate than so many individuals and organisations both in our industry and elsewhere.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
William Pattison: Mindpearl competes with the most well-known global operators in the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector. These include the largest organisations whose global reach and sheer size dwarves my organisation. WNS, IGT, Teletec and Convergys are some of the best-known operators in our industry. Staying in the game doesn’t necessarily mean having the largest number of facilities or employees or offering the lowest price – instead of continuing to do – and do better – what has created our success since 1999. It includes being innovative, being honest about our capabilities, remembering that we are all human and working with our clients like we are an extension of their business – not just the vendor. As I said before, flexibility, the ability to change, and our people’s strength will always be of paramount importance to our client relationships.
Your final thoughts?
William Pattison: Throughout all the challenges of this pandemic so far and considering all the restrictions and lockdowns and government-imposed curfews – I am eternally thankful that we never had to close – even for an hour in any of our offices. Our staff and determination and ability to rise to the challenge were what made the difference. Hopefully, we and the world never face such a bizarre situation again – however, if we do, I know that our willingness and desire to succeed will always help make a difference.