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ARVIND KINGSLY APPAVU Country Head & AVP – Philippines CSS CORPORATION

ARVIND KINGSLY APPAVU
Country Head & AVP – Philippines
CSS CORP

 

 

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

 

Several BPO firms have established presence here making the Philippines the world’s leading global outsourcing hub. As competition heats up and companies experience more challenges here and abroad, CSS Corp remains steadfast.

CSS Corp Country Head Arvind Kingsly Appavu is leading this young organization.

Armed with a 20-year industry experience and a sheer determination to continue succeeding, Arvind is making a difference in services the company offers along with his talented Filipino crew.

The company

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and tech support company, headquartered in Milpitas, California (US), entered a wave of business transformation and repositioned itself as a “New Age Digital Services” company in 2016.

“The new positioning was strategically chosen to align our identity closer to our customer ecosystems, to establish a niche for ourselves in the market and to meet the growing digital needs of our customers,” says Arvind.

The company integrates the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence, automation, analytics, cloud, and digital in order to provide better customer and technology support to its clientele. The company currently operates out of 17 delivery centers across the globe and has a workforce of over 5,600+ support professionals. These delivery centers are equipped with best-in-class IT infrastructure, robust security, client specific compliance requirements and sustainability standards to deliver top notch delivery to its 150 clients in transforming and managing the entire value chain. CSS Corp’s vision is to deliver tangible business outcomes through contextual adoption of digital in customer lifecycle management and technical support operations.

“Our business model did not develop out of labor arbitrage but rather from superior customer experience, providing instant gratification and delighting customers. We have a very flexible and innovative pricing approach, which can adapt to various client needs. Our pricing approach is designed to foster a long-term relationship, delivering value and higher ROI for our clients,” says Arvind.

Growth

The company currently has two delivery centers in Manila, which provide CX services and tech support to global customers, in areas such as technical support, helpdesk, customer support and account management. The first center was launched in Manila in 2009 followed by BGC in 2018.

It is currently employing more than 700 employees and will be ramping up to 1000+ employees by June of 2019.

“We are on a hiring spree and plan to hire over 400 local employees over the next two to three months, in areas such as technical support, helpdesk, customer support and account management,” says Arvind.

Staying competitive in services business requires continuous improvement of skill sets and competencies, Arvind said they recruit candidates with an attitude to learn, unlearn and relearn.

In today’s competitive landscape, Arvind has emphasized customer experience as the only sustainable differentiator.

Businesses are looking to provide their customers with a consistent and personalized experience across all channels. With insight from 1+billion customer transactions, CSS Corp has built niche and industry specific solutions that provides intelligent and contextual solutions to specifically enhance customer interaction.

“We were recently rated among the world’s top 20 front office customer engagement service providers by renowned firm HFS Research,” says Arvind calling themselves the right sized-player.

Being the right-sized organization, they are nimble and flexible enough to “fail first and move fast and create agile engagement models”, but also big enough to be stable and make serious investments into innovation. “Net net, we can pivot like a startup but deliver like a pro,” says Arvind.

In terms of service pricing CSS Corp has an edge with its outcome-based pricing that helps in driving more value for clients.

“Our business strategy is not trying to be everything to everyone. We know our strengths and limitations and play accordingly in areas where we can create an impact and deliver business outcomes,” says Arvind.

Being one of its key geographies, CSS Corp is looking to expand to the provincial regions to take advantage of the human capital that the country has to offer.

“We have explored Clark as a potential next destination for growth and expansion,” says Arvind.

Since they are a customer- first organization, CSS Corp envisions to be a go-to-place for superior customer experience in the market. Arvind sees huge potential in industries like technology, media and telecom, consumer packaged goods and retail to bridge and modernize IT and business process functions.

“We will continue to invest in areas like customer experience initiatives, new solution development, innovation labs, employee re-skilling and customer success. Historic sources of revenue, traditional business models and value drivers no longer provide the needed competitive advantage for companies to thrive in today’s digital world,” says Arvind.

From a service delivery perspective, he said, the Philippines is a substantial part of its overall organization strategy for growth this year and the next.

“Our roadmap is to grow by 3X by the end of next year and have a significant provincial play to compliment the great Metro Manila story we already have,” says Arvind.

Automation

In terms of advanced technology adoption, CSS Corp has invested significantly in key areas in digital. Through its innovation lab, the company has built close to 20 digital solutions that accelerate technology adoption and simplifies customer issues effectively.

“At CSS Corp, we strongly believe AI and automation are unlocking and amplifying human potential, not replacing it. People will be able to focus much more on value added work and less on tedious and rote tasks. Through cognitive automation, we envision helping clients to effectively manage technical support, IT Operations and telecom network ecosystems without disruption to operations. Embracing as-a-service models will help them drive cost efficiency and flexibility,” says Arvind.

Arvind also quashed fears about AI replacing jobs, saying the situation is more nuanced. While the World Economic Forum in its recent ‘Future of Jobs’ report pointed out that nearly two-thirds of today’s job roles have about 30 percent of tasks that could be automated based on currently available technology, Arvind said that all job roles cannot be automated completely and still require a human touch.

“In the digital world scenario, some functions, tasks, and jobs are human-only, while others are bot-only. Routine tasks which are highly repetitive, are the first to get automated. However, critical functions will still have a layer of human intervention, with cognitive technologies and chatbots performing the base-level functions. Looking forward, we can say that majority of tasks soon will continue to remain a hybrid between the two, with bots and humans co-existing,” says Arvind, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering in IT from St. Joseph’s, Chennai.

In the area of data privacy, CSS Corp has taken a multi-pronged approach to data security, consisting of – people, process and tools to ensure that compliance requirements are followed.

“We have taken stringent measures to safeguard clients’ and our own data aligning ourselves to lead and implement platform or tool-based protection against targeted phishing attacks, spam, ransomware, and data leaks,” says Arvind.

CSS Corp strictly follows “minimal data collection” for business needs to avoid chances of risks due to increased collection of unwanted data. They have made security testing a mandate for all software development activities.

PH readiness

“No one knows what lies in the future, but the key is to always be ready,” says Arvind.

The reality on the ground is that the Philippines currently accounts for 16 percent of the global contact center outsourcing services pie, which is significantly more than the next offshoring competitor destination, India.

“We see the contact center industry in Philippines evolving rapidly to focus on customer experience delivery, which aligns very well with our core focus on enhancing customer experience. The massive transformation in the customer experience industry in Philippines requires vendors to build capabilities to simplify complex ecosystems. As an organization, CSS Corp is well poised to embrace these opportunities, especially because of the digital and cognitive capabilities that we have built.

“We also see a rise in digital-savvy talent with strong technical and language skills in Philippines, which is a great plus. Coupled with its ease of doing business, strong labor policies and government incentives, Philippines is an ideal destination for support capabilities,” says Arvind.

Having said that, CSS Corp support initiatives that would nurture the country’s human capital especially with the rapid technological advancements.

CSS Corp provides Filipinos a global workplace and environment with state-of-the-art facilities and employee benefits. Also, as a part of a global new-age tech brand, they can work on niche customer projects that involves learning new technologies, while leveraging their core skills and enhance their employability.

He cited the Philippines being amongst the most competitive economies globally. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (2018-2019), the Philippines has emerged as the most improved economies in global competitiveness. The financial system, market size and business dynamism of the Philippines ranked in the top 40 globally.

Philippines has a large and growing young population with a median age of 23, which presents a unique demographic advantage. Filipinos are creative, resourceful and receptive to new learnings.

The more tech savvy young population and inclined to the new- age technologies, highly skilled and productive workforce, along with a robust supply of business process outsourcing services, and sound economic fundamentals, have made Philippines one of the most attractive destinations for businesses expanding to Southeast Asia, according to Arvind.

“What is important is to create a win-win proposition for employees so that they learn new skills while they work for us,” says Arvind.

While many companies are closing operations, CSS Corp is hiring extensively to handle support operations for new age customers. In 2017, it opened a new global delivery center in Chennai, Bangalore, Costa Rica and plan to expand further globally to manage customer engagements.

In addition to a lucrative compensation and tangible benefits, CSS Corp also offers several intangible benefits to our employees, including rewards and excellence awards.

“Filipinos are creative, resourceful and receptive to new learnings. Also, being a country with a major population of youth, they are more tech savvy and inclined to the new- age technologies,” he says citing the country’s high literacy rate at over 96 percent, and a labor force participation of over 62 percent, making it one amongst the most competitive economies globally.

“These factors are favorable for Philippines to ride the IT boom competitively,” he adds.

He described the Filipino talent pool as a “bunch of hardworking, dedicated individuals with a positive attitude towards learning, and a real zest for life.”

Meantime, he noted the government efforts in implementing programs in developing Filipino tech talents, including the free tuition policy to encourage more Filipinos to take up higher education as well as the wide-range of training offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Lessons learned

As someone who has been in this industry for close to 20 years already, Arvind shares his views, sits down with his team and explains what the outcome needs to be and the general guidelines that needs to be followed.

“But at the end of the day it is one big team effort and I am just a small part of it. I leave it to them to figure out how they want to accomplish it. I do not believe in micro-managing and just have periodic checks to ensure we are on track,” says Arvind.

After staying for over four years in the Philippines now, this foodie has quite a few LOCAL favorite local cuisines such as chicken adobo, pork sisig, beef salpicao, crispy pata, chiken tinola, among others.

“My biggest learning during my time in Philippines has been to enjoy the simple things in life. Quite often in our busy schedules we keep forgetting the smaller blessings in life. The sense of togetherness and the true joy that Filipinos share when they meet family/friends regularly is something that all of us can learn from,” says Arvind.

As a family man, he loves spending time with his family. “My wife and kids hardly get to see me on weekdays, so the weekends are entirely for them. I play cricket in Cavite so that gives me time to hang out with my friends. I am a diehard Manchester United fan, so game nights are a great way to unwind,” adds Arvind, a semiprofessional cricketer who will soon be representing Philippines national team.

“I look up to my parents, who had humble beginnings and have instilled simple values in me. I have been fortunate to work with some incredible leaders, and I admire all of them. I take a lot of my leadership queues from sports, having played all my life,” says the big fan of Alex Ferguson, the Scottish former football manager and player who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 and considered one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time.

“You will always find a copy of his book in my cabin,” says Arvind.

Overall, CSS Corp sees a good traction in this country prompting it to look for expansion opportunities as growth beckons. Arvind is making it happen.

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