Leading the Way ‒ The Unspoken Success of SIRVA’s Centre of Excellence in Asia and Middle East

Published: 05 July 2018
Mel Syers

How do you improve an already successful business formula? By becoming an industry pioneer in centralising some essential business functions and creating a Centre of Excellence which can increase efficiency, maintain quality standards across the Asia and the Middle East regions, and develop best practices that set a benchmark for moving and relocation businesses globally.

The decision to offshore certain operational functions to a Manilla based Centre of Excellence (COE) was taken by SIRVA in an effort to standardise the impeccable level of service and to streamline the service process for both its moving and relocation brands while supporting business growth in Asia Pacific. Providing a single point of service would allow resources to be pooled, compliance to be standardised, and would improve company focus.

However, the decision also meant that staff across the region had to embrace this wind of change in an environment that had deep-rooted processes in an industry that has a very long history. Commenting on this acknowledgement by the staff, President of SIRVA Asia & Middle East, Jacob George observes, “Change is the only constant in life, and so long as we are changing and evolving, we are destined for success. This is best illustrated in the successes we are having with the implementation of the COE. I recognise it required all of us believing; and it required all of us to step outside of our comfort zone and provide added support to make this possible.” And so, the team went to work.

New Tactics Yield Impressive Results 

Since its inception in April 2017, the COE moving services team has gone from strength to strength. Move management led the charge, quickly and efficiently taking over customer service functions from most of the countries under Allied Pickfords’ umbrella in Asia and the Middle East. The Pre-sales and Shipping teams followed suit in September 2017, completing the full spectrum of service offerings for move management. Across all countries serviced – UAE, Qatar, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Philippines – the total headcount for the three departments as it now stands, multiplied at a fast rate. With the transfer of other departments like Relocation, Finance, Supply Chain and IT, the total COE headcount now exceeds 100 personnel, with an impressive staff retention rate of 96.4%.

To maintain customer service effectiveness, the team works the same hours and follows the holidays of the countries they service. This streamlines the customer experience and allows for personalisation of the service. In fact, within the first year of operation, KPI’s such as quality scores were on par with, or even higher than, scores measured when these functions were independently handled in-country. Clearly this has been a beneficial implementation for all stakeholders.

The Relocation team officially started operations out of the COE on the 3rd of April 2017. The pioneering team at the time was composed of three Global Assignment Consultants and one Team Lead. Just over 12 months later, the team has grown to an impressive headcount, contributing greatly to the total COE headcount, with the attrition rate now down to only 5%. Further highlighting the strength of the team, two promotions from within the group were awarded within the first year of operations.

The first client accounts that were smoothly transitioned from the in-country service centres to the COE included some large longstanding SIRVA clients. Since then, several new accounts have also been successfully on-boarded. With the “Voice Of Customer” (VOC) score for May 2018 giving the team the second highest rating in the region at 4.31, it is clear that the superior service standards that SIRVA is known for is distinctly evident in the Relocation team.

An Ongoing Commitment to Teamwork and Innovation

In the moving and relocation industry, it is vital that we reinvent, disrupt, and stay ahead of the game in order to win market share. Offshoring certain functions and centralising into a “Centre of Excellence” is not a new concept. What is refreshing is the unwavering support and ability to adapt by all the staff across the region which has contributed to making the COE the success it is today. And what better compliment can one get than that of its own competitors wanting to replicate the success by setting up their own centralised offices. In quoting the late great entrepreneur Steve Jobs, Jacob George likens the COE’s success to another global company with a major emphasis on working together… “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

Well done to our COE for leading the way.