Digital Internet Marketing

Four Decades, 400,000 Employees And $7B In Revenue

Four Decades, 400,000 Employees And $7B In Revenue
Written by publisher team

Teleperformance Group (Paris: TEP) is a leading global group in digitally integrated business services with more than 400,000 employees serving 170 countries.

Daniel Julien, chairman, CEO and founder has led and overseen the company since he created it over four decades ago. We spoke about Teleperformance, its vision and how its commitment to customer service and diversity is key to its success.

Karen Walker: Teleperformance is a huge global company – $7 billion in annual revenue – but one that I was not familiar with before my research for this interview. With broad brush strokes, can you tell me about the company and your vision for it?

Daniel Julien: First, it’s expected that you will not be familiar with Teleperformance (we call it TP). We are like a chameleon, embedded in serving the customers of our largest clients. We serve these customers in the name of our clients, so TP is not meant to be a brand name for the consumer.

Forty-four years ago, I decided to use the telephone as a commercial and marketing tool to help companies be more efficient in their sales and service processes. Since 1978, TP has been surfing technological waves.

The first one was the ability to have enough power to get data moving faster online. The second one was the mobile phone, the third was the internet service provider, the fourth was the internet plus mobility (the smartphone), and then social media. Then tomorrow, blockchain and the metaverse.

TP has surfed all these waves and our purpose has been to be professional and smart enough to help the largest companies adjust to these new environments.

Walker: I know you just released record growth in 2021. Congratulations on successful surfing! Who is your ideal client, and how do you find them if you are “stealth?”

Julien: Today we are the largest company in this activity in the world. We are in every sector, and we have more than 1000 clients.

Typically, our clients are companies who have a large consumer base. If something is wrong with a product or service the consumer bought, he wants to have an immediate interaction and get the problem solved. The development of customer service and the explosion of interactions have driven TP’s success. That’s why the perfect client for us is the large, global, dynamic company with a significant customer base.

Walker: I certainly understand the importance of customer service. What are the main activities that TP provides for its clients?

Julien: We are an outsourcer and manage the customer experience – pre-sales, sales and customer service, soft collections and many activities around the customer experience. That includes, for example, middle office and back office.

For banks, we can work on KYC (know your client), and on preventing money laundering and so on.

Walker: What is your customer service philosophy?

Julien: Our purpose is to reduce the friction between a customer or citizen and the company or government with which they are interacting.

We are a people company. We use a lot of technology, but we are an army of service. We don’t like friction! We are a force for good.

Walker: That’s certainly a clear purpose. You’ve been leading the company for 44 years. It is highly unusual and laudable for someone to be an effective leader not just for that length of time, but for the different stages that the company has undergone. You now have over 400,000 employees globally. To what do you attribute your success? What can others learn from you?

Julien: First, you must remain humble about yesterday’s successes and build the success of tomorrow. Second, I think that curiosity is the number one quality – to be curious, to understand what is behind the curtain, the motivation of the people and appreciate the different cultures.

I think my desire to know diverse cultures of the world has been a big driver for me to build a global company. And then, you learn managing by managing. You learn by teaching. There is no way I could have had a master plan 44 years ago for what we are today.

It’s a little bit like Penelope in The Odyssey, weaving a little every night. With that, you become a little bit more agile and more professional over time. You understand more about the pitfalls and that it is super important to have the people with you.

That’s why a strong company culture is critical for us at Teleperformance. We have a set of five values. Integrity, meaning, “I say what I do, and I do what I say.” Respect: “I treat others with kindness and empathy.” Professionalism: “I do things right the very first time.” Innovation: “I’m curious and I innovate,” and commitment: “Am I engaged?”

There are about 20,000 managers at Teleperformance. We give them our set of values. We tell them, “We have a strategy now in the day-to-day delivery, but you are going to make many decisions by yourself. Each time you make a decision, make sure that this decision is compliant with the five values. If it’s combined with the five values ​​it is okay – even if we are not successful. If you make a decision, even if you are successful with this decision, but if it’s not compliant with the five values, we have an issue.”

I think the people love that because we are a company with a purpose. We try to be a force for good. We are very much engaged in environment and social responsibility, which to be a force for good in the communities where we interact by supporting schools in the slums, in the favela, and so many other things. TP people are super happy to be a member of our family. Our people feel a sense of belonging.

Walker: How do you maintain this culture over time?

Julien: There are two periods – pre-COVID and post-COVID. Pre-COVID, it was done by “management by walking around.” I learned that early from Tom Peters. I think that the plane was my most frequent bed for dozens of years.

We also are obsessed with sharing best practices and being lucid with ourselves.

To achieve that clarity, we ask ourselves: Where are we strong? Where are we weak? What is the gap and how are we going to close it? We call that real-time transformation.

When we acquire a company, we do every integration in 90 days. It’s not really 90 days – it is 30, 60, 90. We have a discipline, and this discipline is not ideological. This discipline is the magic of the numbers we love. We love the data. We view the data cross-functionally, and we connect the dots. Data improves what we are.

Walker: I love the discipline because that’s what it takes to be successful. Successful companies have a bias for action but also, a tolerance for ambiguity.

Because if you act too quickly, you miss significant data that will help you make a good decision. You have found a way to balance those two things so that not all decisions need to be taken immediately. You need a deadline for action.

Julien: Not everything is going to be addressed at the same time. First, have clear priorities. Second, understand the concept of low-hanging fruits – what 20% of actions will change 80% of the situation?

You cannot pretend to be a pure scientist. Performance is all about tolerance and cultural diversity, all types of diversity.

Walker: Yes, I think you can’t be successful long-term without that commitment. On the big picture, what is happening in the industry?

Julien: Of course, the digital transformation happened maybe four or five years ago. We are now jumping onto artificial intelligence to build simpler, faster and more cost-effective solutions for our clients. AI takes care of a lot of objective data, so our people can focus on the emotional side of the relationship, which is the interaction.

Walker: In my consulting business, my tag line is “up and to the right” because that is the place on a 2×2 matrix where we always want to be. If you think back, there was a moment or an event where you knew that you and your career were moving in that direction? I know you’re very humble, but I hope you can think of a moment when this was true for you.

Julien: I remember the advertising for Johnny Walker was: “Keep walking.” It has always been to keep walking, keep walking and do the best you can.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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