The key to success in 2022 and beyond16. 5. 2022 | Kateřina Kopecká
As the market leader in the Czech Republic, Comdata is perfectly positioned to understand the latest trends in CX and customer behaviour. So who else should be your expert guide to the market than Comdata Czech's CEO, Jan Nedělník? Read our interview with Jan to find out everything you need to know about the evolution of customer management in the Czech Republic, the specifics of the market and why Comdata Czech is such a valuable partner for multinational brands.
INTERVIEW: What are the CX trends for the coming years?
Question: Can you outline Comdata's activities in the Czech Republic?
Jan: We have been operating here for more than 20 years, so we are very firmly established here. We are one of the top two companies and we are still growing rapidly. In 2021, we saw a 40% year-on-year growth and we are looking at 15-20% growth this year as well.
The pleasing thing is that this growth comes from both new business wins and from doing more for existing customers. Growth along both axes shows that we are doing something right.
In terms of size, we have more than 1,500 employees and 11 branches, ranging from small centres to large contact centres with more than 300 employees. We also have people working from home, as we now use Comdata SmartHub for our hybrid work@home and work@office model.
And your main industries, client types, activities?
As a market leader, Comdata is well established in all major sectors in our country: retail, telco, utilities, logistics, banking and insurance. Many of our clients here are multinational companies, which we help to successfully expand into the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries such as Hungary and Slovakia. Activities for them include inbound care-to-sales, telesales, back-office, technical support, etc.
We also support other sectors and types of business. For example, during the Covid project we supported the Czech government in the area of information hotlines and vaccination meetings.
And last year we launched Care24 for small and medium e-commerce businesses and start-ups. This is a fully automated self-service customer care solution that won first prize in the ABSL Diamonds 2021 competition in the Business Innovation category.
Moving on to the wider Czech market, what big events are in store for 2022?
As I mentioned, the big theme here is the move to hybrid working.
Secondly, we see that activity in multilingual customer management is growing strongly. The Czech Republic is an attractive place to work, so we are hiring more and more Polish, German, Slovak, Spanish, Hungarian and English speakers and supporting clients in multilingual projects.
Another major story of 2022 (and the last few years) is the expectation of the unexpected. We had Covid and then, at the end of last year, a utility rate increase. And now we have the tragic situation in Ukraine.
What do these "events" mean for customer management service providers?
They require an extraordinary degree of flexibility and agility. For example, in a so-called "normal" year, a brand can expect - say - 30,000 calls per month. But something like Covid or the energy situation creates huge unpredictability. The number of calls can double or halve - brands don't know what's around the corner, so they need providers who can quickly increase or decrease the number of calls or offer new types of support. As an organization, agility is in our DNA, so we're great at helping our clients manage unexpected situations.
For example, in the utilities/energy sector, there will be a sharp increase in calls at the end of 2021 due to rising energy prices. We immediately deployed crisis line agents to help providers communicate effectively with end customers.
And this year, when the conflict in Ukraine began, we very quickly set up dedicated Ukrainian lines for clients in sectors such as telco, banking and retail to support displaced Ukrainians coming to the Czech Republic.
What about digital technology - what are the trends in the Czech Republic in this regard?
I would say that we are seeing similar trends in digitalisation as in other countries. Brands are looking to move simpler tasks to self-service channels - using IVRs, bots, websites, etc. and using dedicated agents with digital technologies to handle more complex interactions.
As elsewhere, consumers have come to expect multi-channel access to brands during the pandemic, so we're encouraging larger brands in this regard. And Care24's customer service solution for smaller and medium-sized businesses allows them to interact with customers via calls, email, chat and chatbot.
However, while the trend towards digital is evident in the Czech Republic, it's also true that customers here have historically expected a high level of service and voice communication is still the preferred option.
Are there any other specifics in the Czech market?
Another important "difference" is that we have a very strict legal framework regarding data protection, especially for outbound campaigns, which goes far beyond the EU GDPR. Brands can't just come into the Czech market and expect their approaches to compliance from elsewhere to be compliant. This is another good example where our local understanding is very valuable to them.
How important is the ESG area in the Czech market - do employees, clients and end customers engage in a lot of CSR?
Yes, very. It is very important to us and we try to be creative and innovative in our ESG activities.
For example, we work with prisons and prisoners to reintegrate them into the workforce. We are now working with two prisons and we have about 100 prisoners working on five projects. Based on the results of this programme, we are looking to add a second level, namely providing jobs for prisoners after their release - again in full cooperation with our clients and the relevant authorities.
Another activity we are very proud of is Comdata PRO, our own social enterprise that supports the employment of people with disabilities and health problems. Comdata PRO now has approximately 150 employees working on a growing range of projects and levels of responsibility. We modify the work environment and workspace, help find suitable employment, respect the individual needs of our colleagues and are inspirational in helping employers, the general public and others understand how much is possible when you overcome prejudice.
A range of other ESG activities are also underway. Currently, due to the situation in Ukraine, we have four Czech colleagues from Comdata volunteering full time. We pay them as usual, but they are helping Ukrainians on the border. And we have programs running, such as supporting the Wheelchair League in various sports and introducing environmental initiatives in our Czech branches.
We also have a Czech kindergarten, Comdatka, because we wanted to help parents with childcare and make it easier for them to reconcile work and family life. Setting it up proved to be a maze of regulations, but we persevered and opened our first nursery in 2020. This has enabled dozens of parents to return to the labour market.
Final question: Honza, you will undoubtedly continue to roll out new ESG initiatives in 2022; what other achievements can we expect in the coming year?
First of all, I hope for continued growth - both for Comdata Czech and for Comdata Hungary, which we manage from here and which we founded about a year ago. We now have almost 100 colleagues in Hungary serving multinational brands.
Secondly, we will stick to a hybrid working model. Some companies are starting to push people back into their offices, but we see that it attracts and retains talent and delivers quality for clients, so we're sticking with it.
Third, we focus on complex, multinational customer care projects. We know that multinationals want to locate and expand here, and we know we can support them with the right mix of people, processes and technology. That is definitely the way forward.
Contact us to find out more
We'd love to talk to you about the Czech market and how we can help your brand thrive here. Contact us to find out more.