Madalina Vilau, a forward thinker of the Romanian business community, is on the heart of many experimental projects that became a hit later on. The Contact Center area is an industry that recognizes in her the posture of a pioneer, since she is the one that launched the first trainings, studies and awards related to this community. There is no wonder when the European leaders of the same industry treasure her expertise and value her opinion. Madalina shared more about her success story with AdHugger, in the interview below.
Ad Hugger: Which are the main projects that you launched in the previous years, in order to develop a customer centric culture in the Romanian contact center industry?
Madalina Vilau: I am happy to go back in time and realize that Expo Media was a pioneer for the Romanian contact center area. We conceived and organized the first niche conferences almost 9 years ago, aiming to build and strengthen a dedicated call center community. It all started with the ambition to create the right setting for authentic customer experience insights following international standards, to share valuable ideas from valuable people. After this step, everything came naturally. We launched the first, local, niche magazine “Contact Center Magazine” in 2008 and, a short time after launching the publication, I received The Hall of Fame Special Award from Competence Call Center, in Vienna, in 2010.
Later on, my team and I founded ARCC (The Romanian Contact Center Association) which achieved the official ECCCO (European Confederation Of Contact Centre Organisations) membership status in 2012.
Also, to give people even more customer centric tools for seducing the hearts and minds of the consumers, I played a managing role in the Customer Service School, a training and consultancy company with an extra-sense for customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For several years, I’ve been a Stevie Awards juror for Sales & Customer Service and for Romanian Contact Center Awards. It’s been an honor and a challenge and I did my best to reward both passion and results.
Ad Hugger: Which were the most relevant discoveries from the market studies that were exclusively presented at the Romanian call center conference?
Madalina Vilau: “The Customer Centricity approach for the Romanian market” which is a local customer experience survey run by Mystery Shopping Agency (powered by Expo Media) states that 20 out 30 surveyed call centers use IVR in Romania. According to the same survey that explored 7 different industries, telecom and banking have the best customer experience results. And, surprisingly or not, emotional customer interaction is one of the strongest points in building a solid customer relationship.
Here are some other interesting insights from the “ECCCO Study – European Contact Center Benchmark 2012” that are strategically relevant for any local customer service activity: There are 32.250 contact centers in Europe. More than 30% of call center agents are men. Romania has the smallest contact center salaries in Europe and a 9% market growth potential for the following years.
Ad Hugger: You are one of the guest writers of the latest book on call center trendsetting. What is the essential conclusion of your article?
Madalina Vilau: Customer satisfaction, as we know it, is constantly reinvented. The voice of the consumer will become the voice of the social customer. The corporate environment must have the courage to be transparent and present for better and for worse in order to build a solid relationship with the customer. I believe that Customer Experience 3.0 is all about: better service level time, social media boost, increased expectations, smart technology investments, higher expectations and standards, emotional business strategies and vision.
Ad Hugger: While other industries are collapsing, the call center industry is booming in Romania. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Madalina Vilau: The existence of a contact center is intimately connected to two major factors: customer behavior design and available funds. In the past five years both coordinates went through constant change, which was triggered by market turbulences, economic recession and technological breakthroughs.
So what does all this mean? High expectations will keep rising both for companies and for consumers. The global crisis brought a greater need for performance and customer loyalty in order to survive as a business, a contact center in mandatory for all that, so the Romanian call center industry is growing for the past few years. Another reason for the industry’s expansion is the low personnel cost that is available in South Eastern Europe.
Ad Hugger: Do you think that management people realize how relevant it is for their brand’s health to have a perfectly aligned brand culture in the call center department?
Madalina Vilau: The managers that did not come to this conclusion yet will experience a hard few years in which they will probably lose their positive market position or even their business. Not being coherent and consequent comes with a huge, strategic cost. The corporate DNA must be visible in every customer interaction. It’s not a matter of option, it’s a matter of staying competitive and impeccable as a brand.
Who is Madalina Vilau?
Madalina Vilau – Managing Director – Expo Media
Clients: Vodafone, Nokia Care, Toyota, Zelmer, Angelini, Competence Call Center, Unicredit Leasing, Medicover.
Madalina is a visionary entrepreneur with over 17 years of business experience on customer relationship management, customer centricity, operational management and customer experience. She contributed substantially to the growth of charismatic brands, proving a profound orientation towards organizational change.
As an authentic entrepreneur, she promoted innovative business event concepts in Romania, design to intrigue, motivate and challenge the status quo. Enlightening.ro is one of the many examples that inspired the business community.
Madalina stands out through her native and cultivated management and leadership skills, having the capacity to motivate and inspire teams in maximizing their performance level. A strong believer in the power of education and value recognition, Madalina is also the Managing Partner of the Customer Service School and the Founder of Romanian Contact Center Awards.
With skills and expertise internationally recognized, Madalina was a juror at Stevie Awards in the Sales & Customer Service Category for two years in a row (2011, 2012). In 2010, Competence Call Center offered her Hall of Fame Special Award, at their annual ceremony in Viena.