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In Turkey, Comdata is increasingly known as a leader in innovation and technology – so much so that the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Industry and Technology has recently recognized Comdata Turkey as an R&D Center. 

We interviewed Yasin Uslu, General Manager of Comdata Turkey, about what this means for our clients, and about Turkey’s status as a leader in innovation and technology in Customer Interaction and Process Management. 

Please tell us about Comdata gaining R&D Center Status in Turkey

The R&D Center in Turkey will pursue innovative BPO services and solutions based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced analytics – all with the objective to help our clients maximise their customer value. 

Businesses in Turkey are aware of the value of importance of communicating with their customers using a range of channels and deploying cutting-edge technologies, so this will strengthen our position in the market here. 

Our R&D Center in Turkey will also benefit the Comdata Group more widely, because the tax incentives this status brings will make it highly cost-effective to innovate here. Added to that, Turkey has a strong talent pool in engineering and digital. From here, we aim to develop new products and services to add to Comdata Digital’s portfolio across the Group. 

We also want to take our work as an R&D Center further, by accessing European Union funds, and participating in programs such as Horizon, Eureka and Euro Stars, and working with Comdata teams in other countries. 

How did Comdata gain this recognition from the Ministry of Industry and Technology?

To be recognized as an R&D Center in Turkey, you have to show a clear R&D strategy which is fully integrated into your business and its targets. Our R&D culture runs through the whole business. We design innovative products, we collaborate with universities on joint projects, we publish academic papers and speak at academic conferences internationally, and we apply for patents. 

All this led to our approval from the Ministry of Industry and Technology as an R&D Center in the field of machine learning and AI.

More generally, this achievement status reflects the fact that Comdata Turkey originated as an ICT company. That means ICT is in our DNA. We’re always looking to add to our product portfolio, and Comdata Digital is helping to drive this, through expertise in fields such as AI and machine learning. 

 Could you summarise Comdata’s position in Turkey? 

We’re certainly a leader in Turkey’s BPO Industry. We have staff in seven locations in six cities in Turkey, we employ over 5.000 people, and work with 80+ leading brands across sectors such as telecoms, energy, banking, financial services, automotive and retail.

Turkey is a very exciting market for Comdata because it’s a ‘young’ market with an appetite for innovation and technology. 

The call center sector, with value-added and employment opportunities, is an important business sector for the Turkish economy, employing around 115,000 people and delivering strong growth. With digitalization, the importance of customer experience and satisfaction for brands has increased, and BPO companies here are investing in digitalization, skills development and service quality in order to manage integrated multi-channel services. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of digitalization in Turkey increased still further. Businesses that rapidly transitioned to digital channels and offered better customer experiences were able to build better customer relationships and loyalty. 

These trends are very significant for Comdata because they play to our strengths.

Yasin Uslu
Yasin Uslu, General Manager of Comdata Turkey

Could you give some examples?

At the start of the pandemic, businesses were turning to the call center industry for high levels of support – so they could serve their own customers during their transition to home working. Comdata has real strengths in operations and IT across all our locations in Turkey, so at the start of the Covid lockdown, our IT team successfully and quickly managed our own – and our clients’ transition – to a home working model. 

In a very short timescale, we managed the transfer of thousands of agents from fully-equipped call centres to a home-working model, and ensured uninterrupted continuity of service for our clients by strengthening the technological infrastructure and internet connections of our staff. We also provided support for brands' own transition from the office to home by establishing the necessary infrastructure, software and hardware, and worked on solutions enabling them to communicate effectively via different channels with their own customers. 

During that time when many businesses were cutting back on their growth expectations, we not only maintained continuity, but retained our ambitions to grow, and won new projects. For example, we managed a significant new project with a well-known home appliances brand that saw us successfully recruit and train 300 new agents, achieve high-quality business results for them, and grow three times faster than the ramp-up plan – all during the pandemic.

We also developed new applications for specific sectors – for example, a camera recording application specifically for use by the banking sector during lockdown, which met the security requirements of Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency. 

Other recent launches in Turkey include a peak traffic management service developed for the insurance industry. Previously, we often had to deal with long waiting times and dissatisfied customers during periods of peak call traffic times. With this new product , we enable insurance companies’ customers to change the communication channel without losing the data received in IVR and to get faster service via chat. 

We have also launched new services for the energy sector, such as a remote metering tool which allows energy companies to operate more efficiently, and a digital notification system which has transformed the way they deal with customer complaints – making their own internal processes more efficient while also greatly improving the resolution experience for customers.

For other sectors, we are developing a product that provides sector-specific predictive business intelligence reports, helping our clients strengthen their decision-making. We are also working to develop our Collaboration Suite solutions, since working from home is now a trend reaching far beyond pandemic lockdown. And we are providing insights for workforce management by analysing big data relating to past call traffic, and with our call prediction software – C Board – making shift planning processes more efficient and reducing operational cost. 

Those are just a few examples. We’re always looking to strengthen our portfolio of digital solutions.

One other important aspect of the business potential in Turkey is the increasing importance of foreign-language services. Exchange rates and the quality of language skills brought Turkey’s call centers to the attention of international companies, and many major brands have looked to outsource their customer management here, especially for customers in Germany. At Comdata Turkey, we offer customer management services to major international brands for their customers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and – another sign of our operational excellence during the Covid crisis – doubled our foreign language and offshore business during the pandemic. Growth in the e-commerce sector was especially strong.

What can we learn from our success in Turkey?

As I said earlier, our R&D success in Turkey will support the development of BPO products and services based on AI and learning that will have application across the Group. In that respect, Comdata in its entirety will learn from our success.

In addition, we believe that Comdata Turkey’s operational and IT excellence provides a good learning example. During the pandemic, we communicated to the Group globally about our different departments’ transition from office to home working, and we shared our HR processes for the work from home transition, including the recruitment and psychometric tests we developed to support the migration to new ways of working. These, along with ideas from other markets, contributed to the development of Comdata Smart Hub, our global working operating model.

We’re also proud of our agility and ability to adapt our processes and spot new opportunities. For example, we saw the opportunity during the pandemic to grow our foreign-language services in Turkey, so we quickly grasped it. 

That ambition and agility, combined with our strong technology infrastructure capabilities and collaborative approach with customers, have helped us to achieve very successful business outcomes in Turkey. These outcomes, including the innovation coming out of our R&D Center in Turkey, will feed through to our clients in multiple sectors across the world, and their customers too.

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