Whatever happens to the global economy this year, one thing is sure: we’re going to see a lot more unicorns born, as well as several ‘decacorns’. The former you’re probably familiar with – it’s a start-up with a value of over $1 billion; the latter is its larger equivalent, with a valuation of over $10 billion.
‘Decacorn’ is a label worth learning because you’re going to see a lot more of them. In January -March this year alone, 7 companies achieved decacorn status for the first time. One of those 7 was Getir, the Istanbul-based rapid food delivery company, and a Comdata client in Turkey.
Getir’s achievement made us think about the numerous decacorns, unicorns and other fast-growing tech companies we work with, and the secrets of their success. Based on our experience of working with Getir and these other fast-growing tech companies, in sectors such as healthcare, mobility, financial services and many more, we identified some important points to bear in mind if you have ambitions to be a unicorn or support one to grow.
Based on our experience of working with fast-growing tech companies like Getir (in Turkey), Glovo (in Portugal / Brazil), Didi (Latam), Leocare (France), Doctolib (France) and Holaluz (Spain), here are some important points to bear in mind if you have ambitions to be a unicorn or support one to grow.
A lot in common or nothing at all?
On the one hand, each fast-growing tech company is unique (after all, they spotted a gap or did things differently). New unicorns in 2022 operate in gaming, semiconductor manufacturing, internal communications, fintech and blockchain, to name a few. And don’t assume that unicorns are confined to the US, Europe, or Asia because they can now be found in every continent, including LatAm and Africa.
So these companies are diverse, but they all have rapid growth in common (plus investors seeking a high return on capital), and they’re likely seeking to increase their global footprint to sustain that growth. That raises customer management issues:
- how to cater for local customer expectations while delivering brand consistency globally
- how to achieve a good understanding of and compliance with the local regulatory framework, including local regulation on data security, privacy etc
- how to meet local workforce expectations in order to attract talent.
To do so, they need help from partners who are:
- big enough to help fast-growing companies expand across geographies
- locally embedded enough to guide them through the intricacies and specificities of each market and culture, and to provide both linguistic and cultural affinity with their target customers, whether they are BtoC or BtoB
- flexible enough to meet the client’s preferences, e.g., account management style or levels of autonomy and contact.
Age-old problems but on a different scale
Businesses have faced issues around geographical expansion for centuries but fast-growing tech companies have to address them at unprecedented speed. They need the option to scale up their operations quickly – perhaps simultaneously in multiple locations – while paying attention to cost, resilience and risk. In customer management, that could mean:
- being able to increase FTEs quickly to expand outbound sales activity, respond to increased inbound customer care demand, or manage seasonal fluctuations
- being able to decrease FTEs quickly to reduce costs in slower periods
- understanding how to leverage automation to scale but without sacrificing the human touch where customers want it
- dealing with the unexpected – providing high-quality business continuity and problem-solving in the face of adversity, such as staff having to shift rapidly to off-site working as they did during the pandemic.
In today’s corporate environment, fast-track companies have to get these things right the first time. Since they don’t get several chances to open up a new market, they need expert local/regional partners. By offering support on such issues, Comdata helps fast-growing tech companies across multiple sectors to achieve unicorn status.
Think about the camel as well as the unicorn
The trials of the pandemic got lots of people talking about camels. The idea is that start-ups learn lessons from camels’ ability to go for months without food and water and adapt their metabolism to survive adversity and achieve long-term growth. For companies, one of the crucial elements of camel behavior is to manage costs throughout their lifecycle, maintaining reserves rather than burning cash.
For companies, one of the crucial elements of camel behavior is managing costs throughout their lifecycle, maintaining reserves rather than burning cash. Although much of the unicorn vs camels debate is polarized – as if start-ups can only be either one or the other – it’s possible for start-ups and scale-ups to learn lessons from both: how they manage costs, including through outsourcing, can make all the difference between becoming a multimillion-dollar company and not becoming one.
Smart-shoring can help with cost optimization
In our experience, ‘smart-shoring’ (also called ‘best-shoring’) can be a game-changer for helping high-growth businesses achieve both efficiency and growth targets. We often say that providing excellence in customer management is about the best blend of people, processes and technologies; in fact, it’s worth adding ‘locations’ to that mix.
One well-known unicorn benefiting from Comdata’s smart-shoring capabilities is Glovo, the food delivery provider founded in Barcelona in 2015. When it wanted to improve its customer service levels in Portugal, it turned to Comdata. Within 4 months we had set up a team of 140 people on a work@home model in Brazil to provide services in the Portuguese market. Without the infrastructure of a conventional contact center, the model is highly cost-effective.
Quality and cost-saving are not incompatible
The key point in our work with Glovo in the Portuguese market is that cost efficiency is combined with quality improvement, as Germán Puentes, Regional head, live operation SWE at Glovo, explains: “With the previous provider, none of the KPIs (especially customer satisfaction, quality and service levels) had been reaching the goals set by Glovo. The intention was to migrate to a reputable provider that would stabilize these indicators and give us quality and excellence in customer service.”
After moving to Comdata, Glovo’s performance in these areas improved sharply: service levels (80% or more), customer satisfaction (over 4 out of 5) and quality (+85%) were all on target after just 6 months – and all at the height of the pandemic!
3 out of 5 customer relationships could be at risk
Quality matters so much because nine out of ten (90%) people say that customer service is essential when they are making purchasing decisions and choosing or remaining loyal to a brand. The same study (the Global State of Customer Service report from Microsoft) also found that almost three out of five (58%) will sever a relationship with a business due to poor customer service. These findings are particularly important for fast-growing tech companies as they tend to put CX as one of the key differentiators in their value proposition.
But many fast-track companies don’t have the resources in-house to provide the levels of customer service that consumers or customers want. There could be different issues involved here, such as:
- a lack of time or capital to focus on building back-office or seamless customer management systems when they were setting up or ‘blitzscaling’
- the need to integrate different systems when they grow through acquisition as well as organically
- allocation of resources (including talent, investment, and focus) towards innovation rather than ‘business as usual?. This helps companies keep their sparkle as innovators and disruptors but may affect the quality
- a reputation built on media buzz or the profile of a charismatic founder. This can work wonders in raising brand awareness but may not feed into brand loyalty. Ultimately, brand reputation will rely on a high-quality and consistent CX.
In all these scenarios (and others), the solution is to team up with the right partners. In customer management, this means choosing BPO partners who can support the company to innovate while also delivering consistent operational excellence and continuous improvement; who themselves have an entrepreneurial and innovative culture (so they have an affinity); and who have the reach, infrastructure capabilities, resilience to deliver quality and growth at scale.
All of that will allow the growth company to focus on its ambitions and what it does best.