Gale’s post-Covid plans

The pandemic has brought business leadership into a new realm, according to Sabio CEO Jonathan Gale who gets things done quicker and more decisively these days.

Here, he discusses the impact of lockdowns as an accelerator of business growth and as a driver for reassessing strategies and values.

Where Sabio stands is clearer than ever, as lockdowns have helped to bring about a clearer vision and focus on what really matters. “Lockdown taught us to always put employees and customers first, act decisively and quickly and pre-empt and over communicate what we are doing,” commented Gale. “I want to ensure we never lose sight of the need to do all of these, all of the time. We also decided to grow our range of skills and capability, and therefore enhance our value proposition to customers through acquisition as well as significant hiring once we cleared the first lockdown. This decision was a good one given that many of our competitors were understandably battening down the hatches, not hiring nor growing.”

With the volatility and unpredictability that the pandemic has brought, business leaders and their executive teams need to constantly be on their toes and to expect the unexpected, pointed out Gale. “That mindset goes against the grain of traditional leadership which is built around structure, strategy and long-term thinking,” he added. “The pandemic changed that. Of course, strategic and long-term thinking will always remain. But far more emphasis is now being placed on the here-and-now and trying to ensure the business remains resilient and flourishes in a fast changing world.”

It’s about acting, not endless analysis to find the perfect plan or the perfect decision

Gale believes that the key to executing strategy successfully in the here-and-now is having a motivated and empowered team who know what the strategy is, what the objectives of the company are, what’s on strategy and what’s not, and they make decisions rapidly, even when the chain of command is not available to sign something off. “It’s about acting, not endless analysis to find the perfect plan or the perfect decision,” he added.

Gale also noted that the pandemic forced Sabio to make some firm decisions quickly – like the geographic markets to focus on, the evolution of Sabio’s customer value proposition and how to differentiate, for example. “We decided to double down on a few key areas of expertise in deep partnership with our clients,” explained Gale. “These clients invariably have a lot of customers – most have many millions – they operate in fiercely competitive markets and so providing a better customer experience than their competition is a crucial component of their strategy.”

The effect of the pandemic was also to intensify inbound volumes of calls, emails, chat sessions, social DMs etc – all went through the roof. “This made the aspects of digitally transforming the CX strategy of our customers even more relevant, urgent and intense,” added Gale. “It lowered switching barriers, reduced internal resistance to rapid change and opened peoples’ eyes to just how quickly and seamlessly you could move from rapidly created proof of concepts of innovative AI and automation solutions into fully working deployed solutions across an entire business. We’ve had ten years of progress in just two. That does of course give everyone, including our employees and our customers, a new perspective.”

Early in his tenure Gale looked at Sabio with a fresh perspective and realised that it needed to add more capability in a number of areas, such as AI, automation and CRM capabilities in particular. As well as this, Sabio had to diversify its partnerships to add some of the newer CCaaS and CPaaS vendors. “Looking at CRM especially, typically you don’t tend to find many technology partners who operate with credibility in both the CRM space and the CC space,” commented Gale. “That’s mainly because, in the minds of many people, they are substitutional rather than complementary. We don’t believe that. In fact, with the right approach they are entirely complementary.

“When you assess the exploding capabilities of CX focused ML, AI and automation solutions then it gets really exciting. It’s where these three markets collide that we want to establish Sabio as the leading company for brands looking to positively and digitally transform the customer experience they deliver to their customers.”

Being comfortable and confident in his strategy has helped Gale to build an array of capabilities and expertise across a broad set of technologies, processes and areas of specialisation within the CX landscape. “On reflection, our decision to be expansive during lockdowns appears to have worked well for us and our clients,” added Gale. “As some organisations remained cautious due to uncertainty around the pandemic, we made a decision to be aggressive in terms of growing our business organically and inorganically.

“With more than 600 customers globally across 65 countries, that gives you a flavour of what we were faced with. Having been pushed as hard as that at the beginning of the pandemic it has to make you better equipped as an individual, as a team and as a business. We are always challenging ourselves and the pandemic has only made us stronger, robust and more resilient.”

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