THE RETAIL BULLETIN - The home of retail news
Click here
Home Page
News Categories
Department Stores
Electricals and Tech
Food and Drink
General Merchandise
Health and Beauty
Home and DIY
People Matter
Retail Business Strategy
Retail Solutions
Electricals & Technology
Sports and Leisure
Christmas Ads
Shopping Centres, High Streets & Retail Parks
Retail Events
People in Retail Awards 2024
Retail HR Central 2024
The Future of The High Street 2024
Retail HR Summit
THE Retail Conference
Upcoming Retail Events
Past Retail Events
Retail Insights
Retail Solutions
Subscribe for free
Terms and Policies
Privacy Policy
[Interview] A day in the life of… John Ferguson, Vice President of AM

Join us for an exclusive interview with John Ferguson, a leading authority in customer experience. In today’s retail landscape, with so much of customer service and… View Article


[Interview] A day in the life of… John Ferguson, Vice President of AM

Join us for an exclusive interview with John Ferguson, a leading authority in customer experience.

In today’s retail landscape, with so much of customer service and experience being outsourced, it’s crucial to recognise the vital roles these external teams play. They’re key not just in delivering service and mirroring the retailer’s brand but also in influencing customer perceptions and building loyalty.

During our chat, John will explore the often-unseen yet crucial efforts of these teams, discussing how they affect the retail journey and why their seamless integration is critical for maintaining brand consistency.

With Foundever leading the charge in the customer experience sector, employing 170,000 people globally and managing nine million customer interactions daily in over 60 languages, John brings invaluable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in customer experience that today’s retailers encounter.

John, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us about your background?

Thanks Natalie. With over two decades in the contact centre industry, I’ve gained extensive experience in customer service worldwide. Starting on the front lines provided me with a solid foundation in customer engagement. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to work across various sectors and regions, including EMEA, APAC, and Africa.

After joining Sitel in 2015, which later rebranded to Foundever in 2023, I used my expertise in offshoring and nearshoring to boost client satisfaction. Now, as Vice President of Account Management, I am focused on strategic growth and surpassing client expectations to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

How does Foundever mirror a client’s brand, ensuring a seamless customer experience as the outsourced CX partner?

Firstly, sharing common values and understanding deeply the end customer’s experience is paramount. To reflect each client’s brand and values comprehensively, it’s critical to dig beyond products and services to really understand their ethos, values, and distinctive customer engagement strategies.

We dive deep into learning all about our clients to really ‘get’ what they’re about. This knowledge then gets woven into our services, so what we deliver feels just like an extension of their brand.

Being upfront about what we aim to achieve and really focusing on checking how we’re doing is what we’re all about. We keep a close eye on our performance, making sure we’re always hitting the mark and tweaking things when we need to. It’s all about getting the details right so that what we do feels like a natural part of the brands we work with.

What’s the root of your company culture—leadership, management, or the workforce? How do you embed this culture within Foundever?

At Foundever, our culture is the heartbeat of our operations. My travels have opened my eyes to the richness of diversity, teaching us to weave these cultural insights into our fabric. We don’t just respect differences; we celebrate them, ensuring that our principles of empathy and understanding are lived experiences, not just words on the website.

This ethos of valuing and supporting various cultures doesn’t only enrich our team; it strengthens our connections and enhances our work, creating a truly inclusive environment. It’s about acknowledging each other’s backgrounds and building a workplace where everyone feels respected and part of the team. Just like John Lewis, we believe in the ethos of ‘happier people, happier business, happier world.’ This is not just corporate babble; I am deeply committed to it. And it’s encouraged by our leadership, including our two founders Olivier Camino (our COO) and Laurent Uberti (our CEO), and embraced and lived by our people across the globe.

Personally, I have great pride in our people and our commitments. We take real care in our community initiatives. Our efforts are mirrored in our business practices, where local nuances are respected and integrated into our service delivery across 45 countries.

This “vibe” we get from our leaders’ vision and how all of us live out those values really makes our culture exceptional. It’s not just talk; it seeps into everything we do, making a real impact on the communities in which we live and work around the globe.

Can you detail the mission and impact of on your community involvement and international outreach efforts?

Launched in 2023, is an operational nonprofit dedicated to creating significant impact by educating and empowering untapped talent in underprivileged areas, specifically offering chances for growth and bringing jobs to historically distressed and underserved communities.

For example, in France, we mentor young students to help them develop their careers. In North America, we assist Spanish-speaking refugees with language programs to enhance their employment prospects and facilitate integration. In Egypt, our focus is on empowering women through language and career readiness programs. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, our language academy addresses unemployment by providing vital skills training. Each initiative underscores our commitment to leveraging education for empowerment and societal change.

With, we are mobilising the entire customer experience industry to support this cause, using education as a catalyst for positive change – we call this the #CXforGood movement. Our efforts not only benefit individuals but also uplift entire communities. At the heart of our mission is the commitment to bringing education and opportunities to areas where they are most needed, demonstrating one of the many ways we aim to build a more connected and equitable world and across our industry.

What is Foundever’ s approach to training and support internally?

We provide our teams with the skills and tools to address customer inquiries effectively and with genuine empathy. And our training addresses a spectrum of scenarios, ensuring team members are equipped to tackle everything from straightforward questions to more complex issues.

Additionally, we use EverConnect, a user-friendly intranet and app that allows  all 170,000 of our team members to access the right information in the right language. One of the features allows them to express their emotional states with simple color-coded buttons each day. This feature ensures that anyone needing extra support can easily signal for help – it’s very supportive.

We also have the ‘My Associate Experience’ program – MAX. MAX encourages our team members to grow, learn, and share their ideas through co-creation. MAX brings to life our collective creativity, commitment and connection that ensures meaningful experiences in the work we do every day. It’s the foundation of expertise that our company is built upon and demonstrates our commitment to the employee experience.

Crucially, our support extends to live customer interactions. If a team member needs assistance during a call, they can quickly bring in a manager or escalate a query as necessary. This collaborative way of working helps every team member feels supported. This enhances our team’s confidence and ability to resolve issues effectively but also reinforces our culture of teamwork.

BPOs are often associated with customer complaints and issues, but the scope is much broader right?

Yes totally—BPOs are about so much more than just fielding complaints! In the retail sector for instance, we provide a wide range of services from account inquiries and shopping cart assistance to comprehensive sales programs and cross-selling programs. An example of the diverse call types we handle includes guiding customers through the online checkout process, addressing any billing concerns, and providing detailed product information or recommendations for upselling.

From my personal experience, I remember a particularly memorable incident early in my career – around 24 years ago. One Sunday morning at 7:00 AM, as a team leader, I received an urgent call to assist a customer who got lost trekking in New South Wales, Hanging Rock. The call was a critical rescue operation and we coordinated with emergency services to provide the necessary assistance, which ultimately resulted in a life-saving intervention. This experience underscored the significant impact we can have, demonstrating that our roles in BPOs go far beyond conventional expectations and can sometimes be genuinely transformative.

How does it feel to be recognised as one of the Best Places to Work recently?

Truly fantastic! This recognition is all the more special because it’s based on what our team members feel about working with us. It validates that we’re on the right path in valuing diversity and ensuring everyone enjoys coming to work. It’s also an acknowledgment that we’re leading the way in customer experience; and we believe that the employee experience is the customer experience, meaning that building the best employee culture starts with our people and the more engaged they are, the better the experiences they will deliver for our customers. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’re not just claiming to be an excellent workplace; we’re actually living up to that, as confirmed by our staff!

How does Foundever integrate technology to enhance CX?

At Foundever, we use data analytics to combine qualitative and quantitative feedback, creating a comprehensive view of the customer journey. By analysing direct comments and metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and voice analytics, we get a deep understanding of customer sentiments and preferences. Technology plays a critical role, offering insights into customer patterns and behaviours. And of course, AI contributes significant insights and efficiencies too – in fact, we’ve recently welcomed a Chief AI Officer to our team. We recognise tech like AI and machine learning will help us to further dissect complex data, identify trends, etc.

But – we also know that we can’t overlook the vital role of human interaction, especially when dealing with complex or sensitive issues.  We find strength in combining both, ensuring our customer service is empathetic, informed, and adaptable.  While AI takes on routine operations and tackles more complicated tasks, the fusion of human empathy and AI accuracy is indispensable for providing unparalleled customer experiences going forward.

Can you adapt your services to the varying scales of retail businesses, from small startups to large enterprises?

Yes, that’s a great question. We serve a wide range of retail businesses, big and small. Our ‘shared services’ model offers the flexibility to allocate resources as needed. For example, we might assign one FTE staff member to either focus solely on a small business or provide support to multiple clients at once. This adaptability is essential for startups needing scalable solutions as they expand.

I recently visited a growing business in Galashiels, Scotland who we’ve partnered with. They started making specialty tea bags infused with flavours like gin and whiskey right from their bedroom and have now grown to distribute globally, requiring quick and effective support to manage this growth. On the flip side, we’ve also built enduring relationships with major retailers, such as the John Lewis Partnership, supporting them for 17 years and continuously adapting our services to meet their changing needs, which underscores our commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

This flexibility showcases our capability to offer customised, efficient BPO solutions throughout the retail sector, assisting companies of all sizes in achieving their customer service goals.

So, it’s back to values then?

Absolutely. We ensure our values and expectations align with those of our clients to establish a strong and effective customer experience. With all of our clients, it’s truly a partnership; without this alignment, any strategy or execution might be as precarious as a house built on sand.


Subscribe For Retail News