Phil Malem, CEO, Serco Middle East
Phil Malem, CEO, Serco Middle East Image Credit: Supplied

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted every aspect of our lives, changing the way we live and function. As a company focused on delivering essential services, what initiatives have you taken to keep the country’s vital infrastructures operating?

During this pandemic, Serco has continued to deliver essential public services across the country. We have developed numerous solutions for governments and clients to support in the battle against coronavirus.

We have also been supporting with the delivery of frontline services throughout the pandemic and this includes working with the Dubai World Trade Centre field hospital during the crisis.

To safeguard our employees and keep the country’s vital infrastructures going, we have put in place a number of initiatives. These include mental health wellness sessions and access to counsellors for all staff. We also provide PPE and full training/ solutions for physical distancing, screening and testing, and sanitisation to protect our employees and the public at all times.

We’ve also developed full recovery deployable solutions to help organisations reopen safely and effectively. These include screening, testing, additional contact centre support and isolation solutions.

For example, for an Abu Dhabi mall re-opening, we successfully managed testing for over 4,000 staff; we provided crowd control and queue management systems for over 500 people; and we installed 25 thermal cameras as well as other temporary resources for the opening.

Serco Middle East healthcare
Healthcare is a key sector for Serco Middle East Image Credit: Supplied

How is Covid-19 affecting Serco’s business in the UAE and how is the company helping mitigate this?

We are looking to come out of this situation stronger than ever. We want to be remembered as the company that stood up and continued to deliver vital public services in the UAE, and helped in the fight against COVID-19.

We have been adapting our business here in the UAE to the current situation and preparing for life after COVID-19. We remain true to our core strategy, while accelerating specific areas to help economies get moving again.

Our strategy of managing people, assets and data remain true, and we are committed in our focus on nationalisation and service excellence, aided by ExperienceLab — our customer experience and design offering.

This is something we launched in the UAE earlier this year and it’s unique to the region.

We will help mitigate impacts to the business through implementing asset preservation and optimisation solutions to extend the life of assets and drive down operational expenditure.

We are also heavily focused on technology and automations in workforce management so that we can manage people in a more efficient way, while providing cost savings.

Our strategy of managing people, assets and data remain true, and we are committed in our focus on nationalisation and service excellence, aided by ExperienceLab — our customer experience and design offering.

- Phil Malem, CEO, Serco Middle East

We also see how now more than ever, technology is vital to the post-recovery plan. For example, in transport and aviation, we are adopting the use of robots, leveraging computer visions, sanitisation solutions, and we will see the likes of ticketless solutions and cashless exchanges becoming the norm to minimise interactions with civilians and workers.

How do you see ExperienceLab helping clients in the post-Covid world?

ExperienceLab is the part of our business that focuses on improving and changing end-user experience.

In the post-Covid world, ExperienceLab will help our clients understand how the world has changed and support the re-design of customer experiences, with a specific focus on ensuring people feel safe.

We are leading think-tanks with major clients to help quickly re-establish operations in the new world, get the economy moving again and get people coming back to their facilities and services faster.

The pandemic also offers opportunities in terms of looking at reducing physical contact as well as introducing or improving digital self-service channels. ExperienceLab will continue to support our contracts and customers in adapting and maintaining the customer experience through the current changes.

While the customer interviews and research has moved online and to video calls, we are also seeing an increase in clients wanting to understand the changes to customer expectations and needs and what this means for their service or product.

Serco call centre support
Serco can offer additional contact centre support and complex case management services Image Credit: Supplied

We’re conducting our own independent research into areas such as tourism and travel, and customer sentiment related to returning to activities such as shopping and dining out; as well as how behaviour science can help improve measures related to physical distancing.

Citizen happiness is part of this. How do you think the citizen services sector will be impacted?

The impact of COVID-19 on the citizen services sector will highlight the fundamental importance of outsourcing. In the UK for example, reports have demonstrated an 11 per cent cost saving driven by outsourcing, with the ability for this to be much higher. With this in mind, we are using solutions and models from around the globe and bringing it to the Middle East in an appropriate way for this region.

Governments here will be focused more than ever on cost savings and driving efficiencies as we come out of this. Post COVID-19, we will start seeing more and more collaborations between the public and private sector, working in true partnership to transition to an era of service delivery.

We will support with the delivery of transformative programmes with citizens, government visions and employees being at the heart of everything we do. As well as this, we will be supporting with driving operational and cost efficiencies for key services through process improvement, innovation and transforming citizen experience.

Can you tell us more about how nationalisation fits into your strategy?

Nationalisation is a key part of our strategy. Our aim is to build a workforce in the private sector that features GCC nationals at the forefront of the delivery of essential public services. Training is a key part of this, and it’s something we take very seriously.

That is why we launched several programmes that offer training for both technical competencies and soft skills, to help young Emiratis and Saudis launch their careers and lead the way in the future.

This dedication to Saudisation and Emiratisation has been recognised by governments of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE — indeed we have been granted Platinum status as a result of our high percentage of GCC nationals in leadership roles.

Serco Middle East won a major contract earlier this year to supply frontline hospitality services to Dubai Airports. Could you give us some information on this? What changes do you need to incorporate now to make your services for airports more suitable for the post-Covid era?

We are extremely proud to deliver essential frontline hospitality services at both Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC). This contract builds on our long term-partnership with Dubai Airports and will see us deliver essential services to Dubai Airports for the next five years.

Since the pandemic, we have adapted quickly and positively to government and civilian needs to support the reopening of the country in a controlled and safe manner.

As a gateway to Dubai and a transit hub, we understand the needs of Dubai Airports when it comes to investing in understanding their customer’s experience.

As such, mapping out and redesigning the customer journey is important at Dubai Airports. We need to ensure that those travelling feel safe as they arrive, depart and transit through Dubai.

Now more than ever we strongly believe airport personnel need the right training not only in hygiene practices but in evoking confidence in passengers and guiding them through the new processes, and this is where we can support.

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