Natural and inflicted disasters across the country in recent time have brought to the fore, the need to tone up the emergency response mechanisms, particularly in the light of global trends. One of such response instruments is the creation of emergency call centres as pioneered two years ago by an indigenous company, ConSol Limited. The CEO of the organisation, Mr. Abiodun Adeoye, gives further insight in this interview with Evelyn Okoruwa.
What are the challenges you encountered when you started, and how did you surmount them?
Our business challenges are quite a wide range. They include infrastructure challenges similar to those faced by most businesses in Nigeria, such as poor power and telecommunication services, among others.
We also have the challenge of increasing cost of doing business, primarily due to fuel subsidy removal, including bureaucratic bottlenecks met at every ministry, department and agency of government. They are extremely slow in business decision making. We have surmounted the problem of work ethics and quality of staff by training, supervision and micro management.
With the experience you have had so far, will you start off differently if you are to start all over again?
Yes. We started out by making significant up-front investment to provide a large capacity call centre from launch. With our past experience, we should have perhaps started smaller and then grow as the business required.
What is your vision for ConSol?
ConSol’s vision is to build bridges and create opportunities. Essentially, our aim is to build a business that will act as a bridge that will create employment and empowerment opportunities to Nigerian young employable population.
As the chief executive, what makes ConSol different from her competitors?
ConSol is a pioneer independent contact centre services provider. We started operations at least two years ahead of our competitors and have maintained our leadership position as recognised by Frost & Sullivan when they awarded us the “Leading Contact Centre in Nigeria”, based on our capacity and “Vertical Market Penetration Leadership Award”, based on ConSol being first to provide services in all vertical markets (Banking, Insurance, FMCG, Public Service, Health, Pharmaceutical, etc.).
ConSol also differentiates itself with our strong Information Communications Technology (ICT) capability that allows us to deploy a full turnkey contact centre for other contact centre startups. ConSol has also established the first ever emergency response contact centre in Nigeria through the Lagos State Government. This service has helped ConSol gain significant recognition in the market place which sets us ahead of our competitors.
What advice would you have for a new contact service operator?
The initial start-up process is tedious, but if you stay steadfast the rewards will come.
On the issue of security, what is ConSol doing to address the problem?
Consol has made giant strides in the area of security. By utilising cutting edge ICT technology, ConSol has been able to help the Lagos State Government reduce crime rate in Lagos by over 90 per cent through the establishment of a toll-free three-digit short code for emergency access to the Lagos State Emergency Response Contact Centre that we operate and manage on behalf of the Lagos State Government.
Through the emergency response contact centre, we have been able to integrate the police, fire service, ambulance and all other emergency response agencies for easier transmission of distress calls originated by the needy public. ConSol sincerely hopes that other state governments in the country will emulate Lagos State’s efforts and achievements in crime fighting by establishing their own emergency response contact centres.
You mentioned Nigeria can make $7 billion from ITES/BPO (10 per cent of what India is making now), how much can be accrued to the government in specific terms?
If India can be making over $70 billion per annum from its Information Technology Enabled Service/Business Process Outsourcing (ITES/BPO) industry, I believe Nigeria has the potential to make at least 10 per cent or $7 billion of that annually within the next two to three years, if government throws its weight behind the BPO industry, anticipating that a predominant amount of this quoted revenue is expected from off-shoring of call centre services to clients in Europe and America.
Nigeria has all the elements that can make this a reality, including young employable workforce, large English-speaking population and better time zone alignment with Europe and Americas. Of course, government will gain a significant amount from this through taxes and levies.
How many people have you employed for the call centres?
We currently have about 190 people in the call centre with plans to increase that to over 500 people before the end of this year through various opportunities we are working on.