It may surprise you to hear that the history of the Global Service Center and that of a certain Lyudmila Peykova as well can be explained perfectly by Henry Ford’s philosophy. The automotive pioneer is said to have believed that the key to success lay in having precisely the capabilities demanded at any given time. Henry Ford’s secret to success lay in his ability to mass-produce cars at a speed, quality and low price never seen before. In turn, the success of Lyudmila Peykova, Team Manager for 60 programmers at the GfK Global Service Center in Sofia is based on being able to provide the exact services and information urgently required by GfK customers all over the world. Peykova and her colleagues perform this task with the utmost precision.
The qualified mathematician, who joined GfK eight years ago, explains: “It is our aim to ensure that our services combine the highest degree of relevance with maximum efficiency.” Peykova’s workplace in the center of Sofia is one of four GfK Global Service Centers which support the Consumer Experiences and Consumer Choices sectors. As a global network operating across different time zones and with a broad spectrum of competencies, the GSCs manage to provide a wide range of different services within a short time frame – according to whatever the GfK customer’s needs are at that time. Whether in Malaysia, India, Romania or Bulgaria, all Service Centers work using the same standardized processes and tools, highest standards of quality and in tandem with highly qualified experts. Only very few GfK customers will actually notice where their survey script comes from or where their panel is coded. However, what they are aware of is both the quality of the services and the speed at which they are carried out.
Taking the GSC in Sofia as an example: It is located on the second floor of a building in the historic style typical of the Founding Epoch (Gründerzeit) on one of the main boulevards. This GSC currently undertakes about 40 percent of all programming tasks within GfK. Approximately 510 employees work in nine languages (not including programming languages). They supply end-to-end solutions for more than 560 GfK product groups within the Consumer Choices sector and work closely with the Brand and Customer Experience (BaCE) and Market Opportunities and Innovation product groups for Consumer Experiences. This involves survey scripts, data processing, research support and cross-media services for Consumer Experiences projects as well as coding and data export for the Consumer Choices sector. While GSC Solution Delivery Managers look after the operational side of things, Service Managers handle customer contact within the global GfK network.
“The ability and experience of our employees are significant factors of our success,” Peykova says. Around 81 percent of her colleagues hold a university degree and the average age is 29 years. The work is fast, demand is ambitious and efficiency is key. By centralizing back-office competencies in GSCs like the one in Sofia, GfK can operate more quickly and effectively while at the same time keeping costs lower than it would ever have been possible in a structure featuring numerous regional back offices.
While it has been claimed that Henry Ford said that his customers could have their car in “any color, as long as it’s black”, the global service providers at GfK deliver highly individual services. For example, among other tasks, Peykova’s team at the Global Service Center in Bulgaria programmed a project for a globally active software company, created the survey script for a Healthcare client, and at the same time took on coding for a leading car manufacturer. It would be difficult to find a more diverse range of tasks and industries - but the center has done it all with an efficiency which its competitors around the world can only strive for.
01 Four Global Service Centers (GSCs) in four countries (Bulgaria, Romania, India, Malaysia) and two Regional Service Centers (RSCs) in two countries (Pakistan, Chile) form GfK’s highly effective network of experts.
02 As back offices supporting the Consumer Experiences and Consumer Choices sectors, the GSCs and RSCs assume responsibility for various coding and scripting tasks. The benefit of this is maximum efficiency and speed with consistent quality and reduced costs (economies of scale).
03 The employees of the GSCs and RSCs are well-trained experts. A high percentage of them have university degrees. An additional feature of the GSCs is the variety of languages and cultural backgrounds that they span. As global service hubs, the GSCs operate across various time zones, cultures and industries.