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When Andrew Hume took on the role of CEO at Probe CX seven years ago, he had an ambitious vision. At the time, Australian businesses were under-represented in the customer contact outsourcing industry, with global players dominating the market.
“Local players were being squeezed out,” he recalls. “Some had gone bust, pushed out of the market by the big global players. I had a dream that this country deserved to have a world-class, Australian-owned local provider.”
Andrew decided that this homegrown provider should be big, and should have all the capital, talent and technology necessary to compete meaningfully on the global stage. “I wanted to take the fight to what I called the global raiders,” he says.
“This market deserves that. Australian businesses deserve to have a local choice. The Australian Government deserves to have Australian tax income invested back into the local economy.”
“We believe there is great potential for organisations to tap into talent in other markets, as it’s very hard to find skills in Australia at the moment.”
Another key part of that vision was to be a top local employer. “I felt that this country needed an organisation that was the absolute go-to for people to – as we say in our organisation – grab a job and stay for a career,” Andrew shares.
“Why should people pop out of school or university and want to go and work at, I don’t know, Google or some other organisation? There should be an organisation here that can create meaningful career pathways – meaningful career development and progression.”
In the years since Andrew first laid out his vision, he and his team have been hard at work bringing it to life, and Probe CX has seen some staggering growth as a result.
“We’ve taken a business that performed as an expert in one field of play in customer outsourcing, to being a full-service provider – an organisation that does everything around the customer contact life cycle,” he says.
In the past six years, the company has gone from employing 300 people to more than 18,000. Where it previously had its modest operation primarily based in Melbourne, it now has 33 centres spread across five countries.
“We’re embracing our overseas delivery locations in the Philippines, India, New Zealand and the United States,” Andrew says. “We believe there is great potential for organisations to tap into talent in other markets, as it’s very hard to find skills in Australia at the moment.”
Probe CX specialises in process simplification, user experiences, the customer journey, optimising workforces, data analytics, customer sentiment analysis, digital deployment and automation.
“We’re helping organisations access fast and at-scale skills across a multiplicity of skill types by accessing talent in other markets, which we see as a reversion back to demand for offshoring support,” he adds. “We see ourselves playing a very meaningful role in helping Australian businesses access that talent overseas.”
“We just want to build the world’s best digitally powered customer experience company, headquartered right here in Melbourne.”
In order to provide access to the best customer experience services, Probe CX is drawing not just on a passionate team of people, but also on a range of advanced digital tools. This is part of what Andrew calls “an absolute commitment to high performance”.
The company partners with a range of organisations to offer its clients natural-language processing technology for virtual agents and chatbots, and also uses robotic process automation for back office work.
“We just want to build the world’s best digitally powered customer experience company, headquartered right here in Melbourne,” Andrew asserts. “We have built exquisite capabilities around automation, digitisation and the coupling of people, passion and purpose and digital capability. That means we are equipped to help organisations embrace the future.”
Probe CX also helps its clients to map and simplify business processes, optimise workforces and design, build and deploy front office automation. “We’re using technology to create smart solutions to streamline, simplify and drive better business outcomes,” he points out.
In order to do so, partnerships are vital. “We can’t do all of that ourselves. We do this through partnering with experts,” Andrew explains. “There are so many people in our ecosystem who have new ideas, new capabilities, new approaches, and it’s important for us to be friends and work together to solve problems meaningfully. If we do that, it creates better opportunities for growth.”
While external partnerships are vital, one of the company’s key areas of focus is on fostering passion among its own people. In fact, passion is a central tenet of Probe CX’s work culture. Andrew sees it not just as something that can invigorate a workforce, but also as a force that is an enabler in all aspects of life. He is such a strong believer in what the company internally refers to as The Passion Culture.
“Passion, we believe in our business, is the fuel that gives people permission. It gives people the courage, the confidence, the conviction, to put their hand up and contribute on multiple levels – to contribute their best energy, their best performance and to go above and beyond,” Andrew reveals.
“But most importantly, passionate people have the confidence to contribute their creative thinking and their ideas, and for us to be successful we must be an ideas business. We must continue to invent ways of doing things better.”
Probe CX and its team regard continuous improvement as their purpose. “We wake up every day to find a way to deliver performance better than the day before, and better than a client could possibly imagine,” he says.
The passion of Andrew’s team and their commitment to improvement has been recognised with numerous industry awards, making Probe CX one of the industry’s most awarded outsourcers. The company has won the Frost & Sullivan Contact Centre Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year accolade for the past two years, while Andrew himself took out CEO of the Year – A$100m+ turnover at The CEO Magazine’s 2021 Executive of the Year Awards.
While awards may not be business critical, Andrew is firm in his belief that they play a vital role in the company. “I used to work for a fellow who used to say ‘little things mean a lot’,” he reflects. “A few simple words, but powerful when combined. And that comment really resonated for me because it’s about celebration. It’s about encouraging individuals and teams to strive for achievement, recognising that things should be done and delivered.
“For us to be successful we must be an ideas business. We must continue to invent ways of doing things better.”
“There’s nothing more powerful than providing people with recognition. We are human beings – we seek affirmation. It’s just a natural state for us. Everybody likes a pat on the back.”
Awards also help the company in the pursuit of its core vision: to be the most respected and sought after customer experience provider in the markets within which it chooses to operate. “This is a bit of a rallying vision – a war cry within the organisation,” Andrew admits.
“Respect is earned from doing great work. If we achieve that, we will retain our clients and they will promote us to their friends and other organisations, and that enables us to become sought after. Through that, obviously, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – we’re a growth business. We’re all about creating jobs and evolving, creating new opportunities for our people.”
There is no better way to do that, Andrew believes, than to continuously expand within markets across the globe. “It’s a clear signal that we’re an Australian company, but we’re taking on the world.”