Books and businesses start with a story. The success story that is arvato, the business process outsourcing (BPO) arm of Bertelsmann, started in 1959 when the company decided to offer its book distribution services to internal clients and external publishers. Nowadays, arvato is an integrated solution provider with a wide range of services.
The company has ingrained in its operations a business principle that leverages its German know-how with local management to make sure that the particular demands of clients are addressed. "Our approach overall is to think global but to act local," says arvato member of the executive board Ralf Bierfischer.
With its integrated BPO solutions, Asian companies expanding outside of their home markets can save on costs and maximise efficiency. Servicing most of the world's top Fortune 2000 companies, arvato counts companies in automotive, information technology and telecommunications as top clients. Its biggest clients include Microsoft, Vodafone and Lufthansa.
A priority market for arvato is China. The company corners about 60 per cent of the country's airline industry and is active in logistics, automotive and the fashion and beauty industries. It has 4,400 local employees in 65 locations and has posted year-on-year growth rates of 68 per cent over the last seven years. Its main growth area on the mainland is supply chain management for telecommunications and IT, while it sees tremendous potential in the automotive, banking and insurance industries. It is also keen on partnering with more companies whose businesses, know-how and markets can complement arvato's.
"Chinese and Germans have a comparable understanding of partnerships. They think long-term, and they believe in partnership on a personal level," Bierfischer says.
Shaped by its proven experience in the global BPO business, arvato offers integrated service solutions by handling almost all end-customer processes on behalf of its clients. The outsourcing specialist boasts of an entrepreneurial culture that trickles down to its workforce, which stands at 63,000 worldwide. Its expertise is in managing end-consumer processes, including e-commerce, financial services, marketing and customer relationship management.
"For instance, in telecommunications, if you are ordering your mobile phone, you will get it from arvato. If you have some questions or you can't use the device, you can call arvato," Bierfischer says. "And if you are not willing to pay for your device, arvato will call you."
These end-to-end solutions also provide added value to the customer experience. "The contact point between the company and the end-consumers - that's what arvato is managing," Bierfischer says.