Nitha Joseph: Leading with Innovation & Integrity in the Contact Center & Digitization Business

The 10 Most Impactful Leaders Driving Change in Business, 2022

Nitha Joseph, Managing Director of Ascentia Services, believes that you can never achieve success; you can only feel it. Ascentia was established in 2018, with the need of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) based Contact Center services in the industry across the United Arab Emirates & GCC.

Ascentia’s goals extend beyond merely receiving calls and replying to emails or cross-selling but framing the same in process automation and making it robotic, which enhances the value proposition of every domain and industry.

As a leader in the same industry for more than 12 years, Nitha’s responsibilities include developing and implementing strategic plans and company policies, maintaining an open dialogue with stakeholders, driving organizational success, managing and advancing business strategic objectives.

Bringing success to your business

Ascentia Services was started with the goal of “Bringing Success to your Business.” The company started with a team of five, scaled up to 350 people in-house, and 150 resources on the platform services.

Their core team revolves around the innovation and integrity factor, with a diverse culture which energizes their think pad to develop, explore, and excel with expertise.

Ascentia’s typical customers are the UAE – Government and Semi-Government entities. Other clients include private entities in Healthcare, Economics, Financial Services, Retail, Telecom, Banking, Insurance, Luxury and Ecommerce brands.

Nitha notes that Ascentia marks its achievements by differentiating the fact of delivery through a flexible model of process approach, a deep dive in the integration to make customer service lead the customer journey, achieving the pinnacle of customer experience by showcasing the customer life cycle value, and directly linking with the profit and loss of the business.

“We specialize in a revenue-based model using conventional methods and tools. The Ascentia Services leadership deck navigates cross functional domain expertise. We onboard the best talents and train them with the best skills to design the architecture for every line of business for service delivery,” states Nitha.

She notes that Ascentia`s Omnichannel tools are the best designed across the industry, with adaptability and acceptability for all channels of businesses.

Their expertise and services include:

  • RPA – Contact Center Outsource and Management across industries.
  • Digital Transformation across the process domain and business channels
  • Value-add revenue-based model operations in customer experience.
  • Making the messaging and communication channel more effective across every line of business.
  • BOT management across all touch points of customer journey (Chat Bot, Email Bot, WhatsApp Bot, Voice Bot)

Exploring WFH & digital solutions for meaningful customer engagement

According to the Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2020 from CFI Group, a market research firm, customer satisfaction with contact centers has been on the decline in the past few years. With the COVID-19 outbreak, this trend took a sharper slide, and the crisis exposed chinks in the armor of the contact center industry.

Ascentia Services offered a huge scope to try out previously untested solutions, like the work-from-home model and digital solutions, to handle the growing business-as-usual volume. Being a key “shop window” for most businesses, it redefined the measures it took for more meaningful customer engagement.

“We presented an opportunity and helped businesses rethink everything, from technology and business operations to flexible work arrangements and customer service,” observes Nitha. “Incremental improvements won’t suffice. Companies that balance protecting the business today while retooling for tomorrow, will outsmart other players and thrive beyond the pandemic.”

Ascentia contributed to the road to a more resilient future with its omnichannel and digital solutions; in redefining the industry standards with active competition; providing consultative expertise to clients and internal stakeholders; pipeline generation, business and services transformation; identifying and creating forward-looking solutions; and developing innovative differentiators in support and services, leading to customer happiness across the industry.

“As Ascentians, we sell our ideas, expertise, and hard work to one another, and each of us must decide whether our integrity is also owned by the company as well as ourselves. Ascentians understand that our integrity is the lasting quality in all the work that we do. It establishes our reputation and promotes the credibility of our efforts,” states Nitha.

The ADKAR framework to innovate & communicate value

Nitha believes that innovation comes as a result of harnessing technology in intelligent ways, whether that’s to accelerate or automate processes, build new tools, or to create new products and services.

“In essence, innovation could be seen as a catalyst for positive change. Our trusted approach is to use the ADKAR framework to communicate the value of your change proposal: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement,” she elaborates.

For Nitha, innovation as a concept refers to the process that an individual or organization undertakes to conceptualize brand new products, processes, and ideas, or to approach existing products, processes and ideas in new ways.

“Ascentians believe in the truth – adapt or die – and for businesses to achieve success in today’s modern world, this is a universal truth,” she states.

Nitha notes that, in order to drive business growth, stay relevant in changing times, and differentiate from the competition, business leaders must be able to think creatively and embrace innovation into their business models.

One way to do this is by gaining experience working on exciting, challenging, and innovative projects that expose you to the skills needed to become an innovation driver within your organization. Ascentia categorically identifies three critical factors for the significance of innovation in business and staying abreast with the competition:

#1. Innovation helps companies grow

Instead, of growing incrementally as you perfect your existing products and business models, you might choose to grow your business by merging or acquiring others, which is faster, but also typically a much more expensive avenue for growth.

Or you might choose to evolve by rethinking your product or business model — or both — from the ground up, a process that can lead to rapid expansion and allow you to scale your business very quickly.

#2. Innovation keeps organizations relevant

The world around us is constantly changing, and in order for your business to remain relevant and profitable, it will eventually need to adapt in order to meet these new realities.

These changes have led to a new age of innovation across business models and industries, allowing new businesses to enter the market and disrupt incumbents in serious ways.

Just as a start-up innovates in order to break into an industry, established organizations need to innovate in order to fend off competition and remain relevant in this changing environment.

#3. Innovation helps organizations differentiate themselves

If your organization is using innovation in its products, for example, then the goal is to develop or update the products until there is nothing else on the market like it.

If your organization is using innovation on its processes, it’s because doing so will save you time, money, or other resources, and give you a competitive advantage over other companies stuck in their systems.

While the natural success this brings can be reward enough for many companies, innovation helps an organization differentiate itself and its products from the competition, which can be particularly powerful in an oversaturated industry or market.

While delivering value to your customers should always be your company’s main focus, doing so in a way that is memorable and different from everyone else can become a standout element of your brand identity and business strategy, as well.

The hard part of building a business

Nitha notes that, along with the joy of starting a new company and journey to achieving a dream, comes the hard part: discipline, work, patience, and perseverance. The path is not all pleasant, as that is just how the territory is. You can expect many highs as you see the fruits of your effort or marvel at discoveries.

During the evolution of your company, however, it may sometimes look like nothing will come of what you’re doing. Nevertheless, if you’re confident in your vision, keep going. The end goal may not happen exactly as you may have envisioned it, as the result may come from a different direction altogether.

“The only way to discover that outcome is to keep going and maintain the goal in mind. Sometimes, I’ve been working hard on the company, and I don’t get the results I’ve been looking for. Then, suddenly, pieces start aligning, and things eventually work out,” Nitha observes.

She notes that it isn’t magic, but after extensive effort and planning, she has found the process that works for her and her circumstances. If it hadn’t been for the perseverance she had already invested, she wouldn’t have found an alternate path that provided what she needed. Nitha states that when the going gets tough, there are three factors that help her keep going:

#1. Perseverance

Keep your goal in mind and maintain your momentum. Follow your plan and perform the actions you know you need to take. It’s often by taking the actions necessary to achieve our goals, especially those that are the most challenging, that we find the results we’ve been looking for.

Those different actions that we have never taken can drive us to results we have never seen. Taking actions like networking with a potential new client or presenting in front of a large crowd, may take your company to a new level. It’s often uncomfortable, but that’s also part of the journey.

#2. Keeping an open mind

When the going gets tough, you sometimes need creativity to find new pathways. Reframing the problem and looking for ways around obstacles are the key skills that can help you find your destination. The path is rarely obvious; if it were, then many others would be on the same journey.

Sometimes we continue taking the same actions that aren’t working without realizing that they probably never will. When we’ve reached a dead end, it’s best to reconsider the path and find another way. Keeping an open mind will help you find new solutions and reach your destination sooner and more efficiently.

Another way to find a new direction is to brainstorm new ideas with others. Friends and colleagues can help point you in new directions you may not have considered. Peer coaching groups provide a ready-made group of colleagues that can give you a new perspective.

#3. Taking time away

Sometimes we may feel blocked on a project, and we can’t find a way forward. At that point, taking a break and working on other activities can be the best approach. For days, you might not think about your project, and then suddenly, a new way of looking at it comes to mind.

You can use this technique even for smaller tasks. If you have a new opportunity or idea and you’re not sure how to proceed, taking some time to think about it will usually provide a better outcome.

The journey is not always what we expect, but it teaches us a lot, and we become different people for it. The mistakes and the wrong turns we take along the way are valuable lessons that we can then apply to the same endeavor again, or to different projects. In the end, we often end up with something that would otherwise not have been possible.

Leaning forward into leadership

Nitha notes that Ascentia represents idealism, intuition, generosity, creativity, wisdom, and tolerance. It marks a powerful symbolism and destiny impact, evokes perfectionism, curiosity, and tenderness.

She believes that Ascentia Services’ future foresight should result from a rich creative exploration about where the future might lead; and the output is a way to inform long term strategy, research and development, investment and acquisition strategies.

“Ascentia plans to go with global expansion in Asia Pacific region, GCC & MENA geographic zone, and across continents in Australia and UK. It is all geared with the need to be inspired beyond pure trend extrapolation. It’s the only way to have a powerful impact on future consumer and customer behaviors, thus profoundly changing the needs we may have for products and services,” states Nitha.

Foresight process looks at long term trends, both regionally and globally, and also should include individual catalyst, expert, and provocateur stimulus, which are designed and selected to challenge and shift future expectations.

Nitha notes that senior leaders need to be facilitated in “force-fitting” disparate and emerging aspects of cultural, social, political, and technological evolution to break through their own filters, in order to imaginatively create alternative future scenarios.

A strong foresight approach explores the contradictions and paradox in market data to build unexpected future scenarios, rather than ignoring that which is disparate. The only way to be successful is to be able to build new, advantaged knowledge – what others do not know, but we discover through powerful designs.

Nitha’s personal goals as a business leader extend to becoming a thought leader and challenging herself to become comfortable being uncomfortable. “I will use the SMART acronym to help make sure my goals are quantifiable, and contribute to my growth mindset, our community, and our country, UAE,” she says.

Nitha notes that faith in God, and her passion to challenge the situation and overcome were what led her to take the step of faith. The challenges and learning in the Contact Centre industry require her to be a master of many domains, including:

  • Operations – after all everything starts here
  • People management & organizational design
  • Leadership & financial management
  • Customer Service & Experience
  • The role of technology in the lives of our customers & people

“I can’t think of another industry that places this many demands on its leadership, hence, my decision to step forward,” she states.

Success is your relationship with yourself

Nitha recalls an event she attended for high-performing entrepreneurs, where the question was asked, ‘How many of you have achieved your financial goals?’ Amazingly, 80 per cent of people raised their hands.

However, on the question of, “How many of you feel successful?” 80 per cent of them lowered their hands. She observes that this example alone shows that there’s no connection between the standard measurement of success and the feeling of success.

“It took me almost all my life to realize that perhaps my definition of success was wrong to begin with. Whether it was my parents, my friends, or society, I let others set the standards for me. It was never my own goals I was trying to achieve. It was someone else’s, and this was the biggest reason for my unhappiness,” observes Nitha.

As she points out, feelings are hard to tangibly measure, so people tie success to things like money and fame, and this is what people tell you to chase after to solve all your problems.

“Success can only truly occur internally because it is based on emotion. At the most basic level, success is your relationship with yourself. Most people are living a lie. They purposefully ignore and distract themselves from what they deep down want for themselves.” ~ Benjamin P. Hardy

Challenges are opportunities that carry benefits

In terms of dealing with challenges, Nitha quotes Connie Bennett’s saying that “Challenges make you stronger, more determined, and focused on your big goals.”

She observes that challenges come in many forms. For some, the challenge is doing well at work, for others it is getting to grips with financial worries. But, regardless of the challenge, facing up to it is the key. Doing so will make you feel like you can take care of yourself; it will also help you understand the value of what you have now.

 “I’m now facing some tremendous challenges, so I’m eagerly putting together a powerful plan to triumph over them,” reveals Nitha. “Challenges are a part of everyday life. They make us stronger and without them life becomes somewhat meaningless, because we have nothing to compare the good times to.”

She notes that it is truly fascinating how successful people approach problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace, and obstacles to overcome. Their confidence in the face of hardship is driven by the ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back.

“Success isn’t the only thing determined by your mindset. Optimists fare better; they treat failure as learning experiences, and believe they can do better in the future. When facing challenges, remember that they’re opportunities that carry benefits. They call for your creativity, make you stronger, keep you humble, and amplify your achievements,” says Nitha.

“Challenges make you stronger, more determined and focused on your big goals.” Connie Bennett.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do

Nitha points out that work-life balance is a balancing act that takes careful planning and preparation, but it is possible. “I start my day in the office by 9:30 am, and the end of day is achieved by the accomplishments in developing and executing business strategies to achieve short and long-term goals for the day,” she says.

She reveals that she manages her time by separating work and play, setting priorities, creating a schedule and trying to stick to it, managing procrastination, eliminating distractions, being inventive, creating boundaries by assessing her situation, being protective of her health, shielding her passions, handling her social media and personal profiles separately, and learning to say “No”.

“My family consists of four members – my husband and two sons, Eden and Jaden. They are a big support and motivation for my course of the day. They’re the first capsule for the day to start with; and my extended family consists of my employees, who are equally my first capsule to help me sail the course of the entire day,” she says.

Keeping employees motivated to deliver the best services is one of Nitha’s priorities, and she strongly executes her responsibilities as a leader to:

  • Empower individuals to develop personal goals and strengths.
  • Empower teams by allowing them to work on new projects & processes together.
  • Encourage team work to achieve common goals, collaborating and making them accountable to each other.
  • Implement continuous team building activities beyond typical office tasks.
  • Reward and motivate employees in a timely manner.
  • Make office improvements functionally.
  • Allow remote workdays – declaring a “creative day”.
  • Being transparent and sharing her vision constantly.
  • Collecting feedback and sharing; making it available to every employee.

Her parting advice for aspiring business leaders is: Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve.

Always remember that your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

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