Helena Guardans (Webhelp): “Without the contract for work it will be difficult to continue in Spain” | Business


Seven out of ten Webhelp workers are foreigners temporarily residing in Spain.
Seven out of ten Webhelp workers are foreigners temporarily residing in Spain.

Helena Guardans i Cambó wants to talk about her book. This is how he repairs Francisco Umbral when the videoconference meeting is coming to an end. The president of the outsourcing company Webhelp Spain is convinced that the times we live in demand a new leadership model based on collaboration and empathy and believes that her example, described in the pages of Everything I learned from my kids: and they didn’t teach me in business schoolIt can help to prevail: “Things do not go fast, sometimes it is desperate, but in the end it will come because society is demanding it,” he says.

Guardans leads a company of telemarketing [experiencia del cliente se dice ahora] which is based on the foundations of Singular, the call center that it set up in 1994, which in 2001 it sold to the German Sellbytel, acquired by the French Webhelp in 2018. Among these operations, the executive has remained at the forefront, deciding the designs of the multinational in Spain, where it employs almost 5,000 people and has offices in Barcelona, ​​Malaga, Valencia, Mallorca and Tenerife. “The business has changed a lot: before companies outsourced part of their services seeking to reduce costs, but now they do so because they trust that specialists will invest in improving the services we provide them while they take care of their core business. We invest in digital, in immediate response, in chatbots, in artificial intelligence or in simultaneous translation ”, he explains. And in this way they have become what he calls a hub service of calls, emails and chats that from Spain serves all of Europe in 24 languages. With the peculiarity that more than 70% of its workers are foreigners who come to Spain to live for a few months.

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Webhelp Spain had a brilliant year last year. It had a turnover of 185 million euros, after a growth of 23% “which is explained by the pandemic: companies closed their physical locations and we became a very important part of their business. Now we are back to normal ”. 70% of its activity is focused on receiving contacts from its payers to, for example, perform customer service in fashion stores or provide the technological support offered by telecommunications companies. The remaining 30% comes from the sales area, where they work little for the end user – “because you only compete on price, you can add little value” – and they focus on business between companies or B2B, “we are more managers of accounts than sellers ”, indicates Guardans.

Helena Guardans, presidenta de Webhelp Spain.
Helena Guardans, presidenta de Webhelp Spain.

The president of Webhelp expects a growth in turnover of 10% for this year, but is concerned about the law that the Government is preparing against the temporary nature that seeks to simplify contracts by eliminating some eventuals. “We operate with contracts for works and services because we cannot assure work throughout the year. We depend on our clients and their campaigns to manage teams that are complex to handle, since the peaks of activity are very pronounced, at Christmas we can hire from 500 to 1,000 people ”, he assures. Guardans believes that “the economy is evolving and in Spain we continue to follow old methods. It is dangerous to change the rules to keep an outdated system. Let’s not impose a type of contract that our sector rejects outright and that will make it difficult to maintain activity in Spain. And there are many associated jobs ”.

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Bet on the dialogue between the company and the unions to be able to seal a new social contract. And thus to be able to reach agreements so that, for example, two companies that work for campaigns commit to jointly pay a decent salary to the worker: “Flexibility does not mean precariousness if we all get involved,” he says. Meanwhile, the projects that their clients entrust to them, instead of undertaking them by cities, as they did before the covid and teleworking – in which they are still maintained, although encouraging the teams to be seen by the offices to combat deterioration emotional that is appreciated—, now they are approached from different parts of Spain in parallel. “This gives us possibilities to attract talent that we could not until now,” he says. An example is Malaga, where last week they opened a technology center in Benalmádena, which makes it easy for them to attract people who speak Nordic languages.

And it is that its strategy goes through internationalization. For Latin America. Last March the company bought the Peruvian firm Dynamicall, “the contact center The largest Peruvian multichannel with more than 10 years of experience, specialized in outsourcing sales, withholdings, back office and customer service ”, as defined by the company itself. “We had wanted to cover Latin America for a long time. We already cover Africa, Europe, and now we will grow with European and American clients who are looking for us to serve them in Latin America and the United States. From Spain we will derive few services, perhaps those that need 24-hour management ”. But his bet on the other side of the Atlantic wants to go further. Guardans acknowledges that they are analyzing companies in countries such as Colombia or Guatemala to continue deploying in the region and also in the United States.

With their experience in China, where the demand for some Inditex brands such as Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius led them to create a joint company with a local partner, Guardans is happy, although she considers that “we have not grown as much as we would like due to the differences in the way of working of our partners ”. Even so, she is amazed by that country in which Singles Day represents 10% of all sales for the year.

The granddaughter of politician Francisco Cambó, aspires to a new way of working in its customer service centers after the pandemic. Calculate that 60% of the time they will be in the office and the rest teleworking. Although he believes that “it is essential that we all meet again soon because the pandemic has been very hard.”


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