Changing their planned digital journey to adapt to the pandemic is paying off for customer acquisition specialists OSL Retail Services
Since 2013, OSL Retail Services has been helping retailers and manufacturers connect consumers to their brands through exceptional sales and customer service. Developers of the leading customer acquisition platform in the marketplace, OSL helps Fortune 500 merchants and makers drive their consumer technology sales by integrating best-in-class sales personnel, operations, and systems expertise into their organizations.
Based in Mississauga, Ontario, OSL turns sales opportunities into transactions at over 2,200 retail stores throughout North America. Leveraging a combination of “technology, process, and passion,” the company helps retailers succeed by creating customer relationships designed to endure. Walmart, Samsung, Lowe’s, and MasterCard are just a few of the companies teaming up with OSL.
“The spirit of our leadership team is inspiring, innovative, and people-focused,” said Safi Murtaza, OSL’s Director of Information Technology. “They are masters in relationship building and leading by example. They’re also humble.” Championing diversity and inclusion is just part of the way that humility is expressed; trust in their teams and the willingness to work in the trenches is another.
That amenability was put to the test in March 2020.
At that time, COVID-19 cases had occurred in Canada, but panic had yet to become widespread. “I was sitting with a co-worker when one of the managing partners asked me to meet with him in private,” Murtaza recalled. “He said to me, ‘Safi, as of today at 4 p.m. we are shutting down our offices. We want every single employee to work from home. How fast can you get everyone up and running to work remotely?’”
The managing director and project director stayed with Murtaza and his IT team until 11 that night. Every telephone extension was transferred, everything went to the cloud, and the company’s staff were working from home the very next day. “We complied right away so that everyone working from home would have all the tools available for them to support our clients,” he said. “It was mind-blowing. When I think about it I get goosebumps. How we did it, I don’t know, but we did it.”
From yesterday’s priorities to tomorrow’s necessities
The pandemic changed the way OSL communicated with clients and employees and commanded new approaches to their sales and recruitment methodologies. Messages to their teams became more personally relevant and aligned with individual circumstances and values. Great care is taken to make in-person transactions pleasant and comfortable for the consumer, and safe for everyone involved.
Murtaza stressed that the presence of open-minded leaders and the willingness and agility to act made it possible to roll with unplanned change. “It rerouted the way we did business. We needed to make changes fast and efficiently, and needed to pass that knowledge to all these team members across North America so they could pass it along to our clients.”
The nature of OSL’s digital transformation changed overnight. With at least 2,200 retail operations to serve, meeting staffing coverage and finding the best ways to communicate rapid changes to field leaders were serious challenges. Rather than reporting typical data such as sales movement, they used BI to report the status of a distributed workforce unsettled by the virus. Knowing which locations were shut down, who was available for coverage, and who was ill or caring for someone sick became some of OSL’s new key indicators.
Their big picture digital transformation receded to the background, and a brand new tech transformation emerged. “We knew we needed to pause, and this new technology transformation needed to happen right away,” he said. “For instance, having an associate stand at a computer that is affixed on a desk in a designated area wasn’t viable anymore. It wasn’t easy, but we found ways to make everything happen.”
Try as it might, the pandemic did not stop OSL from thinking forward. “AI is taking over the retail world, from machine learning and bots to how we resolve daily tickets. We were fortunate to have had lots of AI technology before the pandemic,” he said. “We were already scaling our capacity to better understand the needs of the business, so the next step was upgrading our network infrastructure around AI."
In Murtaza’s view, to secure network infrastructure as the digital transformation of the world continues, the approach to adopting technology must center around why it’s needed. “The challenge for technology is to serve its purpose. The process of these changes are not easy, and there’s a balance between risk and opportunity. Leaders should be open-minded to change but know why the change needs to happen,” he said.
Before the crisis, Murtaza was already working with Darktrace, leaders in anonymous cyber AI, to provide increased visibility of OSL’s network connections. Shifting from having an on-prem workforce to remote was no easy task. “We upgraded that technology to have a better view of where our employees were in the world, how they were connecting, and if they were being safe and secure when accessing documents and information through our servers. That did wonders.”
When OSL’s technology partners ask him about the ultimate goal of using their products, the answer is to achieve 99.9% to zero downtime. “That's what we need. Being able to provide that information to our field employees on time affects our sales. It affects our relationship with our clients, and that’s also a really important part of what we do.”
As one of OSL’s first dozen employees, Murtaza has seen how OSL is making a difference in the lives of their customers and their teams. “The relationships we’ve built within departments have no bias,” he said. Murtaza’s career progression from a contract worker opening stores for OSL, to field leadership, and eventually to a director’s seat speaks volumes.
“My career development was focused on what the leadership could do to get me to the next level of my career,” he said. “We still have OGs. None of us have left in the past eight years. That’s really hard to believe, because the way they appreciate us is unmatched. You can’t find it anywhere.” That’s why OSL has made the list of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for four consecutive years.
Join us at OSL! We partner with some of the biggest retail stores in North America and provide them with top-tier sales representatives in the consumer technology sector.
Interested? We drive sales for our clients through one-on-one brand experiences and exceptional customer service – which ultimately influences a customer's purchasing decision.
Believing in diversity as a strength, our people are EVERYTHING! We offer best-in-class sales and customer service training for our employees so they can deliver results.
We’re proud to be one of “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” four years in a row and “Supplier of the Year in Wireless” in 2019 by Walmart.
Come discover your next rewarding career. We believe in great people doing greater things, every day!
OSL Retail Services
5090 Orbitor Drive, Unit 1
Mississauga, ON L4W 5B5