CEO of Stellar Asia Pacific, Melissa Hamilton, never expected to go into the customer-care industry. She fell into it when she got her first part-time job while studying at university, and the rest is history. “It was at the time when the telecommunication market in Australia was being deregulated. Optus entered the market and shook things up for Telstra,” Melissa says.

“I was working for Telstra at the time, and it was really there that I fell in love with the customer-care industry. I certainly didn’t set out for a career in it. To be honest, at the time I don’t think anyone realised there was even any potential in it as an industry.”

Melissa has spent the past 17 years at Stellar, starting as one of the core executive team members who started the Australian branch of the office.

She’s been CEO since 2010, and says it’s the same things that still drive her in her role. “For me, there were three things I fell in love with and am still passionate about today. The first was the large-scale people management. Essentially, we are a people business, and I love that.

“I also love the instant feedback you get through the channels we run; you know immediately if you’re connecting with your customer. And the third thing I fell in love with was the maths. In the early days, the maths was matching the number of people to the number of calls. As my career has gone on, it’s become about the economics driving the business success. My role has changed, but the same three things are at the core.”

Stellar takes care of a number of customer-service functions for businesses, with its range expanding as technology evolves. “Our role, and the value we add in the market, has evolved massively in the past 17 years,” Melissa explains.

“Everything we do is geared to drive tangible business outcomes to help organisations compete more effectively in their marketplace. For some companies, that’s about selling more and getting an increased market share; for some, it’s about self-service adoption automation strategies; and for many, it increasingly comes down to how they can drive stronger customer loyalty and customer advocacy.

“When we started, the outsourcing offering initially was fairly black and white: people came to us looking to drive efficiency and cost reduction. They followed a predictable path where they took their contact centre from an in-house operation and decided to outsource it to someone like Stellar in Australia. Because of our expertise and processes, that could immediately drive a minimum 25-per-cent reduction in cost.