Championing Process and Business Excellence
Zubin Karkaria Founder and Chief Executive Officer of VFS Global Group
VFS Global, the world's largest visa outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, has received the prestigious Dubai Quality Appreciation Award (DQAA) in the 'Services' category for 2021 at Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET)'s 28th Business Excellence Awards.
VFS Global was assessed winner based on the RADAR Assessment Excellence Model used by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and the management evaluation method, which evaluates each company on nine criteria - Leadership, Strategy, People, Partnership and Resources, Processes, Products and Services, People Results, Customer Results, Society Results and Business Results.
Zubin Karkaria, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of VFS Global Group, highlighted ideas and insights about the industry.
1. What are your thoughts on VFS Global winning its fourth Business Excellence Award?
We are honoured to receive this distinguished award from the Business Excellence Department of Dubai. Service and process excellence is an integral part of VFS Global's business strategy.
Over the years, we have invested significant resources in developing high quality and innovative solutions for our client governments and customers seeking visas, passports and other consular services. Such recognitions keep us motivated to continue striving for improvement.
We share Dubai's service excellence vision and remain deeply committed to it.
2. What is VFS Global's role in the visa application process?
In a nutshell, we handle almost the entire non-judgmental and administrative part of the application process - starting from accepting the visa application to returning the passport to the visa applicant post the decision-making process by the embassy or consulate. Processes we facilitate as part of the application submission include the appointment booking, form checking, data entry, fee collection, biometric enrolment, and courier pass back of documents to the visa applicants. There has been a massive transformation in the visa application process, which VFS Global has primarily driven. We also offer an array of optional services to enhance the overall experience for the visa applicant and make the process efficient and secure for the client government.
3. What steps has VFS Global taken during the last 20 years to transform the customer experience?
For visa applicants, the big changes have been the exponential increase in visa submission points - often from just two or three locations in a country to 10-20. Before VFS Global days, submission timings were restricted to 2-3 hours daily at an Embassy that has substantially increased to 6-8 hours daily. Our well situated, spacious and comfortable Visa Application Centres (VACs) with all modern amenities and the introduction of an appointment system have played a pivotal role in the transformation process, adding immensely to applicant convenience and comfort. In the pre-VFS Global days, applicants had to queue up - often for several hours - before the Embassy / Consulate visa office opened to try and ensure they had the opportunity to submit their application on that day, as the slots were very limited.
We also harnessed technology to develop innovative services and solutions to enhance the customer experience. The introduction of biometric enrolment capabilities was the real game-changer for us. It played a significant role in improving the overall security of the visa application process and led to the evolution of new-age VACs. The growing demand for do it yourself (DIY) technologies led to us introducing the electronic mode of visa or eVisa services.
A couple of examples of the innovative and advanced technology-driven solutions we have developed to transform the overall visa application process are:
1.We have introduced innovative and advanced solutions such as LIDProTM, which enables remote processing and assessment of visa applications by client governments, and mobile biometric solutions, which allow client governments to offer temporary visa application submission points in smaller cities where there is no full-time Visa Application Centre.
2.Listening to our customers, we worked towards personalised premium services such as Visa At Your Doorstep (VAYD), which enables visa applicants to receive the service with the entire visa application process, including biometric enrollment, at a location of their choice.
Most importantly, data security is embedded within the design and functioning of our processes. Although the pandemic escalated data security risks in a world working remotely, VFS Global deployed numerous cutting-edge security solutions against potential cyber threats. A case in point is the continuation of the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification that demonstrates a high level of assurance throughout our information security processes.
Data Protection and Information Security are two separate business-critical functions at VFS Global. Over the years, we have invested significant resources in building these functions with robust systems and controls.
While visa application processing remains our core business, the growing demand for passport services globally led to expanding our passport and consular services portfolio. This portfolio has grown seamlessly because we could easily replicate our unique value proposition in this domain.
4. What are the benefits for client governments?
The transformational advantages we offer for client governments are the ability to ramp up visa application processing volume multifold without any additional office space or additional staff cost, and importantly while maintaining the highest levels of security.
5. What are VFS Global’s plans for the next five years?
The coming five years will witness renewed growth impetus at VFS Global. We believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that the general recovery trend will only strengthen, albeit with some volatility.
Our focus will be on further strengthening and consolidating our position in our core business of outsourced visa services while simultaneously focusing on diversification opportunities in high growth potential businesses such as outsourced Passport and Consular services and eVisa services. We also see more governments integrating biometric enrollment in their visa application process to increase the security of the process further. We are ready to support them with multiple biometric solutions to meet their requirements.
With our underlying goal to make cross-border mobility more seamless, easier and efficient for all stakeholders, we aspire to create deep brand affection amongst our customers (visa applicants and client governments), colleagues, investors, and communities whilst developing our business and enhancing shareholder value sustainably and securely. We are convinced that the mid-to-long-term outlook for VFS Global remains positive.