On a Strategic Growth Trajectory: An Interview with Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International

February 4, 2019

 Setting benchmarks and providing differentiated service experiences to customers is what differentiates BLS International from other market players, says, Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International

 

 

 

BLS International is a leader in Consular and Visa process outsourcing and is a preferred partner for Embassies and Governments across the world. It is recognized for being an ethical company in the industry and was recently rated as ‘Best under a Billion’ by Forbes Asia amongst 24,000 companies.

BLS International emphasizes passion, flexibility and innovation to add value to clients. The Company is ISO 9001:2015 certified for Quality Management Systems, ISO 27001:2013 certified for Information Security Management Systems, ISO 14001 verified for Environmental Management Systems and ILO-OSH 2001 certified for Occupational Safety and Health.

Amongst others, the Company’s expertise includes – Visa/Passport/ Consular Outsourcing Services; Biometric Services; Citizen Services/ E-Governance Services; E-Visa/ Online Visa Management Services

The company is listed on the stock exchanges and is ranked amongst the top companies globally in this industry.

 

Your journey with the group since you took over the reins of the company from your father in 2014.

 

The journey has been very satisfying for me. There have been challenges and there have been learnings and the one philosophy that I have imbibed is that business opportunities can be converted only if we are agile, flexible, entrepreneurial in our attitude and committed to providing quality service to our customers. The company is on a growth trajectory and our aim is to create benchmarks in quality.

Our industry is evolving rapidly and there is immense potential and what I am really trying to do is to complement my father to create and grow this industry.  We have immense strengths and a very capable team and my focus is on ensuring these strengths are effectively aligned.  I am particularly happy that during these years, amongst many other wins, we have been recognized for our capabilities and awarded the Global Visa contract for Spain as well as the citizen services project by Punjab Government. We have recently entered into a strategic partnership with Sopra Steria to support the United Kingdom Visa & Immigration (UKVI) home office to provide many of the key deliverables under the contract, as well as a suite of added value services. This contract further strengthens our presence in the European region where we are already working with Spanish, French and Italian Governments and are working with various companies for projects in Portugal, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

In India we have acquired Starfin, the Banking Business Correspondent of the State Bank of India which is India’s largest bank. This will enable us to benefit consumers seamlessly for Financial and Social Inclusion, Digital India and different Government programmes that want to provide a wider access to basic services.

I believe that we are on the right track. BLS International is now listed on both the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange. What is extremely heartening is also that recently we have been recognized by Forbes Asia as the ‘Best under a Billion’ company out of 24,000 companies.

 

What are the services provided by BLS International to make the experience of travelling easier?

 

Convenience and comfort are essential ingredients for every travel experience. We have been leveraging technology to innovate and continuously improve and provide differentiated service experiences and set benchmarks. At the same time, we are also partnering with Governments to provide better and more sustainable business propositions and creating practical solutions to industry needs that have the potential to bridge the roadblocks. 

At our visa application centers we provide our customers a portfolio of plain vanilla service as well as differentiated value added services depending on the contract with the relevant authorities. These include, amongst others Mobile Biometric booths, exclusive Premium Lounges, assistance in filling Forms, Delivery of passport at your address as well as facility to submit applications outside the normal business hours. However, this is just the beginning. We are continuously studying the market and identifying consumer needs and will continue to innovate to provide convenient solutions.

 

 

 

What are the marketing strategies through which you have managed to expand your business? How do you rope in technology to cater to your growing business?

 

Our vision is to touch the lives of a billion people globally by creating a differentiated service experience using innovation and technology. Therefore we have focused on understanding the changing consumer and believe that product differentiation in this industry revolves around three critical factors of immediacy, experience and personalized service.

Our marketing strategies take these into account and then leverage technology to transform the user experience. We have leveraged technology in the visa outsourcing industry to streamline the processes, while strengthening the privacy and control on data security.

It is a matter of pride for us that BLS International is the first external service provider for Visa Outsourcing to comply with stringent ENS norms.

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