Outsourcer Finds Growth Opportunities in the Cloud

By David van Everen

With more than thirty years of experience working with contact center technology, outsourcers, and regulations, Tom Rocca is an industry veteran. When he joined SupportSeven as president in 2010, the company was plugging away, providing great service to its client base and working off a typical contact center platform.

Once on board, Rocca’s primary mission was to grow revenue among the company’s current enterprise client base and secure new Fortune 1000 clients. On the surface, this seemed like an easy task for a veteran like Rocca. “From a business development standpoint, we’ve done really well,” related Rocca. “We grew quickly from 200 to about 700 seats.”

As business continued to boom, however, Rocca saw a troubling pattern when it came to the technology supporting SupportSeven’s growth. “We were really excited, having grown our contact center so quickly,” he explained. “But growth had its challenges. We were using solid, premise-based technology from Cisco, but the additional costs – the software licensing, storage, raised floors, rack environments, more IT people to support it – kept adding up the more we tried to expand.”

In fact, Rocca estimates each time they added a significant client or number of seats, it cost anywhere from $100k to $500k. And when Rocca saw what it would take to add the next 200 seats – in terms of expanding the company’s infrastructure and related new technology investments – he knew there had to be a better way.

Making Your System Work for You: Aside from the capital investments, Rocca had other reasons to evaluate an alternative contact center platform. SupportSeven offers various service levels to accommodate its clients’ needs and shares agents across multiple clients. “Our premise solution worked well for many clients, but some clients are required to comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standard. Our existing platform prevented us from properly segmenting client data and reporting in order to be compliant. We could get it done, but we needed a better way to ensure compliance and more flexibility,” said Rocca.

There was also the sense that a premise-based solution was holding them back physically. “When I walked through the call center and looked at the raised floors, the racks, and the space limitations for additional seats, I felt I could only sell what I could see. I knew expanding our physical space wasn’t something I could do overnight,” he admitted.

Rocca’s team at SupportSeven knew that a cloud-based software platform could enable more rapid scaling and meet the company’s need for client service and data segmentation. They evaluated several solutions, ultimately deciding on Five9. One of the reasons for their selection went beyond the technology itself. Five9 has “a strong commitment to stand-out service,” said Rocca. “We wanted a relationship, one that would serve both parties, and we expected great tech support. We got all of this.”

Immediate, Cloud-Enabled Gains: Rocca says the new cloud-based solution gives them greater flexibility on a number of levels, starting with business development. Simply talking about cloud-based technology with prospects has given them a distinct advantage.

Now, Rocca doesn’t have to back away if a prospect wants to launch fifty seats in a matter of days. “I don’t have to worry about adding infrastructure. I even have the option to expand with at-home agents if I want or need to. Frankly, I can sound a little bigger than I am, because it’s so fast and easy to expand.”

Rocca has less stress about supporting his clients’ growth. “If I go trolling for bluefin and unexpectedly hook a marlin or a whale, I know I’ll still be able to land it.”

Finally, Rocca says it’s easier to price his services competitively, confident he’ll make his margins, because costs are so much more predictable. Start-up for a new client or program is more flexible, too. “Clients like that I can propose a trial or beta of a new program, now that I don’t have to tool up to offer that. My comfort zone is bigger – and so is my company’s,” Rocca adds. “I simply have more control over everything.”

Workforce Optimization: SupportSeven found that managing its workforce was easier with the cloud too, thanks in part to real-time reporting environment and built-in workforce management tools. Previously, Rocca got information only after reports were sifted through, then cut and pasted into email. Now, reports arrive directly on his smartphone, making it easier to track productivity and other trends – and be able to make fast and effective course corrections when issues arise.

Also, with blended capabilities for inbound and outbound programs, SupportSeven agents can do blended work for a single client or be shared across clients. Minimal downtime means more productive agents and better margins for the company. Rocca has also found that new agents are able to ramp up a little faster because of the ease of use of the system. Agents don’t have to learn how to access multiple software programs, and, because it is cloud-based, a compliant personal computer, digital headset, and high-speed Internet connection are all that is required.

Technology Advantages: “There’s more flexibility with our platform now,” says Rocca. Pre-built, easily configured connectors integrate with popular CRM applications. This feature, together with Web services-based integration tools, makes it easy to integrate with client systems and give agents access to customer information. “Once you’re in the cloud, all these connections are easier and faster to make,” says Rocca. Workflows enable seamless transition to and from client processes when escalations or other conditions require.

Rocca feels he’s found a way to support SupportSeven’s growth rather than stifle it. The company can be confident that successful business development efforts will be followed by great service and supported by technology flexible enough to meet the ever-changing requirements of SupportSeven clients. In addition, the financial investments previously made in the premise-based platform can now be used to support additional training and launch new services.

Most importantly, Rocca has found a valuable business partner. “We understand each other’s markets and solutions naturally,” he explains. “They know I have the potential to grow, and that’s their gain, too. This way, everybody wins.”

David van Everen is vice president of SEO/SEM at Five9.

[From Connection Magazine Jul/Aug 2012]

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