Marty Beard joined LiveOps three years ago to help revolutionize the way traditional bullpen call centers interact with sometimes angry and frequently frustrated customers.
Today nearly 350 clients including Pizza Hut, Electronic Arts and Salesforce use LiveOps software to interact with customers like never before through Twitter, chats, Facebook and other nontraditional "channels" while getting rid of banks of screens full of information -- and even the telephone.
The agents don't even have to show up for work. With only a Web browser and a laptop, they can work from home as independent contractors, eliminating traditional overhead costs such as paying for lights, water and even a call center lease, Beard said.
With Beard as chairman and CEO, LiveOps' cloud-based call center business has grown 55 percent while some more traditional competitors have seen revenue fall as much as 11 percent.
Beard sat down recently with [the San Jose Mercury News] in LiveOps' Redwood City headquarters to talk about how call centers can use technology and social media to turn angry complaints into happy customers. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What is LiveOps doing that's different from the stereotype of a call center staffed with people wearing head sets, listening to angry calls all day long?
A: All those agents are sitting in a cube with all this complicated technology -- four or five screens -- in front of them that's all optimized for a phone call. But people are emailing for help. They're chatting for help. They're tweeting that they're unhappy and call centers were not ready. They were only ready to handle phone calls. We sell software to manage that call center -- we call them contact centers -- in a much more efficient fashion. We got rid of the phone, the actual phone. All the agent needs now is a browser, a laptop or desktop and a headset to talk into.
Q: Sounds like those companies' agents have a lot more work to handle with all of their new social media interactions.
A: Agents actually see up to a 25 percent improvement in efficiency, partly because they don't need to navigate from one screen to another and they can actually process more interactions. A company with 100 agents can save $5,000 to $10,000 per agent per year just in efficiency gains, and they're handling more interactions on multiple channels they didn't even worry about before. Then, if you get rid of all that hardware and the need for a building, the payoff there is quite dramatic, too. Within the past year, Pizza Hut was one of our first customers to say, "OK, we'll get rid of the phone." Now Pizza Hut has 400 agents in front of a browser and a computer with a headset. This is groundbreaking for call centers. (continued...)
© 2014 San Jose Mercury News (CA) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.