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Sunday, Mar 3, 2024

Call Centers Move to Home

In the call center business, productivity is everything. And Nima Hakimi, chief executive of Convoso, a software developer in Woodland Hills that creates programs specifically for call centers, knows that if agents are not making or receiving any calls his clients lose out on revenue and labor costs. “We help maximize the productivity and getting the most out of your leads and out of your agents,” he said. “That is what our software does.” In the current economy, Convoso software has added relevance as more call center agents work from home. There is a lot of technology out there that cannot support work from home setups, Hakimi said. Lisa Leight, the company’s vice president of marketing, said that it was interesting in that some clients during the coronavirus pandemic are doing well, such as insurance and mortgage companies, while others, such as those pushing luxury items, are not. “It is really empowering a lot of people to stay competitive and keep this part of the economy going because they can still reach out to people,” Leight said. Viral growth Founded in 2006 by Hakimi and his brother Bobby Hakimi, Convoso started out as SafeSoft Solutions before the pair changed the name in 2016 to better reflect its focus on conversations and shifting away from servicing just telemarketers who made outbound calls. The company employs about 40 people, and its growth plans project adding another 20 this year. Revenue is expected to grow by 40 percent to 50 percent this year, Hakimi said. The reason why revenue will increase this year is the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in call centers having to send their employees home. With its proprietary software available to them, they can switch to Convoso in a day, Leight said. That’s because there is no download required for the software to be installed, she added. “It is all browser-based. There is nothing that the agent needs to install,” Leight said. “It makes a big difference.” “With our (software), you need a computer, a headset and an internet connection and that is it,” Hakimi added. Working remotely for a call center, however, while a required business protocol during the COVID-19 crisis, was already occurring in the industry. Hakimi put the number at about 50 percent of call centers were doing some remote work prior to the virus outbreak. One of those companies is Digital Market Media, in San Luis Obispo. Tom Carolan, its founder and chief executive, said the company made the switch to a work-from-home model last summer. In January it began using Convoso software for its agents, who do marketing for big insurance carriers, such as Liberty Mutual Group, the third-largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. “The expectation is great from them,” Carolan said of the company’s insurance clients. With Convoso’s software, a consumer fills out a form at a website requesting information about an insurance product. Within fractions of a second that information is sent via the software to an agent who then calls that person back to say they had received their inquiry about a certain product, Carolan said. “In our situation, we make that call back to them and once we determine they are a viable fit for one of our clients, we transfer them to the client and the client takes them rest of the way in the fulfillment of that product,” Carolan said. Text traffic But it’s not just phone calls that the software automates to contact a potential lead, Hakimi said. “It uses multiple communications channels – calling, texting, emailing – to get them on the phone and continue the process,” he added. Indeed, it was the rise of popularity in texting that resulted in Hakimi and his brother switching gears with the company. The previous iteration of the company had a focus on gamification, which incorporates game-like elements –contests, challenges, points, badges and a bit of gambling for recognition and rewards – into the work routine. For example, agents could compete against each other to see who would make the most calls or complete the most leads. “It was set up to run like a game,” Leight said. But the brothers realized that gamification was a complex addition to its product line. They also realized that the industry was beginning to change along with consumer behavior and the popularity of texting. “Texting was becoming more prevalent,” Hakimi said. “So we shifted our focus on that and away from the gamification.” What is Convoso’s real “secret sauce,” according to Leight is the tools to manage and monitor the productivity of the agents who are spread around in their different homes. “We have the tools that put the call center manager in the seat of seeing what is happening by their agents,” Leight said. The managers are able to make decisions in real time because of the functionality of the software, Hakimi added. “If the agents are sitting there and not making any calls or receiving calls, you are paying them just to sit there,” he added. That downtime explained why Carolan switched to the San Fernando Valley company’s software. The previous software his company used was always going down and there was a lot of time spent by agents or staff who were in their homes with nothing to do, Carolan said, adding, “that was not good for us or good for our clients.” The entire Digital Market team of agents transitioned over to Convoso software during the month of January. The process was a positive one and there has been no downtime, Carolan said. “All the KPIs (key performance indicators) that we measure, we have improved upon them multiple times,” he added. For instance, it is important to contact people who want to be contacted. If a person said they are not interested, their number will be removed. However, under the pre-Convoso software, those numbers would still get dialed. “That was another problem we were facing,” Carolan said. “That connect rate is a very important KPI for us and it has been vastly improved with Convoso.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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