• February 2, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Five9 Helps Open English Keep Class in Session

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In 2003, Andres Moreno set out to teach English to executives at ­Fortune 500 companies in his native Venezuela. Within three years, Cargill, Sun Microsystems, and Procter & Gamble were among his clients. Taking that experience, he officially launched Open English, an online English language instructional program, commercially in Venezuela in 2008. The online school was expanded to the rest of Latin America in 2010. At the time, it had just 5,000 students.

Today, Open English has more than 400,000 students in 40 countries, including all of Central and South America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Spain, and it is preparing to enter new markets in Europe and beyond. It has more than 2,000 employees working full time or as independent contractors and has offices in Miami; Bogotá, Colombia; São Paulo, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The company operates several contact centers in the United States and Latin America. Together, the facilities employ about 400 agents, who handle roughly 1 million calls per month.

Even while undergoing such rapid growth, the company was able to trim its contact center staff by two thirds and maintain its customer service levels with the help of Five9, a provider of cloud-based contact center software. Five9's session initiation protocol (SIP) infrastructure, which includes call distributors and outbound predictive dialers, allows Open English to handle its call volume. "We're taking the same number of calls, but we're operating much more efficiently now," says Lee Hasson, director of business intelligence at Open English.

And with Five9's standard Salesforce integration solution, Open English's system is able to instantly capture, import, and follow up on Web site leads. Open English advertises heavily on television in Latin America, and ads prompt viewers to go the company's Web site and fill out a form for more information. The form feeds into Salesforce.com, where the leads are captured and tracked. Salesforce.com then pushes the lead out to Five9 for the agents to follow up with a phone call.

"A core part of our entire process is taking leads from our Web site and quickly getting them into our dialer. It's critically important that we contact people as quickly as possible," Hasson says. "We're spending a lot of money on advertising, so we want to react quickly. With Salesforce and Five9, all of this happens within seconds." The only exception is when the contact centers are closed. "Forms [submitted] during off hours are queued up in Five9 and ready to go when we open up in the morning," Hasson says.

The call centers generally operate from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. About 95 percent of the calls during those hours are outbound. Some 50,000 inbound calls are received per month.

Open English selected Five9's technology for a number of reasons, and first and foremost was its cloud deployment. "We could be considered a technology company, but we want to focus on education, not maintaining a lot of infrastructure and hardware," Hasson says.

Also key was the system’s Salesforce.com integration. "We needed our systems to play together nicely," he says.

And the system had to be easy to use. "Five9 does not require a lot of agent training. It's very intuitive to use," Hasson says. "It helps that it's highly flexible and easy to scale up or down."

Though Open English doesn't have any immediate plans to scale up its Five9 solution, Hasson might consider a tighter integration with his company's live Web chat functionality, which is currently handled through its Salesforce.com application. Open English agents handle between 30,000 and 40,000 chat sessions per month.

Open English uses its contact centers for both sales and customer support functions. The company prides itself on being able to reach out to students at a moment’s notice, whether it's for assistance with a course registration or just general encouragement.

"Having a platform for efficient outbound dialing was crucial," Hasson says. "With Five9 and Salesforce, we're operating as efficiently as possible."  

The Payoff

Since implementing Five9's standard Salesforce integration solution and SIP infrastructure in its contact centers, Open English has been able to reduce agent staff by two thirds yet still handle:

  • 1 million outbound calls per month;
  • 50,000 inbound calls per month; and
  • 30,000 to 40,000 chat sessions per month.

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