• March, 1 2018
  • By Leonard Klie, Senior News Editor, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmarCustomerService.com.

Running a Contact Center from the Inside Out

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Working off the idea that everyone deserves a second chance, Avaya in mid-2017 forged a partnership with Televerde, a provider of business-to-business demand generation and inside sales solutions. Through its contact centers, Televerde now handles outbound lead generation for Avaya.

The partnership is unique in that Televerde's U.S. contact centers are staffed almost entirely by women in prison. Televerde provides valuable training and skills to help the incarcerated women prepare for life after prison and backs it up with career opportunities, mentoring, and a host of life, wellness, and community resources once they've completed their sentences.

In fact, 25 percent of the inmates continue to work with Televerde after they're released from prison. Currently, about half of Televerde's Phoenix corporate office employees came from Perryville-Arizona State Prison. Working in departments like IT, marketing, finance, and HR, these women all have at least a high school diploma or graduate equivalency, and with Televerde's support, many of them have gone on to complete their bachelor's and master's degrees. One now even heads Televerde's customer service organization globally.

To further demonstrate the success of the program, the recidivism rates for women who have worked for Televerde are less than 8 percent; the national average, by contrast, is well above 50 percent.

The prisoners aren't the only ones to profit from Televerde's innovative proposition: Since the beginning of its partnership with Televerde, Avaya has experienced a 92 percent increase in win rates, which it credits to the uniqueness of Televerde's business model and training of its contact center employees. Avaya also benefits from a consistent and superior global customer experience, regardless of whether a customer contacts Avaya through its website, by phone, or by signing up for a video demonstration.

Additionally, on the back end, Televerde's ability to integrate with Avaya on a global scale ensures agents adhere to a single, efficient process for tracking and reporting across all business units. This gives campaign managers a consistent and comparable view into campaign performance, allowing them to make informed decisions on the fly and quickly scale the program up or down globally as needed.

"As a global leader in customer experience solutions, we know that the technology our clients need has to be world-class to deliver the best experience possible, at all touch points. Televerde allows us to provide that same level of service excellence to our clients at that vital first touch point, consistently around the globe, while also furthering a great cause," says Patti Moran, senior director of Americas marketing at Avaya.

"We thank Avaya for seeing the merit in how we work, who we work with, the value we deliver, and supporting the empowerment of women from all backgrounds," said James Hooker, president of Televerde, in a statement. "We look forward to partnering with [Avaya] to continue to improve their customer experience and overall sales results."

To find out more about the program, CRM magazine editor Leonard Klie interviewed Vince Barsolo, senior vice president of operations at Televerde.

CRM: Tell me about Televerde as a company. How many facilities does it operate? How many employees? How many clients, comprising which industries?

Barsolo: Televerde is a global demand-generation company that offers sales and marketing solutions designed to acquire new business and accelerate revenue for our clients. We operate nine facilities globally and employ approximately 650 people. We're headquartered in Phoenix, with other offices in Glasgow, Scotland; Cordoba, Argentina; and Melbourne, Australia. We have approximately 100 clients and can work across just about any industry. We have the most experience working in technology, health care, manufacturing, and professional services.

What types of contact centers does the company operate—sales, collections, tech support, customer service, etc.?

Our contact center operations are focused on B2B demand generation, sales development, and inside sales activities. Both inbound and outbound, the tactics performed focus on the contact and conversion of prospects through various stages of the client's sales pipeline.

Of the facilities Televerde operates, how many are based in prisons? Which prisons are involved, and how were they selected?

Televerde has partnerships with the state of Arizona and the state of Indiana to provide job opportunities to incarcerated women at five locations (four at the Arizona State Prison in Perryville and one in Indiana at the Rockville Correctional Facility). We have developed an extensive screening process for potential partners; it encompasses incarceration rates, education levels, and correctional industry experience, with private-sector partners and prison operations. Ensuring we are working with the right partners means that we are able to support our clients in a way that drives the highest success rates on their demand generation and customer acquisition programs.

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