Arise: hitting a home run

Arise Virtual Solutions is a BPO provider with a difference. No professional customer experience specialist wants anything but the best for their clients but what if an organisation had a platform that could connect your customers with highly motivated, entrepreneurial agents, who choose the brands with which they work and who can scale up or down according to business needs within half an hour’s notice?

To understand how this is achieved it’s essential to comprehend where the company came from. Mark Walton  (pictured), recently-installed vice president for Europe, explained that it launched in 1994 in the US, to provide a platform that could be leveraged by people working from home.. It now has around 260 employees, is headquartered in Miramar, Florida and operates a platform offering access to a network of thousands of call centres and their Customer Service Professionals, across the US, Canada, Ireland and the UK.

Walton spent ten years building the Aquira group of companies, prior to which he spent 20 years in the contact centre industry. He joined Arise five months ago because he was excited by the opportunity to offer the large corporates a comprehensive solution, addressing many of their critical customer experience and contact centre issues which is not available anywhere else in the market.

Arise provides a technology platform to a network of customer management agents, operating their own independent call centre business, exclusively working from their homes. “The major advantage from the client point of view is that it offers complete flexibility,” said Walton. “These Agents are running their own businesses and working from home so they are able to be called to action at very short notice. As business owners, they are motivated to service and can be called to action quickly.” The practical implication of this is that capacity can be dramatically increased at very short notice, if required, and the client does not pay for any unproductive time and is never over staffed.

This is great for planned seasonal peaks but also for emergencies; the Arise network was recently able to respond to Hurricane Irma for Carnival, the major cruise and holiday operator in Florida, which had to evacuate its HQ. Call centres on the Arise platform were able to respond to this evacuation and the spike in inquiries about travel plans within very short notice. “That’s something you simply can’t do with a bricks and mortar operation where you have shift patterns, people have to physically be there and you staff accordingly,” he commented. The company was also able to switch the increased capacity off very quickly, so the client payed for what they used and nothing more. It’s not going too far to say the Arise platform provides companies access to  “Contact Centre as a Service”.

Quality matters

It’s not all about flexibility, of course; quality matters as well and this is where appealing to the mindset of a business owner adds further value. “Typically those accessing the Arise platform come from a very different background from what is thought of as the typical contact centre worker. With an age profile between 35-55, they are  a more mature individual; 70% of agents have some kind of further education qualification, and many have a degree.” This is combined with lots of life experience. “They are able to have a much richer engagement with our Client’s customers and our platform can connect with businesses whose agents have specific profiles, tailored for those client’s requirements.”

These requirements can be pretty specific. One very well-known and premium coffee brand needed coffee experts or ‘buffs’ on the phone to speak on its behalf; by offering this opportunity to the entire network, the client was able to accesses agents with a specific interest in this brand. But isn’t this starting to sound a bit expensive? “The cost saving for the client is significant,” explains Walton. “The obvious saving is that there are no bricks and mortar centres, so those fixed costs are eliminated. Also the Arise platform gives clients and call centres the ability to schedule in thirty minute intervals and enabling an efficiency level of about 85%- overall the Client’s costs are 25-30% lower cost, but with better quality.”

The range of independent businesses accessing the Arise platform is considerable from the age and experience point of view. Retirees wanting to continue to work mingle with professional people and individuals who might, for example, be homebound and find a commute or office building difficult. “It gives the opportunity of work to people who want to work in a particular way. A lot of them do this as a lifestyle choice, they may not want to work a 35-37 hour shift. They work for themselves in the way they want to. It’s immensely attractive to retired people, mums or dads, wanting to return to the workplace, people just wanting to supplement their income.”

These Business Owners want to be kept fully engaged with the Client’s brand and Arise is aware of this. The introduction and platform registration process manages their expectations so by the time they are providing services on a client programme, they will be fully aware of what is involved and what is required. They have the opportunity to choose the brand for which they work, so they often like and know the end client, before they commence. “That means we retain the services of their business, whilst their contract is active, because they know exactly what they’re going to be doing.” Via our platform, we connect these businesses fully to the client systems. There are chat rooms, open forums and every opportunity to stay connected through social media platforms.

Environmentally, enabling Home working means we can eliminate 275 million commute miles a year so the fuel consumption reduction has a huge environmental impact.

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s true nonetheless. A lot of FTSE 250 companies are using the Arise platform, people like Npower, Carnival, BT, Staples – these are non-trivial companies and the organisation is growing rapidly globally and now in the UK.

Walton is clearly excited about the opportunity to address many of the industries shortcomings for both clients and agents alike. The ability for clients to have maximum flexibility, cut costs, improve service and help the environment all at once, and for entrepreneurial individuals not to be stuck in 9 – 5 call centre jobs that they would rather not do, and hence drive high attrition, is a very exciting opportunity.

Put like that, who wouldn’t be? Expect to hear more about the Arise platform in the near future.

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