TCN Executive Interview
McKay Bird, Marketing Director, TCN
Utah-based TCN offers scalable and customizable cloud-based
software solutions to meet the needs of large and small call centers alike,
including its comprehensive TCN Operator software suite. It incorporates
seamlessly integrated tools to enable companies to:
- Optimally configure and monitor agents
- Set up skill-based routing to provide increased efficiency
- Enhance performance reporting and business intelligence
- Streamline agent tasks through the Agent Gateway interface.
The suite also incorporates omnichannel communications,
compliance, data management and more. CrmXchange discussed the latest developments
with McKay Bird, Marketing Director for TCN.
Growth During the Pandemic: Emerging Trends in Work-at-Home
and a Return to Live Events
Since our founding in 1999, we’ve never taken any funding. Money is reinvested back into the company. It
is a strategy that has worked for us. We’re very dedicated to our technology
and the industry.
We believe that we have been able to weather the pandemic
better than most companies. We took it as a time to reflect what was needed from
a business perspective: what might be excess and how to make things more
efficient. We have achieved significant growth, approaching 40% in 2020. Our cloud-based
platform was built for situations where companies can monitor their work at
home agents in an efficient manner.
Consumers who were understanding about delays during the
first few months of the pandemic are no longer willing to be as patient. We are
learning how everything is interconnected; a perfect storm which may have
started with the pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities in our supply chains and
logistics that need to be addressed.
Before the pandemic took hold, there were a lot of companies
that were on the fence about moving to the cloud and whether it was right for
them. Early in the pandemic we saw that there were unexpected problems with
moving agents to working from their homes such as firewall and internet
bandwidth issues. Some call centers were trying to connect their premise
solutions to at-home agents. The actual problems were mostly not those you would
imagine, such as running out of headsets or laptops to equip these agents. We
were able to help one organization in need of laptops get orders through by
leveraging our partnership with Dell. These were issues they didn’t encounter
until the agents were sent home. Some companies also learned that some of their
agents in the US didn’t even have internet connectivity or a connection that
was not robust enough to handle the necessary bandwidth.
We did need to make some adjustments to our applications to
meet these new challenges. I’ll share
two examples: First, we had a basic communication tool to enable managers to
chat with agents that didn’t allow agents to chat back. The moment Covid hit,
sending all our clients’ agents’ home, our CTO encouraged our project managers
- who are given a lot of leeway to devote time to personal projects in the
development team – to pitch ideas for features to make the necessary
improvements. A few months prior, there
had been a pitch for a full-fledged internal chat communication layered on top
of the agent and management experience. We were already working on it and had a
rough framework of what it would look like.
When the crisis hit full force, within 30 days, we were able to have a
full-fledged internal chat application that met the needs of managers and
agents. It was all built within the agent experience, so they never have to
leave the application. They get a little ping in the top right-hand corner of
the screen and can reply to a message or notification and close it when they
are done. It was huge…allowing agents who weren’t getting face-to-face contact
with their manager to communicate. They could even ask a fellow agent for help
on a specific call. This advance in internal communication is something we call
‘Room 303.’ It’s been a tremendous success.
The second example is an increase in automation, something a
lot of call centers had already been doing. The demand for such features as
advanced IVR capabilities, payment processing, data dip and account lookup went
up astronomically. Being able to appropriately process such customer journeys
via automation makes everything far more efficient. While our IVR was already robust, we made
some big changes to further improve it. We did have to make some adjustments in
how payments were being handled, mostly behind the payment gateway. We also did
some additional integrations with payment providers with whom we didn’t have an
existing default API. Taking those additional steps helped tremendously. Our
IVR also has pathing that makes it easy to make changes and prevent consumers
from winding up in an empty pathway. It’s a drag-and-drop functionality that
won’t allow the client to save a non-functional place in the queue. The system
will ask the user for some conclusion or an exit or some sort of advancement.
We did see an increase in automation and better communications modalities
throughout the industry.
Creating a Stronger Presence in WFO
Sometime in the early summer of 2021 we are planning on
launching our own WFM/WFO product, which we call Workforce Engagement combined
into one suite. Building our own WFO is a natural progression with our product
line. TCN grew up in the outbound space. As we evolved our technology and
software, we reached a point where we needed to start innovating. We developed
our inbound IVR about nine or 10 years ago which moved us into the inbound
market. Then we slowly added feature new features. We have outbound, inbound, a
few omnichannel products as well as speech analytics. WFO is the next logical
step. We like to provide our clients with a total solution in order to help
them create a better customer experience. We’re confident that we can best
service and troubleshoot a product that we have developed.
Competitive Advantages in the Marketplace
We believe one of our greatest advantages is that we provide
a no-contract pure cloud experience in a holistic platform. By no-contract, we
mean no monthly minimums or long-term
obligations. Many providers in WFO and speech analytics space lock their
clients into binding agreements. The point of cloud is being able to leverage
the flexibility it allows. To us, that means no contracts. Clients pay only for
what they use and use what they pay for. If a company needs to add agents, they
can add agents. If they need to downsize, they can do so. If there is an event
that produces an influx of calls, the flexibility to handle the volume is
Customers appreciate that they are not locked into minimum
usage requirements. They can’t say enough about how they can turn agents on and
off and take advantage of different functionalities with a comprehensive,
easy-to-use, no-contract platform that can be spun up in days, as opposed to weeks
We had a conversation with an industry analyst recently who told
us not to underestimate how long it takes some of our competitors to set up.
The analyst felt that this gives us a unique point of differentiation that is
our strongest selling point.
The other significant advantage is in our 24/7 customer
support. Our clients appreciate our teams and the care they provide at no cost.
We take these relationships even more seriously because of our no-contract
policy. We work on a month-to-month basis with our clients so we must provide
that consistently positive experience to the companies that rely on us or they
will find someone else who will deliver the kind of service they require.
Global Presence, Post-Pandemic Trends and Future Outlook
TCN’s sales and support office is in Salt Lake City and our headquarters
is also in Utah in Saint George. We also have offices in Mays Landing, NJ (near
Atlantic City), as well as internationally in Toronto, Adelaide, Australia and
We are one of the few cloud vendors licensed to sell and
service the Indian market. They have
strict laws and regulations surrounding telecom and voice traffic. In India, we
work with a major hospital and bank, each with around 2500 agents who are all
working from home. Many of them are accessing our software via iPhones provided
to them by these companies. Some had
previously not had a mobile phone or even a land line. This speaks to the
flexibility of the software and what can be accomplished by using it. We take pride
in consulting with our clients to help them overcome challenges and find a way
to get the resources they need to make the transition to work-at-home as easy
As the pandemic winds down, we believe that the trend toward
greater flexibility in working hours for agents will continue. This advantage
was often not available to the hourly wage worker. Schedule flexibility is not only a benefit
but can act as an incentive for agents to choose one call center over another.
We also see the growing role of automation and adaptation of the cloud as
pandemic-driven effects that will continue as we move forward. Companies will
also rely more artificial intelligence to predict ways to improve their
We’re excited about the future of the CX contact center space!