The call center industry is worth US$3.1 billion, rendering it a huge opportunity for those able to innovate within it. One entrepreneur doing just that is Adam Boalt. A serial entrepreneur having sold off his previously company at the end of last year, Boalt has launched a new startup aimed at disrupting call centers: UsefulTools.
The Kayak of call centers, UsefulTools has developed a turnkey platform that provides small businesses, marketers and software developers with access to call center agents with unoccupied time. It allows clients to create their own call center campaigns in under a minute, helping them to design scripts, create agent pools, and designating specific skill sets, certifications and linguistic abilities. And the platform offers a big value-adder for consumers – the chance to talk to real people (and not automated systems).
UsefulTools currently gives clients access to over 50,000 call center agents operating in nearly 50 call centers. It launched in private beta back in June and debuted its online service at TechCrunch Disrupt in September. And by the looks of it, things are moving along fast.
“UsefulTools is an innovative call center agent platform that allows businesses to create agent scripts and launch live answering solutions,” Boalt explained. “Call center operators can handle basic requests with this easy-to-use interface, but we go beyond that, the business model is also an aggregator to call center’s excess capacity. From the marketplace standpoint, we are looking at a 3.1 billion dollar industry that has been sitting dormant. UsefulTools capitalizes on the excess capacity of call centers or, in other words, their unoccupied call time.”
We reached out to Boalt, a Cuban-American based in Miami, to learn more about UsefulTools, the call center industry, and his approach to this latest startup as compared to the last.
Emily Stewart: This is quite a shift from your last startup, RushMyPassport.com. Why go such a different route?
Adam Boalt: In many ways, both startups are similar, because they are just bringing together multiple suppliers and creating a marketplace that consolidates everything into a streamlined process. In order for this to be possible in the call center industry, we had to build a set of tools that provided call centers with a simple way to sell excess capacity, also known as “unoccupied time.” In addition, we created a simple way for businesses to create a call center campaign in under 60 seconds. UsefulTools is no different than what Kayak is to airlines, but for call centers. There are so many different call centers that provide different services, there has just never been a centralized way to have access to them all.
ES: What lessons learned are you employing with this new startup as opposed to your last?
AB: There are many different lessons in different areas, including information technology and entity resource planning. The biggest lesson has been to really understand how to automate processes, something that was also an invaluable lesson from my prior startup, which was a very process-driven business.
ES: You launched at TechCrunch Disrupt. Why make your debut there?
AB: We wanted to show people how they can setup a call center campaign in less than 60 seconds without having prior call center experience and demonstrate what UsefulTools is all about, so what better place to do it than a technology conference like the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in startup alley?
ES: Latin American countries are often choice locales for companies offering call center services. Why do you think that is?
AB: Call centers seem to be a natural fit for Latin American companies, and offshoring contact center operations may seem like a viable option for many businesses in the U.S. In the case of UsefulTools, we are expanding in Asia, and Latin America will be our next market. Our strategy is to not only break it down by language but also by culture and offer the service at that micro level. As a Cuban-American, I understand how important cultural relevancy is to the Latin community.
ES: Are you sourcing agents from the region?
AB: We are currently expanding in Asia, and our next step will be Latin America.
ES: Your solution definitely seems like a consumer-pleaser, but what about agents?
AB: It’s really just as much about the agents. I believe that, in order for this to be successful, it has to be. Making an agent happy makes all the difference. The user’s experience is directly related to the agent’s experience. I would say that the agent is 50% of the caller experience.