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The contact centre needs disruption – here’s why

Meet James Guthrie, Founder, Smartz Solutions

Johannesburg, 01 Aug 2023
Disrupting the contact centre.
Disrupting the contact centre.

Smartz Solutions is the disruptor reshaping the contact centre landscape. Traditional legacy systems, with their entangled infrastructures and exorbitant fees, have held businesses hostage for too long. That's why Founder, James Guthrie, is on a mission to give contact centres the comprehensive, cost-effective, 360-degree platform they deserve. Guthrie has dedicated his entire career to knowing everything there is to know about customer experience. His timeline and experience in the industry are extensive. From support engineer, pre-sales engineer, developer, call centre CIO, and call centre COO to an OEM, James's 35 years of experience is entrenched in the full spectrum of communications.

"The connection between customer and employee experience is the foundation of successful contact centres. In the last 35 years, there has been no solution that offers contact centres that connection. That's why Smartz Solutions was founded."

The connection between customer and employee experience is the foundation of successful call centres; and without this connection, contact centres are suffering.

Smartz Solutions was built on the vision to give contact centres the ability to finally connect the customer and employee experience and have the real-time insights to act on it.

Now meet James Guthrie, Founder of Smartz Solutions.

Q: What was the catalyst that drove you to create this disruptor in the contact centre landscape?

JG: The lack of a complete solution in the industry impacts the ability for a contact centre to run successfully. As a CIO and COO of a 1500 seat contact centre, I had to manage multiple solutions to give me the required insight into the contact centre. This process was wildly ineffective and very costly.

Q: Many companies have been ensnared by legacy systems and their associated challenges. What motivated you to tackle this specific problem head-on?

JG: The decimating costs of traditional legacy systems on contact centres were evident, but even more was the fact that the industry was only offering on-premise; and if cloud was available, it was completely separated from existing platforms. There was no migration path from the traditional on-premise solution to the cloud.

Contact centres are then tied to legacy - often outdated - systems. So with Smartz, we focused on giving contact centres the freedom to be able to implement an on-premises solution and when they are ready, have a fully operational, no-downtime, migration to the cloud.

Freedom and agility are critical for contact centres; which is why we continue to remain cloud agnostic. Giving contact centres the ability to use their own infrastructure and not having to rip and replace their existing systems in one go, is a game-changer for our clients.

Q: How is Smartz Solutions turning the tables on the status quo in the industry?

JG: Freedom. We give contact centres the freedom and power to implement all features and functionality to excel without breaking their bank. Having the power to manage your contact centres autonomously and not being dictated to by legacy systems and software allows contact centres to scale at the rate they choose. Also, our platform is built on the latest technologies and is extremely user-friendly. We did this purposely throughout building our solution. We don't want contact centres to be held hostage by providers; and so we give our clients the power to manage the platform themselves and not have to fully rely on us for assistance.

Q: Disrupting an established market comes with its set of challenges. What has been the most significant obstacle you've faced so far, and how did you overcome it?

JG: Our platform is robust. Its capabilities are vast and because of traditional legacy systems, it's natural for our clients to be concerned about support in the beginning. I understand that, because the power of a system like ours and not needing to prepare yourself for huge support costs seems unheard of. And it is. Having spent years focusing on building a system that actually is easy-to-use, means contact centres now have access to unmatched functionality to excel, and they can easily do it themselves. That’s freedom.

Q: At the heart of Smartz is the commitment to both employee and customer experiences. Why was it essential to balance these two, and how does Smartz ensure both are met?

JG: The balance between the employee experience and customer experience is the foundation of a successful contact centre. They are directly related. A bad employee experience will impact the experiences your customers receive. Happy employees mean happy customers. We focused on creating the connection point between these two worlds, and with the Smartz platform, contact centres finally have access to this connection. We built Smartz around the customer journey, leveraging our proprietary technology, A.I.D™ (Automatic Interaction Distribution). Through this, we focused on ensuring accurate customer-agent matching with real-time sentiment analysis, reporting, and profile building. When contact centres have access to these types of insights in real-time, and when customers and agents are matched accurately, customers are happier, making employees happier, and so the cycle continues.

Q: There are significant advances in technology, especially with AI, and there are concerns around its role in contact centres. What are your thoughts around this in the near future?

JG: The industry is moving so fast and changing directions with the introduction of AI over the last few years and now ChatGPT (and other AI-powered tools). I believe these are tools to support agents in their support of customers, but absolutely not to replace agents.

By our data, customers still want to speak to agents, and even more so than before the mass adoption of AI-powered tools. This is for a number of reasons but mostly because of the bad implementations of automated processes.

Many contact centres are using these tools in an attempt to automate the customer processes and cut back on agent costs. Understandable, but the implementation of these tools is not helping the customer journey at all and severely impacting the employees still in the contact centres.

There has to be a balance. For example, at Smartz, we have the tools to automate processes but because we understand the customer journey and how these automations impact the customer and employee, we focus on where the automation can actually improve the experience. Whereas in many cases, the automation is primarily used as cost-cutting, which leads to issues.

Q: What advice would you give to those aiming to disrupt established industries?

JG: Have faith, don’t give up. Don’t think what you are doing at every corner is going to change the world; the world is big, you are small. This means it is going to take a long time to do what you want to do. You cannot give up, and you absolutely can never believe you have 'arrived'; the journey never stops.

Smartz Solutions

Smartz Solutions is the disruptor reshaping the contact center landscape.

Traditional legacy systems, with their entangled infrastructures and exorbitant fees, have held businesses hostage for too long. Contact centers are tired of being burdened by disjointed systems with hefty price tags and bad customer and employee experiences. We’re redefining the contact centre experience through our AI-powered 360-degree experience platform.

We’ve been there. We paid for the legacy systems. We had 15 different systems running (at a snail's pace) at once to be able to run our call centre. 

We know the pain of not being able to find data quickly enough (sometimes at all) to help customers. And we sure know what it’s like to have employee information in multiple systems; never showing a clear view of the business.

Losing money, opportunities and patience doesn’t have to be how you continue to run your call centre. Through a comprehensive tech stack, you will finally have your entire customer and employee experience in one place with the data and insights to make strategic decisions in real time