Sykes: A Solid Support Solution for ISPs Staff

Updated · Dec 03, 2003

By Jeff Goldman
Sykes Enterprises
was started back in 1977 as a small engineering firm in Charlotte, North
Carolina. John Sykes, the company's founder, remains its CEO today. In
1992, Sykes purchased Jones Technologies in Sterling, Colorado, and began
offering outsourced customer support. The company has grown significantly
in the interim, and now has 42 call centers and 16 branch offices worldwide.

According to Dan Hernandez, Sykes' Senior Vice President of Global Strategy,
the move into contact center services in 1992 was a response to the state
of the market at the time. “As businesses began to develop more and more
needs for customer care, and as they began to outsource that, when they
realized the benefits of using a business process outsourcer, John Sykes
saw a need and began fulfilling it,” he says.

For ISPs, Sykes offers telephone, e-mail, and chat support covering dialup
and broadband services, and can also provide outbound calling if needed.
“We're able to tailor a solution to the needs of their business,” Hernandez
says. “We have supported ISPs with outbound calls, but primarily we've
worked with them on customer account management, billing inquiry, and
technical support.”

All reporting is customized for each Sykes client. “Our Business Insight
tool allows clients to see the service level, the contact rates, and the
types of interactions that are occurring with a customer,” Hernandez says.
“We have the ability to tailor the type of reports based on their needs,
so they can drill down on service level, for example, by the half-hour
if they need to.”

Working with the ISP
For a new client, the setup process involves a dedicated team of Sykes
representatives. “We immediately assign a team to that client's account,
which includes an implementation manager, an executive sponsor, and our
account manager—and depending on the complexity, we may have a solutions
architect for the account as well,” Hernandez says. “Together, they craft
out the solution and the timelines.”

Every new implementation works best, Hernandez says, when it's approached as a partnership. “There are a number of complexities associated with the integration of systems, customer relationship management tools, and all of the reporting structures,” he says. “We've found it to be a very successful process when we're engaged with the client every step of the way, so we can set expectations and then meet them.”

Sykes can either integrate with the client's own back end systems or
provide its own proprietary solutions. Despite the company's size and
global footprint, Hernandez says Sykes is able to work with ISPs of all
sizes. “There really isn't a target size; it's based more upon the needs
of that specific client and the solutions that we're able to provide for
them,” he says.

The fact that Sykes has 42 call centers worldwide lets the company offer
pricing to match a range of different needs. “If it's a larger provider
that wants to offer solutions in several languages, we can to do that,”
Hernandez says. “If it's a smaller provider in the United States, we've
got alternatives for them to look at, both to make them cost-effective
and to improve the quality of their services.”

A long term partnership
Pricing can be structured per-minute, per-interaction, or per-subscriber.
“We work together to determine what makes the most sense for their business
model,” Hernandez says. “There isn't a general pricing structure; we tailor
a solution based on their needs, what they're looking for, and what volumes
they're working with.”

Hernandez urges any ISP that's seeking an outsourced helpdesk provider
to look for a company that offers a real sense of partnership. “It's such
a core component in the delivery of the services that will differentiate
one ISP from another, that you really want to seek out a partner that
can grow with you over the long term—one that brings additional solutions
to you throughout the relationship,” he says.

And the more an ISP puts into the relationship with its helpdesk provider,
the better their services will be. “They really need to make the necessary
investments in terms of the ISP's time and resources in developing that
partnership, in terms of training, in terms of insight into the business
and where it's going, so the partnership can be successful,” Hernandez

The fact that Sykes has been providing call center services for over a decade gives the company a solid background in the ISP industry. “Starting with dialup providers, and then progressing all the way to broadband, we've been there every step of the way,” Hernandez says. “It's given us the ability not only to grow with the industry, but also to see where the industry will be going.”

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