As a SmartVirtual™ company in a globalized industry, technology and talented people go hand-in-hand when striving for excellence.
The success of a 100% work-at-home operation relies heavily on a robust, forward-thinking, innovative approach to IT, a fact that our new CIO, Anthony Crutcher, knows all too well.
We sat down with Anthony to chat about his technological journey in the BPO industry and how he plans to enhance Activus Connect’s IT strategy, elevating experiences for clients and Ambassadors even further.
A Storied Career in IT
Anthony started his career path 27 years ago at MCI Communications, where he spent five years as a Senior Manager in IT, breaking his teeth on what he considers to be the wellspring of technological innovation in the contact center industry. After that, he moved through several high-level technology leadership and executive roles at companies like Comcast, Ernst & Young, Sitel, and TTEC, before joining the Activus Connect family in 2020.
“When I first got started in IT, I didn’t want to limit myself to one area, so I diversified my learning across infrastructure, applications, security, and all the core disciplines that connect like common threads throughout the industry,” he said. “That kind of experience builds a broader understanding of the dependencies between one discipline to the next, removing the barriers and silos that prevent companies from innovating faster.”
Throughout his career, that technological experience has revolved around two main areas: consumers and employees. On the customer side, Anthony is responsible for discovering new ways to offer multiple touchpoints, speed up resolutions, and maximize satisfaction through technology. On the employee side, he ensures that the entire workforce has the right tools to get the job done in the most efficient way possible, boosting overall productivity and enabling them to elevate experiences on the front lines.
“My entire career journey has been centered on how to leverage technology to provide the best experiences for everybody,” said Anthony, describing the allure of the CX industry as a technology leader. “If our Ambassadors are the beating heart of the organization, then our technology represents the circulatory system connecting them all, and you can’t have one without the other.”
Addressing the Challenges of a Virtual Operation
Geographical dispersion is the nature of the customer service industry, with customers, service providers, and clients often scattered throughout the world. As a truly SmartVirtual™ company, that dispersion goes one step further.
“For many CIOs, it’s challenging enough to choose the right tools in a brick-and-mortar facility, let alone across a network of virtual employees,” laughed Anthony. “Our Ambassadors are working remotely in hundreds of different locations, so we need to focus on providing a seamless level of connection to enable them to interact and form relationships with their colleagues, as well as provide the high level of service our customers have come to expect.”
Activus Connect’s SmartVirtual™ platform is built upon cutting edge technology that eliminates the need for legacy upgrades, so a key challenge for Anthony is how to sustain that approach and build upon it.
“I’m always looking at the possibility of leveraging new technologies, exploring emerging trends, and measuring their compatibility with our business model,” he said. “We have to consider the entire spectrum of existing and emerging omnichannel solutions, looking at how they might add value for every client—I’m not going to change for the sake of making change; there must be an opportunity to benefit Activus and benefit our customers.”
From Anthony’s perspective, this technological strategy is never static, but an approach that constantly evolves according to the emergence of innovative new solutions. As long as they add value to the customer experience or enhance the Ambassadors’ lives in some way, he’s willing to explore them.
Streamlining Employee Experiences
With over two decades of experience in the contact center and BPO industry, Anthony has seen companies focus too heavily on productivity and metrics while forgetting the importance of customer experience.
“If you focus more strongly on CX over productivity, then you’ll see organic improvements across all of your metrics,” he explained. “It all comes down to finding the tools and the tech that improves that experience, tying everything back to the Ambassadors and employees and making sure they’re taken care of.”
So how does that experience look from an IT perspective? In simple terms, it’s about streamlining processes and getting people excited about working.
“With work-at-home security at the forefront of everyone’s minds, most people in the industry have to pass through several gateways before they can start working, but all these security checks and balances ultimately ruin the experience for employees,” said Anthony. “At Activus, not only are the security functions reliable and robust, but our Ambassadors don’t have to jump through endless hoops to get started—this is one great example of how technology can enhance experiences.”
Looking to the Future
As CIO, Anthony’s next step is modernizing Activus Connect’s broader technology organization, bringing formalized structure to the people, processes, and tools that the company relies upon. However, he’s acutely aware of the risks associated with rapid technological advancement, especially as it relates to Ambassadors and company growth.
“I have a lot of respect for Felix and Minerva’s ability to drive so much growth in such a small time frame, but they’re also smart enough to understand that technology shouldn’t outpace the rest of the company,” he said. “When organizations grow at a certain pace, then often mature past earlier departmental processes and procedures, and that’s a good thing, but you have to scale technologies at the same pace as the company to ensure that everyone is capable of working with them.”
Motivated by his new role at Activus, Anthony hopes to bring his experience with location-agnostic technology to new heights, ensuring that the Ambassador experience is the same no matter where they are. As Activus expands to new geographies, the challenge is achieving that with minimal complexity and without compromising on security, which is something we’re excited to achieve together.
Welcome to the team, Anthony!