Partner Q&A: Creating a 40% Drop in Operational Costs in One Month

At Activus Connect, we’re always highlighting the benefits of work-at-home customer experience, but it’s really our customers who understand it best, so we’ve decided to give them the spotlight to provide their unique insight into the SmartVirtualTM experience.

A Closer Look is a customer research and data-analytics firm that provides retailers, restaurants, and hotels with unique customer experience data from mystery shops. The company has two main operational pillars that involve scheduling mystery shops and editing the customer experience feedback, both of which Activus is helping to improve.

We sat down with Chris Gillen, A Closer Look’s CEO, to find out how his experience with SmartVirtualTM and Activus Connect was measuring up, the benefits he’s seeing in a work-at-home setting, and what the future holds for the partnership.

What led you to form a partnership with Activus Connect?

CG: We started working with Activus in November 2019 when we noticed huge inefficiencies in some of our operational processes. We were spending a lot of money on manual processes, particularly on the customer experience editing side, so there was a clear opportunity to address these issues with a work-from-home solution.

When our mystery shoppers document their experiences, they need to tell a story that’s compelling for our clients and appropriate for our data-analytics tools. Our editors make sure they’ve ticked all the right boxes and stuck to the right narrative. Before we started working with Activus, we had 130 independent contractors doing that work. With an average of 10,000 shops a month, it was really inefficient to deal with so many editors, so we needed a solution.

How did that partnership look when you first kicked things off?

CG: The project started with just 6 full-time Ambassadors, tasked to perform the work of 130 editors. Activus hired these six people directly from our pool of contractors, acquiring their knowledge and skills in the process.

After a few weeks, our operational inefficiencies had all but vanished, and our costs dropped by 40%. We’re now able to redirect those funds into marketing and technology, enabling us to enhance our market presence and improve our service offering even further.

Were there any issues with the onboarding process? How did Activus solve them?

CG: Prior to their new roles at Activus, our contractors were independent for more than 10 years, so there was a lot of concern that their transition into full-time employees would cause issues, particularly as they were so familiar with being their own bosses. After a couple of weeks, however, they told me how impressed they were with the work-at-home culture Felix and his team had built, so our worries were ultimately unwarranted.

Work-at-home security remains the number one concern for companies looking to outsource CX. How would you address those concerns after working with Activus Connect?

CG: With the position that every contact center faces right now, as workers are forced to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no way to scale operations without taking a few chances. Whichever work-from-home company you go with, there’s always going to be a risk, but in my mind, you mitigate that risk by going with the most trustworthy partner.

Felix and Minerva at Activus perform regular check-ins with clients and spend time getting to know their businesses. When faced with any issues, there is always a quick follow-up and a willingness to go the extra mile to resolve them, along with complete transparency into the operations. In my experience with the BPO and CX market, I knew I wouldn’t find that anywhere else, which is why I immediately went with Activus.

Felix is one of the industry’s leading experts when it comes to work-at-home CX, which drives the high level of quality I’ve come to expect from Activus. He’s also committed to transparency, honesty, and openness, both with their Ambassadors and their clients. In short, partners like Activus don’t come along very often.

How does your future partnership with Activus Connect look?

CG: Once we start ramping up, we’ll have a formalized process in place that will enable us to hire editors at a much faster rate, which wasn’t possible before partnering with Activus.

As restaurants and retailers deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Closer Look is looking to the future by analyzing the market to gather experiences with curbside pickup and independent delivery. We also plan to provide health and hygiene surveys that help businesses assess the new health and safety standards introduced since the Coronavirus.

We hope that Activus will join us on this journey into uncharted waters, and we’ll continue to work with Felix and the team to solve any issues we may face

To learn more about the partnership between A Closer Look and Activus Connect, click here to read a case study that details our collaboration in more depth.