Interview With Aaron Acree, National Account Director, LiveVox

We recently sat down with LiveVox’s Aaron Acree for a conversation about contact center as a service (CCaaS) solutions. He shared his insights on why CCaaS is rising in popularity, what end users should look for in a CCaaS solution, and much more. Check out his responses to our questions below.

NXTSYS: Can you briefly describe your professional background and areas of expertise?

Acree: I've been in the industry for around 16 years – it feels like 25 sometimes. I started in direct sales with a small agency out of Colorado. Then I moved to the supplier side, and have been here for the last 11 years. I started at Integra and went to a couple of contact center places. My role in each has been to help build channel programs, especially around national accounts. But one of the things I really enjoy is that I understand how agents think, because I’ve been there. Understanding why you sell is super important.

NXTSYS: What is Contact Center/Client Experience? 

Acree: Contact center as a service, CCaaS, is the terminology lately. The reality is that a lot of people think it's just a call center – that it's someone behind the scenes calling to say your car warranty’s up or something along those lines. But contact centers have evolved. Now it’s more about how a company communicates with its customers, whether that’s internal, external, voice, or digital. But how does the customer want to communicate? You should be able to handle that on any of the mediums they prefer – SMS, MMS, voice, email, etc. CCaaS is more than just an IVR. It’s the face of the company.

NXTSYS: Why is CCaaS flying off the shelf right now?

Acree: Because of COVID, customer experience plays a big part in a field where there aren’t a lot of differentiators. At a parts shop like O'Reilly or Ace, customers always have the mentality of “if I can't get what I want here, I'll go down the street to get it.” Essentially, we all offer the same parts. CCaaS improves experiences to set businesses apart. COVID highlighted the customer’s need to be able to purchase how they want and get things resolved how they want, making a good customer experience a necessity. 

NXTSYS: How can CCaaS pay for itself and become a revenue stream for end users?

Acree: First, higher customer engagement will translate to higher revenue. There are going to be repeat customers, and it's almost always, if not always, cheaper to retain customers than to get new ones. By making the client experience more welcoming, you bring those customers back. On the flip side, you have companies like Amazon where people who bought this also like to buy that. Being able to reference data for cross-selling and upselling is huge, which is something CCaaS helps with. 

Second, customers have been “quiet quitting” for years. They're not going to tell you you're doing a poor job; they’ll just stop showing up. With CCaaS, business leaders who aren't on the frontline can monitor what’s happening and retain a customer when they notice an interaction going downhill. 

The third part of this is outbound – which LiveVox is really good at. Let’s say you have an agent who can be made more effective and reach more people with CCaaS. Even a two- or three-percent increase in productivity will add significant revenue.

NXTSYS: Are all CCaaS solutions the same?

Acree: No. There are a lot of similarities, but there are differentiators as well. At LiveVox, compliance is something we rely on in terms of showing how we’re different. It’s not necessarily that the technology is leaps and bounds ahead of our competitors, but we understand the compliance piece better. So, similar? Yes. The same? Definitely not.

NXTSYS: What are some things for the end user to consider when looking at a CCaaS solution?

Acree: That’s going to be very company-specific. But generally, you should ask how your customers are engaging with you right now. You need to understand the demographics of your ideal customer to know which mediums are important. Older generations still want voice – they don't want you pushing everything to automation. Is self-help important to them or not? There are generational differences here to be aware of.

You should also understand the intricacies of your business and how to make your employees’ lives easier. There may be specifics for different verticals, like how compliance is more important in finance than construction. Construction still deals with compliance, but it's a different type, right? It’s important to understand that breakdown.

Is there a seasonal aspect? Some companies have peaks and valleys. Tax companies, for example, start getting busy in Q4, then less busy in the summer. Retail is the exact opposite. What does disaster recovery look like for your company? Some areas have to worry about natural disasters more than others, so you should know what your contingency plan is if something were to happen.

NXTSYS: What is the sales process to engage?

Acree: Ours is relatively simple. Customers click the link on our webpage, fill out some information, and an account team is assigned based on the company's size. Then we rock and roll in terms of discovery. If our partner already knows all the ins and outs of the account, we just have a conversation with them and build a solution. If they need help, we're there to sell with them. 

NXTSYS: As business technology continues to evolve through the aftermath of the pandemic, how is your company innovating its solutions to support the needs of U.S. businesses?

Acree: We have updates two or three times every year. Digital transformation is a huge emphasis for us. One of our newest innovations, Human Text Initiator (HTI), is related to the compliance side. As more companies try to supplement voice calls with texts, this is a great way to do that. We also believe in providing a single pane of glass. We don’t want agents having to flip through multiple screens and applications to get the information they need to take care of a customer.

NXTSYS: Can you give us some highlights of your channel program?

Acree: The best part is the veterans we have leading it. We've been around for 18 months, but with our years of combined experience, we get to take this from ground level to the peaks. It's been a lot of fun. We also understand the channel. Having worked as an agent, I personally know what partners are looking for. We want to look out for the customer relationship from the partner’s perspective and provide value beyond “white glove service.”

NXTSYS: Of course, NXTSYS knows how it has benefited from partnering with you. From your perspective, what do master agents like us get out of partnering with you?

Acree: Being able to meet partners where they're at. We don't have to sell the entire contact center solution, which is a huge part of it. Mid-size enterprises rarely say they want to change everything all at once. One of the first things we do is get them to that single pane of glass, but you can't let perfection be the enemy of progress. We show the entire solution and the steps to get there without requiring a contract for everything. Maybe they realized their customers need SMS/MMS, or they have outbound and no one in the channel has ever offered that. We provide multiple paths to help them make a customer sticky.

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