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InFocus: Synthetix’s Managing Director Peter McKean

synthetix.logoIn the surroundings of their new plush Corporate HQ just outside Stansted, Essex contact-centres met up with Synthetix’s Managing Director Peter McKean to discuss the ever evolving contact centre industry and came to the conclusion yes Synthetix is a nice place to work!

How did you start Synthetix?

At the beginning of the new Millennium I and the other co-founders of Synthetix worked for an organisation which delivered Virtual Agent technology. We had a concept for similar software in mind that could be deployed quicker and would be more cost-effective, but our employer wasn’t interested. We left that firm to start Synthetix and develop our ideas into a product we could viably sell. With no salary and an early release of our new software on old laptops, we touted what we’d done around existing contacts and other potential prospects. Luckily, someone took a chance on us and we developed six Virtual Agents for the BBC. That work won us an award and the rest is history!

What thing was the pivotal point contributing to the success of Synthetix under your leadership?

Around 2009, it was clear that the Virtual Agent market would always be niche. We were a market leader in a very small sector of customer service. We decided to mainstream the company and develop into a truly multi-channel business, delivering solutions that would embrace the contact centre, mobile technology, social platforms, contact forms, etc. creating a diverse range of connected online customer service products, all of which integrate with our real-time searchable knowledge-base. It was the best thing we ever did and is responsible for growing the business to where it is today.

How has the contact centre changed since you first started Synthetix?

We’ve seen call centres become contact centres, embracing social media, live chat and email management. It’s an interesting evolution, demanding far more of contact centre agents than when telephone was the only channel. Training is the key to ensuring that agents can handle the many forms of customer contact thrown their way, but we think consistent cross-channel knowledge is incredibly important to assist with optimising agents’ ability to serve customers effectively.

What makes Synthetix different to other similar companies?

Integration – we build everything in-house and integrate knowledge across all our channels, including live chat and email. Many competing vendors just resell partner services, which misses the point completely.

Billing model – we bill in a way which is unique to the sector and clients love it because they can control their costs. Some of the software billing models out there are downright hostile to clients.

Ethos – we’re in touch with our customers all the time. We don’t just sell a service and then go quiet for a year. Our business development team genuinely support customers and keep in contact throughout the term of a customer relationship. Much of our roadmap is based on customer requests and feedback.

Best or notable achievement in your business life?

We developed a system over 6 months that could work to support children in public care, delivering essential life skills. It’s not customer service and we were just one of the firms involved, but we’re very proud of it. We’re also very proud to have been the supplier of customer-service knowledge-bases for London 2012 (both on the official website and in the contact centre). We’re not allowed to say too much about our involvement, but we were very pleased to provide services to such a massive national event.

What advice would you give to people contemplating a career in the contact centre industry?

It’s quite an exciting field and the technology is changing so fast that there will be plenty of opportunities to do new things. We won’t recognise the contact centre in 10 years time.

What do you look for in staff applying for positions at Synthetix?

Independence and ambition. Our staff are two or three times more efficient, per head, than our competition. We work fast and build small project teams that can really own what they do for customers. We’re not a pushy or stuffy employer – Synthetix is a nice place to work!

Where do you see Synthetix in 5 years time?

90% of our revenue comes from products and services that we didn’t sell 5 years ago. In 5 years’ time, I’m sure it will be the same – we’ll keep moving, keep innovating and keep talking to customers to figure out how to deliver the best customer service solutions possible.

Sum up Synthetix in 10 words

Bespoke online customer service solutions that always exceed client expectations.


Additional Information

For additional information about Synthetix visit their Website

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