Investing in customer experience has proven to be the key to long–term success for Skybridge Americas, the people–driven company known for its world class customer contact services. Guided by their keen focus on organizational agility, collaborative partnerships, and superior customer experience, the company has built a reputation for delivering loyalty-building experiences every day for some of North America’s best-known brands. The CEO Views team is pleased to recognize Skybridge Americas as one of the Most Influential Companies of the year 2023. We recently interacted with Andrew Bosko, CEO of Skybridge Americas to gain insights into their business story.
CEOViews: Take us through the inception of the firm. What was your mission at the outset?
Andrew Bosko: We actually have a long, rich history of customer care excellence, with particular expertise in helping organizations build and maintain customer loyalty. The company was originally established in 1953 as the Minnesota-based firm Maple Plains Fulfilment. Twenty years later, it was acquired by Carlson Marketing Group, the organization that created the Gold Bond Stamp Company.
Over the years, the company’s reputation for building long–lasting partnerships with many of North America’s most beloved brands caught the attention of entrepreneur Mark Morris, who purchased the company in 2011, renaming it Skybridge Americas.
Today, we continue to grow and deepen our customer relationships by investing in the talent, strategies, and systems necessary to remain one of the most customer–centric, agile contact centers in North America.
CEOViews: How was your journey so far and what do you believe differentiates you from your competition?
Andrew Bosko: I’d describe our journey as one that has always been guided by two things: collaborative partnerships and organizational agility. For our clients, customer experience is everything. It’s at the heart of brand loyalty, profitability, and growth. And it’s our job to deliver that superior experience each time one of their customers reaches out for support. I honestly don’t think a contact center can achieve that without embracing the client’s brand strategy and collaborating with them to understand and meet their customers‘ needs.
I’ll give you an example. When our industry was hit so hard by pandemic shutdowns, we weren’t. Why? Because several years prior, we had already undertaken a complete redesign of our delivery model, moving our people from brick-and-mortar call centers to 100% remote, and moving from on-premises platforms to the cloud. We also invested in SkyAl, our artificial intelligence solution. Together, these changes haven’t just taken us quantum leaps forward in technological capability, they’ve also given us geographically unlimited hiring ability. We recruit throughout the United States and Canada, and we consistently attract and retain top performers who are enthusiastic about their jobs, love helping people, and want to grow their careers with us.
During the pandemic, we all saw the enormous difference that kind of hiring can make. Consumers weren’t just turning to their favorite brands to complete a transaction efficiently. They were also looking for empathy, a human connection, and reassurance that the brands they trusted were still dependable. We were one of the few customer care providers who were able to maintain that quality of service, while others were struggling with astronomical hold times and unprepared agents.
CEOViews: What type of contact center solutions does the company provide for aspiring and iconic brands? Can you briefly expand on that?
Andrew Bosko: We provide customer care, technical support, emergency roadside service, back–office support, and healthcare appointment scheduling, delivered via inbound and outbound voice, email, chat, SMS text, USPS mail and social media.
But beyond the list of products and services, it’s our collaborative approach to our clients’ customer experience goals that makes us the partner of choice for so many of North America’s most beloved brands. Our clients know that their customers’ needs and preferences are dynamic, driven by market changes, shifts in the economy, or completely unforeseen events. They know that we have the expertise, IT, and infrastructure to be nimble, quick and responsive to all of these developments. And above all of that, they know that everyone at Skybridge shares the same vision.
We’ve always been very intentional about creating a workplace culture that emphasizes five core elements of effective organizations: teamwork, collaboration, high performance, career growth, and celebration.
CEOViews: Currently, innovation has become more of a need. Can you elaborate on that, especially your decision to develop SkyAl?
Andrew Bosko: To us, innovation isn’t just about improvements to process or upgrades in technology. It’s about a sustained investment in staying ahead of the market, anticipating customer needs, and being able to adapt rapidly to shifting demands, including the growing demand for frictionless interactions. That’s what led us to invest in SkyAl, our conversational, generative artificial intelligence solution. We knew we wanted to harness Al to support our human agents, provide natural self–service interactions, and deliver highly personalized, loyalty–boosting service. That’s what we’ve achieved and what we continue to build on and improve.
The analytics are at an entirely different level. The information we gather now goes so far beyond the basics of call purpose, call disposition, or even customer survey responses. SkyAI can identify customer sentiment and agent sentiment as calls progress, helping us pinpoint and leverage key factors that drive customer experience at the point of customer care contact. As you can imagine, these kinds of insights help drive highly collaborative partnerships with our clients.
CEOViews: Skybridge Americas has been conferred with several awards for leadership and innovation. How has this recognition changed the way you work?
Andrew Bosko: We’re extremely honored every time we receive recognition from our industry peers and colleagues for our leadership and innovation. For everyone at Skybridge, it’s a great feeling to get this kind validation for the work we do and the way we approach our vision.
CEOViews: Can you describe the workplace culture at Skybridge Americas?
Andrew Bosko: We’ve always been very intentional about creating a workplace culture that emphasizes five core elements of effective organizations: teamwork, collaboration, high performance, career growth, and celebration. As we were planning the shift from on–site to 100% remote, we were aware that many organizations end up detracting from those five elements. That’s because they fail to recognize that building successful remote teams requires a different approach on every level.
When you’re remote, your coach can’t sit next to you while you’re learning a new skill, you can’t pop your head over the cubicle wall and engage with your coworkers, see each other in the hallway, or eat lunch together in the same break room. You’re not immersed in the type of energy that comes with working in the same space with large numbers of colleagues. It’s just a radically different reality.
We knew we couldn’t just tell everyone to set up a workspace at home and carry on. We needed to build a completely new way for them to collaborate, stay connected, and enjoy being part of the team.
Our goal was to build an even stronger workplace culture when we went remote and I’m happy to say that we’ve achieved that by rethinking our technology, infrastructure, processes, and our talent strategies. For example, our supervisors have the tools and the skills to observe calls, join them, deliver real-time coaching and friendly check-ins, facilitate team meetings and recognition events, and foster those all–important informal, very human workplace connections. They’re fantastic at building that team trust and connectivity without in–person time. Because not everyone has the leadership competencies to deliver all of that in a remote environment, we also re–engineered the way we hire to specifically emphasize and attract those competencies.
Thanks to these efforts, Skybridge is a place where highly motivated people come to do what they love – and stay to build their careers. It’s not a coincidence that we see a direct correlation between our employee retention and client retention. We’re industry leaders in both and we’re very proud of that fact.