The Case for Virtual Business Processes
(40)
Case Study: vCustomer Corporation,
Seattle, Washington
(www.vcustomer.com)
Personal interview conducted with Jeff Wasierski, vice president of
technology
Virtualized business process: Offshore call center
Company Background
Company Overview
vCustomer, founded in 1999 in Seattle to provide medium- and enterprise-
sized businesses in the technology and retail markets with offshore customer
contact support, found itself struggling with the same dynamic this chapter has
discussed. On the one hand, customer contact support is a business that is highly
sensitive to the cost of labor. On the other, utilizing that labor introduces some real
risk in the viability of the business. While the labor pool available is highly
capable, the geographic location ensures that the impact of network overhead and
failures can quickly degrade the quality of service to the point where such service
is no longer competitive with domestically based solutions.
If vCustomer had used a conventional business model based on conventional
technology, it would have found it very difficult to conduct business, let alone do
so competitively. What was required was a radically new solution. vCustomer
management had to think outside the box. To do so, it turned to Cisco.
vCustomer has been able to achieve a significant improvement in
performance over its conventionally built rivals. With highly trained technical,
customer care, and collections staffs, as well as a wholly redundant intelligent
networked infrastructure, vCustomer ensures 100 percent uptime and availability.
Utilizing robust call center technology, vCustomer endeavors to constantly
improve its clients’ satisfaction with the customer care business process. The
particulars of its success are enumerated in the following sections.
Chapter 2: History Lessons
(41)
Network Overview
The vCustomer network is an international network aimed at servicing clients
in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom from three call centers
based in New Delhi, India.
vCustomer uses co-location facilities in Seattle to support its India operations.
The co-location facility is vCustomer’s primary point of presence in the United
States. It houses vCustomer’s voice gateway equipment and provides vCustomer
with typical co-location services, including rack space, power, security, and
environmental monitoring and support. Links between Seattle and New Delhi are
private, leased 2-MB E1 circuits. Only vCustomer traffic runs on these circuits.
As shown in Figure 2-8, three call centers in New Delhi support nearly 2000
seats. vCustomer is based on a packet-based infrastructure, leveraging voice over IP
technology throughout the company, including the call centers. The intelligent
infrastructure consists of Cisco Systems 7200 series routers and Catalyst 6500
switches at the network core. The routers support the wide-area network connectivity.
In addition to other functions, the 6500 series switches perform the voice-to-packet
conversion. The wiring closets are built out with Catalyst 3524 stackable switches
with inline DC power. These switches connect to IP telephones. The IP telephones,
supporting a two-port embedded switch, connect to the desktop PC.
Figure 2-8 vCustomer Network Diagram
The desktops are Intel-based, running Microsoft’s Windows 2000 operating
system. There is an emphasis on standardization within reason. Desktops are
Cisco 7200 Series Routers
Catalyst 6500 Switch
Catalyst 3524 Stackable Switches
e
e
e

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