Reimagining Customer Experience with a Lebanese Flair

Reimagining Customer Experience with a Lebanese Flair 

Khaled Hawari, Director of Technology at Imagine Labs, explains how the communications agency’s new venture, Touchbase, blends people, process, and technology to optimise brands’ relationships with customers.

Imagine Labs is a communications agency. How did you go from that to a customer service outsourcing business?  

When COVID started to hit, we noticed that the many cloud kitchens that were opening everywhere and that Imagine Labs was servicing, had a customer service problem; too many people were leaving negative reviews because, whenever you tried to contact them, either an aggregator support team would answer or no one at all. These virtual brands don’t exist physically and often can’t afford to have someone answer queries 24/7; so, customers feel like they’re not real. They need a human touch to make them more plausible and build trustworthiness – and this missing link is impacting every virtual industry. We thought, why not fill this gap for them? 

I took a crash course in customer experience, brought an F&B consultant to help us establish the ground rules first, and put together the technology infrastructure required to make this work at an affordable price, from telephony to social media integrations and chatbots. We kicked it off with one agent servicing two brands.

Fast forward to today, we are headquartered in the UAE and have 26 full-timers and eight [freelancers] working on a project basis, servicing 14 clients in the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia out of Lebanon. We also started venturing into other agency-based businesses like real estate, and even in completely new businesses like paddle courts. Our next move is to provide this service to the e-commerce sector, namely solopreneurs or mom-and-pop shops, and start working with US and Canada-based clients.

Why keep the agents team in Lebanon, where the power, the phone lines, and even the economy are not stable, and how do you navigate these complications?

With a lot of redundancy and backup plans for every agent. We provided everybody with two backup Internet subscriptions, which means that every agent has three Internet connections.

How is this cost-efficient?

Because our USP is the Lebanese agent. In the GCC countries, 99% of people speak English and the highest spenders speak Arabic. So, Lebanese agents’ superior fluency in English and Arabic is a major plus. And it pays off! This small little thing made a world of difference. 

Would you say Touchbase’s solution is a business process outsourcing (BPO) venture? A SaaS? Both? Neither?

We’re providing a holistic approach to clients, giving them the tools, the automation, and the agent. This blend of people, process, and technology is our main differentiator, along with our prices. For example, I see a lot of BPOs offering things like chatbot automation or process automation at an added price; I provide them out of the box in the package because, coming from a technology background, I know that this small, incremental price I incur on myself brings a lot of value to my customers. 

However, our plan is to create a SaaS that will provide various tiers at very competitive pricing vs. the value that will be given, targeting small e-commerce businesses that cannot afford [BPO services] and are completely underserved.

We now understand what suite of proprietary tools we need to create that will be powerful enough to be sold to other call centres as a product on its own. Internally, we call it Touchbase Mission Control. With one single dashboard, an agent will be able to service on the spot X number of clients irrespective of what systems they use or what business they’re in. This will really enable universal agents, industry agnostic and simply trained on how to utilise the information that comes to them. We’re opening up for a first round of investment as building the prototype will be expensive. 

So, is it fair to say that Mission Control is your endgame? 

Yes, Touchbase Mission Control is the vision, leveraging technology to allow agents to serve customers better. 

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