Laresa McIntyre: An Ardent Financial Professional Exemplifying Contact Center Support with a Passionate Approach

Laresa McIntyre

Laresa McIntyre

Skybridge Americas provides omnichannel contact center support for many of the world’s most iconic and beloved brands. It works with companies whose top priority is ensuring a superior customer experience at every point of contact and Skybridge Americas is very proud of its longstanding, loyal client partnerships. The company has been in business since 1953. 

 

Disrupting the Old “Call Centre” Paradigm with Agility

 

Skybridge Americas is on a mission to deliver unparalleled customer care by forming close and collaborative partnerships with clients. The team believes the key to achieving that is to remain extraordinarily agile. This agility is what enables them to deliver highly customizable customer care solutions and brand support to clients. By the mid-2010s, the management team was very aware of how technology, social media, and disruptors in the retail space were driving profound changes in customer expectations. Once a customer receives fantastic care from any company in any industry, that’s their new standard for every organization they patronize, whether they’re trying to return a pair of boots that didn’t work out, make an appointment with their dentist, or get COVID updates from their city or state. They don’t want to wait in a queue or call back later or get inaccurate information. Especially, they reject the idea that efficiency must come at the expense of empathy. For clients, brand loyalty is tied very closely to customer experience. Companies turn to Skybridge to deliver that outstanding experience.

 

For Skybridge Americas, it had become very clear that the old “call center” paradigm would never be able to keep up with the speed at which consumer demands were changing. Of course, staying at the cutting edge with technology investments was important. But IT is just one part of the picture. Again, the focus was on how the company could maintain maximum agility in the marketplace, no matter what disruptions might befall the industry. 

 

By 2018, the company had successfully undertaken a very intentional re-examination and re-engineering of contact center operations. This all requires significant investments in talent, technology, strategic growth, marketing, process design, and infrastructure. Obviously, those investments were validated in a really big way when the pandemic created chaos and disruption throughout the customer care industry. Skybridge was able to continue serving customers seamlessly, distinguishing Skybridge as an industry leader. 

 

An Astute Leader Who Goes Far Beyond Finance 

 

Laresa McIntyre is the Chief Financial Officer of Skybridge Americas Inc. While talking about her position, she says, “For me, the CFO role has never been limited to the finance and accounting realm. The CFO must have a complete understanding of the entire business in order to provide the best counsel on strategy and day-to-day operations.” 

 

Since joining Skybridge Americas in 2018, Laresa has been a visionary and collaborative voice at the leadership table. With a keen focus on bottom-line results and her passion for building high-performing and highly motivated teams, Laresa oversaw Skybridge Americas’ highly successful redesign and deployment of the workforce. Under her leadership, Skybridge has maintained superior operational and financial performance that benefits clients and their customers, and team members including investors. 

 

Laresa has more than two decades of experience in financial oversight and strategic leadership roles with highly brand-conscious companies. Before joining Skybridge Americas, she served as CFO of Infinity Sales Group for eight years. Prior to that, she spent seven years with dmg World Media where she served as Vice President of Finance for their Art and Antiques sector, overseeing event management and publishing operations in the USA, England, and France. In 2020, she was appointed to the Stetson University advisory board for their Disruptive Leadership Certificate Program, a program that prepares business leaders to make sense of the unpredictability of new business models. It provides participants with real-world and hands-on training to ask better questions, lead stronger teams, and communicate insights and strategies to senior administration. 

 

Conversational AI of a Customer Support Disruptor

 

While talking about the privilege of technology, Laresa says, “It would be impossible to overstate the impact of our decision to move away from legacy systems in favor of cloud-based platforms. That investment freed us up from the expenses of our brick-and-mortar facilities.” She adds that far more importantly, it has given the team the agility to keep up with spikes and lulls in call volumes. It has also radically expanded the talent pool. Today, instead of being tied to a twenty-mile radius from headquarters, Laresa points out the company recruits the most talented agents, coaches, and managers from across the United States and Canada. Clients benefit from this ability because it results in exceptional customer experiences with employees who truly care.

 

Likewise, Skybridge Americas’ decision to invest in conversational AI has enabled the company to set a new standard in the industry for call fluidity, efficiency, and customer experience, claims Laresa. The systems employ the latest speech recognition innovations and call path-mapping capabilities to offer customers the option of self-service without losing access to a live agent. She adds that it allows the team to seamlessly route calls between the IVR, IVA, chatbot, and live agents prompted by call type and customer need. But at any point, the virtual agent is able to transfer everything to a live agent. Laresa explains that the interaction is always driven by live agents, powered by technology, and controlled by multi-layered compliance safeguards. 

 

‘Collaborative Partnerships’ as a Trigger to Innovation

 

Laresa reveals that the purpose of Skybridge Americas is to help clients build their brand equity. That means innovations are driven by very close and collaborative partnerships. The team simply never enters a client relationship expecting that their customers will have to adapt to a single cookie cutter way of serving them. On the contrary, Skybridge Americas looks to their clients for specific customer insights, and in turn, their clients look to them for ongoing intelligence on industry trends and customer feedback. The industry is understandably hyper-focused on IT innovations. She highlights that Skybridge Americas closely monitors new technologies and invests in the best solutions available. Laresa says that the team is focused on breakthrough ideas when it comes to talent strategy, process, and infrastructure. One can’t be agile if one gets stuck in what’s comfortable or familiar.

 

Overcoming Market Challenges with a Powerful Team 

 

It’s interesting to Laresa that before 2020, as the team was promoting the future-proof approach including a 100% work@home model, cloud-based platforms, and conversational A.I., they encountered some resistance in the marketplace. She adds that there was pushback from a few people who felt traditional operations represented greater stability and security. For example, Laresa points out that at one time, they were on the verge of landing a new client who loved the capabilities but felt skittish about the leap to a 100% work@home environment. Ultimately, they went with a more traditional provider. By mid-2020, the team was back in communications and managed to swiftly onboard them, resulting in a very successful relationship.

 

A Plethora of Awards and Recognitions 

 

Laresa acknowledges that Skybridge Americas has been very honored to be recognized among its industry peers for its leadership, innovation, and technology expertise. Some of the recent recognitions are listed as follows. 

  • CEO Views: Innovation Excellence Award 2022
  • Silicon Review: 30 Best CEO’s 2022
  • CIO Views: Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch, Skybridge CFO Laresa McIntyre, 2021 
  • Silicon Review: 30 Fastest Growing Private Companies to Watch 2021
  • CXO Fortune Award: 10 Most Innovative Companies of the Year 2020
  • Industry Era 10 Best CFO’s of 2020
  • CIO Applications: 50 Most Trustworthy Companies of the year 2020
  • CIO Applications: Most Innovative Companies of 2020
  • Silicon Review: 50 Most Admired Companies of 2019
  • CIO Applications: Top 10 Contact Centers of 2019
  • Enterprise Services Outlook: 10 Most Recommended Contact Center Service Providers 2018 
  • Customer Magazine: Elite Contact Center Outsourcing Award 2017
  • Customer Magazine: Top 50 Contact Centers 2017  

 

Getting Better, Getting Ahead

 

Laresa believes that agility is everything since 2020. It’s simply not enough for a contact center to perform well against the metrics and expectations of today’s clients, customers, or economy. The reality is economies shift, disruptors drive new expectations, and it’s incredibly easy for consumers to discover brands that treat them better. Every time that happens, the service expectations of every brand in every industry go up. According to Laresa, the contact center of the future is the contact center that’s agile enough, technologically savvy enough, and customer-centric enough to keep up and keep delivering.