Linda Green-Kiely Voxpro
9th January 2017
It started out with six people working in an office over a pub; these days Voxpro is Ireland’s largest international provider of customer experience, technical support and sales operations with thousands of employees across Ireland and the USA. Women Mean Business has looked on as Voxpro has grown and grown – the Cork company has expanded five-fold over the last three years and, it is predicted, is set to grow its employee base to more than 3,000 globally over the next 12 to 18 months.
Words: Ailín Quinlan
Established by co-founders, Linda Green-Kiely and her husband Dan Kiely (pictured), Voxpro currently operates centres of excellence in Cork and Dublin, as well as in Athens, Georgia and Folsom, California, USA. The company delivers a premium customer support experience to customers in more than 32 countries internationally, working with a variety of partners including Google, Airbnb and Nest – clients include everything from tech start-ups to global giants. So following the recent announcement of 400 new jobs and the launch of Voxpro’s new signature office in Dublin’s Silicon Docks, we caught up with Linda. “I often wonder how we ever ran so fast,” ponders Linda, who worked in sales, ran pubs and even enjoyed a stint with the Department of Foreign Affairs before she and Dan purchased a paging company in 1995. “In those days, everyone had a pager,” she says, recalling how she and Dan purchased the Cork branch of a large paging service: “It serviced the emergency services – many doctors – and a variety of people – everyone from the plumber to the GP so it had a huge client base – we were actually buying the client base. That was very important; it’s where Voxpro has its roots.”
“We then introduced the clients to SMS. They all stayed with us and we kept evolving with the technology and we spent our lives anticipating the needs of our clients and the needs of our clients’ clients!” They started, Linda recalls now, with six employees in an office over Clancy’s pub in the heart of Cork city: “We now have more than 2,000 employees worldwide; the majority of whom are in Ireland. We provide a multilingual service across the world in 12 languages. We design and deliver a range of business services and over the years we steadily built it up.” The company designs and delivers services such as multilingual customer experience and technical support, trust and safety, risk and fraud activity, social media management, sales, analytics and harnessing product insights. “It may look like it all happened over the last few years but it has been a long process,” explains Linda who adds that the cycle of attracting and locking-in a really good client takes two to three years. “What we’re great at is anticipating all their needs in terms of communications and technical support, customer supply, trust and safety – we are very much for the customer.”
The launch of the company’s state-of-the-art base at Silicon Docks is the beginning of a new phase; it replaces a much smaller office in Eastpoint, but it also paves the way for more growth: “We had to expand given the level of demand for our services,” Linda explains, adding that the new office in Silicon Docks, which now houses 150 people is expected to grow to 400 over the next 18 months. The Silicon Docks base provide multi-lingual technical support for the Nest system which monitors and maintains home heating at a certain temperate and can be turned on remotely by the householder through an app on their phone. Although the company’s headquarters is in Cork, the Silicon Docks expansion gives Voxpro a much more significant presence in Dublin: “It is a natural progression for us to open a significant base in Dublin. We also have a sales office in San Francisco and we’re building a large complex in Sacramento which also services Nest among other contracts. We expect this to result in the creation of 350 more jobs by the end of 2017. “We also have a site in Georgia where we are providing technical support and customer experience at the moment – we have about 200 people there.” And that’s not all. Voxpro is planning to open a multi lingual service base in Bucharest next year. Things are going great but Linda sounds a strong warning note about the lack of accommodation for employees who come to Ireland to take up new jobs. The company is currently experiencing a serious problem in this area, she elaborates: “We have a lot of young employees coming to us from abroad. They land a good job but cannot find housing. This is something that has to be tackled by the government as a matter of urgency – the government is making noises about it, but nothing is happening.”
Voxpro is a great example of a successful Irish company operating in an international environment. However, until such challenges as the accommodation crisis are resolved and quickly, we may well lose the battle to attract talent back home to our shores.