George Demou, president and chief executive of Avtex, says offering free software and services to help clients get employees working remotely amid the pandemic ultimately has boosted the company’s fortunes.

Close to 1,000 clients took advantage when Demou made the offer in April to help clients speed the move of contact center and mission-critical employees off site to comply with stay-at-home orders.

The gesture “galvanized” relationships with clients as they reimagined their customer experience as stay-at-home orders, for example, forced banks to close lobbies and health care providers to stop in-person visits. And once workforces had gone remote, Demou said, employers discovered they needed additional help that in turn generated new income for Avtex, a customer experience consulting and technology company based in Bloomington.

As a result, Avtex now expects to hit $160 million in revenue this year, up from its original plan of $147 million, Demou said. The company — with most of its more than 430 employees also working remotely — is hiring and expects to have 500 employees by year’s end.

Demou joined Avtex in 1997, rebranding the company, which offered voice messaging and related systems when it launched in 1972, to reflect its increasing focus on providing technology for contact centers for large enterprises. He left Avtex in 2004 to start a data-security company that he expanded and sold to a large competitor in 2010.

Since Demou returned in 2011 as CEO, Avtex has focused on providing consulting to help organizations develop a customer experience strategy and an end-to-end customer experience technology platform that it developed to connect data from contact centers, customer relationship management, analytics and other systems.

Avtex received a significant investment from Norwest Equity Partners, the Minneapolis-based private equity firm, in 2018, Demou said.

Q: Did offering clients free software and services to go remote work out as you expected?

A: It was a pretty bold move for us to make because we knew it was going to further the hit potentially financially for us but we wanted to do the right thing for our clients. They know that in a time of need we’re going to be there for them. We had a lot of clients in the health care space send us e-mails telling us we helped them save lives because of how fast we could respond and help them with their technologies and moving everything remote.

Q: What other services have been in demand as a result of that effort?

A: The pandemic showed clients that they have a pretty big hole in data. So the speed at which we’re seeing large data projects and (artificial intelligence) projects to create common data models and a singled golden customer record has really taken off. Digital transformation has really accelerated as a result. There’s a huge shift in the way the pandemic has driven people to do business. Clients need to engage with Avtex to look at what the future customer journey now is and how to adapt to that journey and align their technologies to satisfy that journey and drive “wow” moments with their customers.

Q: What is the growth potential for Avtex?

A: In 2021, I don’t see Avtex’s growth slowing down because of the (services) we talked about, because of the industries we’re aligned to (financial services, health care, government, online retail), and we now as an organization have about 60% of our revenue that’s recurring every year. We are going to do more this year than we had anticipated doing in 2021.

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.