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Spearline: Irish telecoms monitoring company delivers peace of mind to global brands

Monitoring millions of calls across the world

Somewhere in South Korea a Mastercard client is attempting to call customer service to talk about their account – but they can’t. The call drops. If this continues the customer will become frustrated and unhappy.

They’re going to make one more call attempt before lodging a complaint.

More than 10,000 km across the Pacific in Saint Louis, Missouri, the dropped call has not gone unnoticed. In real time, Mastercard’s command centre has been alerted and reroutes calls to its contact centre via another carrier route. The next time the South Korean customer dials they go straight through on a perfect line.


Addressing a problem using Irish innovation

The complaint never comes. Mastercard’s brand equity remains unimpacted and the firm’s Vice President of Global Contact Centre Infrastructure Management, Tom Hinds, knows millions of similar calls are being monitored thanks to Spearline, an Irish telecoms firm based in Skibbereen, County Cork.

Spearline’s phone number monitoring software was adopted by Mastercard just over a year ago. It is soon to be rolled out to almost all of the Mastercard network, a network that spans 65 customer contact centres in 128 different countries.

For Hinds, the Spearline product has solved a problem companies like Mastercard, Amazon and other global footprint firms have encountered: finding out exactly where phone line degradation occurs so they can fix it.

Hinds says, “The peace of mind it gives me is tremendous. I’m not waiting for a phone call from some country’s president telling me that the level of service is not good because I’m aware of the service ahead of time. I know when the service is degraded, and I know when to move it so I don’t get those calls anymore.

“It’s a big win. You can’t put a dollar amount on that but it’s a big win.”

It’s not only a big win for Hinds but for 15 years of product development and testing, iteration, and refining for Spearline. The firm’s automated phone number testing software has required not only innovation but investment. Spearline can respond to the needs of Fortune 500 companies because it has sited its monitoring servers in more than 60 countries around the world, enabling it to deliver precise geo-located results, as well as real-time loss in quality of service.


Eolving for rapid global growth

Co-founded by university friends Matt Lawlor and Kevin Buckley, Spearline began by selling localised open source software for the Irish business telephony market. But it was the market disruption of the recession that catalysed Spearline to evolve and develop the innovative product that drove its rapid global growth.

Liam Dunne Chief Commercial Officer explains, “We realised that large multinational organisations really had no visibility on the performance nor uptime of telephone numbers across the globe.

“Companies had telephone numbers all over the world but they had no sense that, if an end user picked up the phone in a particular country, that the number was going to work. With global call center operations costing into the hundreds of millions to setup and run; the performance of a single phone number has the ability to crash the whole infrastructure, investment and waste hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single instance. A phone number not operation effectively can have a detrimental effect on a company’s brand.

“It was a complete blind spot for them.

“The only way to find out that it wasn’t working was when customer complaints racked up and the business was negatively affected through missed calls and lost sales.

“It was more than a blind spot, it was a real risk factor.”


Holding service providers to account

In addition to helping Mastercard deliver on its customer experience, Spearline’s automated phone number testing dashboard allows it to hold service providers to account with precise data on outages and loss of QOS.

Hinds adds, “It also holds our carriers accountable to service agreements. There wasn’t a reliable way of measuring that before. With this tool we can draw down reports and tell carriers on exactly what circuit or time of day poor quality of service was recorded.”

Spearline’s approach is working. Turnover has risen 70% for the past two years and the company now has more than 60 employees based in its Skibbereen HQ with a global sales office in Mooncoin, Kilkenny, plus other office locations in India and Romania. Its servers are used as test lines in 66 countries.

Impressing an experienced telecoms VP like Mastercard’s Hinds isn’t easy. But he admits Spearline has something special.

“It is a unique offering. Carriers do have an offering but none of the ones I’ve seen can measure from in-country, where the call is originating, to the country of destination, across multiple carrier hops.”

Spearline refuses to stand still. It projects further growth and increased demand for its new product that solves the headache of being GDPR compliant for firms. Another simple but sophisticated software solution.


Read more about the Irish companies using innovative products and services to sell into international markets.

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