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Armon Nasrollahi, Director of Client Support at Interfolio, recently met up with Mari Parker, COO of Boldr, to discuss their 7-year outsourcing journey and how the Interfolio-Boldr partnership grew across their support, quality assurance, and engineering teams.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and ease of publication:

MARI: Hi, I'm Mari Parker. I'm the Chief Operating Officer for Boldr. We're at Support Driven this week and I have an opportunity to connect with Armon who works with Interfolio. I'm going to let you introduce yourself. Give us some context to what you do.

Armon: My name is Armon Nasrollahi. I'm the Director of Client Support at Interfolio. I've been here over seven years now. We’ve been working with Boldr since inception. I started as a frontline agent at Interfolio and I now am the Director of Client Support. I manage the entire support desk. Any support issue that comes through comes by me and I’m responsible for it. 

MARI: I would love to give some space to explain how you've seen an outsourcing relationship get set up for success. What are some of the tips or tricks or tools that you've seen work well to set the relationship up for success? 

Armon: In terms of the support world and what has made us successful along the way, a lot of open communication with Boldr has been a part of that. Being able to say, hey, we need XYZ done and you guys are there, and you're like okay, let's have a 20-minute conversation. Let's fill that out and map out the gaps there and you all take that from us. I think being able to have that freedom on my side, knowing there's a lot of trust there, and being able to build that has been awesome and has continued to be in a lot of ways. I think that has been one of the key parts of the success in our relationship on the support side.

MARI: On the partner side is there anything you guys do to help them feel like they're part of the team and get them onboarded? Do you get involved with that from Interfolio’s side or is that mostly for the Boldr team to take care of?

Armon: We could do a better job of that. I think we had in the past. We've gone from Boldr handling our background fulfillment processes to now email and live chat, then we have someone on phone and email as well. There's been different processes and support interactions that we've had Boldr do for us. When new people come on, saying hi in Slack, hopping on video calls to talk through an interaction, just to have that kind of personal interaction has been a big part of it. For example, we're working with someone who handles a lot of our email and phone support right now, Jennifer, and she's been awesome. She's in our daily morning standup. She's very much part of the team. We connect with her, we talk with her even on non-work stuff as well. As much communication as we can do outside of work, we try to be intentional about that. This brought the Boldr to Interfolio connection a bit closer. 

As way of background, we started working with Boldr on our fulfillment side. That's our consumer business. Do this process for us, enter that data for us, send it off. For me, in my day-to-day, it's completely hands-off. I don't have to think about it, I don't have to worry about it. And that's not the only function we are at at this point with Boldr, but that was the first one. I don’t have to think about it. I can focus on other items, which is great. Hey, Boldr, here's what we need. Here's the job we need you to do. Here are the metrics. And Boldr’s like, Yep, got it, bye, don't worry about it, we're going to take care of it. We've gotten to that point with email and chat.

You all are great about Hey, here are challenges, or Here are new issues we're coming across, or Here's a readout on our KPIs for the past two weeks, let's dig into it. You all have done an excellent job. But we’ve been able to expand into other parts of our organization outside of support. The QA team. We have an engineering team as well. In the past you helped marketing and sales do some lead generation. We know the quality of the work is there, we know the the communication that's going to be there. And again, from a support standpoint, for me, Here are the three things I need, here's the type of person I need, here's a function we're working on, bye, you guys handle it. And I don't have to think about it. I don't have to worry about it, because the quality has always been there.

Mari: If you were to give advice to another Director of Support who has to choose a partner, what advice would you give them, like what to look for in that partnership?

Armon: It's a great question. Outsourcing historically has a stigma of, like, It's all offshore. I don't know what these people are doing. Are they going to do good work? I never had that issue. I don't think we've ever had that issue at Boldr. The advice there, just generally working with outsourcing, is talk to the company and understand how they operate, who they are, be clear in your communication of what you need and how you want it presented. This is what I need, these are the three things I want, this type of person, here's the background, here's the skills, here's the task, or here's the job that we need you to do. Pass that off. You're able to do that. We've gotten to that over time, but upfront when you're working with outsourcing, be super clear on who you're working with. Another big part for us and why we partnered with Boldr, is supporting the people, having that empathy, knowing who you're working with, and how you want to support them. You all are in step with us in how you operate, not just the support work, but as a company all together. Knowing that background of how you operate and working with a company that you have shared values with, has been great for us.

Mari: Is the values alignment important? And have you seen that play a role in the relationship between Interfolio and Boldr?

Armon: Definitely important to me and most support folks, in terms of the value it's provided, we're aligned there. We can see the type of work that Boldr has done for us, is the same type of work and the same quality and the same values that we put into our day-to-day. Our Boldr agents that are on email and phone, they write like us, they operate like us, they talk like us. It's pretty seamless in terms of what's there. I think that's a big part of who we were looking for when we were initially doing our research and why we decided on Boldr.

Mari: Do you think that there's some upfront investment to make that work?

Armon: You have to put your time in. On my side, let's make sure we're clear. Here's what we're trying to accomplish. And be clear in that communication. Make sure it's outlined well. There's a difference between here's a sheet of paper, figure it out, this is what we need you to do. It's us showing you how to get there and some aspects of what we're trying to accomplish. It's not all on you that figure it out. We want to be a good partner. Us having that investment and showing you what we want to happen or what task we want to accomplish, then you feel that as well or understand what we're trying to accomplish. You see we're invested, we notice that you guys put the same work into that as us. It's a mutual relationship.

Mari: Have there been experiences for you where we've tried something and it didn't work out or something wasn't going the way that you expected it to go? And how the values alignment has actually helped to navigate that in a partnership.

Armon: We haven't had any significant issues. Nothing jumps to mind, which is a testament to you all. There have been busy days, I think. We're really stressed or pressed, especially on the support side, where we're having an influx of volume that we just can't keep up with, and Boldr’s working on that. It's also on our backend, that fulfillment processing, like, Hey, we're just getting swamped right now and here's the reality of the situation. We're not going to be able to meet these SLAs, or we're not going to hit this turnaround time like we would normally do. What is our path forward? I think you all coming to us and explaining the situation is awesome. It's not trying to hide and catch up and not say what's going on and then we'll spot it later. It's like, Here's the reality. Here's our plan and/or this is what we need. How do we work together to get there and get across the finish line or catch up or whatever we need to accomplish? 

Mari: Are there any last thoughts that you would want to share for support leaders out there? Like any parting words of advice to give?

Armon: Understanding who you're going to be working with. It was really important to understand the company that we were working with, what their values are, how they want to operate. Related to that, for the support org, understand what you need the outsourcing partner to do. What's the why behind it? Why do you need an extra pair of hands helping you with that? Is it in-house versus outsourcing? What are the pros and cons of all that? I think understanding the pros and cons, what are you trying to get out of this partnership? What are you trying to accomplish? Having clear communication around how do we accomplish that, what are our goals, setting up those KPIs.

You can easily go into an outsourcing relationship and be like, Alright, we need you to do 100 cases a day or a month, or whatever. But for us, and anyone I think going through this process of working with outsourcing it’s Okay, we need to do X number of cases, but here's the line, here's how we're going to get it done, and here's our expectation, and what are our KPIs, and what's our frequency of meeting so that we're working with you, and we want you to be successful, and how does that look back on us as well. Support is like the cost center, a very uncelebrated part of the organization. For managers like myself, working with Boldr or other outsourcing, we can be the shining star in the org. You don't hear from us because we're doing a stellar job. A large part of that is working with the right kind of outsourcing company. We've had that since day one. We've had multiple CSMs that are all on the same page, all the way up to executive buy-in with David and yourself, making sure that the partnership has been successful.

Mari: Thank you so much.