Moneypenny offices

Wales-based Moneypenny expanded to the Charleston region in 2015. Provided/Moneypenny.

Moneypenny has a secret.

When you call one of its clients — from small business to the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon — you might not know you're talking to a Moneypenny employee. 

The Wales-based company with an office in North Charleston has a workforce of hundreds of receptionists. Receptionists have a dedicated list of clients, but they work out of Moneypenny offices. 

"Often we're our clients' best-kept secret," said Joanna Swash, the company's managing director.

Swash said the idea behind Moneypenny is to provide an outsourced call service for businesses to let them "get on with what they do best." The idea of providing an outsourced service isn't novel. Moneypenny wants to do it better, in part by hiring remote receptionists who understand the businesses they're taking calls for, and in part by automating their offerings.

Moneypenny has worked hard to make its offices feel like more than a call center. The North Charleston location is posh. The firm has gotten nods in the U.K. for being a good place to work. But none of that is new for Moneypenny. Its pivot to developing artificial intelligence and incorporating it into its answering services is. 

Swash said AI is a big opportunity for the company moving forward, and "we will automate as much as we can." That will include a digital, voice recognizing switchboard. The live chat services Moneypenny offers might soon incorporate AI, too. 

Across industries, adopting artificial intelligence is becoming key to keeping up. 

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Ceterus, a technology firm based in downtown Charleston, also sells an outsourced service. Their accountants keep track of the books for a range of small businesses. Its software pulls data from businesses and crunches their numbers automatically.

The accountants who work at Ceterus rarely see clients face-to-face, said founder and CEO Levi Morehouse. The idea has been to offer "software with a service," he said. 

Morehouse said he is aiming for his technology to become more predictive, too. Accounting by nature looks backward, he said. He'd like to see Ceterus' software help clients look forward, offering them information about what they could be doing differently. 

Both Ceterus and Moneypenny have plans to continue to expand in the Charleston area. 

Swash said Moneypenny has identified more opportunities in the U.S., so it's planning to keep growing on this side of the Atlantic. The company set up shop in  South Carolina in 2015, and it announced in August that it would add 20 jobs at its North Charleston outpost next year.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.