The cable entertainment and broadband services company uses Siemens to merge its nine contact centers.
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Managing one contact center is demanding, but try handling nearly a dozen separate locations spread across multiple states. That was the problem for Denise Harris, director of customer care at SusCom, a cable and broadband company with 230,000 subscribers.
Harris sought to merge the company's nine contact centers after encountering such challenges as having different systems using different equipment; being unable to merge call-volume data to track trends and/or performance; and having variations from system to system of the training provided to customer service teams.
SusCom's existing analog station, however, voided the company's wish of migrating to a consolidated platform. "We were running off an older, outdated [ACD] system, which was completely analog," Harris says. "There was no way for us to provide support in a consolidated fashion."
The platform needed to seamlessly integrate with the Cisco Systems AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video, and Integrated Data) IP-PBX, a system SusCom uses for its noncontact center and administrative areas' communications needs.
SusCom embarked on an RFP process lasting about eight weeks before it decided on Siemens HiPath IPortal and HiPath ProCenter Advanced Suite. To implement the system SusCom used an in-house team comprising the IT department and employees within its customer care operation. The company also turned to BlackInk Consulting, which assisted with both the implementation and overall consolidation.
The HiPath IPortal supplies AVVID connectivity, and the connectivity provides the IP infrastructure for HiPath ProCenter Advanced, an application that integrates channels including email, IVR, outbound calling capabilities, and the Web. The solution arms the company with CTI capabilities, and its call-routing engine properly directs customer calls to the agent best suited to handle the inquiry.
Call routing, according to Harris, helps with the company's efforts to resolve issues during the first customer call. "The fact that we now have skills-based routing really lends itself to a one-call solution," she says. "Prior to the Siemens solution any customer calling in could get any agent whether the agent just came out of training two days ago, or they could get somebody who's been here 15 years. With the Siemens solution and resume routing we can ensure that customers calling about a billing question will get routed to a customer service professional who is qualified to answer that call and help that customer." Siemens also installed and integrated workforce management software from Blue Pumpkin to spur productivity and provide performance metrics.
SusCom has seen its agent call volume fall from 11,500 a week to about 9,000 a week--a by-product of customers turning to the IVR system for balance inquiries or to make payments. According to Harris, the industry has an average call-handling time of six to eight minutes. SusCom's agents are handling calls on average in four minutes, and of those calls that are not handled by the IVR, shaving two minutes per call equates to drops in call handling time of up to 50 percent. The lessened agent call volume combined with lower call handling time puts SusCom on track to realize about $300,000 in annual productivity gains. SusCom's contact centers also consistently surpass answering 90 percent of calls in less than 30 seconds.
The contact center consolidation is on schedule for a September 2005 completion, but Harris says, "it's been over a year now and we have seen great results."
As a result of deploying Siemens in its consolidation effort, SusCom
has seen agent call volumes drop from 11,500 a week to about 9,000;
has decreased call-handling time to two minutes shorter than the industry average;
is on track to experience about $300,000 in annual productivity gains;
consistently answers 90 percent of calls in fewer than 30 seconds.
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