In the sweltering summer of 2012, the San Diego franchise of DirectBuy, a member-based home improvement and furnishing consumer buying center, was facing a problem. Its call center, a small, manually driven outfit, could not keep up with its member base, and it was spending far too much—around $1,100 for each new member.
A pool of eight to 10 representatives were manually pulling numbers from campaign lists, dialing in, and, more often than not, getting busy signals, hang-ups, and numbers that were no longer in service. With this technique, a given hour might see only 15 minutes' worth of "actually talking to someone," says Liz Osborn, vice president for product solution marketing at Five9—to say nothing of actually making a sale or finding good prospective leads.
"It's pretty inefficient," she adds. "Switching over to automated dialing, you can triple the amount of time you spend talking to someone."
For San Diego's arm of DirectBuy, automation seemed like just the thing. In the search for a vendor to help them do that, DirectBuy stressed the importance of ease of installation and maintenance. According to Melanie Denischuk, who formerly owned the San Diego franchise and currently owns DirectBuy Memphis, Five9 provided just that. Her franchise contracted with Five9 in June 2012 to implement Power Dialer, a cloud-based automated dialer. Denischuk says her team was able to complete training on Five9's system in one day, and by the end of the first week was seeing dramatically different results.
Agents went from calling 30 to 50 potential members per day to 110 on the low end and as many as 150 on the high end. Cost-per-member dropped to around $700—a nearly 64 percent decrease from the $1,100 they started from. In a press release from Five9, DirectBuy also claims it was able to lower its member (read: customer) acquisition costs by more than 36 percent.
"We are dialing far more numbers and reaching far more people, but I am still able to have the staff work the same hours, which keeps my payroll costs down," writes Denischuk in an email to CRM.
Power Dialer works like this: When an agent is ready to talk to a potential customer, he clicks a button to indicate that. The solution simultaneously calls a fixed ratio of phone numbers, usually three or four. Five9's Osborn explains that for most call centers, one in four calls are actually answered by a live person. The Power Dialer ferrets through the campaign list and drops any busy signals, answering machines, and disconnected numbers it encounters, passing only actual live calls back to the agent. The agent never sees the dead leads. It thus cuts down on the time-consuming and rote process of calling numbers one by one, hanging up, and pounding the keys again.
The system also brings up a dashboard with information relevant to the call as it begins. An agent will have access to past call records, purchase records, etc., so that the conversation can be targeted and tailored to a particular lead's needs.
From Denischuk's perspective, an added benefit to the solution is that it allows users to make sure they are safely within the bounds of U.S. compliance laws. Five9 is proactive about keeping its customers abreast of changes with Webinars and in-system support. This is particularly key now, as October will see a raft of new provisions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act take effect. The new rules specifically target automatically dialed calls, whether they are made by live agents or platforms for prerecorded messages, and remove previous "established business relationship" exemptions, while levying penalties between $500 and $1,500 for each trespass.
The Power Dialer can be set to deal with these changes, says Osborn. Users can build an opt-out into the work flow with a message that easily allows call recipients to remove themselves from future communications with the stroke of a key. It also manages a list of customers who are legal to call and prevents the dialing of any numbers for which there has not been expressed consent.
Perhaps as a vote of confidence not only in Five9's ability to reduce costs and boost efficiency but also to stay on top of these kinds of changes, 30 more franchises of DirectBuy have implemented Power Dialer in the wake of San Diego's success.
By switching to Five9’s automated Power Dialer, the San Diego DirectBuy franchise has:
- tripled the number of live conversations with potential customers (from 30–50 to 110–150);
- reduced its cost per member from $1,100 to $700, a decrease of 64 percent; and
- cut member acquisition costs by more than 36 percent.