• March 1, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

A Solution That's a South Sea Breeze

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Stress reduction comes in many ways. Customers of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts seek it from one of the company's 50 vacation spots in destinations such as Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Tahiti. But for executives at the hotel company, stress reduction recently came from a more unlikely source--the service of a call center outsourcing company. Outrigger customer service agents had been struggling to manage customer interactions through various technologies including fax machines, an on-premise ACD for phone calls, Microsoft Outlook for emails, and a hosted solution for Web chats. It was looking for a way to cost-effectively unify its customer channels. Outrigger had an isolated team handling various customer touch points. According to William Peters, vice president of reservation services and market development, when phone call volumes increased, agents working on other channels had to drop what they were doing to field the extra calls. Peters was convinced that there had to be a better way to integrate customer touch points and cut technology and maintenance costs. Rather than going through a formal RFP process, Peters targeted six on-demand vendors, and for 18 months visited their customers. Just before he was ready to sign a contract with one of these vendors he called a contact at Sprint, Outrigger's telecom network provider, to ask about issues including costs to redirect lines. That's when his Sprint rep suggested calling Echopass, which Peters finally selected. Outrigger went live in mid-April 2005 with Echopass Contact Center On-Demand--multichannel solutions including Echopass eServices On-Demand, which features functionality such as synchronized screen pop, and email and fax skills-based and condition-based routing. Fax became a paperless transaction for Outrigger, says Bruce Dresser, chief strategy and marketing officer. "The fax never actually hits a fax machine. It gets taken from the server, turned into email automatically through our application, and then routed seamlessly to Outrigger's call center agents. [Faxes] can be specifically routed to agents that they've decided they want to handle faxes on that particular day." EchoSystem is a service integration platform featuring preintegrated functionality, including Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories' customer contact routing and NICE Systems' quality monitoring (both used by Outrigger). Agents are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to multitask, allowing for gains in efficiency and effectiveness. "With Echopass we were able to build [an FAQ] answer library, so as the chat comes through we...see what the question is, cut and paste from the library, and send it off for the customer as we're talking to the other customer on the phone. You're not delaying any of your channels," Peters says. Outrigger's calls-to-bookings conversion rate is in the 50 to 60 percent range, and the company has saved more than $100,000 in contact center expenditures as a result of better staff utilization, lower maintenance costs, and elimination of major infrastructure costs, according to Peters. And, even though its business was up 15 to 20 percent from 2004 to 2005, Outrigger hasn't needed to hire additional staff. "It's given us the opportunity to continue with our wow experience with our customers," Peters says. To boot, Echopass's VoIP platform is supporting Outrigger's efforts to have the majority of its 55 agents work from home by the end of the first quarter of 2006, Peters says. "The more flexible that you can be with scheduling, the better call center you'll have." The Payoff By implementing Echopass's contact center solutions and EchoSystem approach, Outrigger has:
  • a calls-to-bookings conversion rate within the 50 to 60 percent range;
  • saved more than $100,000 in contact center expenses;
  • seen its business grow without having to hire more contact center staff;
  • boosted agent efficiency and effectiveness; and
  • increased agent satisfaction.
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