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

Call-Routing Headaches Take a Powder

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This past fall, as many senior citizens suffered headaches from struggling to understand Medicare's new prescription-drug program, RxAmerica realized that it couldn't handle the upsurge in call volume generated by the new program. An independent provider of prescription benefits to more than six million individuals through more than 55,000 pharmacies (RxAmerica also has a mail-order pharmacy), the company decided to boost its then sole call center in Salt Lake City by using outsource centers spread across multiple states. However, it had to plan a way to "deliver calls to multiple centers across the U.S." cost-effectively, says Eli Fillmore, manager of intelligent call routing for RxAmerica. Fillmore's experience includes several years of working with large premise-based systems, so when a representative from UCN (a provider of on-demand contact handling application services delivered over its VoIP network), demonstrated its inContact product, Fillmore knew he had found the right call-routing prescription. Following a days-long implementation, the company went live in October 2005 with the pay-as-you-go suite of integrated apps. InContact combines the IVR system, the network platform, and the intelligent call router into one unit, and allows RxAmerica to distribute calls across various centers, each using its own independent ACD. "The business is not held hostage by the outsource provider," says Jan Johnson, vice president of marketing at UCN. "Calls can be metered across multiple outsource suppliers." The benefit manager uses inContact's inControl, an application-development tool with a visual drag-and-drop interface that enables quick adjustments. For instance, if not many agents are available at one of RxAmerica's sites, Fillmore can reduce the percentage of calls routed to that location, and route more calls to other centers. RxAmerica can also ramp up and scale down as needed. Fillmore recalls the company's peak period in January, when inContact was handling more than 40,000 dials--calls that came into a toll-free number--per day. When more capacity was needed, Fillmore called UCN and extra ports were immediately configured; when the call influx leveled, he called to have the capacity level lowered. RxAmerica, he says, was not able to "physically answer" all 40,000 calls, but it was able to "actually address them, greet callers, and inform them of the environment at the network level," before they even got to Fillmore's switch. He was able to present callers with an option to leave a phone number and receive a call back. InContact can also conduct automated surveys triggered by the frequency of calls: Once an agent disconnects, the caller is directed to an automated survey built on the platform, where she is asked 10 questions and can leave recorded comments. "At the end of 10 questions I'm able to get an email in about 10 seconds about [how the customer responded and] that puts me in a position where I have control over how I respond," Fillmore says. "If it [were about] ratings and merited some additional attention quickly for a customer retention effort or customer satisfaction effort, I can have a call back to that customer in 15 minutes." The deployment is paying off in other ways: RxAmerica is saving more than $1 million, thanks largely to not having specialized hardware infrastructure and the personnel necessary to support it. RxAmerica has its eye on creating new self-service applications and exploring CTI capabilities. But Fillmore says the biggest benefit has been integrating the firm's IVR with a network carrier: "It has made the solution-development life cycle extremely fast--from concept to design to implementation is hours and days, as opposed to days and months." The Payoff By implementing UCN's inContact suite, RxAmerica:
  • has saved in excess of $1 million;
  • can gauge satisfaction with more accuracy and have control over how to respond;
  • can make routing changes on the fly; and
  • can scale up or down to handle calls.
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