• April 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Fonolo Takes Credit for Reducing Call Abandonment

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One day in early 2015 Credit Union of Colorado experienced what a manager there calls a "perfect storm"—bad weather, staff turnover, and a problem with the company's credit card network created such a spike in call volume that callers were on hold for about 28 minutes. For a company so laser-focused on customer service—the 35 people answering phones in its contact center are not called agents but member advocates—this was unacceptable. The organization knew it needed to act quickly and decisively.

So in July of 2015, the 80-year-old Denver-based financial institution—with 15 branches, 100,000 members, and assets totaling more than $1 billion—implemented Fonolo's In-Call Rescue call-back solution in its contact center. That decision has resulted in a reduction in abandon rate, an improved caller experience, and increased agent morale.

With In-Call Rescue, Credit Union of Colorado customers who are on hold for two and a half minutes are told how long their expected wait time will be and given the option to request a call-back instead of having to wait. The solution holds their place in the call queue and automatically calls them back when an agent is free. Callers can also schedule call-backs at times that are more convenient for them.

Laura Reinhold, Member Services Contact Center manager at Credit Union of Colorado, calls the Fonolo solution "a safety net," noting that it's not always easy to predict when call center spikes will happen.

And though pricing for Fonolo In-Call Rescue starts at about $15,000, Reinhold says her company approached it from another angle: Credit Union of Colorado looked not at whether it could afford the solution but whether it could afford not to deploy it, she says.

Since making that decision, the call center environment is completely improved, she adds, "because customers are delighted and in a much better mood when we reach them."

Fonolo's own research has found that 63 percent of consumers prefer the option of a call-back over waiting on hold, and 75 percent say it is "highly appealing."

The member advocates also find it appealing. "As soon as we turned it on, the agents took to it right away," says Juliet Robinson, operations analyst for Credit Union of Colorado's Member Services Contact Center. And there was very little staff training needed to get them started, she adds.

In fact, Reinhold calls the deployment "one of the simplest and most straightforward I've ever experienced."

After implementing Fonolo, Credit Union of Colorado decreased its call abandonment rate by an average of 40 percent. One month in particular, the abandonment rate dropped by 49 percent.

The company has a 92 percent success rate in reaching customers on the first call-back attempt. The system is programmed to attempt to reach the caller three times before it gives up.

Credit Union of Colorado has also benefited from lower telephone costs because fewer callers are on hold. Costs now are more predictable and scale with usage.

Another selling point to the Fonolo system: Credit Union of Colorado did not have to switch phone systems to accommodate it. The company currently uses Cisco Systems' automatic call distributor and interactive voice response systems, but Fonolo also works with systems from Avaya, Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, Aspect, Five9, and a few other vendors.

"We're extremely happy to be a part of the customer experience strategy at Credit Union of Colorado," said Shai Berger, CEO of Fonolo, in a statement. "Our mission at Fonolo is to make it easy for call centers to add features like call-backs, virtual queuing, and visual IVR with minimal effort." 

The Payoff

Since implementing Fonolo's In-Call Rescue solution in its contact center, Credit Union of Colorado has seen the following:

  • a 40 percent reduction in call abandonment;
  • a 92 percent success rate in reaching customers on the first try; and
  • more predictable costs that scale with usage.

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