• October 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Labor First Keeps a Customer-First Approach

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Since its founding in 2006, Labor First has maintained a policy of keeping callers on hold for no more than about 15 seconds.

But when the company, which manages retiree health benefits, saw its number of members grow from 4,000 to more than 25,000 in a very short amount of time, it knew that policy was in jeopardy.

"When we started bringing on so many new members, we knew we would not be able to handle the new call volume that would be coming in," recalls David Zawrotny, president and chief operations officer at Labor First. "We had two options: One option was to hire new people. The other was to deploy new technology."

Choosing the second path, in August 2014 Labor First implemented NewVoiceMedia's ContactWorld for Service solution. So far, that deployment has saved the Morristown, N.J.–based company nearly $200,000. "That’s what we would have needed to spend every year to bring on new people to support all the new members," Zawrotny says.

And the move has paid other dividends: Labor First has grown beyond the northeastern United States to offer its services to more than 30 labor unions across the country, but this expansion would have taxed its old phone systems, from Broadview Networks.

Labor First can receive anywhere from 250 to 500 calls per day from members with questions about their retiree benefits. With NewVoiceMedia, Labor First can more effectively address those inquiries with the added flexibility to scale team resources in real time.

Zawrotny says NewVoiceMedia has enabled Labor First to increase customer service efficiency tenfold. In the past, agents had to spend five to 10 minutes after every call logging notes into the system. Now, because all calls are automatically recorded, tagged, and logged into Labor First's Salesforce CRM system, those same agents can hang up from one call and immediately pick up the next.

"We've been able to pull some good data from the call logs and use it to tweak our customer service," Zawrotny says.

Other new features with the deployment include dynamic routing, callback, reporting, and dashboards.

And because NewVoiceMedia's technology is cloud-based, agents can work remotely as needed. That has allowed Labor First to hire customer advocates from all over the country and provide them with the tools to be productive no matter where they are.

Zawrotny says the difference between the old ways of doing things and the new is "absolutely astounding." The efficiency gains, he adds, "have been tremendous."

So tremendous, in fact, that Zawrotny is considering using the system for outbound calling as well. Other options on the table include a gamification module to drive further service-level increases and a Web self-service component to help customers find information on their own.

"Right now, most of what we do is over the phone," he says.

NewVoiceMedia will also be an integral part of Labor First's continued expansion. It's in the process of moving into a larger corporate headquarters and expanding its offerings to include services for retirees younger than 65, who are therefore ineligible for Medicare benefits.

"We're expanding quite a bit," Zawrotny says. "NewVoiceMedia is making us so much more efficient while we maintain the same high level of service."

"The work that Labor First is doing for companies maintaining healthcare and retirement benefits is incredibly important and requires a lot of personal customer interaction," said Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, in a statement. "NewVoiceMedia's cloud customer contact solutions are engineered to help companies manage high customer demands. The incredible business benefit that Labor First has experienced with NewVoiceMedia further validates the value of a reliable cloud communications platform. We believe that using ContactWorld will continue to help the company scale and maintain its leading customer service and support." —Leonard Klie

The Payoff

Since deploying NewVoiceMedia's ContactWorld for Service solution in August 2014, Labor First has seen:

  • $197,600 saved from not having to hire additional workers to meet increased call volume;
  • five to 10 minutes saved per call as agents no longer log calls manually; and
  • a tenfold increase in employee efficiency.

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