• October 1, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Medical Alert Puts Five9 on Call

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Medical Alert, a provider of emergency monitoring devices that connect users to emergency personnel at the touch of a button, had serious image problems. Its on-premises Mitel phone system was prone to weather-related outages, which wasn't instilling much confidence among its 250,000 customers. After all, if its contact center couldn't handle a simple billing question, how could the company be counted on in an emergency?

When users require emergency aid, they press a button on their device, which connects them to a separate, disaster-proof contact center. The calls are then routed to local 911 dispatchers. While this system worked well, the company's internal phone system for handling sales and customer service calls was not so reliable. The system also had limited capabilities beyond basic call distribution. It lacked call reporting and forecasting, which Medical Alert considered important features as it continues to undergo rapid growth.

So in May 2012, the company began implementing Five9's Blended Contact Center, a cloud-based software package that lets it handle inbound and outbound calls together. Also included in the Five9 technology suite are dialers, routing, and administration and reporting tools to manage agents, call flows, and coaching. The software integrates with Medical Alert's Salesforce.com CRM system, which it uses to manage campaigns and handle customer cases, as well as a number of other customer systems and databases.

Medical Alert also moved the 2,400 toll-free numbers it uses in sales campaigns onto the system, resulting in savings of roughly $500,000 a year.

The Five9 software is currently in use in the company's collections and customer service departments. The collections department has 60 agents. The customer service department, which handles sales, billing, credit card, customer support, and technical support calls, has 350 agents, many of whom regularly work from home.

Medical Alert agents handle roughly 100,000 inbound calls per month, including 60,000 sales calls and 30,000 support calls. Billing questions are the most common call drivers, but technical support issues are also fairly common.

Agents also make outbound calls to welcome new customers, explain the billing system, and upsell and cross-sell. They collect payments from customers who have fallen behind on their bills.

Since going live with the Five9 system, agent productivity—measured in terms of decreased call handling time and increased sales—has risen 69 percent.

Five9's Active Blending technology automatically adjusts to call volumes, always prioritizing inbound customer service calls. When there are many incoming calls, the dynamic predictive dialer automatically shifts outbound agents to inbound queues, and when there are no inbound calls in the queue, it shifts to outbound call processing. The reporting tools let managers forecast call volume and plan accordingly based on agent availability. Agents have a unified desktop to manage inbound and outbound interactions on a call-by-call basis, with the proper scripting delivered for each as needed.

"When we look at [return on investment], there are some real productivity gains that we're getting," says Lenin Cruz, chief information officer at Medical Alert. "And there are definitely some cost savings. Imagine [cutting] thirty seconds off of 30,000 calls."

But the real value comes from not having to manage a telephony infrastructure, according to Jonathan Beahr, telecom analyst at Medical Alert. "The complete lack of downtime has been the biggest surprise," he says.

Also key to the productivity gains has been the Salesforce.com integration. "We've shaved minutes per hour not having to cut and paste into our CRM system," Beahr says.

Customer service improvements have also followed the implementation. Since the Five9 solution went live, Medical Alert was able to see that some callers were getting transferred to far too many departments during the same call. It used that information to change its routing structure.

The same routing solution allows Medical Alert to see which calls are linked to specific marketing campaigns, enabling it to tailor its sales pitches accordingly.

"The ease of control and use from an end user's perspective is great," Beahr concludes.


Since implementing Five9's Blended Contact Center solution, Medical Alert has seen these results:

more than $500,000 a year saved by porting more than 2,400 toll-free lines to the system;

a 69 percent increase in agent productivity; and

a 30-second reduction in average handling time.

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