• April 15, 2011
  • By Koa Beck, Editorial Assistant, CRM magazine

Software Company Takes Hard Look at Phone Automation

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FundNET Systems, a small provider of Web-based communication software for independent financial services professionals, was seeking a way to increase automated support for its very specific clientele: brokers, financial planners, and insurance agents.

President Jonathan Hunt needed to ensure that all support requests received by phone were automatically entered and tracked in Zendesk, the company’s Web-based help-desk ticketing software. Prior to the implementation, the corporation’s telecommunications carrier charged FundNET high rates for basic phone, voicemail, and toll-free services, which burdened both FundNET and its clients. Clients would call to leave a message regarding their inquiry, and those messages would be manually entered into support tickets."

“That was fine, but it took a long time,” Hunt recalls. “It wasn’t reasonable as far as I’m concerned. Somebody puts in a support request, they like to know pretty much right now that you’ve received it and what’s going to be done with it.”

Among the company’s challenges, the customers are “very late adopter clients,” Hunt says. “They’re in their 50s. They know how to email. They don’t know what a support ticket is really.”

The solution, called Ifbyphone, allows clients to call FundNET for support and then asks them for their dealer rep number. Their support question is recorded and transcribed. The transcription and the attachment of the audio recording are automatically entered as a support ticket into the system. The adviser then receives an email confirming the support request, which includes both the transcription and a link to the audio recording. The email also notifies clients that FundNET has begun to address the inquiry.

When prospective clients or companies call FundNET for sales requests, the system recognizes the time sensitivity of the calls and connects them to a representative through any available telephone or Skype.

Hunt says the implementation is not complete because there is still an option to leave a message. However, results so far have been promising, with 80 percent of phone costs reduced.

“It has given us the ability to act on things when we want to, not necessarily at the client’s whim,” Hunt comments. “They get back a support ticket and when they check that ticket, they see potential answers. It drives them into our support area. They get immediate response.”

Hunt also observes that, ROI aside, “snarky voicemail messages” have disappeared. “Those have disappeared because they know that they’re being looked at,” he says.

In addition, Hunt notes that implementing Ifbyphone has created a new perception of the company among customers, encouraging them to think of FundNET as growing in size.

“[Ifbyphone] has positioned the company differently because, intuitively, they know the power balance has changed,” Hunt says. “They also know that they have been automated so they assume it must be a very large and successful company. [Ifbyphone has] done some good work in our overall positioning as well.”

Editorial Assistant Koa Beck can be reached at kbeck@destinationcrm.com.

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