Bargain Network specializes in locating "distressed sale" opportunities for its network members. It is one of the leading merchandise search engines for real estate foreclosures, government-seized merchandise, and live auction events. The company offers live agents to assist customers on a 24-hour basis.
For a contact center such as Bargain Network, customer service is top priority. With a call volume of 12,000 calls per day, supervisors understand the need to monitor, record, and store all communications between agent and customer for both liability and quality assurance. The company had been recording critical communications using simple cassette tapes and off-the-shelf tape recorders. As the business grew, the quality of the recording and archiving was not meeting the high standards required, and the company was not able to realize the full potential of recorded information. The challenge was to find and implement a cost-effective, reliable, and easy-to-use solution for real-time digital data recording.
Bargain Networks selected Voice Print International (VPI) to upgrade its call and data recording systems to meet the challenges. VPI's system allowed the company to optimize the time used servicing customers.
The solution selected by the company provided the following benefits:
Capability of monitoring both verbal and electronic communication between agents and customers
Re-creation of the customer experience and evaluation of CSR performance by reviewing communication via phone, fax, e-mail, and/or the Web
Archiving of calls to DVD-RAM, a reliable, long-term storage media enabling CSRs to locate data with pinpoint accuracy within seconds
Borders Group, a Fortune 500 company, is a leading global retailer of books, music, movies, and other related items. Through its affiliates, Borders operates over 340 Borders Books and Music stores in the United States as well as 17 international Borders stores, approximately 860 Waldenbooks locations, and 32 U.K.-based Books etc. stores.
The seasonal nature of Borders' business combined with its multiskilled contact center made optimizing its workforce a formidable challenge. The company plans for its staffing needs well in advance of the holiday season, when customer expectations are higher than usual and business volume is high. During this period, there is an over 35% surge in call volume, making optimizing available resources and staff essential. Overstaffing costs could significantly cut into profit margins, whereas understaffing at such a critical time of the year would be disastrous.
In addition to planning for significantly increased call volumes, Borders Group had a variety of complex criteria to be considered in developing the optimal schedule, which included 15 contact center skills, employee work preferences, and seniority-based scheduling.
The company chose Blue Pumpkin software to resolve its call center management requirement and ran a series of "what-if" staffing scenarios to design a workforce optimization strategy that accurately reflected all of Borders' business goals. Based upon a staff selection plan generated by Blue Pumpkin software, Borders Group knew exactly how many seasonal workers to hire as well as both the number of hours and skills required, making the hiring process much easier.
The following benefits were achieved:
Reduced turnover of nonseasonal employees from 15 to 10%
Reduced overall recruiting and training expenses by 25%
Increased agent productivity by 53%, with a 33% reduction in expenses by allocating agent time more effectively over operating hours
Achieved customer service levels of 88% during the holiday period, with most calls answered in less than 10 seconds
Reduced costs and delivered a high level of customer service
Improved skillsets of seasonal staff and enabled them to get on the phones 33% faster, allowing them to be productive in one week instead of three
HSN is a division of USA Networks Inc., a leader in TV and Internet-based direct retailing. The company received more than 68 million sales and service calls in 1999 and generated $1.2 billion in sales.
When HSN's two contact centers became too busy at peak times, a percentage of calls were routed to a third-party provider. This percentage could only be changed every 15 minutes, which meant that agents in HSN's contact centers could be idle while the calls were still being routed to the third party. As well, HSN elected to route calls from frequent customers to a specific CSR to strengthen relationships and loyalty.
To resolve this situation with the third-party provider, HSN installed a load-balancing system for multiple call center sites. Routing calls to a specific CSR was accomplished by using intelligent voice recognition (IVR) and an analysis by a voice-print-enabled IVR. This feature enabled the company to check security and provide the customer's personal CSR with all the up-to-date information requested.
The following benefits have been achieved:
Using the universal queue and dynamic enterprise routing strategies, HSN can immediately decide which of the three contact centers will receive the call.
Overflow calls can be routed to the third party only when agents at both HSN sites are operating at full capacity, keeping HSN's costs at a minimum.
Customers can now contact CSRs familiar with their profiles and purchasing requirements.