The challenge faced by this department store legend was one that confronts many long-established brands: decades of consumer trust was being eroded by an experience that had not evolved with the times. Over 850 retail locations and eight dedicated contact centers were handling 250 million customer calls each year – but using a hodgepodge of outdated technologies to do it. Disparate systems and a lack of clear reporting had left the company with no way to effectively address a growing customer engagement problem. We were brought in to take a clean-sheet approach and deliver an integrated communications infrastructure that would help restore the company’s image as a customer service leader.
Tens of millions of customer contacts were being lost or unanswered every year, primarily due to the technical complexities of getting a call to the right destination. The solution was designed around a new Cisco® telephony system that centralized call management for the entire enterprise, and included redundant data systems to protect and collect all the data. When a call came through, the intelligent routing system applied a sophisticated set of skills- and business-based rules to steward it to the correct store, department, or contact center. A custom, interactive voice recognition (IVR) system was also developed to improve the caller’s experience and reduce the steps needed to reach the right person.
More than 10,000 contact center associates were now able to successfully handle 15 percent more calls – over 37 million interactions – every year. Communication between retail locations was now seamless, which made it easier to connect a customer in one store with a product in another. The new IVR reduced call abandon rates, and lowered handling times by approximately 20 seconds per call.
Operating expenses were reduced by $700,000 annually by eliminating the need for multiple contact center vendors. More importantly, the reporting tool we delivered gave the company unprecedented insight into the customer experience. Real-time performance and customer service reports were delivered through an easy-to-read dashboard, allowing leaders to drive improvements based on the results of each customer contact.
The new network provided the flexibility and control that the company needed to keep pace with a changing retail landscape. Wireless phones at each location were easily integrated into the system shortly after launch, which allowed employees on the go to stay connected to customers, and to each other.