High-tech Customer Service
In terms of time savings and productivity improvements, Avalone reports that Office Depot’s items-per-order rate has surpassed that of Web-based orders. Additionally, the number of calls in the live queue is reduced, and so customer service is improved. And the virtual agent provides real-time responses to orders, which can be witnessed via the Web instantaneously.
Interactive voice recognition (IVR) technology is rapidly gaining steam, especially in the area of inbound call management.
But implementing IVR while maintaining a high level of customer service—and doing it in a time- and cost-effective manner—can be difficult. A Web-hosted IVR system can streamline the process. NetXentry’s WebForPhone (www.netxentry.com) platform can help catalogers create their own professional, voice-activated interface without investing in the hardware and software required to set up a system in-house. Its inbound applications include account inquiry, shipping status, dealer locator, inventory confirmation and catalog request/literature fulfillment options, which are available 24 hours a day.
Automated speech-recognition technology, such as IVR, is proven to have higher customer usage than touch-tone applications, according to Peter Senescu, vice president of sales, WebForPhone, Philadelphia. “The interface offers a certain level of personalization that’s perfect for catalogers and Internet retailers who manage multiple sites,” he says.
Senescu cites Global Sports, a company that manages sporting goods retail Web sites such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, as an example. When Dick’s sales circulars (printed with Global Sports’ 800 number) are distributed, consumers call looking for the nearest store location. With the WebForPhone application, callers say their ZIP code and listen for the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods store location. In addition, the application can transfer callers who want to place an order.
It used to cost Global Sports $3 to handle each of these non-revenue generating calls, says Senescu. “We took the calls and slashed Global’s costs by about 80 percent.”