IVR Allows AmeriMark to Keep Up With Demand
In the late fall of 2005, AmeriMark Direct implemented an interactive voice response (IVR) system to reduce the number of routine service inquiries that reached its customer service reps (CSRs).
With just 37 percent of its incoming orders coming in via telephone, AmeriMark’s CSRs weren’t having any difficulty meeting customers’ needs. However, about two years ago, former Experian Chairman Tom Newkirk, an acquaintance of AmeriMark President Gary Giesler, recommended that AmeriMark check out Verascape’s IVR solution as a way to enhance the customer experience.
After spending a year considering how the service could help AmeriMark, Giesler and his team decided to test the product.
Here’s how it works: When customers call in, the calls are answered by the IVR system. A human voice asks questions and tries to determine where the call should be routed. The system acts as a screening process to take care of the simplest customer service requests, such as order confirmation or cancellation, and shipping inquiries. Customers can speak their name and order number, and get answers to these queries.
And if at any point during the call customers get confused, they can choose to be sent to a live operator, says Greg Stringer, director of customer services at AmeriMark. Stringer feels that although the IVR system is meant to resolve customers’ concerns before an operator gets involved, customers always should be able to reach a live human.
As for results, Giesler points out that the system saves his CSRs time, and Stringer notes that while sales at AmeriMark have increased 25 percent each year for the past few years, the IVR system has allowed the call center to keep up with the growth.
Although IVR systems can be complex to set up and implement, depending on your needs and whether you request special voice talent or need complicated business rules, AmeriMark’s implementation went smoothly because the company chose an off-the-shelf solution, Stringer says.