Upgrading a call center in 90 days

SearchCRM spoke with Tim Crawford, Senior VP and CIO at Total Information Services Inc., about their CRM project.

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ABOUT THE VENDOR Composit Communications International provides customer interaction management solutions for contact centers, enterprises, and service providers. Composit has sold and installed more than 120 systems in the United States and Israel. Previously operating as Missing Link until its establishment in 1995, Composit has 15 years of experience in product development and customer project implementations in the call center market....

Now, with the migration from the call center to the multimedia contact center, new technological requirements are introduced. Composit meets these needs with CIMphone (pronounced sim-fon-e), a customer interaction management solution that handles all types of multimedia interactions such as traditional phone, voiceover IP, fax, email, and Web. ABOUT THE CLIENT Total Information Services Inc. supplies pre-employment screening information and services to over 30,000 employers through its various operating divisions. One of TISI's companies, DAC Services, implemented components of Composit Communication's CIMphone in its inbound customer contact center. DAC Services, which assists transportation companies in the process of hiring safer drivers, has a significant presence in the convenience store and security guard industries, and provides information to over 7,000 insurance businesses for the purpose of insurance underwriting. ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY CIMphone implements a scalable Customer Interaction Management solution that offers IVR, Dialer, CTI, IP telephony, intelligent interaction routing, CRM integration, fax, and Web-enabled interactions such as email, voice over IP, collaborative browsing, and chat -- all on one platform. Additionally, CIMphone's open-by-design solution eliminates the need for a multi-vendor environment by absorbing into existing infrastructures or serving as a completely whole solution, depending on the organization's requirements. SearchCRM spoke with Tim Crawford, Senior VP of Operations and CIO at Total Information Services Inc., about the project. ---------------------------------------------- SearchCRM: What kind of system were you using before you implemented the CIMphone solution? Crawford: We had a home-grown, DOS-based system. It wasn't much more than a twenty-dollar Wal-Mart answering machine on steroids. In the late eighties it seemed like a really good idea. SearchCRM: Why did you decide to look for something else? Crawford: The biggest thing was that on most days, more than 90 percent of our calls from customers ended up with a voicemail message being left. Because our call direction functionality was so poor, if there wasn't an agent available that second, the call dropped off into voicemail -- even if the wait time would have been just 10 seconds. SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the vendor evaluation? Crawford: We were focused on what the cost of ownership was going to be; we were less concerned with exhaustive lists of features and functions. We didn't care if they had 100 functions -- all the research says you end up using just 10 to 15 percent. And as long as you have all the critical ones, the systems are functionally all going to do about the same thing. But the whole sales process for most companies is focused on, "How do I get all the features out onto the table?" That was tough because we were looking at it from a different dimension. SearchCRM: How did the implementation go? Crawford: As far as implementations go, it was pretty pain-free. From start to finish, it was 90 days. We understood how critical it is to have users involved in the implementation, so the number one person running the project came from the user group that was actually going to use this product. She did a fantastic job of making sure that what was implemented was what was needed and that we didn't have technology overkill or training issues. SearchCRM: How has the CIMphone solution helped you improve customer relations? Crawford: We've gone from 90 percent non-live to 90 percent live call processing. Also, before CIMphone, callers basically got the next representative unless they happened to know a particular representative's direct dial extension. With CIMphone, you punch in your customer number, and depending on who you are, you get routed to the appropriate customer service rep. So our high volume customers will usually end up talking to the same person every time. SearchCRM: When do you expect to see ROI? Crawford: The last thing we're looking for is a reduction in customer service costs. Even as we move more customer service onto the Web, we expect to see our customer service call volumes go up. It's all predicated on an improvement in customer service, not in reducing costs. SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for companies that want to start a project like yours? Crawford: The biggest thing is to get the user community really involved in the software selection process and the implementation. Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle and Psychology Today. Contact her at linda-eric@lserv.com

This was first published in June 2001

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