Woolworths' Liquor Multi Option Retail business has taken the pain out of Christmas and other seasonal demand fluctuations in its customer contact centre with the adoption of specialised communications software.
The Woolworths division, which oversees customer relationships for Cellarmaster Wines, Dan Murphy's Digital, and NZ Wine Society, implemented Interactive Intelligence's IP communications software, Customer Interaction Centre (CIC) in 2010.
For Cameron Brawn, head of IT for Liquor Multi Option Retail, the move not only enabled the business' customer contact centre to better manage inbound and outbound caller volume fluctuations and reduce customer wait times, it also cut back on the amount of shouting in the workplace.
"We had a predictive dialler for many years, but it was separate to the ACD (automatic call distributor) platform, which distributed incoming phone calls to specific terminals," said Brawn at a briefing in Sydney on 31 March. "So, when the inbound sales service centre was busy, supervisors would shout across the call centre so that we could slow the predictive dialer system down."
According to Brawn, the shouting matches were not the least of the challenges facing the customer contact centre teams.
"Once the dialler system had slowed down, agents had to log off their telephones and log back into the ACD. By then the 30 calls waiting would have already been cleared or it may well have got worse, but it was an incredibly labour inefficient process for us to go through," he said.
However, those challenges were eased dramatically, along with caller wait times, when the company adopted Interactive Intelligence's CIC platform as part of a major overhaul of its call centre technology.
"We were able to take substantially more calls this Christmas just gone, whereas two years ago we would have 30 to 40 calls waiting," said Brawn. "But we didn't go beyond ten calls or so for last Christmas."
"The platform automatically slows down the calling of our customers at busy times like Christmas to allow more inbound calls through. That's been a huge advantage to us. So there's no yelling across the call centre to take inbound calls. When the pace of the inbound calls falls, it shifts up the outbound calls again," he said.
The implementation of Interactive Intelligence's technology has also allowed Liquor Multi Option Retail to blend emails, manage inbound and outbound calls simultaneously along with web chat, all on the same system.
Although many of Interactive Intelligence's global customers make use of the multichannel contact centre platform as a purely cloud-based service, Liquor Multi Option Retail has integrated the CIC platform into its offsite data centre.
According to Brawn, the integration of Interactive Intelligence's system into Liquor Multi Option Retail's existing legacy CRM systems has resulted in a clear point of difference for contact centre agents and customers alike.
"Those contact centre agents who have been upgraded and trained on the new CRM system are the best performing agents in the call centre," he said.