This article originally appeared in the Jan. 2012 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
LKQ Corp. recently has improved its call center infrastructure and enabled collaboration, driving customer satisfaction and aggressive business growth at the company, which is the largest nationwide provider of aftermarket and recycled collision replacement parts products.
The company, which sells items such as wheels, bumper covers and lights, and remanufactured engines, has operations in Canada, Central America, Mexico and the United Kingdom. LKQ operates more than 430 facilities, offering its customers a broad range of replacement systems, components and parts to repair automobiles and light, medium and heavy-duty trucks.
When a car is totaled, LKQ works directly with insurance providers to acquire the vehicle directly or at auction. The vehicles are then dismantled, and the company enters the reusable parts into its inventory system to resell to body shops and mechanical repair facilities. Most sales are conducted via traditional voice phone calls, making LKQ’s call center capabilities an invaluable part of its day-to-day business.
LKQ’s vision for its sales and customer service organization is to present a local face to its communities, right down to a local exchange phone number at each location. However, they also wanted national queuing capabilities, which would enable calls on hold to roll to another location for prompt service. The longer a customer waits on hold to speak with a representative, the more likely they are to abandon their call, complain or – worse yet – call a competitor.
As LKQ acquired smaller businesses, it needed a communications infrastructure and strategy that would support rapid growth, including fluid integration of newly acquired companies into the existing communications network. However, a key factor inhibited customer service and growth: a smorgasbord of communications technology that were difficult, if not impossible, to integrate. Each acquired company had its own make and model of private branch exchange and terminal equipment, all at varying ages and capabilities.
Overall, LKQ wanted to centralize its operations and update its technology, making it more uniform and efficient, while still offering that local touch. With a centralized virtual call center, the company could minimize abandoned calls, decrease wait times and increase customer satisfaction.
The LKQ service vision also called for a communication infrastructure that would enable collaboration, support knowledge transfer and accelerate sales cycles by encouraging mutual aid among its representatives. Most of the company’s locations are staffed by a handful of representatives with varying experience, so collaboration across the entire network would provide a deep bench of support for new representatives looking for assistance from more experienced colleagues, or even dedicated representatives dealing with highly specialized customer needs.
LKQ reached out to CDW to leverage its relationship with Cisco (News - Alert) Systems and provide the communications infrastructure to fulfill the vision of a dynamic, national communications network with a familiar, ubiquitous local touch for its customers.
CDW (News - Alert) evaluated LKQ’s infrastructure, assigning a voice solutions architect and a contact center architect to work with Cisco to review LKQ’s business requirements and assess the customer’s existing network infrastructure. The joint CDW/Cisco project team created and presented several cost-effective network design options that would provide LKQ with different management and control scenarios.
LKQ selected a design centered on the Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise, because this would provide centralized command and control of the network with the local entry/access that was so vital to LKQ’s business strategy. The CDW/Cisco pre-sales teams then worked together to design the detailed plan, built the bill of materials for the new infrastructure, and wrote a comprehensive statement of work.
The solution included a revamp of LKQ’s entire communications infrastructure, which expanded the company’s voice, messaging and call center capabilities. The solution also leverages a Cisco-powered network, which uses Cisco routers and switches, Cisco core network in the data center, Cisco Unified Communications (News - Alert) Manager for voice service, Cisco Unity Connections for voice messaging, Cisco Internet Protocol Contact Center, and Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal. LKQ also selected Cisco Unified Remote Survivability, using the Survivable Remote Site Telephony and Cisco Unified Call Manager Express functionality at each of its branch offices.
To get started, CDW and Cisco worked hand-in-hand to build a pilot program and successfully test the solution at three of LKQ’s locations. Today, LKQ has rolled out systems that support approximately 2,800 agents and 4,000 phones in more than 185 locations around the U.S., and while the company continues to acquire new business locations, the rollout pace progresses at approximately one new location per week.
Added benefits like a company-wide directory on the phone and centralized voicemail have helped LKQ become more efficient, providing fluid peer-to-peer access across the entire company and encouraging collaboration. Building upon the nationwide communications network, LKQ is now working to implement instant messaging and additional collaboration tools.
CDW’s teamwork, knowledge transfer and ability to deliver made for a seamless transition for LKQ. From first meeting to final implementation at the pilot sites, the process took only six months.
Today, LKQ’s virtual call center handles 3.5 million calls per month, and the company is realizing more efficiency, growth, scalability and easier maintenance. The Cisco solutions provide LKQ the ability to connect all agents through one portal, with queued calls rolling on a programmed priority system to locations as near to the originating location as possible – without sacrificing the local numbers for a connection. Additionally, the new system offers access to call statistics, the ability to cover geographic time zones and the capability to queue up calls with a set script. These added functions enable LKQ to view calls in the queue and manage call length and abandon rates, fluidly rerouting calls according to the programmed priorities and reducing hold times in the queue.
“Our unified network has been a major advance in efficiency and customer service,” says Chad Cowan, director of information technology at LKQ. “With unified call management, we don’t have to deal with different providers with different downtimes and different service cycles. The solution lets us better focus our sales force on the customer – we are no longer tied to specific geographic locations – if one center is slammed, we can reroute calls to another location.”
While LKQ has internal resources it relies on for any issues with the system, it also uses a CDW service agreement to provide contingency support to the IT department. When a problem does arise, CDW offers further value to LKQ by providing CDW Voice Advantage – a service that directs the first triage call to CDW’s network operations center and, if escalation is necessary, the call goes to an engineer knowledgeable about LKQ’s communications infrastructure. While LKQ still relies on CDW’s advice and technical support, the company has built out its own IT team and expertise to become almost entirely self-sufficient.
“It is nice to have a partner to join us when issues arise,” says Cowan, “If no one is available internally, we know we can turn to CDW, because we trust that they are knowledgeable and truly understand our environment and business needs.”
Mike Gelinas is a CDW (www.cdw.com) Advanced Technology Account Executive.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi