This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine.
For most of us, fresh-baked bread, BMTs and Jared Fogle may come to mind when Subway enters into the conversation. For franchise owners of the popular sandwich shops, however, delivering food quickly and to order is more complex than your simple mustard vs. mayo decision. These small business owners have to keep abreast of a variety of issues, including various payment options and related customer loyalty programs. And unified communications has become a key ingredient in enabling them to do so.
Independent Purchasing Cooperative, an organization owned by the 24,000 North American Subway franchisees, uses the Interactive IntelligenceCustomer Interaction Center product for IP PBX (News - Alert), voice mail, presence, unified messaging, and softphone functionality.
IPC started out as an entity focused on distribution, quality management, packaging and other aspects related to supply chain management relative to the food items used by Subway franchisees. But five or six years ago IPC (News - Alert) expanded to handle equipment such as toasters and refrigerators; insurance; and IT and telecom gear for Subway store owners in an effort to help these businesses become more profitable, explains James A. Esposito, senior operations and project manager at IPC.
Esposito manages the Value Pay Services division within IPC that handles electronic payments at Subway stores. When a franchisee has a question relative payments using gift cards, rewards cards, or credit or debit cards they can contact IPC to get an answer. Given the gift card program is mandatory for franchisees, and just last year the acceptance of credit and debit cards became a requirement, there are plenty of such incoming inquiries, says Esposito.
In the past, he says, IPC had a basic key system, which simply routed all calls through the receptionist. But as the business expanded it needed a more robust telephony system, and IPC discovered that the product from Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) fit the bill, he says.
A big selling point of the Interactive Intelligence solution, according to Esposito, was its ability to integrate with Microsoft (News - Alert) CRM. Prior to using the new call center, his reps were managing their CRM interactions using Excel – not a scalable solution. With the Interactive Intelligence solution, however, reporting is automated and much “cleaner,” he says, noting it automatically records such statistics as when peak calling periods take place and that data flows into the CRM system.
“That totally helped us with staffing,” he says.
And the ACD that IPC implemented with the Interactive Intelligence system allows the organization to queue and route calls quickly and efficiently, he says. Prior to the ACD caller wait times averaged 10 to 15 minutes each. Now they’re in the 2 to 3 minute range.
“That was huge,” says Esposito.
Additionally, he says, IPC recently implemented Interactive Intelligence’s IVR functionality. The new IVR system handles 250,000 minutes per month, and allowed IPC to see its return on investment in just six months. Esposito says the IVR, which was installed in early 2009, had yielded IPC more than $240,000 in savings as of the end of last year.
“The IVR was sort of the icing on the cake,” he says.
Time for lunch.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi