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February 2005

Reduce Cost Per Order Without Sacrificing Service With “Interactive Agent”

By West Corporation

It is only natural that companies of all sizes constantly seek out new ways to reduce customer acquisition and customer service costs. For many, automation seems like the easy answer. Replacing agents does reduce labor costs, but simply swapping agents for an automated system could have dire consequences if not done properly. After all, if your customers cease to be happy with your service, then you’ll have much bigger problems than high costs.

Three of the most common problems companies face when implementing an automated solution are:

  • An increase in hang-ups by callers who prefer to speak to a live person or are confused by the system;
  • A loss in service quality as measured by conversion rates, average ticket size or customer satisfaction; and
  • An inability to make rapid scripting changes to account for new offers or last-minute media buys.

Because of these challenges and the inherent complexities of keeping up with the rapid changes in speech technology, many companies are electing to outsource their automated systems. A growing number of Fortune 1000 companies are choosing West Corporation’s Interactive Agent.

“Interactive Agent is a powerful solution that builds upon West’s two decades of outsourced customer service experience,” said Rod Kempkes, EVP. “Interactive Agent will help your company drive sales, reduce costs and provide high-quality service. While it can process transactions on its own, many companies make the strategic decision to use Interactive Agent in conjunction with live agents.”

Key Advantages
Interactive Agent is the smart choice for an automated solution because it enables:

Reduced costs. Depending on the specifics of the application, Interactive Agent can cost 50 percent to 75 percent less per minute than a live agent-only solution. When given the choice, as many as half of callers making credit card purchases may complete the transaction with Interactive Agent.

Can be blended with live agents. One of the most powerful uses of Interactive Agent occurs when it is combined with live agents. Though many different kinds of calls can be handled in an automated environment, it is still important to cater to customers who still prefer to speak to a live person. Giving the caller a choice ensures higher satisfaction among all customers, even as comfort levels with automated services continue to increase.

Conversion rates and upsells. Combining live agents with Interactive Agent can result in comparable conversation rates. These results are due to Interactive Agent’s process and scripting features. Because West has its own voice talent and recording studios in house, quality voice recording is ensured.

The Right Tool For The Right Job
Interactive Agent is a powerful tool. But its real power derives not from its technology, rather in knowing when to use it. Interactive Agent may not be the right choice for very complicated information exchanges, such as technical support, or when a knowledgeable sales agent is required to close a sale — such as for a high-ticket item. In those cases, it still makes sense for callers to reach live agents directly.

But for the vast majority of information exchanges, direct response orders or other simple transactions, Interactive Agent may reduce costs while maintaining service quality. And with West’s industry-leading call capacity of over 130,000 ports, Interactive Agent ensures that callers get through the first time, every time.

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