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Customer Interaction Solutions
October 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 5

Large Outsourcer Improves Customer Response Time
And Reduces Costs Using IP-Based Communications Application

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About Alta Resources
Alta Resources (http://www.altaresources.com) provides customized outsourcing services incorporating advanced technology, unique processes and the right people in a dedicated team environment. Customers include Fortune 500 companies such as Apria, Energizer/Schick, Nestlé Purina, Revlon, Novartis and SC Johnson. Alta is committed to helping leading brands create and leverage meaningful relationships with their customers through Relationship Sales, One-to-One Marketing, Consumer Direct-Order Marketing, Consumer Care, and Business Intelligence products. The company was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Neenah, WI with offices in Kalamazoo, MI; Brea, CA; and Manila, Philippines.

The Challenge
Since 1995, Alta Resources had been using a Centrex system from its carrier to provide customer service via inbound analog lines. As the company grew, it required more functionality and faster response time to meet an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing set of client requirements. Alta hoped to find a new system that would help it achieve these objectives without adding undue complexity to its communications infrastructure.

“We began looking for a system that would enable us to quickly and easily create and customize applications inhouse,” said David Coe, Alta Resource’s chief information officer. “We also needed something that was highly scalable, and minimized costs associated with integration, administration and maintenance.”

The Solution
Alta Resources reviewed systems from Avaya (quote - news - alert) and Nortel (quote - news - alert) , but was concerned with their multi-box approach. “The systems we reviewed offered some nice functionality,” Coe said, “but they required a lot of servers, each running a different application, which meant a longer installation period and a potential management nightmare.” The company was then introduced to a bundled communications application software system from Interactive Intelligence. (news - alert) The system, called Customer Interaction Center (CIC), offered a single interaction engine to process all interaction types, including phone calls, faxes, e-mails, Web chats and Web callbacks. Alta Resources chose CIC because of this “single-box” architecture, and its builtin graphical application generator that allowed for virtually unlimited customization options.

“We selected CIC because it gave us far more than traditional call center applications without purchasing additional server and software components,” Coe said. “In addition, the product came with a GUI-based customization tool that would enable us to more quickly respond to client requests such as creating and modifying complex interactive voice response applications.”

Alta Resources installed CIC in 1998 at its Neenah, Wisconsin headquarters, which then supported about 400 agents, and at its Brea, California office, which supported about 100 agents. Both sites used clustered servers for fault-tolerance. In 2001, CIC was installed at the company’s Kalamazoo, Michigan office, which added another 100 agents to the system. The Kalamazoo office was centralized in 2004, with agents connected back to the Neenah office via a WAN. Today, the IP-based version of CIC, which uses the open SIP standard for VoIP, supports a total of 950 agents and business users processing on average 60,000 calls daily across the company’s three U.S. offices and its Philippines site, which are all linked using tie lines. The system is used to support 50 to 60 clients and about 750 active toll-free numbers at any given time. Alta Resources uses all CIC applications, including skills-based routing, IVR, speech recognition, Web chat and reporting.

The company also deployed a CIC add-on product for outbound campaign management, called Interaction Dialer, and integrated it with its customer relationship management (CRM) package from PeopleSoft. This gives agents a screen-pop upon call delivery that shows customer information from the PeopleSoft database. The company purchased a second add-on product from Interactive Intelligence called Interaction Recorder to provide call recording and quality monitoring.

The Benefits
Alta Resources cites faster customer response time and reduced costs among the primary benefits of CIC. For instance, after deploying CIC, the company won a major client contract to create a complex IVR application. “We won the contract and a consultant immediately said that there was no way we could meet the deadline, which demanded the system be up and running within two months,” Coe said. “We were able to create the system inhouse and under deadline. There’s no way we would’ve been able to use a traditional telecommunications product to create such a complex IVR application so quickly and without third-party assistance.”

Alta Resources also reports that, for clients requiring extensive IVR applications, CIC has reduced agent staffing by about 50 percent. Coe notes that CIC’s “single-box” architecture has reduced support staff requirements too. “With a multi-box telecommunications solution we would’ve had to hire about double the staff that we currently use to support CIC,” Coe said. “Plus, with fewer separate components, we’ve increased reliability.” Adding to these savings, according to Coe, has been the deployment of SIP, which has helped the company reduce charges associated with tollbypass and the convergence of its voice and data networks. “Overall, we estimate cost savings of about 10 percent as a result of migrating to a SIP infrastructure,” Coe said.

While reductions in staff and the virtual elimination of third-party vendor intervention have led to a lower total cost of ownership, Coe says money wasn’t the company’s primary concern. For more information, visit http://www.inin.com.

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