Case Study

The UC Taste Test

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor  |  May 01, 2011


This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

The right technology solutions can improve contact center vitality by permitting them to meet customers’ and business’ needs more effectively. Unified communications (UC) is one such example, as it seamlessly integrates contacts from multiple channels to agents wherever they are located.

To get a taste of what UC can achieve, firms need to check and see what others have achieved with it. Case in point is MonaVie, which sells an extensive line of nutritional drinks, supplements and snacks via its independent distributor network. The firm has two contact centers– one in South Jordan, Utah, where it is headquartered, and one in Taiwan, to be joined by a third location in South Korea sometime in 2011.

Each week MonaVie’s contact center agents manage approximately 6,200 inbound calls, plus 3,700 e-mails and hundreds of digital chat sessions through Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook. The contacts come from distributors ordering products, potential distributors requesting information and general inquiries, explains Jake Larsen, MonaVie’s call center manager.

MonaVie has tapped into the growing consumers concerns for their health and well-being. Its business has been expanding so rapidly that by 2006 the call volume subsequently generated surpassed its contact center platform’s ability to promptly handle it, reports Larsen. The firm also had to have a separate team to handle chat and e-mail, which created inefficiencies; it needed to integrate the channels. It also required a tool that would work with contact centers located in other countries and with home-based agents.

Turning to UC

MonaVie then turned to IP-based UC to effectively handle and integrate the channels and agents. And after investigating other suppliers, it turned to ShoreTel (News - Alert) (, choosing the ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center.

ShoreTel’s products were less costly to install and maintain that those from competitors, explains Larsen. It has easy backwards compatibility for analog trunks, for working with analog lines, and the modems and faxes that run on them. ShoreTel’s open standards and APIs allowed for straightforward integration so that previously stand-alone functions can be centrally orchestrated through one highly available platform.

“Since our telephones and communications tools were not fully integrated, this slowed the time for agents to complete calls and for other departments as well,” reports Larsen. “To remain successful at fulfilling orders and expanding the business, we needed to deploy a UC solution that could rapidly scale to meet these demands.”

MonaVie installed ShoreTel solution February 2007; it took a month to go live. It also integrated the ShoreTel solution with its custom-built CRM application, and the ShoreTel phones with Outlook and e-mail.

There were a few challenges. One set involved upgrading from the legacy platform to the ShoreTel solution, as it required user re-training for user interfaces and application changes, while also causing changes in some original call flows. Another called for integrating the multimedia elements, which required it to use ShoreTel’s implementation services due to lack of training on the advanced applications.

UC Results

The investment and effort in the ShoreTel UC solution paid off for MonaVie. The firm eliminated the separate chat/e-mail team and reduced headcount, saving some $500,000 annually. Features such as screen pop-ups that help instantly verify caller ID and other data enabled MonaVie’s agents trim up to 15 seconds per call, for more than 1.6 million calls per year.

The UC functionality, distributed architecture and open standards APIs in the ShoreTel product also allowed MonaVie IT administrators to shift to and support home-based agents beginning in 2010. With this, some 80 percent of MonaVie’s contact center employees are now able to work offsite.

The ShoreTel tool also permitted improved customer service to MonaVie distributors with automated call backs, outbound surveys and credit card issue resolution. The company initiated an agent scorecard, with data aggregated from customer surveys and other contact center statistics collected through the Enterprise Contact Center reporting tools and built into Microsoft Excel. The scorecard bolstered productivity by permitting agents and supervisors to quickly understand and improve efficiencies related to call handling, training sessions, and customer satisfaction.

“Now [with ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center] we can manage the same level of traffic better and more efficiently,” reports Larsen. “We have this anywhere ability to integrate everything into the desktop toolbar: screen pop-ups, caller ID confirmation and even birthday verification.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell