More often than not, digital investments can have a wide range of unanticipated benefits. That’s because in many cases, business leaders are unaware of the hidden and undetected obstacles that await them, and how modernizing their contact center can proactively solve for problems about to be discovered. As organizations became increasingly averse to disruption, it requires leaders to consider flexibility and adaptability as core value points for new technology. They must ask themselves: how wide an impact can this solution ultimately have?
One business that faced this question during the past year was Wine Country Gift Baskets, the premier supplier of wine and gourmet food gifts. The California-based company faces unique business challenges due to the dramatic ebbs and flows of customer engagement. In its busy season, Wine Country Gift Baskets must hire more than 600 temporary contact center agents to handle the influx of interaction volume. This poses significant problems for its customer experience (CX) team, which has to train these new employees to ensure consistent, exceptional service.
In 2018, the company realized its outdated and disparate contact center solutions were creating inefficiencies and harming customer service. This diagnosis was the beginning of a robust process that led to the adoption of cloud software that not only fixed longstanding issues, but abrupt ones down the road.
The following is a rundown of how cloud technology stabilized Wine Country Gift Baskets’ contact center, and provided the necessary resiliency following the COVID-19 outbreak:
Addressing Known Problems
During lull periods, Wine Country Gift Baskets employs roughly 30 contact center agents. This headcount, propped up by traditional phone and workforce management systems, was enough to satisfy customer demand. Starting every November, however, the company had to go in overdrive to meet the anticipated increase in holiday interactions, which meant bringing in a contingent workforce that overwhelmed the contact center infrastructure.
As a result, the company initiated a search for a new solution that would reduce costs while integrating chat, email, workforce management and quality management all in one system. After evaluating some on-premises options, Wine Country Gift Baskets looked into cloud offerings that seemed to provide a greater foundation and the elasticity needed to size up their operations in peak season.
After ultimately deciding on a unified contact center solution, agent training time fell by 20 percent. Training was so seamless that new employees could join the team on Monday and start taking calls by that Friday. Visibility into agent performance also improved with the new system, as contact center managers were able to run comprehensive reports in minutes, as opposed to the hour-long task from the previous system.
The new cloud platform accomplished more than improve training and metrics. Wine Country Gift Baskets also saw a dramatic reduction in costs, as their contact center budget fell by 10 percent since making the switch. Part of those savings came from labor costs. With their old system, the quality management team had to review calls as they came in, a time-consuming task that required a lot of manpower. Further, the quality management capabilities included the ability to record calls that could be reviewed any time, eliminating the need for more seasonal workers on the quality management team.
The other major costs savings involved IT and telecom expenses. The company often felt that it needed to babysit its old system, a common problem for contact centers still running on on-premises solutions. After moving to the cloud, Wine Country Gift Baskets was able to reduce labor costs and get rid of expensive hardware. Moreover, through an integrated cloud platform, the company did not need to pay for individual solutions, such as chat, email and workforce management, so the budget was no longer weighed down by ad hoc expenses. Just as significant, the company was able to cut telecom costs by replacing their telecom contracts with a lower cost option. Previously, Wine Country Gift Baskets had to pre-pay for enough telecom capacity to cover holiday volume year-round. Now, they are now able to scale up and down as needed, reducing telecom expenses by 98 percent.
Like millions of businesses worldwide, Wine Country Gift Baskets had to take drastic measures to maintain continuity during the coronavirus pandemic. The company made the decision to proactively shift to working from home to keep employees safe. This herculean task would not have been possible with their old system. However, by using a cloud-native customer experience platform, the company was able to easily transition to have agents work at home and continue to serve customers without missing a beat. When Wine Country Gift Baskets originally made the move to the cloud, it never anticipated that work-from-home capabilities would be critical to employee health. But because it had already made the investment, the transition was seamless.
Every company faces a unique set of challenges. But as most companies learned in 2020, those challenges change and evolve. Leaders should focus on addressing current problems with a strategy that will also drive agility in the future – you never know when the next big disruption will hit.