manages Your-Voice Customer Services, a company that specializes in
outsourcing the customer service operations for other companies.
“When you call to check an account or request service from a company
you do business with, lots of times we may actually be the voice on
the other end of the phone,” says Liz. “From account services to
technical support, we do it all. About the only thing we won’t handle
“One of the
important things we did when we set up the company was to distribute
our people around the country. We don’t have a big central office
with a huge call center and dozens of desk like you see on TV. Most
of our people work out of their homes, using an Internet connection
and our phone system.
“What phone system?
Well, it’s not what you might expect. We looked at putting in one of
those big switching systems and decided it just wasn’t cost
effective. The thing would have been obsolete about the time they got
it in. Instead, we went with the Universal Office. We set up a
separate Universal Office for each customer, so we can do lots of
customized things. It costs us a LOT less than that big hunk of iron
“Now, when someone
calls the ‘customer service’ number for one of the companies we work
for, the Universal Office system answers the call, and says ‘Hello.
Thanks for calling XYZ Company’s Customer Service office. Whose
Calling?’” They say their name, and the call goes through to one of
our service reps.
“We have about 50
reps right now, spread out around the country, so that we cover all
the time zones from East to West. The system has a list of all their
numbers, and it puts the call through to whoever is next in rotation
for that company at that time of day. When the rep answers, they hear
‘So-and-so is holding for XYZ Company’. They press a button and the
caller is there on the line.
“While they’re doing
that, they’re also on their computer, clicking on that company name
and getting ready to pull up the customer’s records, using a computer
program we had written for us. It gets all the information across the
Internet from our headquarters office, and that database server is the
ONLY centralized thing we put in.
Office will try three reps until one can take the call, so we get
really good coverage. If no one can take the call, or if the customer
doesn’t want to wait, the Universal Office takes a message, and that
message goes straight to our email system. Each company we serve has
a different phone number, and that number appears in the email header,
so we made use of that. Our special computer program gets those
emails and puts them into a ‘call back’ queue for that company, which
appears on the reps computer screens.
“Between the reports
we get from the Universal Office and the reports we get from our
custom application, I know just how we are doing in terms of call
volume and call handling for each customer at any time. I don’t have
to guess how it’s going – I KNOW.
"My reps all work on a base plus commission, so knowing the call throughput is really important. But they really WANT those commissions as quickly as we can pay them, so I went to using GenieCards as well. Now I just run my weekly reports, figure how much commission goes to each rep, and shove it onto the GenieCard that goes with their Genie number. They see quick cash and I see happy clients.
“I don’t want to think about how
it would be without the Universal Office. I worked at another service
company for a few years, and they used one of those big, centralized
switching systems. It was a nightmare let me tell you. The service
techs were out an average of once a week to fix something or other. I
don’t have any of that hassle here, and I won’t let it in the door. I
want to ANSWER customer service calls, not MAKE them.