Outrigger and OHANA Hotels & Resorts have entered the virtual world of voice-over-the-Internet technology (VOIP, or voice over Internet protocol). Outrigger recently entered into an agreement with Echopass, a company that supplies automatic call distribution (ACD) services for contact centers like the Outrigger and OHANA Customer Contact Center in Denver. (Automatic call distribution is the technology that routes your call to the next available customer service representative.)
Our center has always been equipped with the latest technology for both communications and data processing. In the past, we found it most economical to buy the equipment and software programs we needed. However, with the purchase of these systems came the expense of the maintenance contracts and technical specialists required to keep everything running smoothly. Unfortunately, system upgrades also came into play in order to keep programs up to date and meet maintenance requirements.
Then came the virtual world of automatic call distribution, with the service delivered from an off-site location via the Internet (by an application service provider, or ASP). What has made it possible to use this new off-site service is voice-over-the-Internet technology, which links Echopass to the Outrigger/OHANA Contact Center, virtually free. Before voice-over-the-Internet became available, we would have had to pay two phone charges for each call received – one for the customer’s toll-free call to the off-site Echopass automatic call distribution service, and another to link Echopass with our center in Denver.
The great thing about voice-over-the-Internet technology is that phone calls sound every bit as clear as over the traditional phone company land line. We checked this out very, very carefully before making the switch.
Where we really got a big bang for our buck, however, is with the enhanced capabilities that come along with state-of-the-art automatic call distribution. Echopass lets us electronically distribute to our sales agents, not just incoming phone calls, but all the other electronic customer “touch points” – fax, e-mail, and chat (or “live help”) – that are now necessary to achieve true customer satisfaction. Before this, our old in-house system could only distribute phone calls. To have all the other customer touch points electronically distributed would have taken a very expensive upgrade to the in-house system. It would also have greatly increased the cost of our annual maintenance of that system.
Due to the rising cost of operating a contact center, it was time to be creative and look outside the box for savings. State-of-the-art systems were the answer. But how does one afford them while cutting back on the operating budget? It’s really simple. Look at all the new technology that is available, and find the best solution you can afford, compared against the maintenance costs of your current systems.
We looked for an off-site automatic call distribution system to which we could link with voice-over-the-Internet technology. The process took over one and a half years, but the outcome was well worth it. Besides being able to deliver all chats, e-mails, faxes, and voice reservation requests to our sales agents electronically, Echopass makes other services available to us, as we grow. One of the biggest bangs for the buck will be a work-from-home capability. We are hoping to have most of our sales agents working from home sometime in the near future. This will enable us to substantially reduce our brick-and-mortar space, while at the same time, have sales agents located in different time zones to better service guests who live in those zones. There are other services we intend to take advantage of in the future, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and regional sales office programs.
Another nice thing about using an off-site service like Echopass is that we don’t have to worry about system enhancements and upgrades. Echopass does it all. Since they license their programs to us on a per-seat basis, as business grows, we can easily increase the number of seats licensed. If business falls off, all we do is reduce the number of seats.
The savings we have achieved with this change are substantial. Echopass will continue to help us reduce the cost of operating our contact center and thus, cut the cost of booking a reservation.
At Outrigger, technology helps us provide ho’okipa (hospitality) cost-effectively.