Cox Switches Supplier, Sees Results

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Cox Communications recently switched its $1.2 million contract to Melita after its supplier, Syntellect, failed to keep up with the company's expansion into the local telephone service market.

"The level of service we were receiving was terrible," said Butch Brown, director of risk management for the Atlanta-based cable operator.

Cox, the first cable system in the country to market local telephone service, had been using Syntellect's power dialer, which was linear and character-based. The company, however, needed a billing system that would accommodate the new local phone service the company recently put on the market, and its current dialer was incompatible with the upgrade.

"Their [Syntellect's] product does not provide for upgrading," Brown said.

"The sense of urgency was great," Brown said. "We had a conversion schedule and we were moving forward. We knew the day after conversion the [Syntellect] dialers would be non-functional."

An abrupt switch of vendors seemed the only choice.

Brown chose Norcross, GA-based Melita products, having used them when he was working for another company. He had been "impressed with their level of service and responsiveness as well as their willingness to work."

"Melita helped us create the [project] plan and mobilize resources. The turnaround time was extremely fast," he said. "They were responsive and the product is working just like it should."

Cox operates eight outbound call centers for its cable network and one for the newspaper it owns, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. There are 250 workstations at all of its centers. Call center agents conduct customer surveys and telemarketing.

Cox went live with Melita's Phone Frame Explorer and Magellan systems on June 6.

Magellan is a customer relationship management platform that guides call center agents through each call. It provides real-time access to enterprise-wide customer and product information and presents it in a single-view system.

Magellan works within PhoneFrame Explorer, a universal telephony platform, which includes a server and a software suite. PhoneFrame is capable of supporting multiple applications running on industry-standard hardware. Modular software construction allows for selection of applications and features that meet customers' specific requirements. It is also a scalable system that allows the platform to expand with the company.

According to Brown, since the company has implemented the system they have experienced a 15 percent to 20 percent drop in cable disconnection for nonpayers because customers could be contacted sooner.

"Two things Melita provides for us is that they push the functionality down to the user by driving it to the desktop, " he said.

Brown said each call center is in different stages of implementation, but the Atlanta-Journal Constitution is on-line and operating with the Melita programs. The company plans to have all call centers using Melita's system by 1999.

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