Company Looks to Integrate Methods of Contact With Customers

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Uniglobe.com, a travel and e-commerce company in Seattle, will move into a larger customer contact center later this month and expand the responsibilities of agents, adding a text chat function and integrating the various methods by which it communicates with customers.


"The number of people working in the center increases every week," said Michael Dauberman, senior vice president of Uniglobe.com. "We are in the middle of a major growth period so there are people being brought in all the time. The call center equipment is being upgraded and we are bringing in a number of people more advanced in the technology we are going to be using."


Uniglobe.com is using Lucent Technologies' CentreVu Internet Solutions. It will enable customers to communicate in real time using text chat and integrate customer e-mail, voice mail, phone and fax messages.


Currently, 50 agents work in the Uniglobe.com customer contact center. That number will increase when the company moves into the larger facility, which also is in Seattle. The goal of the new center is to get callers speaking to the most qualified agents as soon as possible to get them the information they need as efficiently as possible.


Dauberman said Uniglobe, like other Internet companies, had a 24-hour customer contact cycle. "That's just too long to get the information back to people, and most companies were delivering only general information which wasn't that specific," he said.


Now Uniglobe.com has compiled a library of skills associated with every agent so that when the center receives a call, fax or e-mail looking for information, the request is forwarded to the most qualified agent.


"After every transmission we receive, we check into our database of agents to see who can best handle the request," Dauberman said. "This allows us to provide people with an almost immediate response, instead of 24 hours later."


The site services about 1 million customers a month. Prior to the expansion, consumers would call while browsing the site, provided they had a second phone line, or after they finished browsing. The text chat feature allows them to communicate with an agent while online even if they only have one phone line.


"We want to give our customers the ability to contact us in whatever manner is most convenient for them," Dauberman said. "We know many of our customers still want personal contact when considering or making travel transactions online. This will put us at the forefront of interacting with our customers in whichever way they find most comfortable, 24 hours a day. This will ultimately help increase our e-commerce sales."


He said the company refers to its center as a customer contact center and not a call center because the word "call" did not apply to what it did.


"We communicate with our customers in a number of different ways," he said. "And that's why we changed it."
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