O-Cedar Cuts Response Time, Talk Time

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O-Cedar Brands Inc., Springfield, OH, has cut its response time to customer calls by 50 percent using technology from Synchrony Communications Inc., Cincinnati, OH.


Synchrony's product, called Universal Queue, also helped the manufacturer of household cleaning products cut the average time of customer telephone calls in half by eliminating the need for customer service representatives to search reference binders and catalogs. Instead, agents access information online using knowledge-management technology.


"The biggest achievement has been our ability to understand the number of calls that come into our 1-800 number. We used to only understand the number that we responded to," said Beverly Pearson, marketing manager for O-Cedar. "This helped us to staff appropriately for our busiest hours ... between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m."


"We used to get a lot of voice mails left by customers and we used to need an individual to hear the messages and return the calls, so we are now not missing as many calls as we would have been. It's better not to have to chase the customer, but to have people there when they need them," Pearson said.


Universal Queue brings together all the communication methods a customer might choose - including the Web, phone, fax or e-mail - into one system delivered through the Web on a subscription basis. Clients pay $500 to $600 monthly per employee for the hardware, software and service, including maintenance.


"The advantage of using our system is twofold," said Rob Cottrell, Synchrony's vice president of marketing. "From a practical standpoint, we are able to integrate multichannel communications so that the customer service rep has just one integrated desktop. The database application also allows the customer service rep to have a complete view of any and all interactions with a customer."


Beyond its Universal Queue product, Synchrony is working with e-commerce fulfillment services company Aero Fulfillment, also based in Cincinnati, on technology that would allow agents to provide clients with call center technology and fulfillment services from one desktop. The two companies have integrated the look and feel of their own proprietary software packages, but are still working on integrating the back-end technologies.


In addition to adding Universal Queue, O-Cedar recently added e-commerce capabilities to its Web site, which had previously provided only information. It began to sell products through the site in September. The site is designed to service repeat customers rather than recruit new customers, so promotional activity has so far been limited to direct mail to customers who had bought products from retail channels.


"Our primary goal is still to sell to retailers," Pearson said.

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