E-commerce site enters the cloud, reduced call center costs dramatically

Client: PartyPail

Vendor: Vocalocity

Objective: To expand PartyPail’s e-commerce business, while at the same time radically reducing its phone bill and creating better customer engagement.

For Edward Hechter, CEO of Washington state-based party supply company PartyPail, it’s all about creating a positive customer experience — which is why he’s a brand evangelist for small business VoIP (voice over IP) provider Vocalocity.

Hechter says his new 800-number Internet-based phone system allows PartyPail representatives to quickly route incoming calls to the appropriate channels and easily respond to call volume peaks in a way that wasn’t possible with a legacy landline. This is something that’s especially important considering the current scope of PartyPail’s business, Hechter says.

The company, which Hechter and his wife started out of their kitchen in 2007, has grown exponentially — Hechter says he expects to do roughly $5 million in revenue this year — and it runs a suite of six branded sites, including partypail.com, 1stbirthdayparty.com and babyshowerdecorations.net.

“We’re in the direct marketing business, so we’re always talking to our customers, and our relationship with Vocalocity has enabled us to radically slash our telecommunications costs,” Hechter says. “That’s how we’re able to deliver the sort of service levels that we’re trying to achieve: to answer 99% of all our calls live.”

In fact, Hechter is so pleased with his experience that he agreed to let Vocalocity feature him in its ongoing Customer Spotlight campaign. Hechter appears in a video testimonial available on Vocalocity’s website in which he extols the virtues of Vocalocity’s service, including its scalability, reliability and affordability.

“The video’s also been an important part of our own brand building beyond the consumer community to reach potential partners on the technology service or marketing and communications side of things,” Hechter says. “The sales calls we’ve been receiving are more educated because of this.”

STRATEGY: Vocalocity CEO Wain Kellum says his service is specifically “tuned” for small businesses like PartyPail to help them “create the same customer experience as you’d get when you call LL Bean, Nordstrom or Amazon, but without extraordinary expense.”

For example, Kellum explains, when PartyPail runs an online promotion and the calls are flooding in, company representatives can plug in and handle the runoff no matter where they are physically.

In addition to workforce flexibility, Vocalocity allows users to track metrics — such as how long representatives stay on the line, how many calls they make and when the most, or least, calls are coming in — and digitally record calls for customer service and training purposes.

“So it’s also a good productivity benchmark, which means someone like Ed [Hechter] can look at the analytics and spend less time supervising time management — and all through a simple phone system.”

RESULTS: It’s been a mutually beneficial business relationship. Kellum says Vocalocity’s Customer Spotlight campaign has produced concrete results, most notably doubling its insurance business in the six months following its insurance vertical testimonial last autumn.

On the PartyPail side of things, Hechter says he’s been able to reduce its telecommunications costs dramatically. Though the company is four times as large as when the Vocalocity service was installed last year, its phone bill is now half the size it previously was. PartyPail estimates it’s been able to grow its business by 400% and more seamlessly streamline its internal and consumer-facing operations using Vocalocity.

“Leveraging their technology has really taken what was a problematic cost center for us and made it into a nonissue,” Hechter says. “And as we’ve grown, we’ve been able to use their technology to deliver a higher level of customer service.”

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