A Pleasurable Transition from Avaya to iVoice
PHE, Inc. realizes tremendous savings with host-control capability of iVoice
When PHE, Inc. of Hillsborough, North Carolina, discovered their reliable 7-year-old Avaya "Conversant" VRU (voice response unit) was no longer supported, the IT department knew it was time for a new relationship. The Avaya system was not only expensive to maintain, it didn't allow the flexibility PHE needed to cost-effectively handle customers from the company's various divisions.
PHE's main division, Adam & Eve, is the nation's leading adult mail order catalog company. Adam & Eve has over four million customers nationwide, with mail, phone and Internet orders placed daily. Additionally, PHE has many other divisions for which it accepts orders, including VideoMail, VideoGold and Adam & Eve adult video clubs; AdamMale, a catalog and web site for gay men; Secret Passions; and Adam & Eve Productions. Each division has a specific audience to which PHE caters.
When investigating new IVR possibilities, Jerry Craig, PHE's Information Solutions Director, wanted a system that could easily support calls for all of PHE's subsidiaries, with room to grow. The IVR system is a very important channel through which customers contact and do business with PHE. After some research and Internet searches, Craig found Don Rima's Spotlight review in eServer Magazine, iSeries edition and decided to investigate further.
Craig contacted iMessaging Systems and after learning more about iVoice Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and its iSeries-control capabilities, he said, "Your solution sounds like it could be a good fit for us since our developers have the knowledge to create and modify the applications." One major requirement of the new system was the capture and recognition of Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) – with multiple divisions serviced by the same IVR, this function was crucial. In fact, the deal was predicated on iVoice's ability to collect the DNIS data.
DNIS is the ability for the system to recognize the telephone number dialed by the calling party. The ability for the iVoice system to recognize and collect the DNIS digits means that PHE can brand each product line by publishing a variety of toll-free "vanity" numbers. Here's how it works: PHE publishes a toll-free number for their Adam & Eve catalog. Whenever a customer calls PHE with the Adam & Eve number, the "dialed digits" or DNIS information is collected by iVoice, allowing iVoice to know which division the caller is trying to reach and playing a custom welcome greeting and voice application. With DNIS, PHE can keep the individual branding of each division while using a single, integrated iVoice system.
Confident the proposed solution was sound, iMessaging engaged one of their Avaya specialists to review the plans and ensure a smooth transition. The ultimate solution used the Avaya switch to capture the incoming call's DNIS, then send along the DNIS digits to iVoice.
iVoice performs many functions for PHE's customers via Touch Tone and Automated Speech Recognition (ASR), including order taking, order status (back order, shipping status, problems with order, etc.) and notifying callers of their wait time in the queue. If a customer uses ASR and the system cannot understand what they said due to a heavy accent or speech difficulties, the caller is then prompted to repeat the statement. If iVoice is still unable to understand, the customer is automatically transferred to an operator. PHE estimates that 75% of callers utilize the ASR feature when compared to the Touch Tone interaction method. But, at any time, callers can reach a Customer Service Representative by saying, "Transfer" or "Operator," or pressing zero on the Touch Tone keypad.
Implementing the applications on iVoice was a breeze, according to Jimmy Keith, PHE's iSeries RPG programmer, "With 2 days of in-house training, we were on our way. iMessaging provided great support and prompt feedback to any of our questions." The iSeries-controlled programming capability of iVoice not only saves PHE time, it saves the company a lot of money. Craig explains that they previously worked with an Avaya business partner to develop and implement new scripts: "Scripting was difficult – each new update was very expensive, and the turnaround was slow compared to iVoice. Very simple changes would have taken a couple months, minimum, to complete, test and go live. With iVoice, the same revisions are done in-house in a week or less." With iVoice, PHE can modify and update scripts whenever necessary, with no additional outlay of money. "If we had to outsource the same updates we've made with iVoice, we would've spent $30,000 to $40,000 in development costs," Craig states. Tim Edmondson, PHE's Project Leader, adds that it is just "all-around easier that we can do the programming ourselves with iVoice."
Over the course of implementation of the new iVoice IVR system, Craig recalls there were about 6 revisions needed to the system. The iMessaging programmers were very responsive to PHE's needs – according to Craig, all questions and modifications were addressed quickly, and iMessaging was back to them with the answers and revisions they needed within days – "much faster than anticipated, and definitely faster than our previous arrangement."
With only 6 weeks from the approval of the contract to going live (including delivery of equipment, development of scripts, recording the voices and testing of the system), Craig estimates that they received an ROI in about half the time they would have with any of the other solutions they were considering. "And," states Craig, "iVoice meets all our present and future needs."