Home Learning College, a distance learning provider with more than 65.000 students, learnt an important lesson when it gave its outsourced call centre notice and brought its student enquiry service in-house.
The college installed new technology to integrate its telephones and computer system – computer telephony integration (CTI). Now when prospective students ring to enquire about training, they’re talking to an operator who can find and deliver the information about the course they need more efficiently, improving customer service.
Home Learning College has given CTI full marks. “We’ve seen increased conversion rate since moving from the outsourced call centre”, says Roland Baber, the college’s system’s manager.
The college has demonstrated that with easy-to-use software, such as the Sage Saleslogix it installed, it’s not difficult to reap benefits such as cost savings, improved data accuracy and happier customers.
Until now relatively few businesses have used CTI. “But in the past 12 months we’ve seen a big increase in momentum”, says Rowland Dexter, managing director of QGate Software, a customer relationship management (CRM) consultancy and business intelligence and CTI provider.
Dexter sees a range of business benefits for companies using CTI. For example, they can route calls to the right operator. Furthermore, because CTI software can do the lookup work automatically, operators get the information they need on their screens quicker – instantly providing the information the caller wants.
“At every stage, you’re saving here and a few seconds there, but over a lot of calls that can mount into quite a cost reduction”, says Dexter.
He makes the point that CTI is not just about call centres – it’s about delivering customer service which goes that extra mile. “Any business that aims to provide good customer service – and that uses CRM to achieve its aim and telephones as part of its communications channel – will benefit from linking CRM and telephony.”
Dexter maintains that the key to success in a CTI project such as this is “understanding why you’re doing it and communicate to your user base the reasons for it – why you’re providing this extra facility for them.
And with out-of-the-box software available for CTI, it need not take long to complete a project. At Home Learning College, the work took just four weeks from trial, testing, acceptance and installation to roll-out and going live.
“The technical barriers to CTI are coming down”, says Dexter. “It has become easier and more accessible technology. Any good vendor should allow you to try in your business at no cost so that you can evaluate it before you make an investment”.