Overstock.com’s call center was completely overloaded for some time; in steps, Echopass brought sense from the chaos that the Internet retailer was going through. Since its inception in 1997, it took eight years of business for Overstock.com to realize that it was time to do something about the fact that its call centers were overloaded.
The popularity of Overstock.com has garnered the company the number 31 slot on the prestigious Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide for 2013. For the company to maintain the position, or climb the ladder for next year, it was evident that they were going to need to find a solution for their overwhelmed call center. The efforts of using their own software, hosted software, and on-site software was not sufficient to meet their growing needs. The system that they have been using has been so overloaded that simple calls have not been able to be directed to the properly trained agents to handle their customers’ questions and needs.
Another issue that has been causing Overstock.com problems has been that they have had to use outside vendors during heavy traffic times, such as Christmas, to assist their own in-house personnel. Problems began to arise due to the fact that in-house and outsourced staff were often trained on different systems, creating excessively long hold times for customers. Due to the confusion, Overstock.com was not able to track the efficiency of its call center to pinpoint what was happening.
Cost has also been a factor against them, since all of the in-house hardware had to be continuously backed up—in case of a system crash—which meant hiring extra IT technicians to oversee the system.
2005 saw Overstock.com switch to a cloud-based system from Echopass, instead of the inefficient combination that they had been using. The system took 90 days to take effect and began saving the company money by not using outside centers and by reducing the need for additional staff. Over a five-year period, 2005-10, the new cloud-based system reduced the company spending for call center needs from $19.8 million to only $5.9 million. In 2010, Overstock opened a new 90-person call center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The efficiency of the call center process improved in various customer service avenues, such as reducing wait time from customers from twenty-two seconds to only two seconds. The time agents were on the phone dropped by nearly two minutes per call. The amount of staff required was reduced by thirty people, thus reducing payroll by $930,000 per year.
Carter Lee, vice president of information systems and technology for Overstock, told Katie Evans of Internet Retailer, “Implementing Echopass has proven to be a great choice. When we chose the solution, the term ‘cloud’ wasn’t really used, and many people questioned our decision to move our contact center solution to a fully hosted solution.” That situation, he says, has changed; “Today, people don’t question that type of decision, because many realize the benefits of putting certain technologies into the cloud. Ultimately, the decision to go with Echopass has allowed us to focus our time and energy on providing great customer service, instead of being distracted by supporting customer service technology.”
Edited by Rory J. Thompson