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Case Studies : 1-800-Flowers.com

Background
1-800-FLOWERS.COM is a success story built on great marketing and superior customer service.  From its beginnings in 1976 as a single flower shop in New York City, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has blossomed into one of the national gift retailers, providing customers with a variety of convenient ways to order flowers and gifts for just about anyone, just about anywhere in the world.

The Challenge
As 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has continued to grow, the company has set the goal for itself of becoming one of the “first source” customers think of when they need to purchase a gift. For this successful retailer, that means providing outstanding sales assistance and customer service around the clock despite marked seasonal peaks in the demand for gifts and flowers. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has succeeded because it understands the importance of delivering on the promises it makes to its customers and backing it by delivering a highly personalized customer experience.

Running an efficient and highly skilled callcenter is a challenge for any company, particularly one with seasonal call volume spikes. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day and Mother’s Day can mean upwards of ten times the normal call volume, requiring 1-800-FLOWERS.COM to nearly double its staff by hiring and training additional gift advisors to handle the influx of calls. In addition, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM also depends on several customer service outsourcing partners. Not only is it important for customers to get through in a timely manner to 1-800- FLOWERS.COM agents, they must be connected with gift advisors who have the skills to answer their specific questions.

As 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has expanded its inventory beyond bouquets to add candy, teddy bears, baskets and more, it has become one of the  destinations for anyone looking for the perfect gift. That has meant even more calls coming in that require the experience and customer-focused attention that 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has become known for. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM works with a network of independent florists and gift companies to make the fulfillment process as simple and efficient as possible. One challenge occurred when customers called to check the status of their order. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM associates were spending time looking up these orders and helping customers understand when their order was or would be delivered. This was, however, time that could have been spent helping potential customers place new orders.

The Decision
1-800-FLOWERS.COM knew they needed a solution and they needed one fast. The 2003 holiday shopping season was approaching and it was time to start ramping up staff in the call centers. Automated speech recognition was the answer they were looking for. However, the technical implementation process and experience to deploy the application on premise was out of reach in such a short period of time. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM did not have the time nor experience to get an order-status system up and running in time for the holidays that would meet and exceed its customer’s expectations. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has a reputation for superior customer service and it could not be compromised.

As a result, they turned to the one company that had more deployed speech solutions than anyone else in the retail industry: TuVox.

The Solution
TuVox deployed an order tracking speech application solution that gives 1-800-FLOWERS.COM the ability to divert their non-revenue generating calls from the call center. This solution allows their gift advisors to spend more time on revenue-generating activities and reduces the overall cost-per-call for order status. More important, the order voice self-service application enables customers to get quick and efficient information on the status of their orders 24x7.

TuVox’s managed service solution also allowed 1-800-FLOWERS.COM to take a toe-in-the-water approach to voice self-service without making the capital investment in an on-premise solution. It would be costly and time prohibitive for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM to develop its own fully scaleable solution that could handle its holiday peaks. TuVox’s knowledge allowed 1-800-FLOWERS.COM to have a fully-functioning and scaleable order status application up and running in just six weeks – with plenty of time to spare before the holiday shopping rush. The same solution would have taken months to deploy on premise, in addition to the staff that would need to be hired and trained to maintain the system.

In addition, TuVox’s voice self-service solution was fully integrated into 1-800-FLOWERS.COM existing telephony infrastructure built on the Genesys Framework and Network Routing solution. Deployed on the Genesys Voice Portal, TuVox’s order status solution is a standards-based application written in VoiceXML and fully integrated to the Genesys CTI. This means that if a caller tells the voice self-service solution all of his or her order information but still opts to speak with a live agent, the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM gift advisor gets a screen pop with all of that caller’s information in front of him or her. This reduces the customer frustration of having to repeat information and reduces overall call times.

The Results
1-800-FLOWERS.COM knows the key to continued success in a highly competitive marketplace is exceptional customer service. By implementing TuVox’s voice self-service order status solution, customers no longer have to wait on hold in order to get the most up-to-date status of their delivery. The solution is currently answering well over 30,000 calls per month and the average length of a call is one minute – a significant reduction from previous live-agent order status requests.

Equally as important, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s gift advisors are able to spend more time on revenue generating calls helping customers choose the perfect gift for any occasion. They are able to give more personalized service and callers’ overall wait times to speak with a live agent are significantly reduced.

By maximizing the use of labor and resources, while continuing to provide excellent customer service, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM can focus on making more sales and building customer loyalty.

“With Tuvox, gift advisors spend more time on revenue-generating calls.”


About Intrado:
Company LogoIntrado Corporation is a cloud-based, global technology partner to clients around the world. Our solutions connect people and organizations at the right time and in the right ways, making those mission-critical connections more relevant, engaging, and actionable - turning Information to Insight. Intrado has sales and/or operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and South America. Intrado is controlled by affiliates of certain funds managed by Apollo Global Management, Inc. (NYSE: APO).
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About 1-800-Flowers.com:
Company LogoWith one of the most recognized brands in gift retailing, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM provides a broad range of thoughtful gift products including flowers, plants, gourmet foods, candies, gift baskets and other unique gifts to customers around the world via the Internet.
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Published: Monday, December 18, 2006

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