Because few people pay cash for a car, many consumers deal with both the sales and credit divisions of car manufacturers such as Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America (Cypress, CA). Yet, until several years ago, Mitsubishi maintained separate customer service infrastructures for the two divisions. To improve overall customer service, the two groups decided to pool their resources and give customers a single point of contact for all inquiries. "Sales and credit were running two separate organizations. Our initiative was based on the view that both divisions were serving the same customer," says Rebecca Caldera, project development manager at Mitsubishi. "We wanted a single view that brought both elements together."
Both divisions had an IVR (interactive voice response) system, but neither was up to the task of handling the combined volume of calls or future needs. "One IVR system was so customized and poorly documented, there was no way we could make the necessary changes," comments Mikel Montoya, project development manager at Mitsubishi. "The other required forklift upgrades, so it couldn't be easily migrated. In addition, it was so complex that many customers were opting out of it."
Get More Mileage From Your IVR
To assist with the design and implementation of a Nortel-Periphonics IVR system from Nortel Networks Corp. (Brampton, Ontario), Mitsubishi used the services of software developer and systems integrator ASA Solutions, Inc. (Scottsdale, AZ). ASA created a custom application for Mitsubishi's IVR system that guides customers through a variety of options and triggers actions such as faxing credit documents. As a result, customers can call one number for everything from roadside assistance to account information.
Of the 1.6 million consumer calls Mitsubishi received in 2001, 46% to 49% were satisfied by IVR. "We know the IVR system is easy and intuitive because people aren't opting out," says Caldera.
With more calls resolved via IVR, fewer customers have to be routed to more expensive human agents. In addition to cutting costs, overall hold times were reduced. In fact, 80% of Mitsubishi's calls are handled in less than 20 seconds.
"From a technology standpoint, the IVR system is very well written and documented," comments Montoya. "We haven't required any support services from ASA, but we know we can call them if we need anything. It's like an extension of what our IT department offers."
Integration Expertise Guides Quick Implementation
Last year, Mitsubishi once again sought ASA Solutions' multivendor integration expertise to further enhance its customer service capabilities. The automobile manufacturer wanted to integrate a CRM (customer relationship management) package from Siebel Systems, Inc. and a CTI (computer telephony integration) "screen pop" from Avaya Inc.'s (Basking Ridge, NJ) CentreVu Computer Telephony to its existing customer service system. One of Mitsubishi's most challenging requirements was that the integration be completed in 90 days and the transition be as seamless as possible. "We needed a third party integrator that could give us quick, minimal changes on our side," says Montoya. "In addition to being able to deliver a really functional solution, we needed someone who understood all of our operational needs and didn't have to rebuild the entire system."
Working remotely at off-peak hours, ASA Solutions worked with Mitsubishi's IT staff and the professional services group from Avaya to integrate the IVR with CentreVu. As a result, when a customer issue can't be resolved by the IVR and the call is transferred to a CSR (customer service representative), the information gathered through the IVR is sent via screen pop to the operator. Not having to collect that information a second time reduces frustration for the customer and reduces the length of customer service calls. On the rare occasion that there is a hold time, the CTI lets an operator see how long that period might be. For instance, if a customer must be transferred to a specialized operator, the agent can look at the CTI toolbar and tell the customer how long he or she can expect to wait.