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Using New Technology to Reduce Costs and Improve Service - The Real World Is Now the Virtual World

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June 01, 2005
From the Operator | New Technology
Bill Peters - bill.peters@outrigger.com

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© 2005 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

Outrigger and OHANA Hotels and Resorts have had a reservation center for over 25 years. At first the center was located in Hawaii but 16 years ago the center was moved to Denver, Colo. The reservation center has always been equipped with the latest technology for both communications and data processing. In the past, the company found it more beneficial to purchase equipment and software to facilitate its business. A byproduct of these purchases were high maintenance and technical support costs, as well as expensive upgrades required to keep the system functioning at the proper level.

Then the virtual world of automatic call distributing services arrived. These new ASP models were attractive because of their use of voice-over IP. With this new system, Echopass can connect to the Outrigger center using VoIP, eliminating any secondary charges for the delivery of Outrigger’s toll free number calls. Previously, the center would have paid an additional charge for each call received.

The system proved cost-effective primarily due to the enhanced capabilities of a state-of-the-art ACD, which contained all the electronic customer touch-points currently required to achieve satisfaction in relation to how well the center facilitates customer requests for service. Echopass provided not only the capability to electronically distribute calls as before, but also the means to do the same for faxes, e-mails and Internet chat sessions with sales agents, thereby further reducing the system’s overall maintenance costs.

The continually rising costs associated with operating contact centers are forcing their operators to begin looking outside the box for a more creative approach to cost savings. A contact center can only reduce the level of human resources so far before compromising the quality of that service. A new generation of systems has become the answer. The question of how to afford a new system while in the midst of operational cutbacks is a serious concern, but one with an easy answer: look at all the newly available technology and locate the best solution that is affordable when compared against the actual maintenance contracts associated with your current system.

Outrigger found that solution very plausible. The process took over 18 months, but the end results were worth the wait. In addition to the mentioned services, Outrigger now has the option to add more as it grows within the system, including a new work-at-home function that will enable the company to substantially reduce physical office space while simultaneously allowing its sales agents to be located in different time zones to more effectively service customers.

In terms of system enhancements and upgrade costs, Echopass licenses different programs on a per-seat basis, so as business changes, Outrigger has the ability to automatically increase or decrease the number of seats needed responding quickly to market changes.

As Outrigger alters the paradigm of how it facilitates business needs, it will continue to reduce the cost of operating its contact center as well as per transaction costs.

Reducing the cost of doing business to acceptable levels does not necessarily entail sending contact center business overseas. By looking at and testing the new technology available to you, contact center operating costs could be reduced by as much as 35 percent, while actually improving customer service.

Bill Peters is vice president of reservation services at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts. He can be reached at bill.peters@outrigger.com or at (303) 743-3219.

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