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ANI keeps C.R. England truckin' to profits.

CR. England & Sons is a nationwide trucking company that depends almost exclusively on its telephone system to take orders from the shippers it serves. To service its customers, the company maintains 150 WATS lines.

However, with almost 10,000 calls received every business day, a large number of callers found themselves being greeted by a recorded message asking them to hold the line until a booking agent became available. Because the trucking industry is highly competitive, shippers can always find alternate transportation if they are unable to make arrangements with their preferred trucking company.

As a result, a large number of potential customers chose to hang up and call another trucking company rather than wait on hold.

When a shipper hung up, C.R. England not only lost that load but could also lose future loads if that customer was satisfied with the service provided by the other trucking company. If the shipper could be called back immediately, there was a chance that the load could be saved. Even if it could not be, the chances of capturing future business from that shipper would be significantly improved with a timely return call. However, C.R. England had no means of identifying a caller who hung up before actually speaking to a booking agent.

Although C.R. England's telephone system was modern, it lacked the features needed to reestablish communications with shippers who abandoned their calls. Clearly, the company's phone system had to be upgraded so that it could automatically capture the telephone number of every incoming call with automatic number identification (ANI).

Since the existing system was based on Rolm equipment, Rolm was given the task of implementing ANI. The key to the upgrade was the installation of an ISDN Primary Digital Network (IPDN) card in the existing Model 9751 CBX local switch.

Automatically identifying the caller's telephone number was only the first step. That number still had to be associated with a shipper. Fortunately, C.R. England's booking agents already used an IBM AS/400 midframe computer. Running new software, the computer logs the originating telephone number of every incoming call.

When a call is abandoned, the computer compares that caller's telephone number against a directory of shipper's numbers in its memory. If a match is found, the computer displays information about the caller on the monitor of the booking agent assigned that account. If there is no match, the computer displays the caller's geographic location from which the call was placed on the monitor of the agent assigned that territory. When the assigned agent is available, the touch of a single key on the agent's terminal keyboard instructs the computer to dial the caller's number.

Rolm completed the upgrade in October, 1991, and the new system immediately proved its value. Because booking agents are able to promptly call shippers who abandoned their calls, C.R. England now captures between 12 and 24 additional transcontinental loads each week that would otherwise be lost.

Over the course of a year, these loads represent more than $1.5 million in added revenue. Of equal importance, shippers now know that even if they hang up without speaking to an agent, C.R. England will soon call them back.

C.R. England also installed what it calls preview dialing. Each of its telemarketers creates his or her own customer data base in the AS/400 computer and designates which shippers are to be called on a daily or weekly basis. Each day, the computer automatically calls in turn each shipper flagged for that day. When a call is answered, the telemarketer's monitor displays the corresponding database record for the shipper called. When the call is completed, the computer dials the next shipper flagged for a call that day.

After the system was put online, the productivity of C.R. England's telemarketers nearly doubled.

In a business as competitive as trucking, success depends on providing customers with the service they want when they want it. Although there are many other factors at work, C.R. England credits its state-of-the-art telephone system with much of its growth over the past five years.

During that period, which saw the country struggle through a severe economic slowdown, its annual revenues increased from $48 million to $148 million.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:automatic number identification
Author:Glines, Stephen
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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