Improving Customer Service and Satisfying Compliance Requirements for Sales and Support Teams

Aspect

Aspect Software is the world’s largest company solely focused on the contact center industry. The company is dedicated to providing proven, innovative products and services that enable companies to achieve their key business process strategies including customer service, collections, and sales and telemarketing for in-house and outsourced contact centers. As the world’s largest company solely focused on the contact center, Aspect Software serves a wide range of customer-focused organizations, from Fortune 500 corporations to government agencies and small- and mid-size companies, including six of the top seven global airlines, nine of the top ten global telecommunications companies and eight out of the top ten global commercial banks.

As Aspect’s business grew, the homegrown automated request system used to approve all of its sales and support discounts became much less efficient. Each time a request, process, or user changed, the IT team had to spend months making changes to the system, a problem that resulted in significant downtime and a delay of pricing approvals that diminished customer service.

The Challenge

  • Aspect had a request management system that had been built internally using Cold Fusion but it lacked scalability and was difficult to use.
  • The company wanted an easy-to-use solution that would allow administrators to quickly make changes to requests and processes without requiring a costly overhaul to the system every time.
  • Aspect needed a system that would allow management to quickly and efficiently review and act on all the non-standard pricing/discount requests submitted by the sales and support teams in order to provide attentive and responsive customer service.
  • The financial departments required a system that would be Sarbanes-Oxley compliant and provide a verified record of all requests and approvals in case of an audit.
  • Senior management was hesitant about choosing a hosted solution and was concerned about the extent of the security that would be available from a packaged solution.

Activation Summary

  • Aspect activated Integrify® OnDemand 3.0 in June 2005, and is preparing to implement version 4.0 by the end of 2006.
  • Integrify® provided Aspect with secure hosting of Integrify® OnDemand through its partnership with Rackspace.

The Solution

After evaluating a number of systems, including the integrated approval module that is embedded in the Oracle suite that the company uses for finance and operations, Integrify® OnDemand was chosen for its flexibility, ease-of-use and facilitation of compliance.

All of Aspect’s customer-facing teams now use the Integrify® system, as well as the entire finance department and all its operations groups, primarily because it lets them verify the approvals. The system is used primarily for non-standard and discount pricing requests, so a salesperson will request a discount for a particular customer, then whoever is responsible for the P&Ls for that group approves it, and finally it is verified by other departments such as finance, collections, and management.

Our business changes constantly, not just from a telecom and technology standpoint, and every time it did it would turn into a six-month development project when we adjusted the software to meet our changing needs, said Jessica Baldwin-Finke, Project Manager. I needed to cut down on the administrative time significantly because there was little time for anything else.

Integrify® is a flexible Enterprise Request Management (ERM) system that allows companies to automate requests and streamline processes. The solution provides form creation, routing definition and tracking tools to those responsible for processing requests, minimizing data entry and simplifying requests for approval and fulfillment. Integrify® is web-based, allowing for easy user accessibility and management of business processes. The solution eliminates problems typically related to labor-intensive processes such as manual paper handling and email requests, and can reduce costs per transaction 60 to 90 percent as opposed to paper-based processes.

By allowing a company’s employees the most efficient means to access, submit and obtain fulfillment for requests, an organization can offer the best possible level of service to its customers. With Integrify®, efficiency gains are immediate and most companies can expect a return on investment (ROI) in three months or less.

The Integrify® OnDemand solution provides the full functionality of Integrify® via the Internet without the need to install and maintain software. It reduces the risk, cost and time when implementing a solution for process management. Instead of installing the software on its own site, a company can directly access the software, updates, and infrastructure, which are all maintained by Integrify®, freeing up time and resources to focus on business.

Aspect uses Integrify® for more than 40 request types and is planning to expand it even further. Every employee–more than 2,000–is designated as a “user” and at any given time about 20 employees will be entering or approving requests in the system. With the old system, Aspect’s “approvers” gave final approval to just 200 requests per quarter; now they process final approval on more than 500 discount requests in the same timeframe.

The Benefits

One issue in choosing the new system was making it user-friendly so employees’ jobs were actually made easier by using it rather than more complicated.

The best thing we now have going for us is that our teams really trust Integrify®, said Baldwin-Finke.

Use of the old system by staff was erratic at best, making it difficult for management to create audit trails of pricing information.

We couldn’t keep our users bought into the system before because it was so hard to get anything changed or updated, said Baldwin-Finke. Everyone was extremely cranky, everyone hated the system, and they started going around it so they wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore, which obviously was a problem. We were going back to approvals via email and ‘So-and-so in the hallway said it was okay’.

One of the most important criteria for the Aspect management team in choosing its request management system was finding a solution that directly addressed compliance issues. Baldwin-Finke was impressed by the level of knowledge and capability built into Integrify® that made compliance practically intuitive, especially when compared to Aspect’s old system, which had no reporting or analytics at all.

The SOX compliance issues that arose, or threatened to arise, when updating the approvers and users in the system, were definitely a major consideration for us in choosing Integrify®. We didn’t want to take a risk on software that wasn’t cognizant of all the rules and requirements.

Security was another consideration, but Aspect was won over by Integrify®’s proven track record with other customers as well as Integrify®’s commitment to ongoing support. We had a very hard time convincing our senior management that it would be okay to use a hosted solution, said Baldwin-Finke. But Integrify® had the right security in place, which was another reason the OnDemand system became the obvious choice for us.

Integrify® also allowed all requests throughout the company to reside on one system so an update could be made once and would be accessible by all departments. Previously, three different systems–one for services, one for discounts and one for miscellaneous programs–had to be updated separately every time an approver or task changed.

ROI

The most significant cost savings realized by Aspect through its use of Integrify® has been in man-hours. Integrify® has allowed better management of staff and resources by cutting down on the amount of time spent updating the request management system.

It’s a huge cost savings from a man-hour standpoint, said Baldwin-Finke. When I prepared estimates on what it would take us in man-hours to maintain the old system internally, it was becoming a joke–it was absolutely impossible for us to manage this thing.

Integrify® still requires some administrative work, but it’s an hour as compared to 10 or more.

Every time a request had to be changed, Baldwin-Finke was responsible for seeing it through since the system resided on the main server.You had to write all the new Cold Fusion, you had to test it, you had to request the move, you had to wait for it to be approved–Just to change the approver for northeast Canada could take us six weeks!

Now changes can be made almost immediately, not only saving time but keeping processes running smoothly throughout the company as well.

Just the fact that we are no longer required to be experts in something we were never equipped to try to do ourselves has made Integrify® pay for itself, said Baldwin-Finke.

Conclusion

Aspect has seen a vast improvement not just in the efficiency of its non-standard pricing process, but in the overall satisfaction of the employees and partners who use the system on a regular basis. The acceptance of the system by employees has resulted in even better customer service as well as an easily verifiable paper trail for Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. The company hopes with the implementation of Integrify® 4.0, the return on its investment will just continue to grow.

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