Retailer Selects iQor Over Gartner CS Magic Quadrant Leader to Deliver Customized Inbound Sales Agent Training That Helps Exceed Cross-Sell and Upsell Goals, Maintain High Customer Satisfaction, and Lower Costs

Customer

Online Retail and Catalog Business

Services Provided

  • Credit Card Applications
  • Customer Care (Inbound Voice)
  • Order Entry | Upselling
  • Seasonal Ramps

Locations

  • Philippines

Why iQor 

In this case study you will discover the benefits of iQor’s strategic solution expertise, in collaboration with the client, with a specific emphasis on building a strong sales culture within the contact center in an offshore operation. 

In each engagement, iQor’s new program implementation (NPI) team looks for opportunities to optimize automation and people. The CX integration professionals—who are experts in cloud-based omnichannel solutions, automation, process, proficiency, and security—focused on best practices and digital tools that would assist in the identification, training, and ongoing development of a world-class sales culture.  

The team looked to prioritize sources that would identify individuals with the right skills and attitude to succeed in sales and provide them with ongoing training and development. These new team members would set the foundation for future sales leaders, looking to model behaviors and attitudes that reinforced the importance of sales and a great customer experience. 

The project plan identified techniques and tools to foster an environment where team members support and motivate each other to reach their sales goals. iQor’s digital Recognize platform offers incentives and recognition assets to reward high-performing individuals and teams, creating a sense of friendly competition.  

Furthermore, the team introduced automation and AI technology to listen for opportunities to improve interactions with customers and close sales effectively. 

A scripted playbook set measurable targets for individuals and teams that communicated the definition of success based on the client’s expectations regarding sales performance while maintaining a customer-centric culture. 

Background   

This case study documents how a retailer saved nearly $5 million in order entry costs in one year while surpassing sales goals and maintaining their high customer experience standards through a strategic partnership with iQor. After a competitive process, the retailer selected iQor over a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Customer Service. 

A U.S.-based fashion retailer has sold high-quality products at affordable prices from multiple brands for generations. The products they sell through their online marketplace and retail catalog testify to their extensive industry experience and understanding of their customers. They continually strive to meet their customer’s needs and exceed their expectations. 

This retailer offers products from more than a dozen brands through their catalogs and e-commerce website. Customers can buy online—even from a catalog—but most prefer to place orders by phone and speak with a live agent. Agents strive to make callers feel like they are more than just customers in each voice conversation. They listen to callers’ preferences and make related product recommendations that customers appreciate. 

More than 10% of this retailer’s revenue comes from inbound voice upselling and cross-selling, which takes time on each call. Agents establish rapport with each customer interaction, enter the order, and then offer several other purchase options. Even for experienced agents, average handle time (AHT) exceeded more traditional timeframes. Most of that time is spent selling. While the job title is order entry, agents must be able to upsell or cross-sell. 

Because this retailer prioritizes exceptional customer support, they earn high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. They have a lot of repeat customers. With customers increasingly shopping online at any hour of the day or night, agents need to be available whenever their customers want to interact with them. 

The e-commerce retailer relied on in-house teams to create an excellent customer experience, but they faced multiple challenges: 

  1. A lean labor market of qualified agents. 
  1. Access to the latest digital technology.  
  1. Staffing the phones 24/7. 
  1. The need to recruit and onboard quickly for critical spring and holiday shopping seasons.  
  1. A dropped call rate of 10%-15% due to long AHT. 
  1. The need for more agents proficient in order entry and upselling. 

The retailer recognized their need for a reliable outsourcing partner that would meet their high standards for processing orders, cross-selling, upselling, and consistently providing customers with the excellent customer service they’d come to expect. 

They researched business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and conducted a formal request for information (RFI) process with three BPOs. After reviewing the submissions and performing due diligence, they selected iQor as their first and only BPO partner. The initial contract called for iQor to handle 10% of their order entry volume. 

Business Challenges  

Our client engaged iQor to support their commitment to superior customer service and raise their inbound sales head count to handle increased call volume while staffing, training, and managing teams with four specific requirements. 

Challenge 1: Staff, Train, and Coach Order Entry Agents to Sell 

This retailer’s order entry agents spend as much or more time selling as they do taking orders. Share of wallet is important for our client. Considerably more than 10% of all revenue comes from sales made after the initial order is entered. Agents must be able to think on their feet and navigate the website and product catalogs quickly to suggest related products the customer might buy. 

On each call, agents establish rapport, enter the customer’s order, and offer the customer another product to complement their purchase. If the customer isn’t interested in the suggested product, the agent—with help from AI tools—suggests an alternate product, with a high probability of interest, from a different catalog or a volume-based discount (i.e., customers who purchase more than a certain amount receive a percentage discount off their total purchase). 

Additionally, agents invite eligible customers to apply for the retailer’s branded credit card. 

Challenge 2: Maintain High Customer Satisfaction Levels 

Our client’s business depends on loyal customers who shop with them regularly and recommend them to friends and family. Customers call for a personal touch, and it’s up to the agent to provide it. Calls can be complex and exceed traditional handle times. Throughout the call, agents always keep the customer’s satisfaction top of mind. 

Challenge 3: Excel in Key Performance Areas 

The client specified three performance areas, and iQor added one internal goal: 

  • Cross-sell complementary products.  
  • Upsell volume-based pricing.
  • Sign up eligible customers to their branded credit card. 
  • Reduce AHT while maintaining exceptional quality. 

Challenge 4: Ramp Up Quickly for Peak Seasons 

The average order-entry agent head count remained stable for most of the year and ramped up with 25% more agents for the spring and holiday busy seasons. 

With changes in their local labor market, the retailer encountered challenges finding the short-term contact center staffing overflow they needed. In response to this need, iQor was tasked with making seamless head count additions and subtractions as seasons changed. 

In addition to prioritizing these four production-related requirements, the company’s new CEO sought to increase profitability. He viewed partnering with a BPO as part of that solution. One of the reasons the client chose to partner with iQor was our track record of exceeding strategic sourcing goals while meeting or exceeding sales production goals and providing exceptional customer service. 

Solutions 

Designing and executing meticulous staffing criteria, customized training, technologically aided coaching, and a strong partnership with the client was critical to solving these challenges. 

Highly Selective Staffing 

To meet our client’s contact center staffing needs, iQor recruits experienced agents with a positive sales track record. During the recruitment process, hiring managers evaluate agents for their ability to tailor their sales approach to the customer, develop the need in the customer, and, when appropriate, think outside the box to earn the sale.  

Recognized for our skill executing fast and large seasonal inbound sales staffing ramp-ups, iQor consistently handles our client’s seasonal head count needs with great efficiency. Globally, iQor ramps for seasonal staffing by more than 400% annually.  

The positive employee experience seasonal staffers enjoy increases our pool of potential new permanent sales-savvy employees. 

Customized Training With Innovative Training Techniques 

The first week is focused on product-specific training. Agents learn about products from more than a dozen brands, how to navigate the website to access products fast, and how to take orders quickly and accurately. 

With the basics under their belts, agents are then trained to increase share of wallet by cross-selling complementary products, upselling volume-based discounts, and selling the retailer’s branded credit card. 

Agents then begin nesting: on-the-job training with half the day spent on the phones with customers and the other half in debriefing sessions with training focused on specific areas where they can optimize their performance. 

Training is detailed and rigorous. Once fully trained, agents are ready to work full time to meet and exceed our client’s goals. 

Proprietary Interaction Analytics Informs Coaching 

VALDI, iQor’s proprietary speech and interaction analysis platform, uses cloud computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to mine every available recorded interaction between agents and customers in search of opportunities to improve the customer experience through agent coaching. Multiple types of opportunities are revealed. 

VALDI can mine calls for specific trends or hot topics that call for additional coaching. For example, if customers consistently mention one of the retailer’s products, VALDI can quickly uncover all conversations in which the product is mentioned and analyze customer sentiment toward the product. Supervisors can then coach agents on how best to respond to customer comments about the product in a way that satisfies customers and supports the brand. 

Similarly, if the retailer doesn’t want specific subjects discussed during calls, VALDI can instantly search for every conversation that includes those subjects and bring them to the supervisor’s attention. Subsequent coaching helps significantly reduce or eliminate discussions of those subjects in the future. 

VALDI can monitor agent compliance with KPIs and recommend to supervisors those agents who could most improve with additional coaching. KPIs to be monitored can be tailored to customer needs. Three examples of the many KPIs that can be monitored include: 

  • Average handle time (AHT). 
  • Potential call avoidance (PCA). 
  • Script adherence. 

Additional proprietary interaction analytics supporting tools we use for the client include Qatch and sQan. All calls and screen activities are recorded and uploaded to a searchable database with Qatch. VALDI mines the database to uncover deep insights and coachable moments. sQan displays all agents’ quality performance reviews for voice, e-mail, and chat communications with customers and documents coaching sessions. 

Strong Partnership 

Through mutual respect, open communication, and a shared commitment to delivering excellent customer experiences, we’ve built a strong partnership with our client. In a joint quest for continuous improvement, the client’s CFO and the iQor VP overseeing the program are true partners, meeting every two weeks to discuss the latest progress and future steps.  

Results 

Since they began working with iQor in 2020, our client has enjoyed significant returns. 

Millions Saved in Year One
In iQor’s first year serving the client, we reduced their order entry costs by nearly $5 million.

Cross-Sells Approaching 9% Over Goal
iQor agents cross-sell additional products at a rate nearly 9% over our client’s inbound sales goal.

Upsells Greater Than 12% Over Goal
iQor agents upsell volume-based discounts at a rate more than 12% over our client’s inbound sales goal. 

Credit Card Signups Nearly 2% Over Goal
iQor agents sign up customers for the retailer’s branded credit card at a rate nearly 2% over our client’s goal.

Reduced Average Handle Time (AHT) by More Than 16%
After iQor implemented our proprietary speech analytics technology to aid in agent training and coaching, agents reduced AHT from 10 minutes to 9.

9x Increase in Order Entry Volume Handling
In just over two years, the percentage of the client’s order entry volume iQor handles has grown from 10% to 90%.

Role Expanded From Order Entry to Include Customer Service
Our order entry work exceeded the client’s expectations regarding quality and financial savings. Consequently, they engaged us to take on some of their customer service work. Today, the program’s customer service team ramps up by more than 400% for the holidays and handles over 25% of the e-commerce retailer’s customer service calls.

Roadmap Includes Adding Digital Services
Next steps for this thriving partnership include expanding iQor’s role to introduce more integrated digital services, such as chat and email, with an emphasis on minimizing the 1:1 transfer of talent where possible.

According to a member of our client’s senior leadership team, iQor is “mission critical” for their success. And that gives us both—and their customers—reason to smile. Heart

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