The client, a large multinational pharmaceutical firm, had numerous phone numbers and contact points that customers could use to reach them. Business units added phone numbers as needed with a view to providing better and faster service. Over years numbers were added for all matter of purposes. However, the company began receiving complaints and heard anecdotal evidence that callers were being poorly served, confused regarding which numbers to dial for what purpose, and experiencing numerous internal transfers.
The client prepared an initial inventory of numbers, who in the organization was responsible for the numbers, any documentation about the menu of options, and termination points for those numbers. We then conducted interviews with multiple stakeholders known, identified or presumed to have ownership of these and other numbers in the organization. Through the interviews more numbers were identified, new numbers were found on websites, unearthed on published documents, with the final inventory being three (3x) times greater than the original list. We then called each number, checked and identified the point of termination for each. The IVR’s and the auto-attendants were mapped for options, routing and termination points. The answering points were both inside the client and outside at third-party agencies were documented. We confirmed and identified who was the business owner and the person responsible for each number. Billing history for the numbers owned by the client was obtained from the carrier for the past 12 months and analyzed for volume and costs.
It became evident that there were process and accountability issues when the inventory and checking was complete. The business units would request IT for the phone numbers and decided what the experience would be like via the IVR or auto-attendant. IT services then ordered the number from the phone carrier. Billing and accounts payable would then pay the phone company when the bills arrived. No one in the business units saw the bills. IT did not review the bills as they were simply facilitating the process. No one had a complete inventory of the numbers or which business units and which managers were responsible. In a couple of cases, the person listed had not worked in that business unit for over two years. The billing analysis revealed that many numbers received a low number of calls, and which didn’t require special handling. In most business units no one looked at or knew the volume of calls, as there was no reporting, or uniform way of tracking calls month-to-month. In many cases, the original reason the line was secured had long past and in some cases been forgotten.
Based on the analysis and the vision of the client, the recommendations were: to establish a single authority for managing the inventory of phone numbers in the company, including monitoring use, volume, and tracking business unit oversight; reroute low volume lines to the internal contact center for handling, provide the center with training associated with the call type; map processes and call flows and maintain all IVR and auto-attendant call flows and termination points; establish a periodic review of all numbers at least once a year if not every six months. This process allowed the organization to have better visibility and control over where toll-free numbers were installed, for what purpose. This change allowed the organization to ensure that they owned/controlled toll and toll-free numbers associated with their brands. The exercise and the new process was expected to save tens of thousands of dollars annually.