Power Dialer: Five9 Gives Muscle to DirectBuy San Diego's Outbound Calling


Power Dialer: Five9 Gives Muscle to DirectBuy San Diego's Outbound Calling

By TMCnet Special Guest
Dan Burkland
  |  April 29, 2013

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of CUSTOMER

DirectBuy was founded in 1971 to offer consumers a different, less expensive way to buy home products and services. Based in Merrillville, Ind., the company has 160 showrooms across the U.S. and Canada. Members pay a fee to join, which allows them to buy merchandise directly from 700 manufacturers and suppliers while avoiding the price markups typically charged by retailers. Products include home furnishings, home improvement items, outdoor furnishings, flooring, and other accessories.

Until October 2012, DirectBuy San Diego was owned and operated by the Denischuk family. Melanie Denischuk, who oversaw DirectBuy San Diego’s call center, is currently the marketing manager for DirectBuy San Antonio, where she holds similar responsibilities.

A Need for Speed

DirectBuy’s revenue comes from selling memberships to consumers. A key matrix for each franchise is its cost per member ? the average amount of money spent to get someone to join DirectBuy. Each franchise does its own marketing and advertising, and key to these efforts are outbound call centers. Offers, such as free home improvement makeovers, are used to set up appointments with prospective members.

By June 2012, according to Melanie Denischuk, DirectBuy San Diego was spending an average of more than $1,100 for each new member.

“We had a ton of members, but we also needed a lot of staff to generate those members,” Denischuk recalled. “At the time, I had an eight-person staff, and we were averaging eight to 10 members a month, so our cost per member was really high.”

Denischuk knew her franchise could do better, but it was hindered by a contact management system that only allowed one-to-one calls and had no efficient means of weeding out consumers on do not call lists. It also had trouble retaining staff.

“Our agents — especially the higher quality employees — were getting frustrated with the calling results because they’d get bored,” she said. “Eventually we would have had to go to a different lead source or possibly outsource our call center to try and make up the difference.”

Make It Work

Denischuk initially considered two other providers of call center hardware systems. Both were expensive, however, and regardless of which one it chose, DirectBuy San Diego would have had to set up the system itself.

“We wouldn't have had the first clue what to do,” Denischuk said. “I'm not a techie person. I'm not going to sit for hours trying to figure out how to get something to work.”

Now focused on cost and ease of use, Denischuk began to explore cloud solutions.

Five9 (News - Alert) was the first company that reached out to her. Right away, she liked what she heard about the company’s Power Dialer solution, which automates outbound calling campaigns, automatically detects answering machines and busy signals, and prevents do not call numbers from being dialed.

“My account manager, Mike Dunbar, was great and answered all my questions,” she said.

Denischuk particularly liked the month-to-month contract (“absolutely awesome,” she said) because if the system was not a good fit, she could quickly opt out — and if it worked, she could easily add more seats.

Five9 would install the system, too.

“That was huge,” she says. “All our staff had to do was log in to a website. And Five9 conducted a data dive in which they made sure the system was ready to use before we ever signed anything. That was really comforting.”

Triple the Numbers

If first impressions were good, the results were even better. Before implementing Five9’s Power Dialer at the beginning of June 2012, DirectBuy San Diego’s agents were speaking with 30 to 50 potential members a day. Suddenly they were talking to between 110 and 150 people, Denischuk said.

More importantly, the company’s agents were getting a lot more appointments, which began to drive down cost-per-member numbers from more than $1,100 to just $700. And DirectBuy San Diego’s call agents — who receive bonuses for appointments set — were much happier, too.

“With Five9, we could have three lines dialing at once," Denischuk explained. "When we had three people with nine lines dialing, it was advantageous for everyone because our staff was generating more income as well.”


A Few Nice Surprises

There have been other benefits, Denischuk said. Five9's staff spoke with the creator of DirectBuy's contact management system, called Hinkle, and now both systems are integrated. All the information agents capture from their calls goes directly into Hinkle, and all leads are automatically entered into Five9.

“That was a bonus,” Denischuk said. “I didn't know Five9 would be willing to work with us to get that going, but they did.”

Five9 also allowed DirectBuy San Diego to lower its leads-per-member ratio. Before, it took 40 leads to get one member; now it takes an average of 30. Denischuk’s staff became more focused.

“When you're on the phone eight hours a day, it can really get to you, especially when you’re cold calling. Our agents are constantly getting calls now — there are no three-, five-, or eight-minute waits between calls, and they don't have to listen to endless ringing. They hear the beep and they know they have to be ready to go.”

Five9’s reporting and management capabilities were also a nice surprise.

“With Five9, you can get a report on pretty much anything you need to manage your staff," Denischuk said. "If I’m out of the building, I can log in from home and see what my staff is doing at pretty much any time of the day.”

Spreading Like Wildfire

Almost immediately, DirectBuy San Diego’s outbound call success triggered a wave of interest throughout other DirectBuy clubs.

“Since using Five9, our results and conversion rates instantly tripled. By three weeks in, it was having such a consistent, meaningful impact that I was asked to speak at our first owner's meeting about what Five9 had done for us.”

Since then, Denischuk estimates nearly 30 DirectBuy franchises have started using Five9.

“It has spread like wildfire,” she said. “We have clubs that use nothing but Five9 now. Across our network, the contact ratio alone has doubled if not tripled in some areas of the country just by putting Five9 in front of our calling staff.”

Dan Burkland is senior vice president of enterprise sales and business development at Five9 (www.five9.com).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]
blog comments powered by Disqus