For many people, the Radio Flyer brand gives flight to memories of a shiny red wagon from their childhood. But Radio Flyer also has its eyes on the future. In February this year, the company unveiled the Tesla Model S, a cherry-red car that children can ride in that goes up to 6 miles per hour. The company is also making changes to better serve its increasingly digital-first customers.
1to1 Media spoke with Tom Cesario, senior director of IT for Radio Flyer, about the company's decision to upgrade its phone system to the Avaya IP Office Platform and its road map for further modernizing its customer service.
1to1 Media: What does the Radio Flyer brand mean to customers today and what was the challenge that prompted you to work with Avaya?
Tom Cesario: What the brand means to customers is quality and nostalgia. Many of our customers grew up with our brand when they were kids and they feel that they're passing on their childhood traditions through our brand. But before I joined the company in June 2008, technology was not a focus for the company. It was all hands on deck on product development.
My job is to bring forth new technology, develop a tech strategy, and build an IT department that is responsive to all aspects of the business. And one of the first things we needed to do was upgrade our phone system. It's not that we were getting complaints from customers, but we had a 15-year-old phone system that wasn't providing us with the metrics that we wanted so it was time to move on.
What type of call center metrics do you have access to now?
The usual metrics like average call time, wait time, number of people in queue, number of calls per agent, etc. We have about 10 to 25 agents depending on the time of year and these metrics help us staff appropriately. It also helps us train our agents more effectively and focus on specific areas that they can improve.
What is an example of something customers call in about?
Typically it's for help assembling a product and ordering a replacement part, and sometimes to place an order for something they saw online.
Is there a strategy for sharing customer insights from the customer service team about marketing and sales with the rest of the organization?
Not really. All the information we collect about our customers from contact forms and surveys is collected on our Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM system. Avaya isn't directly integrated into the CRM system, agents have to manually enter that information into an ERP system which is connected to the CRM system.
What else are you working on to improve the customer experience?
We're increasing our focus on the online experience. We want to make more information readily available online so that customers, for example, can look up their order status and see where it is in the shipment and delivery process. Right now, they usually call in for that information, but we're moving it online. We also want to provide the ability to cancel orders online and make it easier to find out which replacement parts they need to order through self-service. For example, the user will be able to log into his account and see his order history and a display of parts specific to the items he purchased.
What advice do you have for other organizations that are revamping their technology? What's a key factor in selecting a partner?
I look at whether the features fit our needs first. It's more important to focus on tech vendors that have the products that meet your needs before looking at whether they have an extensive partner ecosystem, for instance. My advice is to also keep it simple when making changes.
Start with making incremental changes to what you're doing today and select a system that's flexible enough to keep up as you continue to grow. For example, when we started working with Avaya, we didn't immediately use the features for remote work and IP phones. It wasn't until we opened a pop-up retail store in Chicago [earlier this year] that we started using it extensively.
The [pop-up] store was located about 10 miles away from headquarters and we were able to set up a VPN to the store through Avaya and use the IP phones. It was easy to get online and route calls from the store to headquarters so that our service team could provide support while the sales staff focused on helping other customers at the store. That was a functionality that we purchased years ago but didn't see a need for until recently but it worked seamlessly when we were ready.