Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 November 2009

A Truly Green Work Environment Solution – Goodbye Brick & Mortar

By Bill Peters

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The Customer Contact Call Center for Outrigger Enterprises Group has become truly green. Back in December 2004 I initiated a project to investigate all of the new and exciting hosted call center software applications that was available in the market. It took me approximately one and half years to analyze over a half a dozen companies. These companies were offering many different ways of being able to connect with our guests using VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, technology. They also had many different ways of tracking the total business environment including consumer telephone call, email, fax, Internet live chat, Internet call back routing and wholesale rooming list routing which would allow wholesale to become paperless.

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Some of the major issues that were addressed with this project were the following:

  1. Reduce operating costs
  2. Maintain staffing with company employees and not outsource positions
  3. Maintain jobs in the USA and not have to offshore to another country
  4. Make available all of latest and greatest customer touch points as mentioned above
  5. Employee skill based routing for different products
  6. Full suite of management protocols to manage the business electronically
  7. Protocol flexibility concerning both inbound and outbound calls
  8. Automatic software enhancements

Even though these were some of the many issues I was analyzing, what was always on the top of my list was the Home Shoring Solution – work from home.

After visiting many of these prospective providers’ customers one company did stand out from the rest, Echopass. At the time they addressed all of the issues I was investigating in a very professional and customer centric way. Echopass CEO, Vin Deschamps took the time and flew out to Denver to personally present to my management staff and me the benefits of his company. To date I am glad to say we made the right choice in choosing Echopass because they have delivered on their promises.

Using their on demand call center software, which is hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have been able to reduce operating costs beyond my expectations. It also enabled us to slowly start to test the work from home solution. We started to test the solution six months after we began to implement the Echopass solution with one wholesale employee that has now retired, Charles Gunsolly. Mircrosoft created a video concerning Charles which you can view at: http://www.echopass.com

Over the next several years we moved more and more employees and business functions to the Home Shoring solution. Each business function was tested to its fullest to insure that all applications associated with the function could be performed in a virtual environment. This resulted in now having 100 percent of all employees and functions concerning the customer contact center home shoring. This has created a totally green business environment for our customer contact center. Each employee now works from their home environment. This reduces each employee’s carbon foot print concerning their job. There is no commuting back and forth to an office by car or public transportation which reduces the traffic congestion, reduces the use of gas and time on the road. It saves each employee costs for fuel, auto wear and tear as well as employee time away from home. This will also help us maintain the spread of any contagious virus such as H1N1, that may be office born since each employee will not be exposed to another employee’s virus.

In September we moved from our large campus call center environment to a much more decentralized call center environment in which every one is working form home. To accomplish this we are using many different hosted companies that interface with Echopass that focus on time and attendance, payroll, eLearning for training, workforce management for scheduling, Instant messaging for employee connections and several other hosted management protocols.

Moving to the decentralized environment involved finding a local data center to host some of remaining servers that are essential to our business. It also involved finding a small executive office environment. Besides a small executive office and an official business address it was important that it have meeting rooms to allow for our weekly management meetings, a training room for any new hires, and a meeting room to be able to host meetings with all contact center employees every two months. The executive office space would also have the availability of hosting visiting hotel executives as they travelled from Hawaii and Asia to Denver to meet with our contact center sales staff. These visiting executives would be able to meet and hold webinars from this site.

In September we were able to host a tour of these sites for our Chairman, Doctor Richard Kelley and Barbara Campbell, Vice President of Retail Leasing who was visiting us from Hawaii. We toured the new data center at Viawest located in Denver Colorado where our servers will be collocated. It is a state of the art facility that has many companies collocating their servers and many other companies having their systems hosted in this facility..

In October, Colorado can always count on at least one heavy snow storm before Halloween. Again this year it was a little more than usual. It was a little over three feet of heavy snow in the Denver area alone. Again it was business as usual for all of my employees as they had their morning coffee from their home offices and continued to make reservations, handle guest inquires and answer guest questions over the web.

Today’s technology makes it all possible and seamless. I can’t wait for all the new technology of tomorrow. It is an exciting business time we all live in.

William D. Peters is the Vice President Reservation Services and Market Development for Outrigger Enterprises Group in Denver, Colorado [email protected]

Bill Peters

Bill Peters is one of the leading experts in work from home solutions to total virtualization of systems. Bill has over ten years actual experience of virtualizing an entire operation and saving the company millions of dollars in expenses. He has worked in executive positions for Outrigger Enterprises, Forte Hotels and Resorts, Helmsley Hotels and Playboy Resorts and Country Clubs.

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