by Rainer Podjoutomo, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Lync

In the area of customer service, Red Wing Shoes is no stranger to innovation. In 1940, the company launched the first mobile shoe store. Trucks that contained miniature show rooms drove up to worksites and sold shoes to workers on the spot. Not only did the shoe trucks improve sales, but the company found that they were a valuable way to get customer feedback. It still has about 200 mobile shoe stores in operation today.

Another way that Red Wing communicates with customers is via its call center, as shared in a recent case study on Red Wing ShoesIts solution is a combination of Lync Server 2010 and AltiGen’s MaxACD for Lync call center solution, a software-based auto attendant and automatic call distribution (ACD) system that integrates fully with Microsoft Lync 2010 on the desktop. The company is using Lync Enterprise Voice capabilities available for 200 employees, including customer service and IT help desk employees, and plans to roll out Lync Enterprise Voice capabilities for the rest of its 2,100 employees and retire its Avaya PBX by mid-2013.

Red Wing Shoes takes about 1,000 calls a day from distributors, retail stores, and consumers who call to place orders or report an issue. The company had planned to eventually implement a VoIP solution across the company and to retire its PBX. The need for an integrated call center solution accelerated the timeline for this implementation and Red Wing Shoes selected Microsoft Lync to better serve its communications needs for customers and tracking interactions.

A small sample of the PBX phones that Red Wing Shoes is replacing with Plantronics Savi 440 wireless headsets as part of the Lync Server 2010 deployment

The agents quickly picked up the technology. According to Mike Cleary, Director of IT Architecture and Operations at Red Wing Shoes, “…in the first 24 hours, people were voluntarily unplugging their desk phones.” Since implementation, Red Wing Shoes is experiencing:

  • Improved customer service
    • With the Plantronics headsets, in the first week, the average times to pick up calls were the best the company’s ever seen
    • Better call distribution and better reporting
    • New workgroup configurations in MaxACD provide more flexibility in terms of how agents handle calls
  • Improved collaboration
    • Enabled open federation allows the company to use Lync to chat with partners and vendors who use Lync Server 2010, Microsoft Lync Online, Office  communications Server, and public instant messaging clients such as Windows Live Messenger
    • Contact cards and Skill Search allows call center agents to locate subject matter experts quickly and conference them in while they are talking with customers
  • Reduced costs
    • By implementing Lync enterprise voice and MaxACD for Lync as its call center solution, the company avoided a large expense to connect its Avaya PBX to provide voice capabilities through its call center and CRM solutions
    • Expects to see a continued reduction in travel and long-distance costs as well as costs for third-party audio conferencing services

We’re excited to see customers use Lync to help make their employees more productive and to improve collaboration.

Best,

Rainer Podjoutomo