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A worldwide intelligent network means Agoda can offer great customer service anywhere
When your business is web-based you could be located anywhere. That’s what being virtual’s all about. But for telephone support it’s a great competitive advantage to look local. And Arjan van der Meer of Bangkok-based Agoda didn’t want people paying international rates for customer service.
Now, with Inbound Contact global from BT Global Services, people call Agoda on local phone numbers in their own country. They’re answered 24/7 in their own language. Yet they have no idea they’re talking to someone in any of twenty-two Agoda offices worldwide. So Arjan’s cracked the problem of being here, there, and everywhere – all at the same time.
Calls can come in from any point of the globe, at any time of day or night. The network must scale instantly to deliver calls to agents irrespective of traffic volumes, while also having the resilience to cope with events such as natural disasters.”
- Arjan van der Meer, Director of IT Operations, Agoda
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Case study Agoda
Watch this two minute video to learn how BT is helping Agoda offer great customer service anywhere, while supporting their expansion into new markets.
As one of a new breed of internet-only businesses, everyone’s a potential Agoda customer. Part of the Priceline Group, Agoda is Asia’s leading online hotel reservations business. A self-service model – using the Agoda website, smartphone applications, or social media – matches customer accommodation requests to an inventory of over 170,000 hotels worldwide. Headquartered in Bangkok and with offices in 22 major cities the company is expanding fast, with triple-digit year-on-year growth.
Each transaction initially uses advanced web technologies to ensure a speedy reservation process. Once customers have made a booking they are provided with a phone number for enquiries, so that if they have a question or need to change their plans they can talk to someone.
Arjan van der Meer, IT Operations Director at Agoda, explains: “We are expanding rapidly into Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, and assuring great customer service on a global scale demands smart technology.”
Three Agoda contact centres – in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Budapest – provide a virtual worldwide presence. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, they offer service in 11 languages between them. The problem was cost effectively routing calls originating from anywhere in the world to that powerful CRM resource.
Arjan van der Meer says: “We needed an associate who could offer a consistent class-leading network service, independent of location, virtually anywhere in the world. BT Global Services was the clear choice.”
BT provided an Inbound Contact global solution which works with an interactive voice response (IVR) platform and enables intelligent call routing. Customers call one of 34 local numbers in 21 different countries, apparently using a local service. When the call hits the BT Global Services network, it is routed to the first free agent best qualified to answer the query. The routing pattern was pre-configured by Agoda to take account, for example, of availability of destinations.
The call is then routed to the appropriate Agoda contact centre via a global Agoda data centre (of which there are several spread across multiple continents). This is all transparent to the customer and there’s no noticeable delay. The minority of calls that cannot be resolved by IVR are routed direct to a contact centre with the right agent availability and skillset, based upon originating time zone and language.
Local support for the Agoda IT team in Bangkok was essential, and BT has a network of solution partners around the world. Infonet Thailand, the BT Alliance partner in Bangkok, supports Agoda on a daily basis with activities like activating new numbers, online reporting and billing.
Saran Snongjati, Director of Global Services for Infonet Thailand, explains: “The BT partnership model allows Infonet Thailand to provide customers with world-class global network services, while offering local language support. It’s a very compelling proposition. Combining our strengths truly brings together the best of both worlds.”
Since the rollout of the global service Agoda is efficiently dealing with thousands of calls each day. Scalability is built in; an important consideration given that call volumes are set to double within a matter of months.
The BT architecture allows calls to be distributed evenly across all contact centres. This enables workload balancing, and optimises agent utilisation and efficiency. Call volumes and agent performance can be analysed using BT management software, and operational changes made if needed.
Business resilience is enhanced too. Arjan van der Meer says: “Political unrest or natural disasters can happen out of the blue in any country. BT is able to switch voice traffic to alternative locations should agents be denied access to their contact centres for any reason.”
BT uses its relationships with local service providers to blend calls from any location into a single end-to-end solution.
Complexity is reduced,” concludes Arjan van der Meer, “because we work with BT as a single global communications partner, rather than having the administrative nightmare of dealing with multiple in-country service providers.”
- BT Contact – Inbound Contact global