Luxury Coach & Transportation

June 2014

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR JUNE 2014 31 to go mix a stiff drink." He is searching for another call cen- ter. LCT attempted to contact Magno- lia Chauffeur & Livery at 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight. We were greeted with an automated recording stating that "a live team member would be on the line shortly." After three minutes of music on hold, we hung up. It is important that you call your own company after-hours periodically to see how your call is han- dled. Calls handled by the call center al- ways should be available for you to listen to after-the-fact. If a call center can not provide this option, steer clear. How It All Works If you are not a technical geek, you might be wondering how it all works. How do your calls get rerouted to the call center and how do they know if you have a vehicle available and who to call out for a last minute job? In the past fve years, the explosion of tech- nology, including cloud-based reserva- tions software and VoIP (Voice over In- ternet Protocol), have made call centers more effcient. Applying older technol- ogy, you can use the call-forwarding feature offered by your phone compa- ny. You initiate call forwarding by dial- ing a special phone number set up just for your company at the call center and from that moment on, your calls are answered by the call center until you cancel the forwarding. To access your software with older technology such as Logmein.com or GoToMyPC.com, the call center can ac- cess your software through the Internet and use it as if they were physically in front of your computer. Using new technology, cloud-based software is ac- cessible from anywhere, so whether the call center or you are accessing the software, the program and data are in the cloud with no physical server at ei- ther location. You create a user name and password just as you would for an employee. With VoIp, your phone calls are Internet-based and can be remotely redirected from any phone number to any phone number using software con- trolled by your VoIP provider. This soft- ware can allow you to program your phone calls to automatically be rerouted to the call center at a certain time of day and returned to the local offce at a specifc time as well so it is completely automated. Don't concern yourself too much over this as the call center wants your business, so they will handle all the technical matters for you. — Jim@lctmag.com siderations in procuring a call center is to make sure they have your software and are thoroughly versed in it. Some will try to convert you to their own or tell you they don't use livery software. These act as a glorifed answering ser- vice, taking reservations and emailing them to you to insert into your software the next morning. Growth and Improvement LimoLive 24 is a top-rated call center dedicated to the limousine industry and provides service to several hundred companies nationwide, says Lisa Hard- ing, operations manager. The company uses customer service representatives (CSRs) who understand the client cul- ture such as high expectations of quick and effcient responses as well as proper visual, verbal and mental sharpness dur- ing conversations, Harding says. Andrew Armitage of Vintage Lim- ousine in Plainfeld, Ill., began using Limousine Call Center in April. "I'm pretty sure this has been one of my bet- ter business decisions," Armitage says. "If the call center has an issue, they are instructed to call me for clarifca- tion. Every representative I've spoken to has sounded very professional and confdent. They're booking jobs for me and getting better rates than I was. It's so nice to wake up to see they booked jobs for me while I was sleeping instead of me waking up to see missed calls and then calling the people back to fnd out they already booked with someone else. I now realize a professional call center with trained operators is the only way to go. I wish I would have done this sooner." Kristen Andrews, owner of Town Car Now of Orlando, says, "LimoLive24 has become an integral part of my business. They confdently handle my incoming calls anytime day or night when I'm un- able to answer. My clients love that my phone is always answered by a live per- son [who] can quote, make changes and take reservations." Call Center Pricing Pricing ranges from 50 cents per hour at LimoLive24 to $490 per month for 600 minutes of service with Limolabs.com. Avoid long-term contracts in case the service doesn't meet your expectations. Most companies offer month-to-month terms and some offer a 10-day notice to terminate your contract. Additionally, all companies interviewed for this article offer some "wiggle room" in their pric- ing and create custom pricing schedules based on the specifc needs of a client. "Whether your company uses LimoL- ive24 on a full-time basis or on a part-time and overnight basis, our average hourly rate conversations start about $2.75 per hour," Harding says. Both LimoLive24 and Limousine Call Center provide free trial periods of 10-30 days so you can try it out before making a commitment. Monitor Your Call Center Calls Hilliard Krecker of Magnolia Chauffeur & Livery in Aiken, S.C. uses an answer- ing service that markets itself as special- ists who serve the limousine industry. Krecker was horrifed when he listened to recordings of his calls. "I fnally had the chance to sit down and listen to how my customers were greeted and how they struggled with call center per- sonnel who can barely read and have a command of the English language that is worse than the average person in New Delhi," he says. "It was so painful to lis- ten to, I had to have my wife fnish lis- tening to them. I couldn't bear it. I had GETTING STARTED To get started, make a plan based on your expectations of the call center. Be prepared to discuss what software and phone system you are using. • What days/times do I want the call center to answer my phones? • Do I want them to respond to after-hours emails? • Do I want them to perform wake- up calls for my chauffeurs? • Do I want them to prepare and email written quotes? • Do I want them to call out chauffeurs for immediate runs? • Do I want them to contact my affiliates in other markets if needed? • Do I want them to track my chauffeurs throughout the run? • Do I want them to monitor my GPS system? Once you have determined this information, call and speak to a sales representative about your needs and desires.

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