When its outsourced provider of contact centre services went into administration, JML needed to find an alternative partner with relevant DRTV experience in order to continue to provide overflow and out-of-hours services to its customers.
Established in 1986 in John Mills’s basement, today the business employs more than 300 people and sells into more than 80 countries worldwide through a combination of innovative screen promotions in-store, DRTV advertising and its website. JML is headquartered in London and its in-house contact centre is based in Tyneside.
JML heavily invests in the sourcing of new promotional products from around the world and spends £14 million every year on being visible through high profile television and off-the-page advertising campaigns with a dedicated shopping channel on Sky as well as a presence in 4,300 stores across the UK and Ireland.
Contact centre manager Ellen Fuller explains that the business has a long history of outsourcing overflow and out-of-hours calls to complement its in-house contact centre. Therefore, when its previous provider collapsed, JML found itself looking for a flexible, professional outsourcer with existing knowledge of how TV ad campaigns work. With a final shortlist of two, JML opted for Ventrica based on the strength of its DRTV capabilities.
JML provided full system and product training and encouraged Ventrica’s staff to take around 50 to 60 products home to try out. Fuller explains, “We want our staff to understand and relate to the products that they are selling; this is key in building a rapport with existing and new customers.”
JML wants conversations with its customers to be natural and so all its staff are unscripted, says Fuller, adding “our retention stands at 48 percent, which is a reflection of how we communicate and treat our customers. Ventrica took this in their stride and were immediately successful in building a good relationship over the phone as well as selling additional products and services. The feedback from customers has been very positive.”
Further strengthening the argument for employing an out-of-hours provider, Fuller estimates that without appropriate cover JML could lose up to 20 percent of its business, “Although we run the in-house centre from 8am to 8pm, we still get lots of orders throughout the evening and early morning. Even if we allowed them to leave a message, a nightworker doesn't want to be called back during the day.”
During busy times such as December and January JML can expect the total number of out-of-hours and overflow calls to triple, says Fuller, “so you are looking at a tremendous amount of business that would remain untapped.”
Not only is Ventrica key in managing calls out-of-hours, it also provides cover during the day, especially when there is a flood of calls in response to TV or off-the-page advertising.
Like with all good outsourced providers, the key benefit is being able to scale up and down when needed. Fuller concludes, “so whether it’s a popular TV campaign or we need to rely on them if there is an internal disruption such as a systems upgrade, then we know we can count on them.”
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