Operations and Management: A Small Fry’s Solution

For Chicago-based food cataloger Lobster Gram, “abandoned calls were a huge problem,” says founder Dan Zawacki. And no wonder: Lobster Gram’s outdated phone system didn’t have the capability to put callers into a queue, Zawacki admits. So incoming calls — and potential orders — would go unanswered if all the phone reps were busy, and customers would just get annoyed and hang up.

The cataloger in February 2002 spent $40,000 on a new phone system from Avaya, which lets customers know they’ve called Lobster Gram and that a customer service rep will be with them shortly. Many catalogers might take such basic technology for granted, but for Lobster Gram, it’s a whole new world. The less than $5 million company’s call abandonment rates — which used to hover around 4% before the new phone system was installed — have dropped below 2%, Zawacki says.

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