Operations and Management: Famous Smoke Shop Lights Up Service

Thanks to a new phone system, Easton, PA-based cigars marketer Famous Smoke Shop has not only improved service levels at its call center, but it can now better upsell its premium cigars and accessories. The privately held company sells through catalogs, a wholesale division, and a Website, which accounts for 25% of its business.

Flexibility and functionality were the key criteria in selecting a new phone system, says systems administrator Chad Kercher. Famous Smoke Shop’s previous system required the cataloger to contact the vendor to modify the most basic functions, such as changing its phone message in cases of inclement weather, Kercher says. With the new system, Rockwell FirstPoint’s Business Edition, the cataloger can make such adjustments inhouse.

Installed in January 2002, Business Edition also provides more-sophisticated call routing. Using customer information collected from the caller through voice prompts, the system determines the type of call and which agent should receive it. The company’s contact center employs seven reps, divided into sales agents and customer service reps, who handle an average of 600 calls per day.

While the company won’t disclose what it paid for the system, Famous Smoke Shop is seeing the benefits in increased service levels. The marketer’s goal is to have at least 80% of incoming customer service calls answered by a live agent within 20 seconds. “Since using Rockwell FirstPoint, we’ve been able to maintain that objective, with less than a 5% call drop-off,” Kercher says.

The new system also allows Famous Smoke Shop to highlights its weekly specials, such as cigar sampler packs during gift-giving seasons, when customers are on hold. And the software’s reporting capabilities allow Famous Smoke Shop to generate reports that indicate call activity, when customers called, which 800-number they used, and at what point callers abandoned the call.