Beverly Tire Group knew it needed to do better in regard to answering late-night road service calls from truckers.
The Flamborough-based dealership operates 10 commercial locations and up until March it had relied on nine different answering services to take calls from truckers broken down on highways. The result was that oftentimes the level of customer service varied from store to store as customers either talked to a customer service representative or left a message or received inaccurate information.
One location would have to forward the trucker's information to another store's road service tech, according to Kirk MacKenzie, Beverly Tire's regional manager.
``We realized this wasn't in our customers' best interests because it was allowing extra down time for the customers, so we merged everything into one answering service,'' Mr. MacKenzie said.
And merging all after-hour calls to one central service provider is what Beverly Tire did in March when it chose one of its nine providers-Hamilton, Ontario-based AnswerPlus. Mr. MacKenzie said the change has brought costs savings to Beverly Tire on after-hour calls now that all truckers are routed to one centralized answering service.
Dana Lloyd, manager of AnswerPlus, said the firm handles answering services for a number of industries-including property management firms, medical offices and heating and cooling firms-but has a call center dedicated to roadside assistance calls from Beverly Tire and other commercial dealerships in Canada.
``They're familiar with the lingo, they get the calls more often so they know tire names, positions and sizes....'' Ms. Lloyd said of the call center.
AnswerPlus provides Beverly Tire standardization in calls for all locations and detailed reports per location, she said. The standardization includes a full-time quality assurance manager supervising service reps as well as a protocol to follow.
``One of our standards is we answer the phone within three rings 95 percent of the time,'' Ms. Lloyd explained. ``That's something that we monitor.''
When a trucker calls for roadside assistance, AnswerPlus immediately asks for the company and the caller's name to begin searching Beverly Tire's customer database, then asks for location, tire position and size.
``Size is really important because if the driver gives us a wrong size or he doesn't know the size then Beverly Tire may have to go back to their shop and get the size, and that can be a bit of a hassle,'' she noted.
Other questions the phone reps ask the truckers are if they want estimated arrival times of the service techs and if AnswerPlus should call their dispatchers.
Ms. Lloyd added that AnswerPlus also ensures that if a service tech hasn't responded to representatives' calls within a time limit, a store manager is then contacted so that someone goes out to service the trucker.
Beverly Tire pays 95 cents a minute for calls on their account-a rate that can fluctuate based on whether average call volume is high or low, according to Ms. Lloyd. Mr. MacKenzie said that AnswerPlus installed a menu for after-hour calls to filter out non-emergency calls from reaching phone reps-a move that helped save Beverly Tire money.
He added that though it's a common practice in the commercial tire segment to outsource after-hour calls, finding the right answering service is a matter of trial and error.
``The biggest thing is, how long does it take them to answer our calls?'' Mr. MacKenzie said. ``How long does it take them to dispatch the calls and how accurate are they with the information they pass on? We're able to monitor AnswerPlus and say to our customers that our average hold time is 19.2 seconds when they have a concern.''