4 March 2010

Too Many Calls (Y.M.t.C.)

This is the start of an irregular (in more ways than one) series that we're calling 'You Make the Call!' The idea is that we'll present a situation that you might find in any given project. These situations will come from real projects but with the names and details changed to protect the guilty.

In the comments section, you answer 1) Your opinion on the real problem and/or 2) How you would go about solving it. After a few days have passed and everyone who wants to has had a chance to comment, we'll post a review of the answers, will explain what actually happened in the situation and, most importantly, what should have been done. So, with no further introduction, here's scenario #1...

Too Many Calls
You work in the corporate office of a medium sized retailer. This retailer has franchise locations all over the country, along with a large presence in online sales. What makes this retailer unique is that products ordered online are not shipped to the customer, but are picked up at the local store. The products ordered are very customizable by the customer and the stores pride themselves on their quick turnaround time for orders.

The call center manager for the website asks to speak with you about the large volume of calls they receive on a weekly basis for stock outs in the store. Stores will run out of product to sell, will call the online support center and ask for the products to be put on hold in the online system until the next replenishment order is received from the warehouse. The manager estimates that half of their CSR's time is involved with handling stock outs.

The online ordering system has no knowledge of the stock levels at a store; it only knows which items the store can sell, not which the store is able to sell. The call center manager suggests that it would be great if the store manager could be given access to an abbreviated web form, similar to the one used by CSRs, so the manager could update their own inventory availability without needing to call the online support team.

You Make the Call!
The ball is now in your court. What is the underlying problem in this situation? What do you suggest to the call center manager to help with the large volume of calls?

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