Use Web-based help desk to save money

If toll charges are costing your company an arm and a leg, find out how one TechRepublic member saved his company nearly $20,000 annually on long-distance charges.

When Stuart Sabin was in college, he saved money by drying his clothes on the ceiling fan. Now that he’s the director of information technology at the Universal Purchasing Association (UPA) in Greenville, SC, he’s found more sophisticated ways to economize. In this article, we’ll tell you about the online help desk solution that saved Sabin’s company nearly $20,000 annually.

The problem
UPA is an e-marketplace for the uniform apparel manufacturer industry, bringing uniform retailers and manufacturers together. As part of its service, UPA offers help-desk services to its customers. As a result, the company was spending approximately $3,700 monthly for toll charges—a figure Sabin said was significant to the small company.

The solution: Online help
Sabin happened upon a better solution for his company. While browsing at EarthLink, he saw an online help desk in use and decided to put a similar solution into action at his company. So Sabin installed Livehelper, a free online customer-service tool that enables your site visitors to communicate with your company’s customer service personnel using text chat or voice over IP.

Now, his company’s customers can click on a help button, which rings the computer of one of his help representatives. The customer can then choose to chat, speak, or leave an e-mail for the UPA representative, explaining his or her help request.

“Due to the fact that many of our members do not have a microphone/speaker combo with their computer, they have been using the chat feature,” Sabin said. “I would say about 95 percent of our users use chat.”

Livehelper’s Web site boasts that your help personnel can assist visitors with “information, links, graphics, or even guide them through your site. The service is easy to install and can be configured and set up even by a novice in approximately 30 minutes.”

Perhaps Sabin’s favorite thing about Livehelper is its price: It’s free.

“They make their money when you purchase product enhancements,” Sabin said. “Prior to using Livehelper, our monthly toll access was approximately $3,700—compared to $2,100 today. For a small company, this is a substantial amount.”

As shown in Figure A, Sabin’s thrifty idea will result in an annual savings of $19,200.

Figure A

A simple fix brings satisfaction
Sabin said Livehelper’s simple installation and its ease of use have made his job easier. He simply had to paste in “a few lines of code” to get the Livehelper system up and running. What’s better is that the new system is making his customers happy.

“Our members like the fact that they are not placed on hold or have to leave a message,” Sabin said. “They also like the user-friendly format.”

Share your ideas and win $50
Everyone likes to save money, particularly when the economy is in turmoil. E-mail us a brief description of how you've saved a client, or your own firm, money, including a figure or estimate showing how much the change saved over the traditional approach. If your idea is published, we'll send you $50 and a TechRepublic T-shirt.


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