Wowcher customer service rings up a NewVoiceMedia makeover

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright July 13, 2014
UK daily deals site Wowcher has improved customer service call handling with a contact center service from fast-growing cloud provider NewVoiceMedia

Enterprises looking to upgrade their call center software may soon get a call from cloud-based provider NewVoiceMedia after it announced $50 million in funding last week. Destined to help fuel expansion in North America, Asia and Europe, the new funding almost doubles the amount raised in the past eighteen months and brings the company's total funding to $155 million.

The UK-headquarted company says it doubled its license revenues last year, noting that this means it is growing five times faster than the cloud-based contact center market as a whole, as measured by Gartner. Total revenues for 2013 had previously been reported as just less than $10 million.

A growing need for flexibility and the ability to interact in a joined-up way across multiple channels is driving this market acceleration. To get an insight into how customers are using the product, I recently spoke to NewVoiceMedia customer Wowcher.

Affluent metropolitans

Less than three years old, daily deals site Wowcher is number two in the UK market after Groupon. Part of DMG Media, which owns the Daily Mail and London free newspaper Metro, its eye-catching print and TV ads are a familiar sight in the London area.

Wowcher targets its time-limited money-off deals largely at affluent metropolitan women, as Samantha Tomlinson, head of customer service, explained to me:

It's holidays, weekend breaks, fancy restaurants, training courses, [cosmetic] dental treatments, hair makeovers. These things aren't a necessity in life, it's all classed as luxury items [although] we do have some day to day stuff — we do try to offer something for everybody.

Wowcher runs nearly 750 different deals per week, which customers purchase online, via desktop, mobile, tablets or apps. It's only when they have a problem or question — for example, they want to know when the offer they've purchased will arrive — that they get on the phone.

First contact resolution

Tomlinson's team of fourteen advisers handles 4,000 calls a week on average — just less than 200,000 per year.

For me it's first contact resolution. I want my customer to have everything at their fingertips, to have their questions answered if they need to come into our department. We see about twenty percent of customers contact us in customer services.

About a quarter of those contacts come in as a phone call, with another fifteen thousand enquiries a week coming in as email. The team also monitors social media such as Twitter, Facebook and review sites. People tend to pick up the phone when they want an instant response, says Tomlinson:

My other team that deal with emails have a 72-hour window to respond to a customer. If a customer wants the answer there and then, and we're open, they'll call us up.

A lot of calls are down to customer unfamiliarity with Wowcher, she says:

The biggest reason for customers contacting us by phone is not understanding how we work. While you've got a number available on your site, some people's preference is to call.

That's where the automated IVR system comes in useful, dealing with one in every five incoming calls:

I call it pointing customers in the right direction. A lot of the time customers [already] have the information and it's just a matter of showing them where it is. We are dealing with a lot of new customers as well. It's not always the same people dialing up.

Daily reporting

Sam Tomlinson Wowcher clip
NewVoiceMedia was brought in to replace a previous system that had been very inflexible — any changes took four weeks to get done and each one incurred a substantial fixed charge. With the new cloud-based system, Tomlinson's own team can change the IVR menus and messages at will. Detailed daily reporting and a live dashboard give up-to-date metrics on how customers are interacting with the system and make it easy to monitor the effect of any changes.

I get daily figures now on what customers are going to what options. I monitor whether our customer behaviour has changed in any way, and do we need to change our behaviour?

It became so easy to make changes that the team probably made too many when the system first went in, admits Tomlinson. They have now settled into a regular pattern of monthly updates.

We try to minimize it to once a month to measure the success of it. There's no point making a change if you're not going to measure how successful it is.

No more dead ends

Monitoring behavior and adjusting the menus has helped the team improve service levels. They discovered that customers were sometimes getting stuck in the IVR without finding the answer they needed. They have now changed the menus to make sure those callers get through to an adviser to resolve their issue, rather than being forced to hang up and call back.

From a business perspective I care about the customer. It's in my best interest to ensure I am monitoring that behavior. When the customer has to call again, it's an expense to the customer, they're not happy that they've had to recall, it's the wrong kind of experience for them to start off with.

The customer was not getting the right experience and we removed those dead ends.

Call abandonment is now less than four percent and the average number of contacts per caller has fallen thirty percent from 2.4 to 1.7, with agents able to resolve more enquiries faster. Combined with the introduction of a call back service, this has eliminated the need to outsource overflow calls, saving substantial sums.

Related stories

NewVoiceMedia is frequently implemented alongside Salesforce and that's the case at Wowcher, where it integrates with Service Cloud. This means that advisers can have the customer information in front of them when the call comes through.

Because we've got Service Cloud all of that information is recorded on the customer account. We can see if they've tweeted or if they've had a conversation or if they've emailed. You've got the information to hand that you'd need.

When calls come in from the IVR, the NewVoiceMedia system gives the adviser a 'whisper' telling them which menu options they presssed.

That couple of seconds before the customer comes through, my adviser knows what the call is going to be about.

Adapting to change

Wowcher's customer base is changing rapidly as it grows and as trends come and go. It's important to be able to monitor behavior and respond quickly when changes occur. Six months ago, the times when customers called in started to vary. Instead of a concentrated burst around the time of the morning and evening school run, call volumes spread out to other times of the day.

The times in which people call have changed massively. We're just seeing a real difference in when customers call us.

I think it's our customer demographic is changing. Six months ago, more mums were buying from us and now we see more of a balance throughout the day.

The department adapts to the customer. I've had to get people to work later so we can take the calls. I used to have an office twelve months ago that worked Monday to Friday. We've got a seven-day operation now so that we can respond and deal with customers every single day. We're here for them.

We do have to change around the customer.

That need to be reponsive to changing customer behavior provides the opportunity for NewVoiceMedia. Its cloud-native software has greater flexibility to make rapid changes than more traditional contact center platforms.

The company's new investor in the most recent round is Technology Crossover Ventures, which has also invested in iconic online brands such as Facebook, Netflix and Spotify. Other investors include Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Highland Capital Partners Europe, Eden Ventures, Notion Capital and

NewVoiceMedia's customer base includes Parcelforce, QlikView, DPD, Topcon Positioning Systems and Truphone, with a collective total across the customer base of more than 13,000 agents using the system in 40 countries.

Disclosure: is a diginomica premier partner and, at the time of writing, a consulting client of the author.

Image credits: Party woman © svetlanamiku -; Logo and Samantha Tomlinson headshot © Wowcher

A grey colored placeholder image