Geeks on the Way pour SugarCRM onto Asterisk

Calgary-based Geeks on the Way, an IT support provider for residents and small offices, has integrated its open source customer relationship management (CRM) system with its call centre to service its client base across Western Canada.

Using both open source CRM software and a telephony platform, Geeks said it’s able to speed up its sales and customer support departments in responding to customer problems.

Cupertino, Calif.-basedSugarCRM Inc.’s open source software is geared toward sales force automation, marketing campaigns, customer cases and reporting. Asterisk, a free, open source application made by Huntsville, Ala.-based Digium Inc., can turn a standard computer into a fully featured private branch exchange (PBX).

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John Leishman, chief executive officer of Geeks on the Way, said prior to upgrading, he was looking for a system that could easily handle calls and service requests over multiple geographies. The company operates in seven Western Canadian cities. Geeks has a group of technicians across each city that help clients with anything from removing viruses to replacing defective hardware. Leishman also said the company needed a system that could handle a relatively large amount of calls as well as being scaleable to meet its future expansion plans.

“We get between 200 and 300 inbound calls a day, which mainly entails customer requests for service or general questions,” Leishman said. “And we expect to double in size over the next 24 months so the solution had to meet that demand.”

According to Leishman, the combined SugarCRM-Asterisk solution was not only cost effective because of the open source nature of projects, but has also saved time for the business in a number of different ways. For example, when a phone number calls in, it is automatically parsed against the company’s database, where existing customer’s data information is already stored. This cuts down on the need for data entry and allows staff to concentrate on addressing the problem.

“We know where they’re calling from, what sort of services they already have, or what we can offer them,” Leishman said. “If they aren’t an existing client, we can punch in the information at that point.”

Leishman said the system also allows Geeks customer support staff to located and assign technicians to projects on the fly and then e-mail or phone notices out confirming the job request. Call times have been reduced from several minutes, he said, to about 20 seconds per call.

“Retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring customers, so customer support becomes absolutely important to retaining customers,” said Chris Harrick, senior management of product marketing.

And to help with the marketing and promotions department, SugarCRM said the data repository allows customer service to easily recognize what sort of services the client already has and where an opportunity to sell may arise.

“Often times sales and support aren’t working on the same page,” Harrick said. “Sales people call existing customers to offer cross-sells or up-sells without realizing that a customer might be unhappy at the time or have some sort of outstanding customer support issue.”

Harrick said having this knowledge in one central database will help determine where the customers stand and the best services to sell them.

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