For six years, OnBrand24 has played an important role in support of the Southwest Indian Foundation’s dual mission: providing work opportunities for native peoples and raising funds for Native American charities and community organizations.
Located near the Four Corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, SWIF’s mission is to lessen poverty among 350,000 members of the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, Laguna, Acoma, and Apache tribes. Last year, SWIF raised $14 million.
OnBrand24 handles inbound calls from SWIF supporters who wish to make donations as well as customers of SWIF’s Indian Craft Catalog, an outlet for jewelry, blankets, clothing and gifts made by 4,000 native peoples who live in the Four Corners area.
Catalog sales revenue is used to pay the Native American artisans who made the items and to help fund SWIF philanthropic projects. These include school grants and individual tuition assistance, homes for battered women and children, home repair and wood stove installation, Christmas food baskets for needy families, substance abuse counseling, and emergency assistance in the areas of food, clothing, heating fuel, and temporary shelter.
When SWIF, which employs 70 full-time Native American staff people, closes its in-house customer service center for the day and weekend – or when customer call volume peaks during the holiday period – OnBrand24 call center services take after-hours and overflow calls. The outsourced call center handles approximately 250,000 calls and transactions per year.
The way those calls are handled is unusual.
“We’re not just peddling products,” said William B. McCarthy, Executive Director, SWIF. “We regard our customers not as buyers but as donors, as people who want to not only purchase catalog items but also help native peoples. So we worked with OnBrand24 on a custom call center services program that treats each caller with respect and patience. For us, time is not of the essence. We want each caller to realize how much SWIF appreciates their support.”
To support SWIF's customer relationship strategy, OnBrand24 violates some basic call center services performance principles. Rather than processing the largest sales order in the fastest time, the goal is making each caller feel like a valued friend of native peoples.
If the caller wants to peruse a range of catalog items, the OnBrand24 agent has been trained to patiently discuss alternative items while the caller comes to a decision.
If the customer wants to chat about previous catalog orders, previous SWIF donations or visits he or she has made to Native American reservations, that’s fine too.
“OnBrand24 has been very adept at understanding our brand, our culture and our approach to customer and donor relations,” said McCarthy. “They have exceptional people skills, and they consistently provide a warm and welcoming customer service experience. OnBrand24 is the first line of communication for our supporters, so they are in a critically important role.”
Customizing an inbound customer service program that reflects the client’s brand and market strategy is a key reason OnBrand24 clients stay with the call center services company an average of more than five years.
“We strive to become a direct extension of our client’s internal sales team, and we’ve done that with SWIF,” said Mark Fichera, CEO of OnBrand24. “The unique approach we take for SWIF calls best supports their fundraising objectives. We are proud of our contribution to SWIF’s support of native peoples.”
Another OnBrand24 advantage: scalability.
SWIF call volume varies greatly depending on the time of year. Roughly half of Indian Craft Catalog sales happen between October 15 and Christmas, and OnBrand24 scales up SWIF program staffing resources accordingly.
In addition, OnBrand24 maximizes SWIF’s ROI with its “time-on-task” billing structure, in which SWIF only pays for the time agents are on the phone with SWIF customers. There is no charge for idle time or unused resources.
McCarthy explained that “the only thing we ask OnBrand24 to do fast is answer phone calls within three rings and keep hold times to a minimum. They do this very well. I can’t imagine running our donor and catalog operation without them.”