- Inc. Technology - http://technology.inc.com -
Tech Talk: Marshmallow Maker Unifies Communications
Posted By Elizabeth Wasserman On October 1, 2008 @ 12:00 am In Telecom and Wireless | 1 Comment
To Your Heart’s Content, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., maker of Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows, has been growing quickly in the four years since launching. Vice President Justin Leavens tells IncTechnology.com that unified communications helped the business better channel customer contacts and unify a company that is primarily staffed by part-timers who may need the flexibility to work from home.
Elizabeth Wasserman: Tell us a little about how you started marketing gourmet marshmallows.
Justin Leavens: We started four years ago making gourmet marshmallows. We did it first on a small scale and sold to local coffee shops and friends and family and then we started to expand, selling to specialty food stores and coffee shops all over the U.S. and some international locations. We have two full-time employees and four part-time office staff to do sales and office support. But we’ve been growing a lot in the past few years.
Wasserman: How have your technology needs changed as the business has grown?
Leavens: When we started, the volume of orders was low enough that we could almost be paper based and use QuickBooks for the accounting. We knew who our customers were and we were doing a lot of hand delivering so it was very straight forward. As we started to do some marketing and expand, we obviously had a lot more information to deal with — a lot more customers, a lot more leads to follow up on. We were doing trade shows. Just the volume of work increased. Being a small business with a small office, we had to find ways to make our business as flexible as possible in order to keep growing. One of the things we did was build customer business software that would work either from within our office or our employees’ homes. We also needed a phone system that would support that same kind of organization.
Wasserman: What type of phone system did you choose?
Leavens: We wanted a phone system that presented our customers with a unified look at our company. Because we had part time people we wanted to make sure that when a customer called up, they would always be able to get in touch with somebody, whether it was the person they originally called or not. The people who answered the phones may not be the ones working in the office that day. We thought about going the route of using cell phones and individual numbers. But it didn’t make sense to us in terms of making sure the customer got the assistance they needed.
I did a little research on phone services. I had used a Vonage line in the past. I knew that VoIP was a realistic technology to use. But I wanted something more. I wanted a system that could help us manage our inbound calls to multiple locations. I found RingCentral and gave them a try. They had a 30-day test at the time. I really liked the way that I was able to set up our organization fairly quickly and easily online. I was able to add extensions for various functions, add informational mailboxes that had our company address, fax number, instructions — things our customers could get even if they called us off hours.
Wasserman: Many small businesses want to appear bigger than they are, is that what you were trying to do?
Leavens: What we wanted to look like was professional because we’re a business. We’re a small business but we want to work with big businesses. Big businesses are not going to tolerate not being able to get in touch with someone.
Wasserman: How does it work?
Leavens: You can do the recording online or over the phone. Essentially what it let me do was set up individual extensions and voice mail boxes for the people we wanted to have separate voice mails. Most importantly, it less us set up the incoming call behavior so that during the work day, someone who needs to get in touch with somebody as soon as possible was most likely to get their call answered. Someone who hits a voice tree and hits zero can have that call ring simultaneously at multiple locations so that anybody who might be available to answer that call could grab it and make sure that call got answered.
Customer service is important to growth and it’s important to us.
Article printed from Inc. Technology: http://technology.inc.com
URL to article: http://technology.inc.com/2008/10/01/tech-talk-marshmallow-maker-unifies-communications/
Copyright © 2011 Inc Technology. All rights reserved.