February 24, 2005, 12:00 AM

The web helps Mack’s Prairie Wings complete more calls in busiest season

With the duck-hunting season and holiday shopping hitting at the same time, Mack’s Prairie Wings used to drop more than 100,000 calls a month to its call center. Now with the web, it drops hardly any, CFO Cheryl Raney says.

With the duck-hunting season and holiday shopping hitting at the same time, Mack’s Prairie Wings used to drop more than 100,000 calls a month to its call center. Now with the web, it drops hardly any, CFO Cheryl Raney says.

Mack’s Prairie Wings operates MacksPW.com, a catalog and one store in Stuttgart, AR, selling a wide range of gear for duck hunting. It did about $ 1.5 million on the web last year.

But because the duck-hunting season runs from just before Thanksgiving to late January, roughly the same time as the holiday shopping season, including post-Christmas sales and returns, Mack’s used to be unable to keep up with customer service calls throughout its peak shopping period. “We get a double whammy, the Christmas rush and the duck-hunting season,” Raney says. “In December 2002, we dropped 144,000 calls.”

But since implementing a web-based call center system from Delray Beach, FL-based Marketing Concepts in June 2003, Mack’s has rarely dropped a customer service call even during its busiest periods, Raney says. “By December ’03, we had an almost 100% improvement in dropped calls,” she says.

In addition, the new system has coincided with a 15% increase in the number of orders from repeat customers, Raney adds.

The improvements in call center performance and sales from repeat customers resulted from the new ability of the retailer’s call center agents to better serve customers, Raney says. Marketing Concepts connects agents’ computers over the web to Mack’s Ecometry order management system, providing them with constant updates on their computer screens of customers’ shopping records. The system saves time in checking customer data, providing for faster responses and happier customers, Raney says.

“We’ve had more customers become repeat customers because of greater service,” she says.

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