UPS System Helps Recharge Customer Service

Calling a customer service help line can be frustrating. What's even worse is when the customer service representative asks you to call back later— when they have their computers up and running again. That's just what the customers calling one nationwide retailer's Alabama call center were hearing on a regular basis.

06/01/2003


Calling a customer service help line can be frustrating. What's even worse is when the customer service representative asks you to call back later— when they have their computers up and running again.

That's just what the customers calling one nationwide retailer's Alabama call center were hearing on a regular basis. The cause of power disruptions was no mystery. Voltage sags and outages caused by the area's frequent thunderstorms were wreaking havoc on the facility's telephone and computer systems.

The situation was intolerable for a large nationwide retailer that operates a network of call centers as the point of contact for thousands of incoming customer service calls. Associates are networked through the company's computer system so that they can quickly handle customer concerns.

Even a momentary disturbance meant a 15- to 30-minute system restart, costing up to $8,000 and damaging customer goodwill. Managers at the call center knew they had to address the issue. With some 800 workstations accessing 20,000 customer accounts a day, the potential impact to the company's customers—and its own bottom line—was too great to ignore.

The local utility's energy solutions division suggested several possible remedies.

One idea was to install a small uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system at each workstation. However, managers decided this approach would be too expensive and complex to implement.

Installing a large, conventional UPS system also was investigated, but this would have required expanding the existing computer room.

Instead, managers opted for a 250-kW UPS that could be installed outdoors and protect the facility's entire load. The unit provides 30 seconds of backup at full load and 60 seconds at half load to provide the facility with 100% protection from power events. It is also integrated with an existing backup generator, providing smooth cut-over during extended power outages.

The new system earned back its cost within the first five months of service, allowing continuous operation through more than 50 power events. In fact, for just one particularly stormy day alone, savings from prevention of computer downtime and related losses were estimated at more than $30,000.





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