Valentine’s Day used to cause some heartache for Walter Knoll Florist. The company faced an overflow of calls on Valentine’s and other key sales days in the floral business, which meant some callers were sent to voice mail. Promptly answering phones is key for the company, which faces competition not only from other florists but grocery chains as well, said Walter Knoll III, president of the business. The solution arrived in 2002 with a cold call from a sales rep with Communications Technologies Inc. (CTI). The Chesterfield company, which specializes in selling business telephone systems, developed a way to route the overflow from Walter Knoll’s call center in St. Louis, distributing them seamlessly to the flower business’ 110 employees at its dozen retail stores. Now, Knoll said, “We answer with the efficiency of 911 operators.” Bob Hymes and Steve Green, the founders and owners of CTI, said they grew CTI’s business to $4 million in revenue last year by focusing on solutions and service. That focus helped them retain their first customer, Fiduciary Asset Management in Clayton, now part of Piper Jaffray, with whom they’ve been doing business since 1999.
Steve Green and Bob Hymes at Walter Knoll’s Florist Row Greenhouse
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