February 10, 2003, 12:00 AM

John Lewis turns to self-help on the web to reduce call center costs

U.K.-based retailer John Lewis Partnership has reduced calls to its customer service center by 5% since it installed Mercado Software’s Intuifind at its web site to help customers answer customer service questions.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Retailers are finding that the search function on a web site can serve more purposes than just helping customers find the right products. And when deployed for the correct uses, site search can create bottom line benefits. John Lewis Partnership, a £4 billion a year U.K.-based retailer, has reduced calls to its customer service center by 5% since it installed Mercado Software Inc.’s Intuifind product at its web site to help customers answer customer service questions last October, Robert Smith, director for IT for John Lewis Direct, tells InternetRetailer.com. “We’re hoping that by getting more information onto the web site, we’ll get a higher percentage of calls out of the call center,” Smith says. The company’s goal is to reduce those calls by 30%.

“With very easy access to a wealth of support information online, our customers can find the information they need without calling our customer service department,” Smith says. “This makes our customers happier, and reduces the number of calls we need to handle.”

John Lewis has also deployed Intuifind in its call centers so customer service reps can access product and customer information via a browser. That has reduced the business portions of calls from seven minutes to two minutes, Smith says. The benefits come both in allowing reps to find products faster when a customer has an incomplete description and in the faster response time that browser-based search is providing, Smith says. Even if they must contact someone in our call center, we’re able to service their needs in a fraction of the time it once took, ” Smith says. “The reps are getting search results almost instantaneously. It shortens the length of the call because they are not waiting for the system to respond.”

 

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