March 4, 2003, 12:00 AM

CarFax revs up web self-service to cut customer e-mail load

CarFax has implemented a customer service system that makes it more likely that customers will help themselves. In its first three weeks of operation, the system cut CarFax’s e-mail volume in half.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

For a data-intensive web site like CarFax Inc.`s CarFax.com, which provides its customers access to more than 2 billion records related to the repair and accident history of cars, information requests from customers can easily overwhelm its e-mail system. Now CarFax has implemented a customer service system that makes it more likely that customers will help themselves. In its first three weeks of operation, the system cut in half the amount of e-mail CarFax gets from its 1.75 million visitors each month.

"Our site is now many times more useful to our customers than it was before, customers get immediate answers, and we longer have to deal with an endless barrage of e-mail traffic," said CTO David Silversmith. Before the new system was implemented, CarFax received tens of thousands of customer e-mail messages each month.

CarFax implemented the RightNow eService Center from RightNow Technologies Inc. in less than two weeks, Silversmith said. "That`s a remarkable achievement, especially considering all the business rules and custom content we put in place," he says.

CarFax used the eService Center to build an online knowledge base designed to be easy for customers to navigate and search, decreasing their dependence on e-mailed requests for assistance, Silversmith said. The system is also designed to scan the text of customer e-mail messages and send automated replies to customers suggesting where to find their requested information.

In addition, the system is designed to provide reports to CarFax on areas of its site that customers appear to have difficulty using. "It gives us the ability not only to respond quickly to problems when they occur, but also to proactively make the changes necessary to avoid those problems in the first place," Silversmith says.

“Self-service isn’t just about e-mail reduction," says Sean Forbes, vice president of marketing and business development at RightNow. "It’s only one component of a complete multi-channel strategy to getting accurate, timely, and complete information to customers as quickly and inexpensively as possible.”

 

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