May 6, 2008, 12:00 AM

How Replacements gets more out of its contact center

With its web-enabled contact center management system, tableware retailer Replacements today handles more than twice the customer volume with about half the customer service staff compared to how it operated under its prior system, the retailer says.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

With its web-enabled contact center management system, tableware retailer Replacements Ltd. today handles more than twice the customer volume with about half the customer service staff compared to how it operated under its prior system, senior vice president of e-commerce Jack Whitley tells Internet Retailer.

Replacements, No. 174 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, does about $90 million a year in sales through the web and its contact center, with the web accounting for a majority of sales, Whitley says.

With strong online growth in recent years, the retailer’s e-commerce site, Replacements.com, now gets about 2.5 million visits per month, up from about 1 million four years ago, Whitley adds. But with a web-enabled contact center management system from eGain Communications Corp., Replacements handles the higher traffic volume with 19 agents, down from 35 to 40 agents previously, Whitley says.

Replacements uses the eGain system in several ways to manage customer communications and extend the service capabilities of its agents, Whitley says. The system automatically generates an identifier for each customer e-mail that arrives in the call center, for example, and maintains it in a central database. That enables the retailer to route strings of messages for the same customer as needed to customer service agents.

The system also builds a knowledge base of topics raised by customers and associated steps taken by agents. Agents or managers can search a database for how particular issues were handled in the past. The system also integrates with Replacements’ e-mail management system to automatically send responses to some customer e-mail inquiries based on how similar questions were answered in prior communications.

The system also helps Replacements prepare contact center staffing levels for the peak holiday season by reviewing how well it did in the prior year’s season. “We can look at volumes of customer communications from last year’s holiday season by time of day or week, and assess the response times and service levels to see if we met our goals,” Whitley says.

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