October 17, 2002, 12:00 AM

Self-service tools cuts incoming customer service e-mail by 60% at Thule

Car rack manufacturer Thule was deluged with customer service queries. Tools from RightNow Technologies now let more customers help themselves online and focus customer service reps on the truly difficult questions.


Car rack manufacturer Thule Car Rack Systems supports its more than 1 million customers of bicycle, ski and other sporting goods racks through a dealer network, but its customer contact center was still being deluged with calls and e-mails about specs and installation. A recent update to its existing web-based service solution from Right Now Technologies cut incoming e-mails by 60% even as site traffic doubled, and increased customers’ use of an online self-service fit guide to reduce the volume of incoming phone calls, the company says.

The update relocated the fit guide closer to the primary customer support page on the site, transforming that area into one easy to find “portal” for all service-related questions.

Concentrating the fit guide and customer support access in one area of the site increased visitor’s confidence in using the self-service tool, says Thule marketing manger Steve Doviak. “By making the guide part of our support content, customers now understand that the guide provides the same information that customer support is going to offer them. This makes them more inclined to use the guide rather than just pick up the phone,” he says.

Thule also beefed up its use of functions such as RightNow’s SmartAssist tool. The tool monitors the content of e-mails and suggests relevant items from the support knowledge database, which has reduced the number of incoming e-mails that service reps must answer manually.

In the 16 days prior to the update, Thule handled nearly 500 e-mails resulting from some 3,700 self-service sessions for a success rate of 87% on self-service. Sixteen days after self-service functions on the site were updated, customers submitted only 200 e-mail questions although the volume of self-service sessions had risen to 8,460, which increased the success rate of self-service to 97%.

As the result of improvements to customer self-service tools on the site, service reps are more focused on answering the kinds of questions that truly warrant individual attention, says Doviak. “I’d much rather have them doing that than providing information that’s already on the site,” he says. “The investment we made in the software has paid for itself several times over now. “


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