April 1, 2004, 12:00 AM

Online customer self-service broadening to more functions

Once largely confined to administrative tasks such as order entry and checking order status and order history, online self-service is expanding to more knowledge-based tasks, says ATG.

Customer self-service online has been largely confined to administrative functions such as order entry, checking order status and order history, but that’s beginning to change, Scott Todaro, product marketing manager at e-commerce technology provider Art Technology Group Inc., tells Internet Retailer. “Now, we are starting to see things like search and other knowledge-based capabilities brought online as part of customer self-service for retailers that sell more complex products,” he says.

If offered in a way that lets customers accomplish what they need to online without human help, self-service options online can benefit retailers’ margins, he adds.

“Online can be a more efficient vehicle for servicing customers. And there can be huge savings in call center costs,” he adds. One ATG customer, for example, sportswear and athletic shoemaker Fila Holdings S.p.A., was able to deflect about 20% of the calls from its small retailer customers to place orders on its b2b web site instead, following a marketing campaign to those customers that encouraged them to use the web site. And when customers do call the call center, the reps are required to supply the relevant URLs so they can easily place an order online, he adds.


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