July 31, 2009, 12:00 AM

Making Contact

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Broken Arrow also plans to take advantage of the Avaya technology’s ability to integrate with the retailer’s in-house Microsoft Access customer database. That will enable the retailer to identify a customer by his telephone number, and automatically bring up on an agent’s screen records of past orders and contact center communications.

Contact center systems integrated with other operational systems are also helping to improve sales and overall customer relationships at Nutricia, the U.K. sales unit of Groupe Danone, a Paris-based manufacturer and distributor of baby food products that it sells through the e-commerce sites and stores of major supermarket chains in the U.K., including Tesco plc and J Sainsbury plc. Nutricia is using a web-enabled CRM system from Sword Ciboodle integrated with its customer care department to increase loyalty among the consumers who purchase its products.

Before Nutricia deployed the Sword Ciboodle system last fall, it wasn’t able to handle high volumes of consumer communications or compile aggregate customer data to support marketing and product quality efforts. Now, not only can it aggregate call and live chat communications, it can automatically route reports on that data to Nutricia’s marketing teams and product and shipping managers at Groupe Danone.

“A key thing is being able to measure the success of our marketing campaigns that try to recruit people from particular areas into our membership programs, with our marketers able to see where consumers are coming from,” says Paul Smith, head of information systems for Nutricia. “This has enabled us to be more proactive, and we have managed to recruit more mums to our loyalty programs.”

Janet Clayton, head of business systems, adds that the Sword Ciboodle system also lets customer service agents record information about customer complaints and immediately forward them electronically to computer screens or mobile phones of managers in Groupe Danone’s supply chain.

“It gives our managers at different points of the supply chain the ability to share the same information our customer care agents are getting from customers,” she says.

If a customer received a package ordered online with the wrong food containers, for example, the system would alert personnel in the warehouse that packaged the order to check their order fulfillment procedures.

Co-browsing helps, too

Contact center technology is also offering other new ways to serve customers. Co-browsing technology available through live chat and click-to-call system providers such as Bold Software and LivePerson Inc., for example, let agents advise shoppers about product and shopping features while agent and customer simultaneously view the same web page.

Agents can also use co-browsing to control mouse movements on the customer’s computer screen to demonstrate shopping features. Co-browsing technology deployed in contact center outsourcing arrangements by 24-7 INtouch has helped retailers such as ShopNBC.com improve cross-selling in shopping carts, 24-7 INtouch CEO Greg Fettes says.

Other capabilities include automatically expediting agent pick-ups of calls from high-value customers, an option eGain Communications Corp. provides by tying the phone or customer account numbers of callers to a database of high-value customers based on their level of past purchases.

The ultimate goal of contact centers, of course, is to use trained agents and technology to provide the best balance of fast and personalized service. That means not just helping agents efficiently wrap up calls, but making sure they can effectively address the issues that prompted those calls.


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