CRM Special Report: Efficient Customer Service Is Key at Replacements
Replacements, a seller of china and flatware based in Greenboro, N.C., is an example of a company that has successfully implemented an e-mail solution to better facilitate customer service. Replacements offers it customers discontinued and new dinnerware lines from an inventory of 10 million pieces in 200,000 patterns. It receives thousands of inquiries a day from its more than 4.5 million customers seeking to replace pieces or add to their collections.
When the volume of e-mail started to rival the number of calls received by Replacements’ customer service center, the company realized it needed to re-evaluate its current capabilities. Replacements sought an e-mail response management product that easily could be implemented and used by its customer service reps without re-architecting its CRM system. According to Jack Whitley, Replacement’s vice president of Internet sales and marketing, the company decided to implement eGain Mail—eGain’s e-mail response management solution—in October 2002 as a “way to work more efficiently and to match the company’s e-mail expansion.”
E-mail inquiries come in though Replacements’ Web site or through links in its outbound e-mails to its opt-in customer file. These inquiries then are routed to a general work pool, which customer service reps access through their individual ticket boxes. The rules-based routing system filters out viruses and spam. Reps are crosstrained across all three product types—china, silver and crystal—but 30 of the 150 reps solely are dedicated to e-mail customer service.
The Web-based solution took approximately four weeks to implement, including training time for the customer service reps. Since Replacements implemented this solution, its customer service reps have doubled the number of e-mail contacts to which they can respond per hour from 20 to 40. Reps also have access to a knowledgebase, which facilitates quicker and more informative e-mail replies. Replacements now handles nearly 1,000 e-mail inquiries a week with a response time of less than 24 hours—without adding additional staff.