Microsoft WebTV Networks Inc. recently decided to expand its customer care contract with Stream International, a CRM services and outsourcing provider, after facing challenges with their previous service provider. Stream has provided customer care for WebTV since 1998 and will now deliver all CRM-type services for the company via Web-based and telephone channels.
WebTV had previously used MCI Worldcom for its telephone-based customer care. MCI is no longer in the call center business, which is just as well, according to Dennis Reno, senior director of customer service at WebTV. For many reasons, WebTV chose to seek out another service provider, he said.
"MCI did not provide a level of service meeting minimal standards," Reno said. "We found a lot of frustration in our customers."
WebTV decided to outsource their customer care and looked at offerings from PeopleSupport, EDS, CyberRep, Cytel and Sykes, according to Reno. "Managing a call center is a complicated beast," he said. "I think we should be doing what we do best," and not have to worry about managing our call centers, he added.
"People at Stream seemed to have a lot of heart," Reno said. "We wanted an organization that would take ownership of customers and problems and solve (the problems) as if these were their own."
Stream now handles billing inquiries, usage questions and connectivity issues, moderates WebTV's newsgroups and assists in site monitoring. WebTV's subscribers will also have access to self-help and account management through voice response technology, as well as e-mail capability and direct phone access to Stream's customer service agents.
Stream uses WebTV's own system for CRM, based on a product by Remedy Corp., Reno said.
"Right away, we started receiving an influx of customer messages about how (customer) service has improved," Reno said, regarding the use of Stream's services. According to Reno, he has received more complimentary messages since WebTV started using Stream in March than the entire time he has been working at WebTV.
"Customers are saying a lot of positive things," said Derek Delano, a spokesperson for Stream. Delano himself received e-mail regarding the changes in customer service, as his name was listed as a contact on the initial press release, he said.
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