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These firms are making service a priority

Peppers & Rogers found three companies who are taking different tactics to achieving the same goal: offering super service for their customers.

Top quality service can be a competitive differentiator. Companies that meet and exceed their customers' service expectations will reap rewards through increased customer share and value. Ideally, these firms utilize learning relationships to remember individual customer needs, making every interaction more valuable without the need to offer all services to all customers, which lowers costs.

For some, meeting expectations means having highly trained contact-center agents on staff to answer inquiries. For others, this translates into self-service offerings. Regardless of the solution, as long as companies continue to add value to the customer relationship, the relationship will continue to add value for the firm. In this article, we show how three companies improved customer service in very different ways, but all arrived at increased customer value.

Air Jamaica speeds up service

At Air Jamaica Vacations, management realized that customers were not receiving the prompt attention they expected from a travel company. Customers were waiting in the phone queue too long, often being transferred between agents, leaving customers frustrated and disillusioned.

Air Jamaica restructured its contact-center strategy around "destination specialists." The airline trained its agents to become experts about a particular destination, and sent reps to visit locations so they could speak from personal experience. Agents are now monitored and compensated based on their destination expertise, as well as on the confirmed bookings they record. Concerto's Contact Pro application enabled the monitoring, testing and compensation structuring (Concerto competes with Cisco, Genesys and Nortel Networks).

The result: Destination Specialists are now better able to answer customer questions and meet their needs, and fewer calls are transferred. As a result, bookings per 100 agent-handled calls are up by an incredible 61%.

Vindigo empowers its customers

Vindigo, a provider of entertainment guides and mapping systems for wireless devices, suffered a similar problem. When the company turned to an outsourced contact center to handle customer support, it found that agents were unqualified to properly answer customers' technical questions.

In addition, the center cost Vindigo upwards of $45,000 per month to operate, yet the firm had no control over the agents. As a result, Vindigo opted for a self-service solution. It added a searchable FAQ section to its Web site that helps customers find answers to their questions quickly and easily, and from Vindigo's viewpoint, more affordably. The section is enabled by RightNow Technology's eService Center solution (RightNow competes with eGain Communications, Kana and Siebel).

Customers can still call or e-mail with inquiries, which are now answered by two in-house agents. This is a manageable workload for the pair, since 98% of users who access the FAQs find the answer they need without calling the contact center. And according to Vindigo, 85% of customers are satisfied or very satisfied with the help they receive.

AMF strikes a self-service win

AMF Bowling Worldwide opted for a more robust self-service function. The firm wanted its customer base to communicate with the bowling-center management and equipment maker 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- a definite advantage for its international customers. AMF's new self-service functionality allows customers to place and check orders, change their address and access an online catalogue, thanks to a J.D. Edwards solution (which competes with Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP). One internal benefit for AMF is that customer-service agents now have more time to work on outbound selling opportunities.

No matter how companies structure their customer-facing operations, one goal must remain at the forefront: providing the best experience each time a customer picks up the phone or visits a Web site. Companies must have the capabilities in place to provide a level of service that increases customer loyalty and value, and in many cases reduces the cost-to-serve at the same time, through use of remembered information and tailored treatments. Those that don't may as well just hand over their front-door keys to the competition.

To read more articles like this one, visit Peppers and Rogers Group's Web site at

All materials copyright 2003 Peppers and Rogers Group - 1:1 Marketing.

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