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From Infection to Deflection
An antivirus company turns pro-self-service.
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The customer service channel at technology-security provider ESET needed an update as critical as any involving the company’s antivirus offerings. Growing almost as fast as those pesky viruses it works so hard to defeat, the Slovakia-based firm reaches 60 percent of the European market for such offerings, and, having expanded to the United States in 1999, about 2 percent of the North American market. Being global in nature has its drawbacks, however: ESET’s support technologies needed content in multiple languages. 

The company had an open-source knowledge base solution in place, but one limited in resources and lacking out-of-the-box language support for ESET’s expanding customer base. With an eye toward an online replacement, in October 2008 ESET turned to Web self-service vendor InQuira—a rather bold selection, says Erik Ryan, ESET’s knowledge base manager. “We were one of InQuira’s smaller customers,” Ryan recalls. “But part of the reason we went with more of a robust solution is because we’re growing rapidly, and we needed something to last us for the long haul.” 

Before going live in February 2009, ESET worked with InQuira to upload 1,500 articles, as well as content in Slovak and Spanish. (Additional content in German, French, and Japanese is scheduled for later this year.)

With the InQuira solution in place, not only are customers able to find answers on their own, but they’re also revealing to ESET the content they find important. “Our goal is making sure we’re doing everything we can to help the customer before [he has] to call us,” Ryan says. 

The implementation has also deflected calls that would have otherwise burdened the support center, allowing the unit to reposition itself as a customer experience center instead. “For a while, we were doubling our revenue every year,” Ryan says. “If we didn’t have a tool like InQuira, our support cases would be in line with our sales”—an unwieldy expansion that would have meant hiring perhaps twice as many support representatives as ESET added last year, according to Ryan’s estimates. Instead, the company only needed 10 new hires. 

ESET categorizes customer support requests into three tiers. Tier 1 cases often involve implementing antivirus software across multiple computers, or making sure an update went through. Tier 2 and Tier 3 are generally more complex and might involve a large organization remotely managing the security of perhaps as many as 10,000 machines. The self-service solution allows customers to rate the helpfulness of the tiered content, enabling ESET not only to tweak the content accordingly, but also to refine its set of frequently asked questions. The company has even uploaded videos to help customers address key issues. 

“We have about a thousand solutions on the site,” Ryan says. “We don’t have an overwhelming amount of content, but that will change when we launch into more businesses and grow globally.” Another benefit of the InQuira solution, he says, is the analytics ESET now has access to. “The article ratings have helped us a lot. Now we’re looking at how customers are navigating our space through InQuira’s clickpath analysis.” 

Ryan estimates that ESET saved roughly $200,000 in support costs last year thanks to the self-service option, and says the benefits should keep rolling in, especially as the company expands both its customer base and its proficiency in Web self-service. 

Best of all, ESET is now able to gather feedback that wasn’t necessarily documented during support calls. Not all the comments are happy ones, of course, but Ryan insists the upside is universal: Customers are now involved in making ESET the best service provider possible. 

That’s one viral contagion that any company would be wise to let spread like wildfire. 

THE PAYOFF

Since implementing InQuira Web Self-Service, ESET has:

  • deflected 15 percent of support calls to the self-service knowledge base;
  • saved approximately $200,000 in annual costs;
  • hired 10 fewer support agents than projected prior to the InQuira solution;
  • closed an average of 1,500 cases per week with Web self-service;
  • rolled out support in three languages, and is looking to add three more in the next year;
  • set up a reward system for employees for solution contributions; and
  • gathered valuable customer feedback through the new channel.

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