• May 29, 2015

Blu's Market Expansion Leads to NetSuite Rollout

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When Charlotte, N.C.–based blu eCigs was founded in 2009, it was an innovative start-up in the emerging niche market for electronic cigarettes. The company managed customer support just fine for the first few years.

But as consumer interest made e-cigarettes more mainstream, the blu eCigs brand grew and the company was acquired by tobacco company Lorillard in early 2012 for $135 million. It quickly needed to retool everything, from its core customer support processes to its CRM systems.

"It was critical to implement a system that would be able to track everything for us," says Michael Wilson, customer information specialist at blu eCigs.

Central to that transformation was the introduction of NetSuite Case Management into its contact center, which handles roughly 10,000 customer interactions per month via phone, email, and Web chat. Blu eCigs had been using other NetSuite products to manage its sales, budgeting, accounting, and other back-office operations, so the February 2014 addition of case management was a natural fit, Wilson says.

“We’re using NetSuite across our entire company now,” he says.

The case management app, though, has been critical. Since implementing the solution, blu eCigs has doubled the number of agents in its contact center, from 12 to 24, and expanded its hours to offer seven-day coverage, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In 2014, the contact center closed a total of 182,763 CRM cases. Of that total, phone made up about 60 percent, Web chat comprised 25 percent, and email made up the remaining 15 percent. NetSuite tracks every contact as it comes in.

"Prior to NetSuite, we didn't have case management," Wilson recalls. "We wanted to be able to react to what our customers were saying, but before, we were just guessing. Everything was anecdotal. Now we have hard numbers for everything that comes into the contact center."

Using that data, the company reached a number of contact center goals. In 2014, 95 percent of calls were answered within an average of 22 seconds, and 84 percent of chats were responded to within an average of 32 seconds. Meanwhile, the abandon rate for the phone channel was 0.6 percent, and for chat, 4.3 percent.

The contact center showed gains across all of the traditional metrics except one: In 2013, the average talk time was three and a half to four minutes. Now it's five and a half to six and a half minutes on average. But Wilson isn't disappointed. In fact, the opposite is true.

"We want to provide the best possible service to that specific customer at that time, regardless of how long it takes," he says. "We don't really care about our [average handling time] numbers."

The company still gets to all its calls, and customer satisfaction is greater than 88 percent.

Blu eCigs also focused on boosting contact center morale and productivity. It added an incentive and rewards program and required two full weeks for new hire training and periodic ongoing training.

"We're a really cohesive company. We all work together really well, and NetSuite is making it happen," Wilson says. —Leonard Klie



  • 95 percent of calls are answered within an average of 22 seconds;
  • 84 percent of chats are responded to within an average of 32 seconds; and
  • customer satisfaction ratings are above 88 percent.

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