CRM In Action

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Hammacher Schlemmer The Challenge: Improving Call Center Effectiveness
Hammacher Schlemmer is not your run-of-the-mill retailer. Since opening its doors in New York in 1848, the store has sold products that run the gamut from the innovative to the eccentric. Even in the old days Hammacher Schlemmer was cutting edge. It sold the first pop-up toaster in 1930 and the first electric razor in 1934. Today it sells everything from practical products like air purifiers to gizmos like the Lost-Ski Beacon, a device to help skiers locate lost skis. The company still has its brick-and-mortar presence in Manhattan, but now also sells through catalogs and a Web site. To improve its call center's effectiveness the company recently implemented Instant E-Play, by Telecorp Products Inc. Instant E-Play monitors and records call center agents' telephone conversations. "The solution has enabled our agents to listen to their recorded conversations with the customer and hear firsthand an example of their own presentation skills. These recorded conversations have far greater impact than telling an agent what was said," says Mark Lewis, customer service manager at Hammacher Schlemmer. The solution was implemented last August at Hammacher Schlemmer's call center, which normally is staffed with about 75 agents; about 250 agents work the phones in peak holiday season. The call center handles 30,000 calls per month, and up to 250,000 in the peak season. The Payoff: Instant E-Play has an online scoring feature that makes it easy to evaluate agent's performance and to pinpoint areas for improvement. As a result, the call center's quality scoring improved from 86 percent in August 2001 to 92 percent one month later. It also helped reduce the company's turnover rate. Nordea Bank Challenge: Cut costs while improving service Like any large enterprise, after a series of acquisitions Nordea Bank faced its own call center nightmare. The largest bank in the Nordic region, it has six contact centers in Sweden, four in Finland, and two in Denmark. They received and responded to more than 500,000 calls per month from 2.4 million customers via phone and online. The goal was to increase operational efficiency, cut costs, and improve customer service. Nordea implemented the Genesys Enterprise Routing solution by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc. It enables Nordea to identify and correctly route customer interactions. "Before Enterprise Routing we had three ACD groups, with two or three different skills in each. We also had a supervisor working almost full time, moving agents back and forth between the queues to provide manual load balancing," says Martin Karlsson, vice president of channel integration and CTI at Nordea. With Genesys the bank can now handle more calls with the same number of staff. The Genesys solution has not only saved the company money, but has also saved the call center agent's time, Karlsson says. "Using Genesys has reduced the number of manual steps our agents need to take. This has made our lives easier, as well as improving the customer experience," he says. In fact, the bank achieved an ROI in seven months. The Payoff: Nordea Bank now handles 25 percent more calls with the same staff, has achieved annual savings of $1.5 million per year, and has saved 14 seconds per call, which reduces expenses. Bigchalk.com Challenge: Sending high volume e-mail newsletters without crashing the servers As the portal content manager for Bigchalk.com, an online education destination for the K-12 community, Tim McClain found himself in a crunch. The problem facing the online destination, which offers both free and subscription-based learning tools for educators, parents, and students, was how to provide one monthly and three weekly e-mail newsletters to a base of 150,000 subscribers without crashing Bigchalk's servers. The e-mail servers used traditional SMTP-based e-mail applications, which would often crash when faced with the large volumes of communications that Bigchalk.com needed to send. The newsletters, McClain's says, needed to reach their target audience within a specific time period, both to be relevant and as an important source of advertising revenue. Each e-mail contained trackable URLs to measure click-throughs; the resulting information needed to integrate with an Oracle back-end database and be delivered to the company's advertising agency as proof of effectiveness. The company implemented No Fail Mail, an outsourced e-mail solution by BoldFish Inc. that integrates into Bigchalk's existing database. "In addition to satisfying all our critical production and management criteria, Boldfish also has a great Web-based interface not found in other products," McClain says. "For example, I can be checking on mailings when they're running and making sure they're not overloading our servers." As a result, Bigchalk.com is able to make the grade each week with its subscribers without having to worry about network problems, letting the company focus on its content. The Payoff: A quick ROI to deliver more than 150,000 weekly e-mail newsletters without crashing its servers allowed Bigchalk.com to focus on its core expertise and marketing and customer management. Fifth Third Bank Challenge: Boost customer retention and cross-sell opportunities Like many smart companies, Fifth Third Bank last fall made the decision to increase its CRM effort to boost customer retention and increase the cross-sell opportunities for its existing customers across its 1,000 banking locations in seven states. In the highly competitive banking sector, Fifth Third was looking for a way to get closer to its customers to reach its CRM objectives. The company enlisted Harte-Hanks, which implemented a solution called Allink Daily Deposit Builder, a marketing engine that triggers personalized, multichannel communications whenever a bank customer makes a significant transaction or indicates some other form of changing behavior. The bank uses the information gathered by Allink to examine its customer data and take action on changes within accounts. For instance, if the bank notices that an account holder who had used direct deposit in the past suddenly stops, a customer service representative from the account holder's local branch can call and ask why the customer has stopped. The bank says that taking such personalized attention can prevent an account from going to a competitor. Fifth Third rolled out the CRM program to its 1,000 bank locations in 60 days and began seeing results immediately. During the next several months the bank expects to make 5,000 customer calls daily based on the information it receives from Allink. Andrew Rosen, vice president and deposit product manager at the Cincinnati-based banking concern, says the ROI came fairly quickly. "Going into this I believed there was going to be significant value," Rosen says. "And so far the implementation exceeded my very aggressive expectations. Within the first four weeks the program paid for itself." The company, he says, has seen a 200 percent ROI using Allink Daily Deposit Builder and plans to use the application with its commercial customers, too. The company has also seen soft benefits by gathering information abut what makes its customers happy--and what bothers them--by gathering data during weekly customer calls. The Payoff: Fifth Third Bank began to see a return on investment in only four weeks after the application was implemented. The company achieved a 200 percent ROI for its efforts, and gained incremental soft benefits through customer contact.
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