• February 2, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Support Gets a Face-Lift

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The FDA approval of Allergan's highly publicized wrinkle-defying drug BOTOX injected a surge of inquiries to the $1.5 billion specialty pharmaceutical company.

In the late 1990s Allergan launched its Web-site initiative to handle common customer product and company inquiries. For additional support the company provided an email link to its corporate communications department, which would route the emails to the appropriate contact center agent.

By early 2000 Allergan was averaging 250 Web-generated emails per month. While that was not an overwhelming load for the 12 employees handling them, concerns were mounting about future growth. In early 2001 the company initiated its European Web presence. At the same time the press started covering the coming of Allergan's BOTOX. So in one year email inquiries nearly doubled to about 500 per month, even though BOTOX was not yet publicly available (it was still awaiting FDA approval).

Keith Bereskin, senior manager of information services at Allergan, and his team considered several email response systems. They selected Kana for its Kana Response. "We felt Kana Response would fit better with our environment and our Web development team thought it would be a good integration with our Web site, " Bereskin says.

Despite some minor integration roadblocks caused by Allergan's Microsoft mail server, which took roughly two weeks to resolve thanks to help from Kana, the integration was completed in three months and initial rollouts began in August 2001. "From a systems standpoint and user excitement standpoint, the implementation went better than most installations we've had," Bereskin adds.

Allergan was able to automate the routing of 80 percent of all inbound, Web-generated emails, based on the business rules the company put in place. When the FDA approved the use of BOTOX for cosmetic and medical purposes in April 2002, Allergan contact center agents were able to handle the influx of email queries with a 20 percent staff reduction. "We now average about 2,000 emails per month worldwide into Kana from seven Web sites," Bereskin says.

Due to the success Allergan has had with Kana Response, Allergan has recently purchased--but not yet deployed--Kana Connect for personalizing outbound mass mailings for marketing purposes. Bereskin says one possible use for Kana Connect that Allergan is considering is increasing the font size in mailings for patients who have glaucoma.

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