Auto Service Company Revs Up Response Rates

Edmunds.com, an online resource for automobile service information, helps its customers to make well-informed decisions when buying a new or used car. Recently, however, the company faced its own important decision: how to best support a new, paid online service it was launching. The company's new offering was an information guide called the Edmunds.com Vehicle InfoPak, a comprehensive PDF for any specific car brand. The goal was to resolve the issue of customers leaving the Edmunds.com Web site because they felt overwhelmed by the amount of information at their fingertips. The Vehicle InfoPak was design to meet the need for convenience and for help in purchasing decisions. To make the launch a success, however, the CRM team realized that it needed to revamp its foundation to support the new offering. "We had an application in-house that was a email router, but which was designed to support CRM services," says Brian Terr, director of advanced products at Edmunds.com. "We had two people doing nothing but CRM, such as fielding incoming incidents. That was okay, but it relied heavily on input from our subject matter experts, which was very time-consuming." Additionally, the two employees who had been handling CRM for the company were transferring to other departments. And lack of standardization within the in-house email system often resulted in haphazard responses, according to Terr. The growing company needed a structured system that would both track the incidents that flowed in, as well as maintain the distributed environment that was already in place. The company organized best practices meetings and talked to people outside its industry, according to Terr, and his team decided to choose RightNow's hosted service solution. RightNow's streamlined email workflow management tools use an automated rules-based approach, which has eliminated the need for employees to distribute and route customer questions as they are received. Now, Edmunds.com subject matter specialists can quickly resolve the customer service questions they receive. "The structure provided a good record of how we responded, and allowed [us] to create standard responses," Terr says. "The ability to add information into the knowledgebase was also quite helpful." Incidents are now responded to in a timelier manner, and the number of queries handled by the company's experts was cut from about 2,000 per month to fewer than 900 within two months of the RightNow implementation. The solution's analytics capabilities provide greater visibility into rising trends, and incidents relating to site and service problems are copied to Edmunds.com's Quality Assurance staff to ensure quick attention to these issues. Response closing time has dropped to two business days, and first-contact resolution rate has increased to about 96 percent. In addition, Edmunds.com completed the implementation so far ahead of schedule that the company went live with RightNow prior to--rather than concurrent with--the launch of its Vehicle InfoPaks. In all, the simplicity of the systems has helped ensure its success. "It's fairly straightforward for us to make changes that won't have a material impact on the Web site," Terr says, "but will have an impact on customer relationships."
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