The ROI of online customer service
- By Colleen Frye
For an e-tailer, a problem with a shopping cart can be a serious loss of business. That's one reason Delray Beach, Fla.-based Levenger, a
catalog company and retailer of high-end library and reading merchandise,
deployed a Web application management solution as part of a recent re-launch of
''With our old site, we had significant problems identifying and communicating
with customers to fix problems,'' explained Lynnette Montgomery, Internet
manager. Only a small percentage of online customers will e-mail the company to
report a problem, and then place a phone order. Most will either abandon a
transaction when a problem occurs or will turn to the phone without mentioning
the problem, she said. Either way, the IT staff doesn't know where the problem
occurred, what browser the customer was using, and what products they were
trying to buy. Since online sales represent an ever-increasing percentage of the
business, it's a problem Levenger needed to solve.
TeaLeaf Technology cold-called her at just the right time, said Levenger's
Montgomery. TeaLeaf's IntegriTea solution was built to capture and re-enact
end-user Web application sessions, detect failures in real time, alert
operations staff and correlate the problems to the end user. Levenger tested
IntegriTea on its old site and then, after determining there was nothing
comparable on the market in terms of robustness, implemented IntegriTea on its
new Web site, launched in July. Levenger also used the solution in
pre-deployment testing. IntegriTea comprises server, portal and viewer
components running on Microsoft platforms.
For Levenger, with 250 employees, one store in Delray Beach and 15,000 orders
a month to process, IntegriTea was ''a big investment,'' said Montgomery, ''but
putting together the ROI was simple.'' Now, she said, a customer service rep can
use IntegriTea to determine a user's problem -- whether something is truly not
working or it's a navigation or user error -- and alert a programmer if
necessary. Because IntegriTea displays the code and the error, problems that
once took several hours to fix are now addressed in minutes, she added.
IntegriTea also enables Levenger's staff to look up a live session and help
the customer while they're on the phone. All that translates to better customer
service and, in some cases, increased revenue. Montgomery recounts the following
story: An online customer placed a $250 order in his shopping cart, but was
unable to complete the transaction. Upon review of user sessions, Montgomery
e-mailed the customer, noting what he had in his cart and offering to complete
the transaction for him. In the meantime, he had called customer service, but
only placed a $100 order.
''He was so ecstatic that someone had contacted him that he told me to cancel
the phone order and place his $250 order,'' said Montgomery. That's ROI, for
Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.