Web-based Customer Self Service Improves Efficiency While Extending Tradition Of Customer Satisfaction

Eddie Bauer had extensive infrastructure in place to manage traditional customer inquiries and needed an eService partner that could leverage existing technology. Eddie Bauer needed to manage email volume and offer self-service while preserving the high levels of customer service it provided in stores and catalogs sales. Traffic to the eddiebauer.com and eddiebaueroutlet.com was heavier than ever-resulting in long customer service queues and delays in responding to email inquiries.

KANA IQ offered Eddie Bauer self-service capabilities in addition to a smart email management solution for attacking the company's heavy email volume. 80 percent of customer inquiries were handled by "Ask Eddie," Eddie Bauer's self-service application, in the first month of deployment. Email messages were significantly reduced, enabling Eddie Bauer to respond to all email inquiries in less than two hours. The eddiebauer.com web site won numerous awards for its intuitive layout with tightly integrated content and functionality, useful demos, and extensive online help.

Extending a Tradition of Outstanding Customer Service to the Web
Eddie Bauer sells active, casual lifestyle clothing, accessories, home furnishings and d├ęcor for the bed and bath. In its 80-year history, the company has grown from a single store to an international company with stores around the world, catalogs, and now four web sites-eddiebauer.com, eddiebaueroutlet.com, eddiebauerhome.com and eddiebauerkids.com. Eddiebauer.com was launched with a mission: to continue Eddie Bauer's long-standing commitment to providing excellent customer service, via its web sites. The goal is for online shoppers to experience the same level of service for which the company is well known in its retail and catalog sales channels.

Eddie Bauer launched its first web site in 1995. At that time, service support was manual, with very little technology available to facilitate the process. As traffic on the web site increased, the company's customer service representatives (CSRs) became inundated with email and telephone queries. It quickly became clear that they needed a way to effectively manage this increase in volume to deliver the level of service customers expect from the Eddie Bauer brand name. Above all, they needed a solution that would go beyond just managing email backlog to providing customers with a full set of contact options over multiple communications channels.

After reviewing a field of more than a dozen products, Eddie Bauer chose KANA IQ because of the integrated, intelligent nature of the suite, and because of KANA's agreement to have the tools deployed in time for Holiday Shopping 1999. Finding an integrated solution was critical to avoid having to combine products from multiple vendors. Intelligent web self-service, for proactive customer service, received high priority as well. The fully integrated applications in KANA IQ now arm Eddie Bauer's customers with an effective and easy to use Internet customer service option.

KANA IQ Empowers Customers with Self-Service on the Web
We give our customers the options to be served where, when and how they want," said Susan Knight, Vice President of Customer Satisfaction at Eddie Bauer. "To be competitive today, we must have a proactive interface for self-service. Customers also want the option to easily engage live assistance if they need it. Now we've given them that power."

For customers who want self-help, "Ask Eddie," provided by KANA IQ's self-service component, gives an instant response. Currently, 60% to 70% of users have no further questions after using this feature. The remaining 40% are quickly escalated for assisted service by a CSR. Prior to working with KANA IQ, inbound email was funneled to one address, where CSRs would answer messages in the order received. Now, emails are sorted into pre-set queues, and the queues are assigned to CSRs with a particular expertise in answering those types of questions. More highly skilled associates focus on questions that are more difficult to answer, utilizing their extensive product knowledge and providing the best service to the customer. Visitors to eddiebauer.com have the opportunity to engage an associate in real-time chat, which offers a human touch in an otherwise impersonal online world. Customers can use text-chat live with a CSR when they desire the additional assistance to complete their transaction.

Using KANA IQ, Eddie Bauer staffers can now easily manage the steadily increasing volume of questions. When customers email directly, they receive a response in less than two hours. As of Holiday 2000, CSRs are responding to email with the same speed as live contact.

According to Knight, Eddie Bauer entered e-commerce with a mandate to serve customers at the highest level. An email product alone would not have offered the multiple communication channels customers want and need. "The solution met both of our e-commerce business objectives by preserving the excellent customer service we offer and providing the quick and easy shopping experience that savvy web shoppers expect," she said. This also offered substantial benefits to the company. "Thanks to 'Ask Eddie' and live contact through chat, we are certainly seeing employee productivity improve, which translates directly to the bottom line."

KANA Rapid Deployment Readied Eddie Bauer for the Holiday Season
"The entire process, from implementation and training to getting us up and running in time for the holiday traffic, took about three and a half months," said Knight, who credits KANA with a great job meeting deadlines and keeping to the timeline, which was quite aggressive. "They made sure it all happened for us in time for our busiest season. Our CSRs now have the tools they need to succeed. Our customers have a great experience on our site because of the service we offer, and our reps' productivity is skyrocketing thanks to the email management, self-service and chat features we've implemented." KANA