Benchmarks, Methodologies and Best Practice Help CRM Managers Evaluate their EffortsApril 30, 2002, Santa Maria, California - Dr. Jon Anton, a national authority on customer relationship management (CRM), has published a new book that provides practical steps for planning and managing customer service in the Internet age. eBusiness Customer Service, written by Anton with co-author Michael Hoeck, is based on research sponsored by eGain Communications (NASDAQ:EGAN), a global provider of eService software. Complementing his well-known research in call center performance, Anton's new book is based on original research and documents practical applications in operating "multimedia" contact centers that integrate phone and Web-based customer service. The book aims to provide executives with both perspective and practical tips for setting service strategies and budgets, from designing a performance measurement system, to supporting management decisions with cross-channel data. Anton presents compelling arguments for the need to monitor, manage and improve customer service. According to his research on customer loyalty and repurchase rates, good customer service is more important than the product itself: Customers who buy a product with problems but receive "world-class" customer service in resolving it are 13% more likely to repurchase from the same company than customers who buy a product with no problems. Anton also highlights the need for integrating Web-based channels into a company's service mix. Although his research indicates that by the year 2005, email and Web-based contacts will equal customers' phone-based contacts with a company, call centers are behind in supporting these new channels. As of his latest survey in 2001, only 50% of US contact center offer an email or Web touchpoint. "Given the business impact of good customer service, and the rise in Web channels, Anton's book addresses a critical and timely business topic," said Gunjan Sinha, president of eGain. "Today's current economic climate reinforces Anton's themes: multi-channel service increases customer satisfaction, and ultimately business success." "CRM using online channels is a relatively young process in terms of measurement and metrics," says Anton. "Companies want to know how to measure success -- what are the key performance indicators, and how do they compare to their peers? As academics, it's our job to think about these questions - and then collect data that has practical value in the real world. "My experience indicates that the key to success is implementing multiple measurement systems. It's the only way to know what's working and what needs to be fixed." eBusiness Customer Service covers a broader spectrum of CRM issues than its title would suggest, ranging from conventional call centers whose load balancing consists of hiring temporary workers during peak times to sophisticated, state-of-the-art multi-channel systems. The book's central premise is that there are two basic approaches to CRM: achieving "a maximum level of quality within a given budget" (the effectiveness approach) or "a desired quality level at minimal costs" (the efficiency approach). Within this framework, the book detailed descriptions of best practices, methodologies for making decisions about both CRM strategies and tactics, and dozens of statistical data points regarding service costs and operations. Key service metrics include the following:
- The average cost for web-based customer service is $7.80 per live chat, and $1.17 for a web site contact ("self-service").
- Across all industries, an average of 3% of all contacts are transferred -- either across agents, and/or across channels.
- The average time of answer (ASA) for what would be deemed an effective, efficient telephone channel is 31 seconds.
- It takes a first-time purchaser of an item on Amazon.com approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds to complete the transaction.
Best practices are organized into charts that relate either to quality improvement (the effectiveness aspect of CRM) or cost reduction (the efficiency aspect). The first category provides quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs) to help managers make objective evaluations in an area that has a strong subjective component. Methodologies covered in the book include discussions on how to decide whether effectiveness or efficiency should receive the most attention, formulas for calculating the dollar value of improvements in customer service, and methods for forecasting demand in the various channels of a multi-channel operation. The book also contains a brief section on eGain's capabilities and offerings, including an overview of eGain eService Enterprise (E3), the company's solution suite that enables integrated multi-channel customer service. e-Business Customer Service is published by The Anton Press of Santa Maria, California. It can be purchased online at www.benchmarkportal.com, or ordered by telephone at (805) 614-0123. Single copies cost $44. USD, plus shipping and handling. About the Authors Dr. Jon Anton is the director of benchmark research at Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality. He specializes in enhancing customer service strategy through inbound call centers and e-business centers, using the latest in telecommunications and computer technology. For the past six years, he has been the principal investigator of the annual Purdue University Call Center Benchmark Research. Based on the analysis of this data, Anton publishes monthly articles in a variety of industry publications, including Call Center Magazine, Call Center News, Customer Interface Magazine, and Call Center Manager's Report. Dr. Michael Hoeck is an assistant professor at the Institute for Industrial Management at the University of Hamburg. He worked for one year as a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality and at the Department of Operations Management of the Krannert Graduate School of Management, also at Purdue. For the past four years, Hoeck has been one of the investigators of the annual German Call Center Benchmark Study. About BenchmarkPortal BenchmarkPortal is a source for customer relationship management (CRM) best practices information for call centers. Founded in 1995, BenchmarkPortal provides data to call center managers via a series of actionable reports. Through these reports, as well as leading-edge research, BenchmarkPortal aims to contribute to the continual improvement processes of individual customer call centers and ultimately to improve the performance of this vital sector worldwide. Visit the company's web site at www.benchmarkportal.com. About eGain Communications Corporation eGain (NASDAQ: EGAN) is a leading provider of eService software. Selected by 24 of the 50 largest global companies to improve phone and Web-based customer service, eGain solutions increase service efficiency and customer retention - thus delivering a significant return on investment (ROI). eGain eService Enterprise - the company's integrated software suite - includes applications for email management, Web collaboration and self-service, and enterprise-wide knowledge management. eGain has an operating presence in 18 countries and serves more than 800 enterprise customers worldwide - including Vodafone, DaimlerChrysler, and ABN AMRO Bank. To learn more about eGain, please visit www.eGain.com or call the company's offices - United States: (888) 603-4246; London: +44 (0) 1753 464646; or Sydney: +612 9492 5400. Media contacts: Anne Carr eGain Communications (408) 331-7721 firstname.lastname@example.org Mandy Schuldt Benchmark Portal (805) 614-0123, x23 email@example.com