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Customer Service News
06 Aug 2008

Online retailers switch to automatic in their customer service

85 per cent of customer queries can be answered by software

Diverting more of the queries to automated channels relieves the burden on staff

The majority of customer queries are about standard issues  
A total of 85 per cent of customer queries in online retail can be answered in just a few sentences. The reason for this is that when Internet customers turn to the service department of an e-shop for help, it is usually concerning a standard issue. Around 50 per cent of Web customers, for example, ask for information because they are not sure about the delivery period or date. One in five customers enquire about the payment procedure, and one in seven has a question about the shipping costs. In well-equipped, modern customer service centres, staff no longer have anything to do with this mass of enquiries. There, automated services such as FAQ lists and virtual consultants provide the information required, in high quality—and cheaply. These are the results of the study entitled “Communication costs in sales and after-sales at e-shops”, which was performed by novomind AG in conjunction with the mail-order industry magazine Der Versandhausberater. 
Costs of different channels vary considerably  
Shifting the load onto automated services quickly makes a difference on the cost front at e-shops. Processing a telephone query costs an e-commerce company around six euros, but if virtual consultants are used, this shrinks to as little as ten cents per enquiry. Because 60 to 70 per cent of the average expenditure of a multichannel contact centre is on staff costs, it is enormously important to relieve service personnel from as many standard tasks as possible so that they can become more actively involved in more challenging customer consultancy and sales. 
Response quality comparable with that of a telephone call  
Customer service staff will only be relieved noticeably if the e-shop regularly updates the database behind its FAQ lists or virtual consultants. The fresher and more accurate the information contained in the online helpers’ knowledge databases, the more often Internet shoppers will be provided with the information they need directly on the screen. Then there is no need to turn to the call centre. Modern mail management systems are also able to handle standard queries received by e-mail or fax, without human assistance. The quality of responses from automatic online assistants is not any less than that of a telephone conversation with a customer. Three-quarters of queries are answered after the first contact, whether by phone, by e-mail enquiry or by virtual consultant. 
Background information  
The study entitled "Communication costs in sales and after-sales at e-shops" presents the results of an online survey conducted on behalf of novomind AG in conjunction with the mail-order industry magazine Der Versandhausberater. It analysed the cases in which customers turn to online retailers with their queries, and what the communication costs are for the e-shops. The data was gathered from 2 to 7 April 2008, and 428 online shoppers took part in the survey. 
novomind AG: innovative software for professional customer communication and Internet systems  
The novomind Services division specialises in modern software solutions for electronic telecommerce (e-commerce). Consulting, implementation and operational support in the fields of e-shopping, PIM and marketplace integration together lead to tailor-made e-commerce solutions for novomind customers - manufacturer-independent, individual and successful.
Integratability, scalability and availability of systems are as much a prime focus, therefore, as pragmatic project management and fast software-development cycles.
novomind’s technological partners include: Intershop, IBM, Oracle and hybris.
The novomind clientele includes: Der Club Bertelsmann,, Otto-Group, Mexx, Ernsting’s family, Media-Saturn, s.Oliver and Weltbild.
The Products division portfolio features, among other things, the novomind Self Service Suite. This software package contains all the necessary communication modules a customer service centre needs, based on a central knowledge database.