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Elimination of the CSR. (a) Current system. (b) New system.
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With the new system, we have eliminated the CSR and the telephone call. Instead, customers using the Web site see the same information that the CSRs see. They place the same orders, using the same credit cards. One company was spending almost $50 million per year on CSR functions. It was elding 6 percent of its queries on the Web. A consultant estimated that if the company could raise the percentage of its CSR work that was going to the Web site to 30 percent over a 3-year period, assuming a 15 percent annual growth rate, it could save more than $20 million per year in 3 years. That is the promise of the Web. These are numbers that go right to the bottom line. Pro ts like this can come about only if customers will use the Web instead of calling a CSR. How can you get them to do that The Web site has to be as good as or better than the services provided by a CSR. Study what your CSRs are doing and saying. Design your Web site to do the same thing, but then go one step further. Provide customers with lookup functions that are more sophisticated than anything that a CSR could do. The Web site has to be publicized so that your customers know about it.
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The Web site has to be personalized. It has to have the same friendly personal relationship that a good CSR has. Amazon doesn t say, Welcome back, Arthur just because it is a neat thing to say. Amazon says it because it keeps Arthur coming back. The Web site has to have a live agent function. Studies show that 74 percent of Web shopping carts are abandoned at checkout. The reason is that at the last minute, people have questions that the Web site doesn t answer. You have to put a button on your Web site that provides a text chat with a live agent. CSRs can handle four text chats at once. This software is provided by several companies, including www.liveperson.com. Once your Web site is as good as a CSR, you can measure your success by the percentage of your customer service queries made and orders taken on the Web rather than by a live agent. The Web is not a panacea. It will support but never replace direct mail, catalogs, retail stores, malls, brand names, TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, and books. It can be a very important channel, but only if the company already has other pro table channels for sales that the Web will supplement. You can pro t from the Web, but you have to look in the right place.
Premier Pages
Dell began putting its marketing and technical information on the Web in 1994. By 1996, customers could come to the Dell Web site, con gure the computer they wanted, and place an order. However, the orders came to Dell as emails. Dell had to retype them into its ordering system! In 1998 the company introduced Premier Pages, which let business customers tailor what their employees could see and order. Today, the Dell system is all electronic. Seventy percent of Dell s sales are business to business. In many cases, Dell negotiated volume prices for its best customers. The way it works is this: A deal is worked out between Dell and the purchasing of cer at the target company. Dell agrees to provide the Web
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page and a volume-pricing deal. The purchasing of cer agrees to give the special address of this Dell Web page to all employees who want to buy computer products. It takes Dell only 30 minutes to create a new Premier Page for a new business customer. When an employee comes to the site, he registers as being an employee and purchases whatever he needs, providing the Dell site with the purchase order number. Every month the purchasing of cer gets a report from Dell showing which of her employees have made purchases and what they have bought. She has complete information about what her rm is buying from Dell, who is buying it, and what each employee bought. These reports are very useful for a purchasing department. They also show the savings that the company has made through its volume deal with Dell. Dell has set up tens of thousands of these business-to-business pages. They give Dell a tremendous advantage in business sales. Today, all of Dell s competitors are copying the system and are trying to catch up. The Dell system gives the business customer a lot of information. Dell has put 54,000 pages of service information on the Web, and this can be accessed by any customer at any time. The Premier Page lets the customer know where any given system is in the production process. Dell prepares for the order s arrival by sending shipment information automatically by email. Once the system arrives, the customer can troubleshoot and upgrade it online. Getting companies to use the Dell Premier Page system is not always easy. When Dell tried to get Eastman Chemical to use a Dell Premier Page for ordering, Eastman at rst refused, saying it was too much work. The company had its own internal ordering system and preferred to send Dell a fax of the order. In response, Dell revised the site for Eastman to make it conform to Eastman s system. Eastman now uses the Dell site for its computer orders. There are many advantages to Dell from its Web ordering system. Dell s statistics show that without a Premier Page it takes ve phone calls from prospects before the company gets an actual order. The rst phone calls are for information and prices. But if the prospects use the Web site rst, Dell nds that it can sell products on the rst phone call. As a result, Dell s pro ts on Web sales are 30 percent higher than its pro ts on other sales.
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