Lastminute.com is trialling the use of online chat functions in its contact centre to help agents provide instant support to more customersThe feature benefits staff as they can have several chat sessions in place at once to resolve as many queries as possible.Julian Kent, Lastminute.com senior customer services manager, said that when considering customer-facing systems, the priority is to give clients the ability to contact the company in any way they want, as well as ensure this flexibility continues as the range of technologies used to communicate grows.The firm is using new functions in its existing software, provided on-demand over the internet by supplier RightNow, which already underpins the 2.5 million global customer transactions that take place with the online travel and leisure site each week. The system includes email, web self-service and phone services. Some 500 Lastminute.com contact centre agents are using RightNow in North America, UK, Europe and Asia Pacific, providing support in 11 different languages, around the clock.If customers cannot find answers to their questions on the web site they can raise an incident, which sends out an automated response with answer options. If this still does not answer the question the system alerts an agent to contact them.“Customers get brought through to an automatic voice response call system for self-service but there is always the option to speak to a call centre agent,” said Kent.Lastminute.com uses surveys to find out how customers want to communicate with the site and to understand how best to set out email feedback forms and structure phone calls.“It is not that customers prefer using email or the phone to contact us, it just depends on the contact type,” said Kent.“For example, if a customer is flying long-haul on a package deal, they will normally want to speak to an agent.”Kent said a lot of Lastminute.com’s competitive edge comes from the speed by which it can update the web site.“For example we use travel alerts supplied by RightNow through a template on its customer support pages, by which we can easily update users on problem travel areas, such as the bomb explosion that occurred recently in the Balearic Islands,” he said.“An immediate travel alert went up on the web site where users could click through to media reports.”Since the software was first deployed, Lastminute.com claims more than 50 per cent of emails and 20 per cent of calls have been diverted to the web site, allowing contact centre agents to respond to more critical queries.“Customer experience is central to everything we do. We are able to ensure our customers get the personal, consistent and superb customer experience they deserve, no matter how they decide to communicate with us,” said Kent.“We felt RightNow could support the scalability we wanted to handle the global volume of customer queries we have mixed with the need to provide tailored local market applications. Having the technology supplied via the cloud ensures that it is consistently scalable to our needs.”
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