eCommerce Giant solves Christmas customer service increase through artificial intelligence

The UK retail websites of the OTTO Group - Freemans, Grattan, Look Again and Kaleidoscope - are using Transversal's Metafaq eService solution to meet dramatically increased Christmas shopping demands.

Queries to the customer service team traditionally double in the months leading up to Christmas, and Metafaq has been deployed to provide instant online answers to customers, avoiding the need to email or call the contact centre.

The online market is predicted to grow by 40 per cent this year with 24 million UK consumers spending £5 billion via the web, according to research from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG). Given that overall Christmas retail spending is predicted to fall for the first time in a decade, according to Deloitte , customer service will be a critical differentiator for retailers.

"The seasonal peak in the run up to Christmas means that our customer service infrastructure is critical to our success," said John Veichmanis, head of ecommerce, OTTO UK. "Two key factors made Transversal the obvious choice to meet our needs. We needed a solution that would allow our customers to find the information they require quickly and intuitively. Transversal provides them with the instant gratification of having their questions answered online without cutting them off from a route to our customer service team if additional help is needed. We also needed a rapid, straightforward deployment. Transversal has implemented the entire system in under four weeks, ready for Christmas."

To ensure the highest quality shopping experience and increase sales conversions OTTO has been analysing customer behaviour and click throughs on its websites over the last months. The Transversal implementation supports this by allowing OTTO's customers to ask questions in their own words at critical parts of the sales process. They then benefit from real, meaningful, answers helping them to make informed buying choices.

"To succeed in this incredibly competitive market websites need to deliver an even better level of customer service than high street shops," commented Davin Yap, CEO, Transversal. "This is especially true around Christmas with the increase in demand meaning that retailers need to ensure they have the ability to not just cope with expectations but to exceed them."

Transversal's Metafaq solution builds the questions asked by customers into an up-to-date, self-organising, self-learning, knowledgebase of answers - requiring no programming or knowledge managers, and only a couple of hours of internal resource a month to manage. This will reduce contact volumes even further giving online customer service staff more time to deal with complex questions thus improving customer satisfaction and retention.

Part of a retailing and service group, OTTO's main business is mail-order and online sales with a wide range of products which include fashion, furnishings and technology. Four main catalogues appear every year in the UK alone.

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