Case in Brief: Ikea Israel Doesn't Keep Customers Waiting

Share:
Customer Service
Customer Service
The home furnishings retailer improved its self-service options, reducing incoming calls and sharply cutting wait time for customers.

For Ikea Israel an increase in business also meant an exponential rise in the number of incoming calls and email to its contact center. This led to undesirable wait times for customers. The company wanted to address this problem quickly, and deliver a better experience by providing the majority of answers to its customers' queries online.

Situation

Ikea Israel's business was booming. As a result, the company was seeing a fast increase in the number of incoming calls to its contact center, and email queries were averaging 10,000 every month. Additionally, an increasing number of customers were taking to Ikea Israel's website to look for answers to their questions. These changes, coupled with the realization that customers didn't want to wait to find the information they were looking for, triggered the decision to invest in a self-populating, online help desk solution that would answer the majority of customers' questions and, consequently, deflect calls and emails. The added bonus would be giving customers a place to find answers to their queries at any time, even when the contact center is closed.

Strategy

Ikea Israel wanted to optimize its online self-service to improve the customer experience and deflect contact center inquiries. So in September 2010 the company adopted a help desk solution by nanoRep. The retailer saw a reduction in both incoming calls and emails as an increasing number of customers took to the Web to find the information they needed. The solution's self-populating feature meant that within four months it was able to answer 80 percent of queries about specific products, as well as general questions about the company's premium services, including assembly and kitchen planning, says Elad Weiss, Ikea Israel's call center manager.

"Many of our customers [now] take advantage of the service and use it to get fast access to information [about] our products and services. For example, visitors to our site looking for furniture measurements use nanoRep to find the right size," Weiss says.

Weiss says the online help desk solution proved exceptionally helpful a year ago when one of Ikea Israel's locations was destroyed by fire. "The rate of incoming questions exploded, yet [the solution] was able to easily handle the increase, because the answers were already learned by the knowledgebase or were quickly added to it," he says. Weiss says the solution helped the company avoid a big drain on its resources.

Results

Since implementing the system just over a year ago Ikea Israel has seen a dramatic increase in customers looking for answers to their questions on the retailer's website. Because the knowledgebase automatically provides responses for 80 percent of customers' queries, it has led to significant call deflection, including a drop in email queries from 10,000 to 1,000 a month.

"As more customers find answers easily online, the waiting time for [those] using our telephone support has dropped sharply," Weiss says. Customers still call the contact center with queries about payments, delivery, or product replacements, while other topics are answered by the online help desk.

Today, the solution answers about 10,000 questions monthly, deflecting that number from the company's contact center and enabling agents to focus on more complex questions. The added bonus has been an increase in employee satisfaction since support representatives are mainly faced with unique questions, while the online help desk handles repetitive ones.

Lessons learned

Use technology to bolster contact centers: By diverting repetitive or basic calls that would have normally flooded the contact center, companies can use their agents for more advanced queries.

Answer questions online: Providing customers with an online, self-service database that answers their queries allows them to get the information they need when it best suits them.

Optimize employee engagement: Employees experience better job satisfaction when they are not constantly bombarded by the same questions.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION