Page 5: Taking the lead in e-customer service
It is anticipated that during the next few years, half of IBM’s revenue and workforce will come from services. IBM has therefore refocused a large part of its activity on developing e-business solutions, helping customers to use the latest technology to maximum advantage.
Today IBM plays a major part in helping other businesses to develop e-customer service. With wide-scale use of the Web, it is too easy for customers to go elsewhere. We have seen this with the loss of trade by high street banks - to the new telephone and Internet bankers, and the development of Internet retailers in a wide variety of goods and services. Companies now realise they have to serve customers better to survive. They need to integrate all their systems and work in a more efficient connected way.
With a unique combination of hardware, software, services and experience, IBM is helping companies to improve Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Research carried out by IBM showed that European Chief Executives view “improving customer service” as one of their top business issues. This is why IBM has developed an integrated communications programme - e-customer service.
24 hours a day, seven days a week
With the Web revolution in full swing, an organisation’s customers are now expecting instant service. They are looking for up-to-the-minute account information, delivery status, product availability and trouble-shooting guides, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With an IBM self-service website an organisation can revolutionise its customer service provision. Immediately, customers can answer their own simple queries, which in turn frees up an organisation’s staff to focus on core business activities.
By providing this level of service, customers avoid the frustration of busy phone lines, long queues and strict office hours. In 1999, IBM conducted over 28 million self-service transactions on the Web, saving over $800 million in support costs. IBM is helping British Airways change the way it does business. Via the Web, customers can check real-time arrivals and departures, book and pay for flights. Premium passengers can even choose their seat online. IBM has also helped BA to give its customer contact staff seamless access to a single customer record, thus allowing them to help customers on an individual basis.
IBM business intelligence software also enables organisations to analyse their customers’ needs. IBM did this for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion site. This is more than just a virtual shop; it is a sophisticated market research tool. It spots which items sell better than others and suggests how to adjust the range for better profitability.