Self-Service Pays

May 28, 2004

Allen Bernard

"The numbers don't lie," as the expression goes, and in the case of Vindigo, those numbers are impressive.

Since deciding to hand off most of its customer service support to Right Now, a provider of Web-based, customer self-service, the company has increased its service offerings10-fold while cutting customer-service costs by 75% over Vindigo's former third-party customer service vendor.

And, according to Joe Cohen, Vindigo's director of product development, Right Now has delivered an ROI of 1045% over the past two years. To attain these numbers, Right Now hosts the solution and provides reporting back to Vindigo.

"If you're asking me, 'How many customer support reps we would have needed to handle the volume had we not switched to Right Now?' It would be at least the same number of people we had working for us through our outsource group in St. Louis," he said. "That would take quite a few people and probably a lot of unhappy customers."

Depending on the time of day and where in the world the call center was located (Vindigo's former outsourcer provides 'follow-the-sun', 24/7 coverage) that would be between 30 and 50 customer service representatives (CSR) answering emails (Vindigo's CSRs don't take phone calls). Today, Vindigo fields just two in-house, part-time CSRs to handle the 25 or so customers that don't find their answers via Right Now's self-service platform.

And those 25 or so emails come from a pool of thousands of customers and potential customers visiting the company's Web site daily.

Service Plus Customer Feedback

Perhaps less tangible but far more important is Vindigo's ability to gather valuable customer feedback on their services -- custom cell-phone wall paper, location-based services covering many major U.S. cities and London, a mobile magazine and a movie guide called "couch potato," to name a few. With the company's old outsourcer, which Cohen declined to name, all of this feedback was lost.

"Personalization and customization of phones is a multi-billion dollar market worldwide," said Cohen. "And we're seeing the same kind of enthusiasm for (cell phone) wallpaper. "When you take customer support and outsource it you have a tendency to lose the most valuable information you can get, especially with consumer products like we built."

This is one of the main reasons Vindigo switched to Right Now, said Cohen. As the company grows it needs feedback to ensure the services it offers are the services its customers actually want and, more importantly, use.

"Right Now has allowed us to get very close to the consumers and it's hard to establish an ROI for that," he said. "It's invaluable to have that kind of feedback."

But what really sold Cohen on Right Now's offering was its sales presentation. Instead of the standard PowerPoint outlining the benefits and savings of working with the company, Right Now actually took Vindigo's Web site and set up a beta version of its solution for the sales presentation.

"When I saw them taking that kind of initiative; it was so much more than any other provider had put out there," he said. "Something real and tangible like that is so much more valuable than a PowerPoint presentation."


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