Take flight with eCRM

With the proper CRM tools, a three to five fold increase in conversion rate (customer enquiries to actual bookings) can be expected, claimed travel technology company Asiatravelmart.com.

With the proper CRM tools, a three to five fold increase in conversion rate (customer enquiries to actual bookings) can be expected, claimed travel portal Asiatravelmart.com

At the Second Annual Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Asia Conference and Exhibition held in Singapore, Suzan Koa, managing director (Singapore) of Asiatravelmart.com, said the company decided to adopt a CRM solution to more effectively manage its communication channels, ensure a consistent level of quality service, enhance marketing efforts, and boost sales.

Asiatravelmart.com, which touts itself as not just a travel company, but a “travel technology” company with a “multi-channel business model” encompassing B2B, B2C, B2B2B and B2B2C, has built up a membership database of close to 100 thousand since its incorporation in 1997. The company selected California-based eGain Communications Corp. as its CRM partner.

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A spokeswoman for Asiatravelmart.com told ZDNet Asia that eGain was chosen because its solutions provide “the closest match” to Asiatravelmart.com’s e-CRM requirements, with its user-friendly and borderless (multilingual supports) features, as well as its open architecture that supports industrial standard protocols like XML, HTTP and SMTP.

“With the implementation of eGain, we are able to give our customers a truly interactive e-travel experience, which is fundamental to retaining customers as well as converting online enquires to actual bookings,” she said. There are four modules within eGain’s CRM offerings - eGain Mail, eGain Campaign, eGain Assistant and eGain Live.

eGain Mail and eGain Campaign, which took about three months to implement, have been ready since March 2001. eGain Live and eGain Assistant are scheduled for completion by the end of August this year.

Koa revealed that with an average of 2000 e-mail and Web form enquiries the company receives daily, Microsoft Outlook is just not equipped to handle the high volume. eGain Mail, which is embedded with “intelligent” features, ensures that customer enquiries are dealt with promptly. The AutoAcknowledge function in eGain Mail notifies customers that their message has been received, hence eliminating the problem of duplicate traffic. The AutoReply function responds to the customer without human intervention by analyzing the data received. eGain Mail also categorizes by keyword, types of customers, functions, products and countries, then routes the mail to the customer service agents based on skill sets and expertise.

eGain Campaign is a personalized one-to-one e-mail marketing tool that Asiatravelmart.com uses for its newsletters, announcements, lead generation follow-ups and customer surveys. This scalable solution also helps the company to track and evaluate the results of its online marketing campaigns.

However, Koa cautioned against bombarding customers with an overdose of one-to-one e-mail to avoid lists fatigue. Access to this tool has to be controlled, she warned.

The third CRM module, eGain Live, will offer immediate and personalized assistance through text messaging or Voice-over IP in critical sales and service situations. Essentially a chat function, it transfers the customer to a real agent so that the former is “escorted” around the site, and any questions he or she has can be answered in real-time.

“With such ‘hand-holding’, it is easier to close the deal,” Koa averred. During the pilot session of eGain Live, customers “left happier” , and the conversion rate was “a lot higher” after the chat session has been initiated.

To provide 24/7 online customer service while keeping support costs at a minimum, Asiatravelmart.com will implement eGain Assistant - a life-like, conversational self-service agent. This virtual self-help assistant answers “20 percent of the questions that occur 80 percent of the time”, such as enquiries on booking, cancellation and payment. Koa said that this module will also help in brand reinforcement by having a friendly character that acts as a pseudo-spokesperson for the company.

The full implementation cost of all four products is expected to reach US$300,000.

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