Chat technology transforms pool retailer's customer service

By automating how questions are addressed or escalated from its Web site, AquaSupercenter.com has reduced inbound calls by almost 50 percent.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Aqua Supercenter, a pool supply retailer in Sarasota, Fla., slashed inbound customer service calls by almost 50 percent during January 2012 through the use of software that helps automate how questions are answered on its website.

The technology, called nanoRep, takes the form of a chat box on AquaSupercenter.com. When visitors type a question into the nanoRep widget, they are automatically directed to the place to find the answer. If there is no simple answer, the visitor is prompted to start a live chat if the question is being asked during business hours. Alternatively, the question can be sent via email; the issue can be escalated into a phone call, if that is appropriate.

During the first month of using nanoRep, AquaSupercenter.com reported a 46.8 percent decrease in its call volume. That's significant for the retailer because its business is very seasonal. By providing a means to answer repetitive customers more quickly, the company hopes that its customer service and sales representatives can focus on more complicated customer service issues, said AquaSupercenter.com director Chris Smith. In addition, the company hopes that it can keep its staffing more consistent year-round. The summer season is its busiest.

"We are always looking for ways to lower our expenses and pass that on to our customers," Smith said.

nanoRep is by no means the first technology that the retailer has used to try to automate its customer service operations. One of the most valuable side benefits of the software are its analytics features, which help point out areas where customers are having the most difficulty. Over time, the retailer can add automated answers to subjects that come up frequently. It has dedicated two team members to monitoring and answering live chat questions, as appropriate.

In early April, nanoRep introduced a mobile version of its software that works when someone visits Web sites optimized for mobile visitors. The widget works with both Apple iOS and Android mobile devices.

Pricing for nanoRep starts at $99 per month, which supports 1 knowledgebase, 2 agents and up to 500 monthly answers.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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