Magazine Article | December 1, 2005

Timberland's E-Mail Upgrade Improves Customer Service

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By standardizing responses to customer inquiries, this retailer improved customer service efficiency by 300% and reduced training time by 93.75%.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, December 2005

Four years ago, when online business soared and e-mail volumes became unmanageable, Bill Bragger, Timberland's global consumer service manager, was charged with finding a solution that would uphold the company's customer service standards. Timberland designs, engineers, and markets footwear, apparel, and accessories. The need for a solution stemmed from the expansion of product lines and the rapid growth of Timberland's online business. The retailer deployed eGain Mail, an e-mail management program, to provide a means to respond to its growing volume of customer inquiries. Four years later, Timberland upgraded the solution to achieve even greater efficiency.

Timberland sells its products through department stores, specialty stores, and its own Timberland retail stores. When access to became available, e-mail communications from customers jumped from 0 to 30,000 yearly. Messages received ranged from questions about new products and where to find products, to the fit of boots versus casual and dress shoes. It took Timberland's CSRs (customer service representatives) more than 24 hours to answer most messages. Neither Timberland nor its customers found this acceptable.

Timberland's existing system lacked the functionality needed to control incoming e-mail and increase efficiency. "The main goal was the ability to quickly, accurately, and consistently respond to customer e-mail inquiries in the face of mounting demand for customer service," says Bragger. "We wanted to help our CSRs become more efficient, as well as increase customer satisfaction, enhance our brand equity, and create competitive advantage." After evaluating several options, Timberland chose to deploy eGain Mail.

Acknowledgement Feature Cuts E-Mail Volume
With eGain Mail, messages received are automatically routed to the appropriate CSRs. Timberland was able to reduce the time to respond to customer inquiries from 24 hours to the same business day. Responses, which are selected directly from a knowledge base, are clear and consistent. Implementing the acknowledgement feature, which lets customers know their messages have been received, reduced the volume of mail. "Before eGain Mail, 10% to 15% of our volume was people checking to see if we got their e-mail," states Bragger. The implementation increased the productivity of CSRs by 300%, while reducing training time by 93.75%. Timberland's CSRs now handle e-mail in addition to phone inquiries, with very little idle time.

Upgrade Enables Sending Images
In May 2005, Timberland upgraded to version 7.1 of eGain Mail, which provided additional functionality for CSRs. According to Bragger, "The most compelling features of the upgraded version are that CSRs can add images to e-mails. Much of the e-mail we get is for product information from our site. The CSRs can now respond with product images and live links." Timberland is investigating further improvements, such as interfacing the e-mail solution with Timberland's legacy business system, to make information more accessible and reduce errors when keying in information.