Email customer service coming early 2009

Old Oct 1, 08, 12:43 pm
  #1  
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Email customer service coming early 2009

We've had lots of discussion about WN's lack of email customer service. Today we have news on its long-awaited implementation.

Daryl Krause, WN's SVP of Customer Services, announced at Media Day that email customer service will go live in early 2009. It will be part of a complete overhaul of the customer relations process. Hiring and training to support this effort is occurring now.

The new infrastructure is built upon Siebel CRM, and the aim is to be paperless. Snail-mail communication will be digitized by a third-party vendor and imported into the Siebel system for handling.

They are aiming for 48-hour response times on 80% of customer communication. The remaining 20% that require more in-depth research will have a 30-day response target.
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Old Oct 1, 08, 1:49 pm
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Oh joy, Siebel.

Worked with it for a few years via Disney - it's not a picnic.
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Old Oct 1, 08, 2:31 pm
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Finally. Welcome to the 21st Century.
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Old Oct 1, 08, 4:44 pm
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Originally Posted by curbcrusher View Post
The new infrastructure is built upon Siebel CRM...
Do y'all mean "Oracle CRM"?
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Old Oct 1, 08, 5:39 pm
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This is certainly a relief. Then again, I don't complain to much about WN, so maybe its won't matter
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Old Oct 1, 08, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeyZBT View Post
Finally. Welcome to the 21st Century.
Or the 20th century, even. They admit they're late to this game, but it's a welcome improvement nonetheless.
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Old Oct 6, 08, 4:38 pm
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I, a cynical one, don't like it and fear this is a start toward outsourcing and moving Customer Service offshore eventually. I do hope I am wrong. Snail mail provides some level of automatic filtering out the quacks and frivolous items that will now have to be logged, addressed and responded to, bogging everything down which has to be countered by more hiring and costs... You can see where this leads. I can see it now, "my flight was 15 minutes late, what am I owed..."
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Old Oct 7, 08, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
I, a cynical one, don't like it and fear this is a start toward outsourcing and moving Customer Service offshore eventually. I do hope I am wrong.
I won't say it will never happen, but nothing I have seen or been told indicates outsourcing and/or offshoring are in the cards. Jim Ruppel, WN's VP of Customer Relations and Rapid Rewards, told me that his goal for email is for it to be the same high-quality experience we currently enjoy which, in my opinion, is not possible if it is not in-house. As I noted in the linked post above, hiring and training for this is happening now at existing Reservations centers. There will likely be stumbles after the roll-out (and no doubt examples will be posted here), but I believe WN is committed to getting this right (at long last ).

Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
Snail mail provides some level of automatic filtering out the quacks and frivolous items that will now have to be logged, addressed and responded to, bogging everything down which has to be countered by more hiring and costs... You can see where this leads. I can see it now, "my flight was 15 minutes late, what am I owed..."
The flipside of this is frivolous complaints and quacks can be logged, addressed and responded to largely automatically if that becomes necessary (I believe it will). I don't think it will be quite the slowdown once the entire system is tuned. Additionally, by removing this barrier to Customer Relations, I think WN will get a better picture of its service successes and failures.
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Old Oct 7, 08, 7:24 am
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Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
I, a cynical one, don't like it and fear this is a start toward outsourcing and moving Customer Service offshore eventually. I do hope I am wrong. Snail mail provides some level of automatic filtering out the quacks and frivolous items that will now have to be logged, addressed and responded to, bogging everything down which has to be countered by more hiring and costs... You can see where this leads. I can see it now, "my flight was 15 minutes late, what am I owed..."
Joshua,
As someone who spent over ten years dealing with Customer correspondence, we really don't consider anything trivial. Yes, we do get some nutty snail mail letters, but unless they are so bizarre, we will respond. As to frivolous items like a 15-minute delay, we have gotten a share of them before, and we do respond. The worry has always been that e-mail will open a floodgate of these types of inquiries. I used to think that too, but I am not so sure anymore. The rest of the world communicates via e-mail so we really are catching up. Our Res folks will be able to triage what can be answered quickly and what needs to be sent on to Customer Relations.

I think curbcrusher addressed the issue of outsourcing, and just to add to his thoughts. We have a large, loyal and Customer-centric work force with our Res Agents, and we are using them in nontraditional roles because we value their input. Along with e-mail handling, other Centers are taking on a more active role in assiting with lost baggage and Customer communications.
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Old Oct 7, 08, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by curbcrusher View Post
...nothing I have seen or been told indicates outsourcing and/or offshoring are in the cards.
I sure hope not. Ocasionally being called "honey" or "hon" just wouldn't have the same sincerity from an offshore voice.
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Old Oct 7, 08, 8:45 am
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Thank you Gentlemen for putting my mind at ease. If there is one company that can successfully pull this off, it will be Southwest.
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Old Oct 7, 08, 7:29 pm
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Originally Posted by aine View Post
Do y'all mean "Oracle CRM"?

*barf* ewww....

We use PeopleSoft for our HRM where I work currently and it's absolutely rubbish...and looks like my new company that I'll be at soon has it too.

Boo, Oracle.
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Old Oct 10, 08, 9:45 am
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I was wondering when this was going to happen. I'd heard about it from a friend who was seeing some of the early versions of it last month during some initial training.

Should prove interesting to say the least.
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Old Feb 2, 09, 2:56 pm
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It is getting closer... Reservations has been renamed to Customer Support and Services to formalize that organization's obvious shift (actual reservations account for only about a quarter of the calls they receive these days). The impending arrival of email customer service was mentioned as part of this change.
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Old Feb 3, 09, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by curbcrusher View Post
It is getting closer... Reservations has been renamed to Customer Support and Services to formalize that organization's obvious shift (actual reservations account for only about a quarter of the calls they receive these days). The impending arrival of email customer service was mentioned as part of this change.
If there aren't any last minute glitches, we are hoping for this quarter.
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