Discussions

Anonymous

Question Description

This time we have two discussions, Need to answer both of them and reply to at least two students Like we did before.

First discussion

American Airlines - Discussion

Question 1: Read the articles about American Airlines. American Airlines treats some customers differently than others when they call or visit the web site. How do they get the knowledge required to do this?


Question 2: Name one other example of how an airline could treat customers differently based on knowledge they have about the customer.


Second discussion.



My Twinn Customer Relationships - Discussion 2

Read the article My Twinn.
Question 1: Why do you think My Twinn decided to outsource their customer call center?

Question 2: All of the outsourcing companies had good technology available to them for tracking capturing customer data and for managing call center agents. Why did Alpine Access do better than the other call center companies?

Question 3: What role (if any) did Information technology play in this success?

Question 4: Under what conditions would you allow people to work from home?

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Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Page 1 of 7 May. 15, 2001 Issue of CIO Magazine A virtual, Webbased call center helps this custom doll maker find made-to-order agents. BY ESTHER SHEIN The Company: My Twinn Founded 1992 Headquarters Englewood, Colo. Call center agents 25 to 400, depending on the season Mission Create one-of-a-kind dolls personalized to look like their owners Target customers 30- to 50-year-old women with children between the ages of 4 and 12 WHEN CUSTOMERS CALL My Twinn's toll-free number, they're toying with plunking down some relatively serious cash for a doll. Not just any doll, mind you. But a doll that's custommade to look just like their child—right down to the freckles. So it's not surprising that these customers have a lot of questions. And that's why My Twinn is delighted to have agents like Kris Burns, a college-educated mother with five children of her own, handling the calls. The company is able to get such agents because it has outsourced its call center to Alpine Access of Golden, Colo., whose 430 agents work out of their homes on flexible, and often part-time, schedules. A few years ago, Englewood, Colo.-based My Twinn decided to outsource its call center operations because the seasonal nature of the doll business made it hard to justify the overhead of an in-house call center. "When you go from 25 agents to 400 [during the holidays], the effort to recruit, hire, train and provide the space and capital needed to do all that makes it more cost-effective to outsource," explains Gail Hickert, vice president of customer service and sales. "You don't want to have a facility and equipment and space to use them only three or four months out of the year." But after working with two separate outsourcers, Hickert grew fed up with outsourced call centers' high turnover rates, which meant that My Twinn's calls were often going to new reps who weren't very familiar with the products. What's more, the average call center employee—a woman in her early 20s http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 URL www.mytwinn.com Page 2 of 7 who probably hasn't been to college—wasn't exactly brimming with empathy for My Twinn customers. And the typical My Twinn customer—a female in her late 30s or early 40s with children, often with a college degree— needs to be convinced her order is in good hands before she'll pay up to $225 for a custom doll and matching outfit for her child. "The labor force could not relate as closely to the customer as you would like for customer relationship building," says Hickert. In Alpine Access's home-customer-agent model, Hickert saw the potential to hire a demographic population that "would more closely reflect our customer," she says. Following a successful two-month pilot with Alpine Access, My Twinn turned over all of its call center business to the outsourcer in June 2000. More Qualified Agents The Future of Virtual Agents Any technique to reduce agent turnover is worth investigating. Read Expert Analysis by Wendy Close Read More When Alpine Access launched in 1998 as a Web-based virtual call center, its cofounders, who had long been involved in traditional call centers, decided to upgrade the labor and hire more sophisticated agents who would be adept at using CRM technology, according to Steve Rockwood, cofounder and president. Using agents who don't have the education or background to be able to get the most out of Using work-at-home call center agents CRM software is lets My Twinn hire a "analogous to using demographic technology to build population that great fighter jets but "more closely then putting high reflects our school graduates—or customer." dropouts—behind the controls," he says. —GAIL HICKERT, VP OF "We're bringing http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Customer Relationship Management Research Center Page 3 of 7 We re bringing CUSTOMER SERVICE AND fighter jet pilots to SALES, MY TWINN handle this fighter jet technology." Alpine Access agents have to be technologically savvy, smart and friendly, and "have a wonderful way online and over the phone," he says. In fact, the company requires applicants to audition for the job by calling in to leave a message. Alpine Access then digitizes the resulting "voice prints" and measures their tonality as a way to gauge the applicants' friendliness, Rockwood says.Hickert is convinced she's able to get higher caliber agents by tapping into the pool of workers who prefer to work from their homes. An agent who is satisfied with her work reflects a positive attitude that translates into a more pleasant experience for My Twinn's customers, she says. Burns, for example, is clearly happy with the work-at-home model. She has worked for Alpine Access from her home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., since September 1999. A customer service agent and supervisor, Burns says the Alpine Access motto of "family first" makes it a good company to work for. "Working out of the home isn't going to work if you want to supervise your children,'' says Burns, whose five kids are 12 and under. "But this enables me to be at home when my children get home from school. And without the commuting time, I can still put in a full day." The fact that Alpine Access works around the call agents' schedules "makes for much happier, motivated employees," says Burns. Happier employees tend to stick around longer, so My Twinn has the benefit of a seasoned staff and fewer resources that must be devoted to training new reps. Rockwood won't disclose the average tenure of an agent at his company, which had been fully operational for 17 months at press time. But he insists Alpine Access's retention rate is "much higher than any brickand mortar-facility." The number-one reason for turnover in call centers isn't pay but schedule conflict, says Rockwood. And the virtual model allows Alpine Access to offer its employees greater flexibility than a traditional call center could. "Obviously, the longer you have call center reps in place the better you are able to serve your customers," says Joanie Rufo, a research director at AMR Research in Boston. The average turnover time for traditional call http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Page 4 of 7 centers is 18 months, she says. As with any work-at-home model, figuring out how to keep agents motivated is an important consideration, says Rufo. "There are certain personalities that thrive when working from home, but conversely, some people do better in a work setting." To keep tabs on agent productivity, Alpine Access monitors its agents over the phone and electronically. "If I need to, I can actually see what the agent is doing online," says Rockwood. "[Agents are] home alone, but they're never alone. We're always there to monitor and support them." The company also conducts all of its training online; up to 20 agents can simultaneously log on to Alpine Access's Web training center to participate in live interactive training sessions. Hickert also can supervise My Twinn's virtual call center on the Alpine Access website. There she can set measurements that let her monitor the agents and track things like number of abandoned calls, average call length and the percentage of calls that are handled within the parameters My Twinn has agreed on with Alpine Access. For example, 90 percent of the order calls need to be answered within 120 seconds or less, Hickert says. The Virtual Call Center So how do at-home agents report to work at My Twinn's virtual call center? Each agent uses two phone lines. The first is for Internet access to connect to Alpine Access's website. Through the site, agents log on to the appropriate client's CRM or order processing system so that all customer data the agents collect goes directly in to the clients' databases. (Agents handling My Twinn calls, for example, use My Twinn's Ecometry system from Smith-Gardner to log orders.) Using the second phone line, agents dial in to a master switch that puts them into Alpine Access's virtual call center, through which phone calls are routed. Then reps enter their name and password to access a particular client company. Burns, who works 35 to 40 hours a week, says the Alpine Access Web center is intuitive, and its agents have plenty of support at their fingertips if a call needs to be escalated. "All the resources and tools have been placed on the website, and any question asked of us can be answered,'' she says. "That customer doesn't http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Page 5 of 7 even know we're working at home and not at a brick-and-mortar company. "When I log on, I'm scheduled for one customer at a time,'' Burns adds. When it's time to field calls for another client, she hangs up, calls in to the same switch and enters a different password to access that company. Burns, who is cross-trained to work for six companies, monitors agents for My Twinn. (Client companies represent a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, financial, travel, copy and fax machines, and health care.) Better Relations, Higher Sales My Twinn has ample evidence that switching to the virtual call center model was a smart business move. In 2000, Alpine Access agents converted 30 percent more inquiry calls into orders than agents in the brick-and-mortar call center had converted in 1999, according to Hickert. She also says that agent turnover decreased 88 percent, allowing My Twinn to save considerably on training costs. What's more, the company had 90 percent fewer escalated calls, letters and e-mails from irate customers in 2000 than it had in 1999. Hickert is so pleased, she's planning to have Alpine Access take over handling My Twinn's e-mails as well. But that's not to say that every last call is now managed flawlessly. Devin Golden of Belmont, Mass., says the My Twinn call agents he dealt with were courteous and tried to help—but he repeatedly requested catalogs last holiday season to no avail. Although he got a 10 percent discount when his third call was escalated to a supervisor, he didn't get a catalog in time to place a Christmas order. Hickert calls Golden's experience "unusual" and says the company bends over backward to handle as many customer requests as it can, even at the height of the holiday season. And overall, she's happy with Alpine Access. "Our revenues per labor cost have significantly increased because these people close more sales and they relate better to the customer," she says. Agents are likely to relate well to customers because, according to Burns, the company tries to find people who have a history in the field its clients are in. She says that of all companies http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Page 6 of 7 she's worked for as a call center agent, she relates most to My Twinn because of its products, and the fact that her children are at the age where they play with dolls. "When you can relate to anything you can sell, of course you're going to sell it better,'' she says. "Most of us who work for My Twinn have children." And if the experience of customer Kim Kill, a substitute teacher's aid in St. Marys, Ohio, is typical, agents are, in fact, relating well to customers. Kill ordered a doll in 1999 and has since placed three more orders for accessories and matching outfits for her daughter. She says she found that everyone she has talked with at the company "seems to know the needs of little girls and how they want everything just right." Says Kill: "I had asked for a specific dress, and they were out of stock, and the [agent] was very sincere and said how sorry she was and what a cute dress it was, and how they were getting lots of orders for it." Kill notes that even when she had to change a previously placed order for doll accessories recently, there was no problem. "As far as changing my order and getting a different dress, it couldn't have gone smoother and everything I received in the mail was correct," she says. "I felt really bad calling back, but they were very pleasant." Without commutes, cubicles or dress codes to contend with, the agents answering My Twinn's calls have less cause to be unpleasant than the typical call enter agent. Alpine Access employee Burns says she looks The Future of Virtual forward to working because she can literally Agents crawl out of bed and go Any technique to into her office. "It's a wonderful job. I have no reduce agent turnover is worth intentions of going investigating. Read anywhere. I'm able to Expert Analysis by juggle five children, a Wendy Close 40-hour workweek and all the home Read More responsibilities, and not ever have to leave. It just makes for a happier, more content work environment. It really comes across in my voice." Do you have an interesting customer-focused case study to share? Send your ideas to casefiles@cio.com. Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor based in Framingham, Mass. http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 Hello, Dolly! - CASE FILES: CUSTOMER FOCUS - CIO Magazine May 15,2001 Page 7 of 7 PHOTOS BY PATRICIA BARRY LEVY In this Issue of CIO: Select Below CIO Magazine - May 15, 2001 © 2001 CXO Media Inc. http://www.cio.com/archive/051501/hello.html http://www2.cio.com/archive/051501/hello_content.html 5/23/01 What is personalization? - Definition from Whatis.com • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Page 5 of 10 D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z # personalization • Digg This • Stumble • Delicious definition On a Web site, personalization is the process of tailoring pages to individual users' characteristics or preferences. Commonly used to enhance customer service or e-commerce sales, personalization is sometimes referred to as one-to-one marketing, because the enterprise's Web page is tailored to specifically target each individual consumer. Personalization is a means of meeting the customer's needs more http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/personalization 10/6/2009 What is personalization? - Definition from Whatis.com Page 6 of 10 effectively and efficiently, making interactions faster and easier and, consequently, increasing customer satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat visits. There are a number of personalization software products available, including those from Broadvision, ResponseLogic, and Autonomy. Personalization in some ways harkens back to an earlier day, by making consumer relationships more closely tailored to the individual. If you've ever bought a book from Amazon, for example, the next time you visit they will - like a friendly and helpful sales clerk - greet you by name and tell you about products in stock that they think you might like (such as more books by the same author, or books purchased by other people who also bought the book that you purchased). Many portal sites, such as Yahoo allow site visitors to customize the page with selected news categories, local weather reports, and other features. In addition to use of the cookie, the technologies behind personalization include: • Ccollaborative filtering, in which a filter is applied to information from different sites to select relevant data that may apply to the specific e-commerce experience of a customer or specific group of customers • User profiling, using data collected from a number of different sites, which can result in the creation a personalized Web page before the user has been formally • Data analysis tools used to predict likely future interactions Because personalization depends on the gathering and use of personal user information, privacy issues are a major concern. The Personalization Consortium is an international advocacy group organized to promote and guide the development of responsible one-to-one marketing practices. Founding members include Pricewaterhouse Coopers, American Airlines, and DoubleClick. The consortium has established ethical information and privacy management objectives; these include, for example, the suggestion that enterprises should inform users about the information being gathered, and the purposes for which it is sought. According to a March 2000 Consortium survey of over 4,500 Web users, 73% of respondents find it helpful to have Web sites retain their personal information, while only 15% refuse to supply personal information online. 63% of respondents disliked having to reenter information that they had already supplied. last updated16 Mar 2001 Read more about personalization: Personalization.com is another resource center. ClickZ.com offers an article, "Strategic Plans for Personalization." PC Week offers "Learn Sesame gets more personal: New breed of software 'learns' what Web site visitors want." The Personalization Consortium has a Web site. http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/personalization 10/6/2009 American Airlines Soars To New Sites - IT Channel - IT Channel News by CRN Page 1 of 9 Home | Communities | Newsletters | Subscriptions | Virtual Events | NetSeminars | About Us | | You are not logged into Channelweb. Login | Register News Reviews Research Tools The IT Channel Networking Security Storage Hardware Software Managed Services American Airlines Soars To New Sites With help of BroadVision, Quantum Leap, new Web site gets off the ground By Kristen Kenedy 11:28 AM EDT Fri. Apr. 07, 2000 From the April 07, 2000 issue of VARBusiness At InternetWorld this week, American Airlines executives enthusiastically demonstrated their company Web site as a model of going beyond a simple redesign to deliver real customer value. Teaming up with BroadVision (:BVSN) and Quantum Leap Communications last year, American Airlines replaced its existing look, based around different company departments, with a personalized site that serves up custom flight discounts tailored to each customers' buying habits. The team also built a user interface for the complex Sabre reservations system to offer an easy-to-use travel planning and ticketing service. The result: a Web site that now draws 6.9 million unique visits per month and attracts the cream of American's crop: the most frequent users of its rewards program. The efforts by one of the country's leading airlines demonstrates the process necessary to reengineer a complex Web site but also to integrate and maintain a highly personalized system. http://www.crn.com/it-channel/18807868;jsessionid=BY2FH22INV2MHQE1GHOSKH4ATMY32JVN 10/6/2009 American Airlines Soars To New Sites - IT Channel - IT Channel News by CRN Page 2 of 9 The first American Airlines Web Site went up in the spring 1995. At that time, the site was simply what Scott Hyden, American Airlines managing director of interactive marketing, called "brochureware." The site explained the company but didn't offer any interactive services, he says. The site had grown up organically, he adds, organizing its pages by the different departments in the company. "The functionality and user experience were quite limited," he says. "There were more than 3,000 HTML pages on the site. We knew we needed to improve in a lot of areas." American Airlines already maintains a database of 38 million people for its American Advantage (AAdvantage) frequent flyer program, "which gave us a wealth of information about what the customers were looking for," Hyden notes. Officials also knew that customers liked the company's e-mail program, which automatically sent out information a ...
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School: University of Virginia

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Running Head: DISCUSSIONS

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Discussions
Student’s Name
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DISCUSSIONS

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DISCUSSIONS
Question One
(a) Kennedy (2000) states that executives of American Airlines attempted to enhance customer
value by redesigning their websites by giving it a personalized touch. From the context of a
website, personalization is the process of matching the characteristics of individual users’ to the
website pages (Kenedy, 2000). Therefore, every individual is offered a different user interface
and information once they log onto the company’s website. For instance, after purchasing goods
from Amazon Inc., the customers get personal greetings once they log onto the website any other
time. In addition, the e-commerce business offers suggestions on goods that might interest an
individual based on their previous s...

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