Case Study

Customer service at the Nationwide

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The Nationwide is a financial services organisation which has been active in using the Internet as a customer service tool. Bicknell (2002) reports that the volume of customer service is as follows:

● 900,000 registrants on site with 2.4 million visits to the site in August 2001.0

● Of the 1.2 million who entered the online bank, 900,000 made transactions resulting in 60,000 online contracts which require customer service.

These figures highlight the number of transactions that will have reduced customer contacts in real-world branches and by phone, but this still leaves 60,000 online contacts. The Nationwide believed that customers should expect service to be fast and accurate. Mark Cromack, operations manager, said:

There was a hugh demand for more and more information and an explosion in the level of information that people wanted. That had implications for staff morale. What we needed was an autoresponse facility which provided quality, compliant and consistent answers.

To reduce the volume of calls, Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) was not sufficient. The company purchased two products from Firepond to improve service. Concierge is provided on the home page to provide a facility with natural language searching to help customers find the answers to their queries more rapidly. Answer is an automated message routeing tool that provides automated answers to simple questions which can be reviewed by contact centre staff before dispatch and yet is able to spot the phrasing of more complex queries for completion by call centre operators.
Using these solutions, the quality of answers improved to give a first-time resolution rate of 94%. With the reduced staff time involved, the cost per contact had been reduced from £4 to £2.


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