I recently called the Crutchfield (www.crutchfield.com) customer support line at 1-800-319-8264 and had an amazing experience. There are some really interesting things Crutchfield is doing in the their call center, other retailers should take notice.
There were two main features that really impressed me:
1. Indication of the number of call center agents available in real time
2. Web ID value allowing session control from the call center
Real Time Call Center Status
BACKGROUND: I was looking to replace an existing surround sound system with a new receiver with HDMI switching to support some new devices. I wondered if my existing speakers could be used so I checked the impedance and found they run on 4 ohms but the receiver I was looking at was only stable from 8+ ohms. I wanted to check into some creative wiring techniques to increase the impedance to 8 ohms so I decided I would give Crutchfield a call.
I noticed in the header of the site the call center number was changing based on my location on the site – I am guessing to send me to the correct department. The unique aspect was a indication of the number of representatives available to answer my call. I noticed this number was changing in real time (assuming AJAX) so my expectation was set that an actual human would eventually answer.
When I noticed a few agents were available I called. I was surprised when after 2 rings an agent answered. I started by telling them I needed to speak to someone about home audio – I assumed I would be transferred. Instead the agent said, “What do you need to know”. I then told him the model of my existing system (I have had it for ~4 years) and he was familiar with it and had all the answers right away. AWESOME!
Session Control via Web ID
At this point I was impressed with the service and had developed some trust with this agent (he obviously knew what he was talking about). We had determined that my existing system would need a major overhaul to work as desired so I asked for suggestions on replacing the whole system. As expected he had lots of suggestions but this is where a feature I have not seen previously came into play.
This is how it went:
Call Center – “I would like to show you an item, can you scroll to the bottom of the page and read me the web id number”
Me – “Sure, let me take a look”
Call Center – “Thanks, now please refresh your page”
Me – “Ok” (wondering what would happen)
After refresh I was on the product detail page for the item he wanted me to see. WOW!
Why does this matter?
1. The call center agent does not have to read me a SKU and tell me to enter it (lots of room for error)
2. The call center agent is ensured I will be looking at the correct page
3. This method is “idiot proof” – no time telling customers where the search box is, how to search, etc
4. This could be used for multiple purposes – think help pages, checkout, etc
How does it work?
Note: I am guessing here
1. Assign unique session ID for each visitor (most if not all systems do this automatically)
2. Assign Web ID numbers for each active session (display Web ID mapped to session in footer)
3. Allow Call Center agents to enter a next URL for the session by Web ID
4. Control the session via the web/app server and push the redirect URL for the next request
This sounds pretty easy conceptually but would get complicated with a clustered environment and lots of active sessions.
What do you think? I have a feeling we might see this feature popping up around the web soon. I might even make a Magento Extension for this session control feature. Let me know if you would be interested in using this extension.