Siemens makes portal problems easy to track

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CHALLENGE: Siemens Buyside Marketplace USA, a counterpart of Siemens Buyside Marketplace Germany, operates in the U.S. The site, which is accessed by 12,000 Siemens employees in the U.S., allows users to buy commodity items, such as scope meters and PCs, online from more than 45 suppliers.

Unfortunately, with so many users accessing the site, problems pop up occasionally. Two years ago, for instance, if a purchase order was lost or an item didn’t arrive on time, users dialed into a call center and reported the problem. Those problems in turn were logged manually. At the end of each month, Dains Mathew, Siemens BSM USA’s manager of customer service, got an Excel spreadsheet that listed the more than 1,000 issues encountered by portal users.

This system made it difficult to catch ongoing problems with the site or individual vendors. Plus, there was no way to route problem tickets automatically to the person who could best handle them.

SOLUTION: The company purchased RightNow Technology’s RightNow 5.5. The software provides users with a searchable knowledge base and gives customer service agents a way to electronically log problems, receive and send e-mail-based problem tickets, and route problem tickets accordingly. A 24-month license of the software paid for itself in eight months, Mathew said.

RESULTS: The number of problem tickets and calls into customer service dropped dramatically as soon as the system was implemented. In October 2001 agents handled 1,210 tickets and 1,189 calls. Calls declined to 908 by April 2002 and to 660 by December 2003.

As a result, Siemens BSM USA reduced its number of call center agents by two. Most important, employees aren’t tied up on the phone waiting for a customer agent. They can search for answers to problems on their own or e-mail their questions to customer service, Mathew said.

—Karen J. Bannan

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