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Research published in a new E-consultancy buyer’s guide (http://www.e-consultancy.com/publications/online-customer-service-solutions/) suggests that the UK Online Customer Services Solutions market has finally come of age, with some suppliers anticipating revenue growth of up to 300% this year.

E-consultancy (www.e-consultancy.com), which publishes reports and hosts events for the UK’s internet marketing community, profiled 11 vendors for its latest 107-page report to help buyer’s quickly evaluate suppliers operating in this area. It also conducted in-depth research and SWOT analysis of the online customer service solutions market.

Web customer service tools include virtual interactive assistants, bot technology, intelligent FAQs, knowledge management and email response management solutions.

Suppliers have proved that the costs of fulfilling an enquiry online can be as much as 40 times cheaper than traditional techniques such as via call centres, making these tools a very attractive proposition for companies operating in B2B and B2C markets.

E-consultancy expects the market to double in size this year to around £120m. Many vendors said the market was at a ‘tipping point’, with growth in the last year driven by the ultra-competitive financial services and telecoms sectors.

The key market trends are as follows:

• Growing uptake of these solutions by SMEs due to increased appreciation of the benefits and more affordable pricing models. These tools might generate some instantaneous cost benefits for a FTSE100 telco with a 4,000-seat call centre, but they are also readily available to smaller businesses.

• Use of OCS software to ensure compliance with regulators by reducing the risk of inaccurate information being passed on to customers.

• Large organisations are now deciding ‘when and how’ they should introduce latest generation OCS solutions rather than debating ‘if’ they are a good idea.

• Vendors have successfully demonstrated that it is much cheaper to interact with a customer via web service than it is via a telephone agent.

• At the same time as making tangible cost savings, many companies are waking up to the fact that there is also a big opportunity to increase sales, through cross-selling and up-selling. Less tangible benefits include enhancing the brand through a consistently seamless multichannel experience and increasing customer loyalty.

• In many industries, the growing interest in OCS solutions is the natural consequence of the move towards a more effective and engaging customer experience.

E-consultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein commented: “Online customer service tools can help companies reduce overall customer services costs, while increasing sales, brand loyalty, propensity to buy and customer satisfaction. They are a no-brainer for many businesses and we’re expecting to see a lot of growth in the coming months and years.”

Vendors profiled in the Online Customer Services Solutions Buyer’s Guide include: Atmyside, Creative Virtual, eLoyalty, Emailcenter, KANA, Liveperson, Parker Software, RightNow Technologies (UK), Synthetix, Transversal and Trinicom.

E-consultancy’s 107-page Online Customer Service Solutions Buyer’s Guide 2005 retails for £79 or is free for subscribers. A free sample can be downloaded from http://www.e-consultancy.com/publications/online-customer-service-solutions/.

*Journalists can see a copy of the market research by contacting Chris Lake (chris@e-consultancy.com).

About E-consultancy:
http://www.e-consultancy.com/about/

E-consultancy is the UK’s leading online publisher of best practice internet marketing reports, research and how-to guides. It also publishes buyer’s guides and has a directory of 100,000+ third party internet marketing white papers.

Since moving to a paid-content model in 2003 E-consultancy has amassed thousands of paying subscribers, around 30,000 registered users and 115,000 unique users sessions per month. Its weekly newsletter is sent to 21,500 users. Subscribers pay from £99 per year to access the exclusive and highly practical content, which helps internet marketers get the most out of their websites.

E-consultancy has around 70 events lined up for 2005, including roundtables and monthly ‘Supplier Showcases’, where six suppliers pitch to an audience of pre-qualified buyers (typically between 100-200) in a Central London venue. E-consultancy also provides a range of in-house training programmes, such as seminars and workshops.

E-consultancy also offers a range of web consultancy services to companies including major FTSE100 brands and small start-ups, including market and competitor research, website optimisation, customer journey analysis and strategic planning.

Mail: info@e-consultancy.com
Telephone: 0207 0710612

Published on: 12:00AM on 31st March 2005