Transversal eService handles 100,000 customer service questions during busiest online season

Retailer OTTO’s decision to install Transversal’s ( Metafaq eService solution on its Freemans, Grattan, Look Again and Kaleidoscope websites, has paid off with dramatically reduced email volumes over the Christmas period. During the busiest five weeks of the retail year, the Metafaq help facility has been used by 44,000 customers and answered more than 100,000 customer questions automatically online.

Emails from the four retail websites normally double in the months leading up to Christmas. Transversal’s natural language help solution gives customers the option of finding the answers to questions, directly from the website, without having to phone or email. This has resulted in an email deflection rate of 86 per cent, enabling agents to concentrate on answering more complex enquiries thus improving customer satisfaction and retention.

OTTO installed Metafaq on its retail websites in December 2005, with the whole implementation across all its sites taking under four weeks. Metafaq enables customers to ask questions in their own words and benefit from real, meaningful, answers delivered instantly, helping them to make informed buying choices and find customer service information. Additionally, customers have the option of emailing the customer service team for additional help if needed.

“The year on year increase of Christmas online shopping shows that ecommerce is now truly mass market,” commented Davin Yap, CEO, Transversal. “Consumers enjoy the instant gratification of shopping online and don’t want to be forced to other channels for basic customer service information. Etailers therefore need to make sure their websites are more helpful and responsive if they are to differentiate themselves. The fact that Metafaq has been immediately adopted by consumers, and used so heavily, demonstrates the importance of self-service technology to online retailers.”

Independent research showed that Christmas 2005 was the UK’s busiest online Christmas. Visitors to retail websites were up 14 per cent (Hitwise January) with £2,253 billion spent by Britain’s 24 million Internet shoppers in November alone (IMRG) This compares to a growth of just 0.9 per cent in High Street sales. Britain leads the European online shopping market, with the average consumer spending £875 online in 2005, compared to £452 for the rest of Europe (EIAA).

Transversal’s Metafaq solution starts with an initial set of question and answer pairs and then builds additional questions asked by customers into an up-to-date, self-organising, self-learning, knowledgebase of answers – updating content is quick and easy for internal staff and doesn’t require web editing skills. Uniquely, Metafaq automatically understands and identifies the most appropriate answer for the many different ways and words customers use to ask the same question, therefore increasing its effectiveness as a customer service option.

Metafaq is also a mechanism by which customers can qualify themselves as interested in a particular product or service. It can be used to navigate customers straight to the product of interest; push relevant product offers; provide calls to action to buy, all with the aim of capturing customer interest and increasing the chances of conversion.
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Dee Roche, Head of Marketing +44 (0)1223 723 388
Rainier PR
Chris Measures/Elke Panzner +44 (0)20 7494 6570

About Transversal
Transversal, founded in 1998 by top researchers from Caltech and Cambridge universities, is a Cambridge-based developer of intelligent eCustomer service software that enables organisations to achieve key sales, customer service and efficiency goals. Transversal's flagship service, Metafaq, enables organisations to increase online sales and reduce the volume of call and email queries to contact centres by automatically answering customers' questions online. Transversal customers will typically see immediate and dramatic email reductions, by around 60%, and improvements in email response times, from days to minutes. Intrafaq, Transversal's knowledge management solution for contact centres, delivers information to agents in a unique way from a dynamic natural language knowledgebase. Simply by typing a question, in their own words, agents can access answers to customer questions; providing fast, accurate and consistent responses. Organisations benefit from increased first call resolution and efficiency by improving the knowledge and quality of service provided by customer service and help-desk agents. Transversal's Memory Engine™ is the result of research and development by top researchers in Information Theory and Machine Learning from Caltech and Cambridge universities. Transversal co-founder, Prof. David MacKay, is a world renowned expert in Artificial Intelligence. He pioneered Bayesian Neural Networks in the late 1980s and remains at the forefront of the field. Current customers include Sony, Direct Line, Thomsons, MFI, Barclays, Nissan, Fujifilm, Standard Life, TUI, Metropolitan Police and Proctor & Gamble.

About Otto UK
Otto UK was formed in 2001 when two members of the Otto Group - Grattan (acquired in 1991) and Freemans (acquired in 1999) - were brought together. Otto UK employs 6,000 people in the UK. It has four main sites in Bradford, Sheffield, Peterborough and London, 15 distribution depots and 25 catalogue discount stores. Otto UK’s brand names in the mail order market are Freemans, Grattan and Kaleidoscope. Parcelnet is the distribution arm of Otto UK, delivering parcels for in-house brands and providing delivery services for many third party clients. Otto UK is a member of the Otto Group.

Published on: 12:00AM on 9th February 2006