Leading UK electronics retailer improves online customer service ahead of critical festive period

Cambridge, UK, 14 November 2007: Hughes Direct - the online arm of Hughes Electrical, one of the UK's largest electronics and home appliance retailers - has significantly enhanced online customer service ahead of the seasonal rush by implementing Transversal’s (www.transversal.com) Ask a Question solution. This advanced technology enables customers to tap into Hughes’ expert product knowledge by providing instant responses to online customer queries. Making it easier for customers to access information online has led to a 40 per cent reduction in customer email enquiries.

Hughes Electrical is a third generation family business that achieved £50m in net sales in 2006 from its 33 shops and internet arm. Just under half (40 per cent) of the company’s annual online turnover is generated in the eleven weeks between mid-November and the first week of January. The percentage of consumers that visit a retail website and actually purchase an item significantly increases during this period, and Hughes Direct will be using Transversal’s technology to support and maximise sales.

It is forecast that in 2007 consumers in the UK will spend £13.6bn on products bought online during the run up to Christmas, with the average Briton spending £509* over the internet - an increase of 40 per cent on last year.

“Meeting the surge in demand we see at Christmas is critical for our business. In previous years, our online customer service team has been flat out answering the sheer number of enquiries - and we expect 2007 to be even busier,” said Simon Cox, General Manager, Hughes Direct. “As best-selling electrical products such as flat panel and HD-TVs become more complex we needed a solution that made it easier for our customers to find the information they want immediately. Working with Transversal’s software enables us to meet this need and to free up the time of customer service staff to resolve more complex enquiries.”

Hughes Direct chose Transversal due to its straightforward web integration, along with the company’s customer-focused culture. The ease of updating Metafaq means content can be revised and expanded instantly as required by the customer service team – vital due to the increasing number of products it sells and the evolving nature of consumer technology. Since implementing Metafaq in September, Hughes Direct has already created an online bank of more than 500 different questions.

“Like a lot of retailers, the festive season is a critical time for Hughes Direct. With so many customers making purchases at that time, it’s vital to provide world-class customer service,” said David Yap, CEO, Transversal. “The Metafaq implementation is enabling Hughes Direct to deliver real enhancements to customer service and cement the website’s position as a fantastic resource for consumers looking to purchase a new electrical product.”

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Notes to editors

* Source: Forrester Research - http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,43819,00.html


Dee Roche, Head of Marketing
+44 (0)1223 723 388

Chris Measures/Sam Grace
Rainier PR
+44 (0)20 7494 6570
transversal@rainierpr.co.uk www.rainierpr.co.uk

About Transversal

Transversal is a Cambridge-based developer of multi-channel eService solutions for customer-facing websites and contact centres that achieve high-impact wins on improved service, reduced costs and increased sales. Transversal's flagship Web Self-service Sales EngineTM solution uses the online customer service interaction to deliver targeted offers and advertising based on what customers ask about - a customer service strategy proven to produce high response rates and sales, while simultaneously improving customer service quality and efficiency. MetafaqTM reduces 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 PlayStation, Direct Line, Mint, Tesco Personal Finance, Privilege, The AA, Barclays, Holiday Extras, Nissan, Fujifilm, Standard Life, Scottish Power, Norwich Union and The Caravan Club.

About Hughes Electrical

East Anglian based Hughes Electrical are a family owned retail business supplying consumer electronics and domestic appliances. The business was founded in 1921 by Frank Hughes in Lowestoft and opened its first shop in 1928. By the 1950’s Hughes was determined to get into the Television Age at the ground floor and were one of the first suppliers of televisions outside London. The company expansion truly began in the 1960’s through acquisition the business has continued to grow and now has 34 shops in East Anglia. The latest store opening was in Newmarket in October this year. The team behind the website (www.hughesdirect.co.uk) has over 150 years experience in the electrical goods industry. The business has continued to invest in technology to improve efficiencies and to improve the consumers shopping experience. The website allows consumers to compare products by brand, price and features. In 2006 the database behind the site was enhanced to provide comprehensive information on every product. The web business is affiliated to Amazon, Which and Virgin to name but a few. Through the website Hughes supply products from leading manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Philips, JVC, LG, Samsung, Denon, Apple, Pure Digital, Bosch, Hotpoint, Miele, AEG, Zanussi, Siemens etc to consumer all over the UK. The vast product range stocked includes LCD & Plasma televisions, DVD, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, Hi-Fi systems & separates, MP3 players & iPods, Washers, Dryers, Dishwashers, Cookers & Refrigeration.

Published on: 12:00AM on 14th November 2007