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February 17, 2009

IKEA Turns to Excelsis and Voxeo to Enhance Customer Self-Service



By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


IKEA, a Swedish furniture retailer, recently announced the launch of a new self-service phone portal that was designed, developed and integrated by Excelsis. This new solution utilizes the Voxeo VoiceObjects (News - Alert) phone application server and development tools.


With this new phone portal, IKEA customers have access to innovative self-service options that include information about the in-stock availability of more than 10,000 articles, a store locator, information on delivery costs and payment details, and SMS notification services.

The company’s primary goal in developing this new portal was to assure a high level of customer satisfaction. By focusing on automating common and simple requests, more complex or unique requests can be quickly transferred to IKEA service agents after the phone portal collects basic information.

This process significantly reduces customer hold time and improves customer satisfaction. In addition, the new voice portal needed to provide a flexible and future-proof platform allows IKEA to quickly respond to ever-changing market needs while maintaining high call quality.

IKEA selected Excelsis to oversee the project, which used Voxeo (News - Alert) VoiceObjects platform to build the new voice portal. VoiceObjects delivered a high degree of design flexibility and the ability to quickly implement a highly comfortable and intelligent, speech-driven voice user interface for IKEA callers.

The resulting solution can be quickly modified or enhanced by IKEA or Excelsis to address seasonal questions, product promotions, or other special events in order to maximize the value of the solution. IKEA also benefits from the extensive computer telephony integration (CTI) and VoiceXML (News - Alert) platform options available from Excelsis and VoiceObjects.

"IKEA is one of the companies that recognized the importance of high-quality self service over the phone," said Christian Sauter, CEO of Excelsis, in a Tuesday statement.

"IKEA was looking for answers on how to improve services, increase customer satisfaction, expand its customer base and increase revenue- at the lowest total cost of ownership possible. The new voice portal gives IKEA exactly the right answers, closing the gap between improved customer experiences on the one hand and cost efficiency on the other."

"We are very pleased that VoiceObjects has been chosen as the preferred technology provider for IKEA's next-generation phone portal," said Michael Codini (News - Alert), CTO and managing director, VoiceObjects Germany, in Tuesday’s statement.
"With the new voice portal IKEA strikes an ideal balance between improving customer service while also reducing service costs. This balance is particularly important with the economic and budget challenges most companies are experiencing today,” he explained.

Hans Schauer, manager of the IKEA Service Center Germany agrees: "This innovative solution is a perfect match for IKEA's philosophy of making everyday life better for people. The new voice portal focuses on the customer's needs, with our customers having access to information on how to shape their personal space- seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

IKEA has done well to not only recognize the shortcomings in its customer service portals, but to partner with two companies that can deliver the self-service and automated solutions necessary to drive efficiency.
 
By taking this step, IKEA is not only better positioned to address customer issues via their voice channel; the company is also demonstrating that it is taking a proactive approach to customer service. With fewer customer dollars to compete for in this market, every step that simplifies customer service, while also streamlining processes is a positive step forward.
 
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is Fixed Service Strategies for Mobile Network Operators, brought to you by Comverse (News - Alert).

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart


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