Unilever Enhances Consumer Interactions With Astute Solutions’ RealDialog(tm)


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Consumer Packaged Goods Giant Leverages Knowledge Management Solution in Support of Over 90 Brands

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and COLUMBUS, Ohio, September 23, 2008 – Advancing toward the goal of creating a world-class consumer packaged goods contact center, Unilever and Astute Solutions (www.astutesolutions.com) today announced the implementation of Astute Solutions’ RealDialog™ knowledge management solution and the RealDialog™ Agent Assist tool. Unilever selected RealDialog for its ability to provide contact center representatives with rapid access to the exact information they need to answer consumers’ questions. Furthermore, it provides a unique level of visibility into consumers’ wants and needs for far-reaching business advantages.

Unilever’s contact center representatives support over 90 brands used by millions of people in the U.S. and Canada, every day. Its offerings span 14 categories of home, personal care and foods products. These factors led to significant consumer interaction and knowledge management challenges given Unilever’s vast information repositories. Contact center representatives were often challenged with finding specific product details to answer consumers’ questions in a timely manner, or were faced with the response “no search lists.” The systems containing these details were a burden to access and maintain. Astute Solutions’ RealDialog helps to overcome this challenge, while simplifying the accessibility and management of key company information.

RealDialog is a conversational knowledge management solution that delivers a clear and specific answer to a user question asked via a company’s Web site, intranet portal, contact center, email, chat, or other channel. Unlike FAQ and search solutions, RealDialog uses Natural Language Understanding and advanced linguistics techniques. It comprehends user input and questions in their natural language—including the use of pronouns, slang and company/product/industry specific terms—and delivers responses with unprecedented ease and accuracy. And it engages users in human-like “conversations” when clarification is needed to deliver the most precise and contextualized responses available through a self-service solution.

“We’ve gained a valuable technology partner,” said Linnea Johnson, director of consumer services, Unilever. “As one of the world’s largest consumer-packaged goods companies, our knowledge management needs are complex. RealDialog ensures that the right information is delivered to the right person—while minimizing the time and cost involved in doing so—regardless of complexity. This is why we chose Astute Solutions and its RealDialog offerings.”

Leveraged in the contact center, RealDialog Agent Assist expedites call processing and issue resolution to enhance the consumer experience while reducing interaction costs. Unilever representatives simply enter a consumer’s question, verbatim—or select a question submitted via email—and they instantly receive a response in the form of a specific answer, paragraph within a document, and/or file (sound, video, Web page, or document).

When needed, RealDialog guides the representative through a conversation with the consumer, prompting them with specific questions and responses to get to the heart of the issue and its resolution. It simplifies and improves the process for accessing relevant information, so representatives can focus on providing high-quality, relationship building service. At the same time, it enables Unilever to control the messages representatives deliver to ensure a branded experience.

Among the many business and operational advantages it has using RealDialog, Unilever Consumer Services now has the flexibility and functionality to:

•Enhance the consumer experience. By giving representatives at all experience levels rapid access to the exact information they need, RealDialog improves issue resolution and information accuracy for a high-quality consumer experience. Upon implementation at Unilever, the solution achieved an unprecedented 94 percent accuracy, demonstrating its ability to comprehend the myriad ways representatives and consumers phrase questions. RealDialog can achieve even greater accuracy by using self-learning techniques, and by identifying where specific knowledge gaps exist for continuous improvement.

•Improve knowledge management across the enterprise. Supporting multiple touch points, RealDialog’s knowledge base is quickly established by leveraging existing content (Web pages, documents, and files) and information systems. This is ideal for companies like Unilever that utilize a wide variety of resources to manage information on scores of topics. Its internal and external customers can now quickly access the information they need. Furthermore, new content can be authored by non-technical business users across the enterprise (contact center agents, product managers, marketers, and more), ensuring that end users receive current, high-quality information. As a result, the company maintains and updates information for multiple touch points and end users at a minimal cost.

•Gain actionable consumer insights. RealDialog provides direct and unfiltered insight into consumers’ questions. It excels at capturing, interpreting and organizing large volumes of unstructured data, which provides Unilever with increased reporting capabilities and a unique level of visibility into its consumers’ needs and preferences. The company can identify and respond to trends and problems at an unprecedented rate, and the detailed consumer feedback offers a basis for product, service and process enhancements.

“This implementation meets two critical needs,” Johnson continued. “It enables us to understand our consumers’ immediate needs and enhance their experience at the time when it matters most. It also gives us powerful insights—through detailed, actionable consumer data—to further our business objective of delivering products that meet the changing tastes, lifestyles and expectations of our consumers.”

“Consumer packaged goods companies have few opportunities to interact directly with the people who use their products. The quality of the interaction experience can have a lasting impact on the individual consumer and those within their social network. This is why the functionality of their knowledge management solution plays such a critical role in the process of building relationships,” said Astute Solutions President, Joseph Sanda. “Our work with Unilever exemplifies the consumer-centric nature of our RealDialog solution. It helps companies meet and exceed customer expectations of receiving fast, accurate, and courteous responses to their questions. At the same time, it enables the company to deliver precisely crafted marketing messages and responses that support and enhance their brands.”

During the first phase of the implementation, Unilever replaced the Folio knowledge management tool with Astute Solutions’ RealDialog. Proprietary information housed in Folio was converted into html pages for RealDialog. It was completed and went live in July 2008. During the next phase of the project, Unilever will integrate RealDialog with its existing company-wide CRM solution.

About Unilever
Unilever’s mission is to add vitality to life. It meets everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Each day, around the world, consumers make 160 million decisions to purchase Unilever products.

In the United States, Unilever’s portfolio includes major brand icons such as: Axe, “all,” Ben & Jerry’s, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Hellmann’s, Klondike, Knorr, Lipton, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Snuggle, Suave, Sunsilk and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies. Dedicated to serving consumers and the communities where they live, work and play, Unilever employs more than 14,000 people in both the United States and Puerto Rico – generating nearly $11 billion in sales in 2007. For more information, visit www.unileverusa.com.

About Astute Solutions
Through award-winning customer interaction and relationship management solutions, Astute Solutions enables companies to differentiate through service excellence. Its user-friendly ePowerCenterTM and RealDialogTM solutions provide the robust capabilities companies need to deliver efficient, high-touch, and high-quality service; while ensuring consistent and accurate responses across all communication channels. Moreover, Astute’s solutions capture actionable “voice of the customer” insights that lead to improved products, services and operations. By partnering with Astute Solutions, leading companies across a variety of industries achieve exceptional ROI by reducing overall interaction and operational costs, improving agent performance, retaining more customers, delivering market-leading products and services, and increasing revenue. For more information, visit http://www.astutesolutions.com/realdialog


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