Unilever’s Online Self-Service Takes Off with Astute Solutions’ RealDialog

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 1, 2009 – Leading the charge to help consumer-focused companies differentiate through service excellence, Astute Solutions (www.astutesolutions.com) today announced that Unilever went live with the RealDialog Self-Service solution on its sixth brand Web site since June 2009 – extending the company’s best-in-class service to consumers via the Web.

Handling approximately 3.5 million consumer contacts annually, Unilever’s contact center supports over 90 brands used by consumers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Past attempts at incorporating online self-service to offset the growing volume of calls and emails were short-lived. The technologies used failed to meet the company’s expectations and high service standards. Unilever required a solution capable of delivering instant access to the information consumers want and need, while ensuring exceptional experiences, reduced operational costs, and increased efficiency.

Confident in the capabilities of Astute Solutions, following the implementation of RealDialog™ Agent Assist in its contact center, the team at Unilever chose RealDialog Self-Service. Its Popsicle®, Klondike® and Breyers® U.S. brand Web sites were selected for the first three implementations, as the contact center was anticipating a surge in email volume from scheduled 800 number rollouts. As with the RealDialog Agent Assist solution, the return on investment with RealDialog Self-Service began immediately. Upon implementation, RealDialog Self-Service was successfully responding to 90 percent of all consumer inquiries. Emails escalated to representatives were reduced to just 10 percent.

Following the initial three sites, Unilever implemented RealDialog Self Service on its Promise® and Hellmann’s® brand Web sites earlier this month, followed closely by the Skippy® Web site. The company is well on track to meet its 2009 goal of taking seven of its high-traffic sites live.

Unilever’s online self-service success is backed by the powerful RealDialog knowledge engine – positioned with the implementation of RealDialog Agent Assist. It is exceptionally effective at addressing and resolving a wide variety of issues via self-service and in the contact center. RealDialog understands and processes natural language, so it can interpret the meaning behind consumers’ questions to deliver highly specific, concise and accurate responses up to 99 percent of the time. The user (consumer or agent) can ask a question and quickly receive an answer, with minimal effort.

When more information is required from the user to understand specific needs and questions, RealDialog’s conversational capabilities enable it to mimic an expert “live” agent. It engages them in an interactive, text-based dialog to arrive at relevant and contextual responses to questions. Higher issue resolution rates result.

When appropriate, RealDialog leverages user input to retrieve and incorporate specific information from consumer, product and other data repositories into its responses. This enables Unilever to fine tune the way it addresses the consumers’ specific needs or situations, resulting in more personalized service.

All of the functionality gained through RealDialog was critical for Unilever, given its wide-array of brands, products and consumer needs.

“The impact of implementing RealDialog Self-Service on our brand sites was instant,” said Linnea Johnson, director of consumer services, Unilever. “Consumers have reported that they feel like they’re chatting with a live agent. And what resonates most with them is the speed and accuracy of responses. They are getting exactly what they need online – exactly when they need it. This is at the center of our approach to delivering world-class service.”

Through its RealDialog implementations, Unilever has exceptional versatility. It delivers consistent, “branded” answers and information through multiple communications channels; facilitates best-in-class service through the contact center and online; increases efficiency in the contact center; and enhances consumer satisfaction. The company can also capture cross-channel, actionable “voice of the consumer” insights to drive continuous performance improvements, deliver a better consumer experience, assist in product development and enhancement, pinpoint opportunities and trends, manage risk, and augment market research.

Since implementation, Unilever has seen high-impact results, including:
• A 90% reduction in email volume as a result of effective online self-service with just 10% of emails escalated to representatives
• A 50% reduction in calls to the internal help desk, as its base of approximately 135 agents have immediate access to vast information from knowledge bases throughout the enterprise
• An improvement in call handling times
• A rapid return on its investment
“For a major consumer goods company like Unilever, there’s a world of difference between having self-service technology and providing effective online self-service,” said Astute Solutions’ President, Joseph Sanda. “Given the complexities of managing tremendous contact volumes on hundreds of brands and products across multiple information repositories; there’s no room to second guess your technology. This is where RealDialog excels. It can play a key role in tying disparate technologies and information to Unilever’s commitment and promise to its consumers.”

A case study of Astute Solutions’ initial implementations at Unilever can be accessed at www.astutesolutions.com/unilever. For more information on RealDialog and its RealDialog Agent Assist and RealDialog Self-Service solutions; visit www.astutesolutions.com/realdialog.

About Astute Solutions
Through award-winning customer interaction and relationship management solutions, Astute Solutions enables companies to differentiate through customer 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” feedback that leads 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.

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