SOURCE: eGain

June 08, 2005 07:45 ET

First of Its Kind Benchmarking Study Uncovers Major Shortfalls in Email Customer Service Among Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

A Stunning 51% of Businesses Failed to Respond to Emails With High-Value Purchase Intent in Study Conducted by BenchmarkPortal

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 8, 2005 -- In the first eService benchmark study focused exclusively on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), BenchmarkPortal, a leading source of CRM best practices for contact centers, found that online customer service provided by SMBs is even worse than the service level offered by large enterprises. This is the second study in the State-of-eService Benchmarking Series™ sponsored by eGain Communications Corporation (OTC BB: EGAN), a leading provider of customer service and contact center software.

The first study, released in August 2004, focused on 300 enterprises in the US and Canada with more than $250M in annual sales. The goal of the second study was to assess the state of eService in SMBs with annual revenues between $10M and $250M. Conducted in early 2005, the study evaluated 147 SMBs spanning five sectors: retail, travel and hospitality, financial services, e-business, and hi-tech manufacturing. Posing as customers, researchers made targeted email inquiries that demonstrated a clear intent to buy a high-value product or service. Both the timeliness and the quality of the responses were measured.

The study found that many North American businesses are missing out on revenue opportunities due to poor or non-existent email customer service. Among key cross-industry findings are:

--  A shocking 51% of the companies did not respond at all, versus 41% for
    enterprises.
--  70% of the companies failed to respond within 24 hours, versus 61% for
    enterprises.
--  79% of the companies responded with an inaccurate and/or incomplete
    answer. Here, SMBs performed better than enterprises, where 83% of the
    companies responded with an inaccurate and/or incomplete answer.
    
Among industry-specific findings, the highlights are:
--   Responsiveness
     --   The ebusiness sector performed the best in responsiveness, with
     52% responding within 24 hours.
     --   Surprisingly, the financial services and retail companies were
     the least responsive, with 72% and 60% respectively not sending any
     response at all.
--   Quality of response
     --   The travel sector performed the best, and even in this sector,
     two-thirds of the companies provided inaccurate and/or incomplete
     answers.
     --   Financial services again performed the worst with 89% of the
     companies providing an inaccurate and/or incomplete answer. High-tech
     was the second worst sector with 86% of the companies providing an
     inaccurate and/or incomplete answer.
"Email is a vital channel for gaining and sustaining customer interest and loyalty," said Dr. Jon Anton, reputed contact center thought leader and director of research for BenchmarkPortal. "The fact that 51% of North American small and medium-sized businesses are simply ignoring emails from high-value buyers is shocking. Our study serves as a wakeup call to the majority of North American companies who are losing business due to poor online service."

The handful of companies that responded promptly and accurately to customer emails increase trust in their brand, bolster customer satisfaction, and boost sales both online and offline.

"As customers increasingly turn to the web to conduct business, companies cannot afford to drop the ball on eService," said Ashu Roy, CEO of eGain. "eGain has helped hundreds of businesses, both big and small, set up best-in-class online service operations. Our customer deployments exemplify the amazing benefits of well-managed email customer service."

To learn more about the findings of the study, register for BenchmarkPortal's online seminar on June 8, 2005 or send an email to info@egain.com or information@benchmarkportal.com with information about your firm.

About BenchmarkPortal

BenchmarkPortal is the source for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) best practices information for call centers. Founded as a joint venture with Purdue University, the original benchmarking of call centers began at Purdue's Center for Customer-Driven Quality (CCDQ) in 1993 under the direction of Dr. Jon Anton, noted authority in all aspects of the customer contact and service industry sectors. BenchmarkPortal is continually growing its database, already the world's largest, for call center metrics and is extending both its national and international reach. Through BenchmarkPortal reports and its leading edge research, the company aims to contribute to the continual improvement processes of individual customer call centers, and ultimately to improve the performance of this vital sector as a whole, worldwide. In early 2005, BenchmarkPortal was awarded a U.S. Patent for its unique benchmarking methodology. For more information about BenchmarkPortal, call 805-614-0123, or visit their website at www.BenchmarkPortal.com.

About eGain®

eGain (OTC BB: EGAN) is a leading provider of customer service and contact center software for in-house or on-demand deployment. Trusted by prominent enterprises and growing mid-sized companies worldwide, eGain has been helping customer service organizations, help desks and e-business operations achieve and sustain service excellence for more than a decade. 24 of the 50 largest global companies rely on eGain to transform their traditional call centers into multichannel customer interaction hubs, and to extend their service-based competitive advantage.

eGain Service™ 7, the company's software suite includes integrated, best-in-class applications for web self-service, email management, knowledge management, live web collaboration through chat and cobrowsing, automation of fax and paper-based service interactions, case management, and service fulfillment. These robust applications are built on the eGain Service Management Platform™ (eGain SMP™), a scalable next-generation framework that includes end-to-end service process management, multichannel, multisite contact center management, and certified out-of-the-box integrations with leading call center, content, and business systems.

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, eGain has an operating presence in 18 countries and serves over 800 enterprise customers worldwide. To find out more about eGain, visit www.eGain.com or call the company's offices: United States: 800-821-4358; London: 1753-464646.

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