eBay Finds a NICE Way to Save

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For eBay Enterprise, waves of structured and unstructured information were coming in from all sorts of channels. The company, which is headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., processes roughly 17 million customer contacts per year across the full range of channels on behalf of its more than 500 affiliated retailers worldwide. The company also provides some retail-optimized commerce, order management, fulfillment, customer care, and marketing solutions, but it is primarily a contact center operator.

Lowering average handle times, delivering consistent, high-quality service, and enhancing consumer experiences have always been eBay Enterprise's central focus. To continue doing those things, the company realized that all the interaction data it was collecting would have to be transformed into coherent form and analyzed.

So a little more than a year ago, eBay Enterprise implemented the Interaction Analytics solution from NICE Systems in its four contact centers. The company had been using NICE's call recording and quality monitoring software since 2009, so turning to the company for its analytics offering seemed like a natural fit.

"NICE had all the functionality, accuracy, and flexibility to meet our needs," says Robin Gomez, director of operational excellence at eBay Enterprise. "The company really positioned itself well to win the contract."

The e-commerce company currently employs 2,400 agents across contact centers in Eau Claire, Wis.; Brunswick, Ga.; Melbourne, Fla.; and Merritt Island, Fla. Many of the calls it fields have to do with customer questions about promotions on the individual retailers' Web sites or on the main eBay site.

"As we started looking at ourselves, we kept asking what more we could do for our customers, and we were looking at how to improve the consumer experience and tie in the voice of the customer," Gomez says. "We saw an opportunity to run analytics on all the calls that we were recording but doing nothing with."

NICE Interaction Analytics, which includes real-time speech analytics, can automatically analyze 100 percent of all customer interactions, past and present, to uncover the root causes of customer dissatisfaction, identify trending hot topics and key phrases in customer communications, and highlight customers who require immediate attention. The software can also gauge the emotional state of customers through tell-tale variations in pitch or tone and even ensure compliance with industry regulations and corporate policies by making sure agents adhere to interaction scripts. When agents aren't performing up to snuff, the solution can help managers guide them with next-best-action recommendations while they are still on the phone.

For its part, eBay Enterprise is primarily using NICE's Interaction Analytics to gain insight into cost per contact, analyze volume patterns and trends, evaluate agent performance based on contact type, and correlate average call handling time, dissatisfaction, and repeat calls to identify areas that require attention.

It is using those insights to determine how new hires are performing against tenured agents, which in turn is helping it to improve on-boarding and training processes. By applying analytics to frequent periods of silence, for example, the company was able to identify the reasons for the silence and recognize where certain agents needed additional support.

Interaction Analytics has become "a pretty important arrow in my quiver," Gomez adds.

"The biggest benefit is the ability to leverage the information that is captured," he points out. "We take the raw data from the phone calls and leverage it to improve our operations and address the speed and quality of the interaction."

By implementing the NICE solution, eBay Enterprise has succeeded in redesigning its call flows for efficiency, dramatically improving the efficiency of its contact centers, and enhancing the overall customer experience. For one client in particular, eBay Enterprise cut average call handling time by 17 percent, improved first-call resolutions by 1.4 percent, increased customer satisfaction by 3 percent, increased the sales close rate by 32 percent, and saved $2.4 million. At the same time, it cut the number of calls escalated to tier-two agents by 23 percent.

"I think we could have gotten some of those results without NICE, but not as quickly or efficiently," Gomez says.

The results are specific to that client, Gomez says, but they are typical of the ones eBay Enterprise has been able to achieve for clients across the board.

According to Gomez, eBay Enterprise is also now in a better position to provide clients with valuable insights into consumer interactions, helping them improve the overall consumer experience, increase satisfaction, and ultimately drive revenue.

"The data from NICE Interaction Analytics enables us to do that," he says. "In the last year, we have helped our clients significantly improve their bottom line by improving day-to-day operations and agent performance."

According to Gomez, NICE Interaction Analytics has helped eBay Enterprise drive down the need for tier-two agents at its facilities as well. "The system paid for itself early on," he says.

Based on the results it has achieved so far, eBay Enterprise has already expanded its use of NICE Interaction Analytics five times, and it is now rolling out the solution's text analytics capabilities to gain similar insights from chat and email interactions. Phone is still by far the company's largest channel, but growth in the email and chat channels has been strong in the past year or two.

And NICE is in it for the long haul. "NICE is committed to helping organizations create perfect customer experiences by ensuring that employees are engaged, knowledgeable, and ready for every interaction," said Miki Migdal, president of the NICE Enterprise Product Group, in a statement. "We applaud eBay for its great success with the NICE solutions. This is a terrific example of a large contact center operation that has made significant improvements in how it manages handle times and prepares its agents so that it can deliver an effortless and consistent customer experience across multiple service channels and touch points."

For eBay Enterprise, it's just part of the day-to-day operations now. "If you take the raw data from your phone calls, you can leverage analytics to improve operations and address speed and quality issues," Gomez says.

But he warns against placing too much emphasis on analytics alone. "Don't assume that analytics is the answer for everything," he states. "It can't solve everything for you."

It is a good start, nonetheless. "In anything you do, know what you're going after, and then find the right tools to get you there," he adds. 

App at a Glance

After deploying NICE Systems' Interactions Analytics in its contact centers, eBay Enterprise was able to produce the following results for one retail client:

  • cut average call handling time by 17 percent;
  • improved first-call resolutions by 1.4 percent;
  • increased customer satisfaction by 3 percent;
  • increased the sales close rate by 32 percent;
  • decreased the number of calls escalated to tier-two agents by 23 percent; and
  • saved $2.4 million.

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