Going shopping on the Internet has become a very common task for most
of us. We research electronics items that we want to purchase, compare
prices of computers and cameras, and buy gifts and books to avoid running
from store to store. Being able to access so many shops so
quickly is fast and convenient for the customer.
The Internet as a sales channel also reduces
the cost of taking orders for the providers of these shops. However, there
may be missed opportunities. For the companies that provide these Web
Shops, this also means that if customers have a problem finding the right
information, have an unanswered question about a product, or want to order
an out-of-stock item, the competition is only a mouse-click away. In these
situations, self-services on a site are not enough.
Enter a live, human representative on the
Internet, who is available to answer customer questions immediately.
This representative, or agent, is directly
accessible, so that the customer doesnt even need to leave the Web
Shop to search for the right 800-number. Instead, the customer can contact
an agent immediately while still looking at the product within the
Web Shop with questions about technical specs, special delivery,
or elusive warranty information. In assisting the customer, the agent
then has the opportunity to close the sale, cross-sell complementary products,
and increase the conversion rate of browsers to buyers.
By supplementing the automation of the
Web Shop with live, human contact between customer and agent, customer
service and responsiveness are increased. Live Web Collaboration (LWC)
provides this interaction as part of the new functionality introduced
with Release 3.0 of SAP Markets Internet Sales.
LWC provides the integration between the
Web Shop, in which products are sold through the Internet channel, and
the Interaction Center, in which agents respond to customer telephone
calls as well as web-initiated contact requests (see Putting the
Pieces Together: LWC in the SAP System Landscape below).
Putting the Pieces Together: LWC in the SAP System Landscape
Both Internet Sales and the Interaction Center reside within mySAP
Customer Relationship Management (CRM). As a result, both solutions
take advantage of common business partner and product information.
LWC is a Java-based application, which runs on the SAP J2EE engine
(SAP J2EE application server) of Internet Sales (as of Release 3.0).
The LWC customer-facing user interface is integrated within the
Web Shop, where the customer requests live contact with an agent.
The LWC user interface shown to an agent within the Interaction
Center may be run on a separate server to accommodate firewall issues.
The Interaction Engine handles the initial routing of the web-initiated
contact request, then manages the ongoing communication between
the customer and agent. The Co-Browsing Engine is accessed when
a customer requests a co-browsing session in addition to the initial
method of communication.
The customer experience within the Web Shop can then be passed
to the agent using advanced click-stream technology, currently on
a project basis. The agent can replay the session to view the actions
of the customer that led to the contact request. This tracking of
the web customer experience is performed together with products
from TeaLeaf Technology, Inc. (www.TeaLeaf.com).
Another application to replay a customer session is available directly
from TeaLeaf. Access to the customers personalized view of
the Web Shop and the actions taken prior to requesting assistance
gives the agent a good base upon which to continue the interaction
As a next step, LWC information will be incorporated into the sophisticated
analytics of SAP BW (Business Information Warehouse) to provide
information on both call statistics and the business partner interaction
history. A consolidated view of all interactions, whether they were
initiated from the Web Shop or more traditional channels, such as
telephony, provides the maximum information for analysis.
To complete the 360-degree view of
all customer contacts, including Internet-based interactions, events
(customer actions) performed in the Web Shop are captured and imported
into SAP BW (as of Release 2.1). Predefined events, the TeaLeaf
session-capturing technology, and predefined reporting structures
are delivered as an integral part of Internet Sales and SAP BW.
This web-based information, such as placing an item into the shopping
basket or requesting a chat, is not available to mySAP CRM if the
full business process was not completed. For example, the information
that a customer requested a chat, but dropped off the site before
an agent picked up the chat request, is valuable input for the optimization
of both the Web Shop and the Interaction Center.
Inside the Web Shop: Customer Requests Live Assistance
Instead of simply moving on to a competitors site when a question
arises, LWC allows the customer to contact an agent directly from within
the Web Shop, enabling the agent to provide answers quickly, ensure the
loyalty of customers, and since LWC can be accessed throughout
the sales process close the sale.
Customers most often require the following
types of assistance:
Administrative help: Customers
may need a password reset in order to access personalized information.
Navigational help: Customers
may not be able to find a particular product, or there may be an error
on the site.
Informational help: Customers
may need additional technical specs for a product, or need to know the
return policy for gifts.
Sales order processing help:
Customers may be concerned about the freight cost or entering credit card
information. Agent responsiveness here is especially critical to closing
From the Web Shop, customers have a number
of options for initiating contact with an agent:
E-mail: Within the Web
Shop, e-mail is implemented using a form-based approach, to ensure that
this option is accessible from public kiosks. E-mail, as an asynchronous
method of communication, is often used for research, when the buying decision
is not immediate.
Call-me-back request: The
customer provides a telephone number and an initial question. The agent
calls the customer back immediately using the provided number. The customer
benefits by not needing to search for a number, or waiting on hold before
speaking to an agent.
Voice-over-IP (VoIP) request:
If the customer does not have access to an additional telephone line,
but would still like a callback, VoIP allows the agent to call the customer
back using the existing Internet connection. The IP address is read automatically
from the customers computer.
Chat: Text-based, synchronous
communication between customer and agent takes place over the same Internet
connection, while the customer is still in the Web Shop. A separate window
is opened, allowing the customer to still access the entire Web Shop while
communicating with the agent. The customer does not need to download an
applet, and no refresh is necessary to display the ongoing chat, allowing
for hassle-free communication, as shown in Figure 1. The customer
can save and print a transcript of the session, as well as send files
to the agent.
available on a project basis): During the course of the communication,
the agent and customer may determine that they should share the Web Shop
session, to allow the agent to provide maximum service. Co-browsing allows
both parties to interactively control the same Web Shop session. The customers
personalized Web Shop, as well as any information the customer has already
completed, such as a form, is available to the agent. To alleviate security
concerns for the customer, the agent is prevented from seeing sensitive
data (i.e., credit card numbers and passwords) or taking certain actions
(i.e., confirming the order). No other desktop applications are shared.
These communication methods facilitate
synchronous, live communication between customer and agent, and can be
tailored to the goals of the site.
||Agent-Customer Communication Without Leaving the Web
Inside the Interaction Center: Agent Responds to Web Shop Customer
To provide the best service, these web-initiated contact requests need
to reach the most appropriate agent. For example, a customer with gold
status may be routed to the highest-performing agents, or a customer logged
on in a particular language can be routed to an agent fluent in this language.
As part of LWC, business routing logic
based on Web Shop context, customer attributes, and agent skills
is implemented. Alternatively, the Web Shop context can be passed
to an external routing engine, such as one provided by CTI (computer telephony
integrator) vendors. The web-initiated contact request can flow through
the multi-channel interface, which manages the different queues (such
as Internet, telephony, and e-mail) from which an agent can be contacted
in a unified way.
To handle these contact requests efficiently,
the Web Shop context is available to the agent, along with contact statistics.
For callback requests, the initial question posed by the customer and
the contact details are provided. If the contact with the customer occurs
via chat, the agent has the ability to choose from predefined phrases,
URLs, and files, which can then be sent to the customer. To make the most
efficient use of the agents time, multiple chats can be processed
concurrently. Once each web-initiated interaction is completed, the interaction
history is stored in the same format as other contacts handled in the
Interaction Center, ensuring consistency for agent handling and for reporting.
LWC is tightly integrated into the Interaction
Center, shown in Figure 2, which provides agents with the ability
to respond to web-initiated contact requests, while still accessing all
other common standard functions, such as researching a customers
prior orders and interactions. Agents can research customer questions
using a familiar environment, while providing a strategic new service
to customers in the Web Shop.
||The Interaction Center
For More Information
LWC is an integral part of your Web Shop for connecting customers to
the Interaction Center and providing enhanced customer service and satisfaction
which, in turn, boosts customer loyalty and sales.
Additional information about the Interaction
Center and mySAP CRM is available at www.sap.com/crm.
For more on Internet Sales and LWC, visit the SAP Markets site, www.sapmarkets.com,
and look for additional information for customers and partners at http://inside.sapmarkets.com,
under the solution mySAP CRM E-Selling.
Birgit Starmanns holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. from the College of William
and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Birgit joined SAP Markets, Inc. in
Palo Alto, California in mid-2000 as product manager for E-Selling Applications.
Prior to joining SAP Markets, she was the e-commerce project manager in
the Simplification Group at SAP Labs. Before joining SAP, Birgit consulted
for nine years at numerous companies on implementing R/2 and R/3. You
can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.