HMV by: MCC International

Company: eGainCustomer: HMVSubmitted by: MCC InternationalDate: May 2000HMV UK is one of the country’s leading music, video and games retailers.

In October 1999, it further strengthened its online presence with an enhanced web site that carries more than 250,000 products and receives over 700 customer enquiry emails every day. It expects to continue to expand its online activities as part of a proactive, long-term commitment to e-Commerce.

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HMV UK knew that the enhancements to the website, and the increased business it stimulated, would generate an exponential increase in the volume of customer-generated email. In order to retain and grow its customer base, HMV recognised that it had to deliver the same exceptional standards of online service that customers associate with the company’s physical stores.


HMV UK uses eGain Mail to automatically route, track and respond to the growing volume of customer email covering a wide range of topics, including both orders and availability enquiries, together with general information requests. It has integrated eGain Mail tightly with its back office systems to ensure a proactive flow of information to the customer, keeping them closely informed of the status of their orders.


The customer service team is able to respond quickly to every form of customer enquiry received via email or web forms.HMV has found that up to 60% of enquiries are associated with common, repeating themes. eGain Mail has helped HMV UK to establish a knowledge base of frequently asked questions and responses, allowing each customer question to receive an appropriate, personalised response.The increased responsiveness encourages customers to form interactive relationships with the organisation, and allows HMV to build up customer profiles that enable it to distribute targeted, appropriate and timely information to online customers.

The Situation

As the UK’s leading music, video and games retailer, HMV has long recognised that the key to success in an intensely competitive market is an imaginative, proactive approach to customer service. A key element of its strategy is to match the high quality of service across both bricks and mortar and clicks and mortar environments.

By October 1999, its Web site carried 10,000 products and the company was receiving up to 500 e-mail queries per week related to availability and orders. Preparing to re-launch the site around a fully developed Internet solution, HMV UK’s Webmaster Gary Coller knew that e-mail traffic, and the resulting need for tracking and enabling the customer service team to respond as quickly as possible to each query, would increase dramatically.”As a company, we have always recognised in our stores that if you are civil and provide good service, your customer will stay with you,” he says. “We have tried to apply the same standards to our Web site, and that means reacting more quickly to a fast growing volume of e-mails. It’s a crucial way for us to differentiate ourselves from the competition.

“Once the site was re-launched, it gave customers access to a choice of over 250,000 products. Sure enough, the number of customer service-related e-mails exploded to as many as 700 per day.”The more efficient you become dealing with e-mail enquiries, the better your reputation,” says Coller. “Basically, you’re conducting constant online conversations with your customers. If those are resolved quickly and responsibly you can only increase customer satisfaction.

We know that if we give good customer service and get products out on time, we will grow our customer base.”

The Solution

HMV UK chose eGain Mail as the backbone for its expanded website, enabling it to automatically route and track customer emails to the service desk and interact more effectively with back office fulfilment systems. Far from being a purely reactive system, eGain Mail also allows HMV to generate automated e-mails informing customers of the status of their orders.Previously, HMV UK had used a bespoke system for email responses. “We chose eGain Mail because it had already been adopted and tested by our colleagues at in Canada.

We knew it was robust and that it worked,” says Coller. “Also, we saw the growth potential of the product. Having dipped our toe in the water of online commerce, we knew what was required and we were looking for a tool that would go hand in hand with our own development.”Overall, the transition in October 1999 was smooth and easy. Some integration with the back office systems was necessary but in partnership with eGain, Coller and his team were able to establish a platform that will allow HMV to constantly fine tune online interaction with its customers.”It was important for us to team with a supplier who listened to our business plans and would be prepared to incorporate them into future software solutions,” he says.

“We’ve already made a number of additions to enable the back office to talk to eGain Mail so that customers are informed automatically of any changes to the status of their order. And we’re also using it to distribute information such as newsletters and product lists to subscribers online. It’s enabled us to respond to a large volume of e-mail quickly, with a relatively small customer service team.”

The Results

HMV UK started to realise the benefits of implementing eGain Mail very quickly, both in terms of customer response and the enthusiasm of its customer service team for a system that actually helped them to be more productive and to provide a better service for their customers.”We’re still learning, but we’ve already seen how the more efficient we’ve become, the more email we’ve actually generated,” says Coller. “That’s given us a strong learning base.

Customers appreciate the novelty of a quick online response and we even get emails thanking us for fast service.”For the customer service desk, the major benefit of eGain Mail is the way it allows them to spread knowledge quickly and easily across the team. Queries are usually dealt with on a round robin basis, but each operator is a specialist in their own area. eGain Mail helps them to pool information in response to more specialised enquiries. The reaction, says Coller, has been very enthusiastic.In addition, the reports generated by eGain Mail help HMV UK to monitor productivity and efficiency levels, increasing the number of customer service representatives in response to the growing volume of emails.

“The knowledge base created as a result of tracking and auditing customer email queries is one of the main benefits of eGain Mail,” says Coller. “It’s invaluable when it comes to responding to further enquiries. Basically, it helps us to retain a history of every customer’s reactions to the service we’ve provided.”It has also facilitated the creation of a library of responses to certain queries. According to Coller, up to 60% of customer enquiries are of a similar nature.

EGain Mail provides a source of responses that allows service agents to pull out extracts and tailor them to form an individual reply more quickly.”eGain Mail has been an important element in our drive to increase customer satisfaction and differentiate ourselves through the quality of our online service,” concludes Coller.