The Challenge

In an industry known for being fickle, Harte Hanks has been along for the ride with this client for more than fifteen years. When we first engaged, customer care was a nascent enterprise for the brand comprised of not much more than a traditional call center operation. The engine running behind call center reps was a repurposed marketing database, which relied on a limited and outdated Epiphany platform. This model was proving detrimental to being able to efficiently serve the customer. The resolution process was cumbersome, with agents having to place customers on hold while they frantically opened and searched numerous unconnected applications for answers to the most basic questions.

Very few customer interactions were able to be resolved autonomously, triggering the need to have to speak with an operator. This dramatically raised the cost of customer service. To complicate matters further, the advent of new digital channels, social media, SMS, chat and functional apps were quickly leaving their customer care effort in the dust.

Our Insights

For most customers, in terms of cost, a car is an expensive, considered purchase second only to a home purchase. Every car buyer, particularly the premium/luxury customer, begins the new car journey with the excitement of a five-year-old opening a birthday present. But the complexities and financial commitment of car ownership will invariably spawn questions, complaints and need for further information or clarification. Sometimes, a customer may even want to offer suggestions. It is during the post-purchase phase of car ownership that lifetime loyalty to a brand is built. And Customer Support is on the front line.

This brand was clearly using the wrong “tool” for the job. The marketing-based technology they employed to service customers was clearly inadequate on almost every level, which greatly diminished the efficiency of the call center reps and increased customer dissatisfaction. The customer was unable to find answers on their own, because there was no real mechanism for them to do so. Our client needed an omnichannel solution capable of fully integrating all layers of customer interaction into a single record.

Moreover, there was minimal information flow back to the dealership, often leaving the brand’s most valuable advocates in the dark.

Clearly, the time had come to trade in the old model…

Our Approach

As configuration experts in the area of customer care, our first job was to migrate the brand away from its aging marketing database to an Oracle Service Cloud solution. We have a deep partnership with both Oracle and Salesforce, and the capabilities and experience to develop proprietary integrations and customizations within these platforms.

Concurrently, we had to analyze and break apart the existing customer database to map existing customer records into a new comprehensive customer care model. One that would first direct customers to a robust self-service portal.

To do so required building a knowledge base of answers to questions and requests for information — to identify, categorize and compartmentalize all potential solutions to any customer inquiry. And create a customer-facing interface that was simple to navigate regardless of a customer’s channel of choice.

Then we needed to ensure that every piece of information we knew about a customer could be seamlessly accessed by an agent. So team members knew who they were speaking to and had essential repair records, household data and a full customer history at their fingertips.

We also provide full integration with dealerships through a dedicated dealer portal so that dealers can access everything we captured concerning their customers. Dealer-specific information and materials are housed within the same application.

Lastly, not all interactions are reactions. The Harte Hanks system provides proactive welcome materials, notifications to new car owners, and delivers key content protocols so customers know upfront exactly how to access customer support when needed. Without panic or stress. When customers are in a positive frame of mind, it’s a two-way street. They are overjoyed to share information about their car purchase that we can then feed directly into our lead generation efforts.

The Results

This brand now leads the pack as an early adopter of new technology solutions to constantly improve the Customer Help Center experience.

Our team built a fully integrated CRM to bring all functions and supporting systems into one solution, including the self-service portal, marketing journey, government trend data, and sales leads.


Exit percentage

Simply put, that means almost all customer complaints or requests are successfully resolved without the need for human assistance.