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Danier Leather

The Challenge
Founded in 1972, Danier (TSE:DL) has been manufacturing and retailing for over a quarter of a century, earning international recognition as a leader in leather and suede design. With over 70 stores across North America (primarily in Canada), Danier has built a successful business anchored by their dedication and commitment to customer satisfaction.

The company wanted to expand their existing presence in the United States, but decided that a more profound impact could be made by investing in a substantial ecommerce site rather then building the number of bricks and mortar retail locations necessary to gain national visibility. Kevin Strachan, Vice President of Ecommerce for Danier contracted IBM to help architect such a site and began working on the marketing strategy.

Danier has always been known as a company that provides superlative service to their customers, and Kevin wanted to make sure that their ecommerce efforts reflected this philosophy. They decided to create a co-sourced contact centre to support customers using the website, staffing the brightest and best from Danier’s retail locations, augmented by customer service professionals. Heading this effort was Mary Gordon, promoted to Ecommerce and Customer Service Manager from Danier’s retail side. Mary had deep product knowledge and customer service ability to support her new team, but didn’t have experience running a contact centre. In the fall of 1999, Danier contracted TelePartners to support the in-house contact centre, with a mandate to have solid systems in place for the Christmas season.

The Solution
It was decided to split activity between Danier and TelePartners in order to provide the ability to manage customer volume. The first step was to implement a LiveChat application on the Danier website. This technology enabled our combined customer service agents to interact online with text chat and ‘page push’ technology with visitors at critical moments during their web visit.

Consider the following facts:

  • 75 percent of all e-shopping carts are abandoned before the purchase is actually complete. Nine out of 10 shoppers who abandoned their carts did so because of a lack of customer service. (Web Merchant Fall 1999 Cybershopper Survey)

  • 72 percent of respondents said that customer service is critical in shopping satisfaction. Less then one percent of all ecommerce websites offer live customer assistance. (eMarketer, June 2000)

David Hind-Smith, Vice President at TelePartners sourced the necessary software, and coordinated with IBM and Danier to implement it on the website and at customer service agent level. Combining the interactive nature of the Internet with the dependability of traditional customer service, this program was targeted to help Danier build strong, lasting relationships, convert browsers into buyers and turn one time visitors into loyal customers.

The next step was to coordinate the two centres’ telephony systems to make sure that they could act as one. TelePartners worked with the Danier internal IT team to make sure that the calls could be balanced between the two locations.

The third step was for TelePartners to build web-enabled software to replace the paper systems Danier had in place to handle customer inquiries that occurred over the phone and LiveChat. The development team at TelePartners built a web enabled system to capture and report on customer activity, so that calls taken at either location would reside in a single database hosted at TelePartners, accessible over the Internet.

The last and most important step was to carefully train the TelePartners customer service team so that they absorbed the Danier philosophy and product knowledge. Mary Gordon led this area, and trained the TelePartners staff as she did her own in-house people. The program went live December 1st, 1999.

The Result
The result is a stellar example of how a co-sourcing arrangement can be a success for both partners. Danier’s ecommerce site was successfully launched with much fanfare in December 1999, and instantly began generating revenue and exposure in areas of the United States and Canada where they have no physical retail locations. Sales resulting from the ecommerce site have steadily grown, but implemented in such a way as to maintain Danier’s reputation for quality and service.

By sharing the best practices of both companies, Danier has benefited from TelePartners’ experience running and managing Internet enabled contact centres, while TelePartners has gained valuable knowledge by absorbing Danier’s customer centric retail experience. Danier has managed to retain complete control over the quality of service they offer their clients, while maintaining flexibility and load balancing handling live customer contacts.

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