Pick n Pay Web editor Thrisha Harrilall was faced with an enormous challenge. Customers were able to visit the Pick 'n Pay website and leave queries, messages and suggestions, but all e-mails were routed to one generic address.

"Customer service is very sensitive,” Harrilall says. “We had no database of the queries coming in, and so we had no record of who answered the customer query and when.
“If a customer phoned us and said they left a message on our website a month before, we had no way of knowing what had happened to that message.”
And with all messages coming to one address, there was also no way of analysing the messages to spot trends or common problems and address them.
The solution was to automate the system, which Pick n Pay chose to do with Cambrient’s ContactSuite.
“We handle about 50 e-mails a day,” says Harrilall, which doesn’t sound too much for one person to handle. The trouble is that it’s not one person handing all the queries – there are 90  people on the system responding to customer e-mails at any given time. Cambrient ContactSuite now allows specific queries to be answered by exactly the right person.
“If you leave a message on our website, it can go in 90 different directions. Tracking the messages becomes very important,” adds Harrilall.
Cambrient software director Jarred Cinman says the system has found acceptance because it can track, monitor and report on all the activity on the system.
“If you have a query about where to find full cream yoghurt, that query will go to the person in Pick n Pay who handles yoghurt,” Cinman says.
“The system can report who answered the query, how long it took, and how many similar queries were received.
“If the yoghurt person is on leave, then the system can automatically escalate the query to another person. The system makes it easy to track how well Pick n Pay is responding to its customers.”
He says customers often prefer e-mails because there’s no holding time on the phone. They can type the e-mail query and expect a response in a day or two, which they can then read at a time that’s convenient for them.
Another benefit of the e-mail contact centre is that it can be implemented in-house. Now Pick n Pay warehouse staff can have access to their management via the e-mail contact centre. This makes queries easier to deal with. Even the CEO can be contacted using the system.
But reporting remains the key benefit of ContactSuite.
Harrilall agrees: “When customers ask about their messages, we can now tell them exactly who has their message in their inbox, and what the status is of their enquiry.”
As Cinman puts it: “The company can now hand down a substantial amount of responsibility for customer interactions to staff, without losing control.”
Cambrient ContactSuite is a dedicated e-mail contact centre solution, currently in use for this purpose at several other major organisations, including  Neotel and The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.