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Company: Earthlink, Inc.
Contact: Dave Flammia, Director of Call Center Innovation
Location: Atlanta, GA
Industry: Internet (B2B, B2C)
Annual revenue: $1,300,000,000
Number of employees: 2200

Quick Read:

Earthlink is one of the country's smaller Internet service providers, serving just over 5 million customers. As such, it needs to differentiate itself—and has decided to do so by providing superior customer service. As a public company listed on NASDAQ, it is also under constant pressure to improve service without adding costs.

An early adopter of chat technology, Earthlink has sought to actively offer efficient online customer service via chat technology, encouraging customers to help themselves. In the process, it has been able to shift customer support away from the phone channel, increasing customer satisfaction and dramatically reducing expenses. The cost of each service chat is about one-third that of a phone contact.

The Challenge:

The Internet sector is one of the most competitive. How does a small ISP stand out? By marketing and truly offering an efficient self-help experience for its tech-savvy audience.

"We really pondered how do we make self-help more useful to our customers, and we saw proactive chat as giving us an edge," said Dave Flammia, Earthlink's director of call center innovation.

In September 2006, EarthLink sought to develop a service application to reach customers who were likely to abandon online self-service, or skip it altogether. If successful, the service would allow the ISP to reach out to online customers proactively—before they reached the point of frustration—providing Earthlink with additional opportunities to build customer loyalty.

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