J.D. Edwards Finds Web Animation Has Refined Customers' Inquiries

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J.D. Edwards & Co. said that its call centers have increasingly seen the quality of their customer inquiries improve since installing Cinemetrix's animation technology at www.jdedwards.com in January.

J.D. Edwards' business-to-business customers have been able to use a 12-minute animated tutorial called Searching for SARs, which stands for software action requests. The tutorial was designed to help their understanding of the site's search engine, which was built to aid in answering technical questions regarding the company's business software.

The animation also helps customers identify ways of using the SAR database; provides instructions on how to navigate the site; explains how to interpret search results; includes printable reference sheets; and offers a survey at the end of the tutorial to measure user satisfaction with the animation and the database.

Since its implementation, the number of inbound customer calls has not decreased, but the number of callers needing extensive help has declined, said Ed Hurry, senior manager of technology solutions at J.D. Edwards, Denver.

"There has been a drop-off in time per call," he said. "We believe it has enabled our call center agents to do higher-value work. And the animations make our customers more productive at the Web site and a lot more happy."

The tutorial was put together in five segments from which viewers can choose what they need to learn about the search engine. One section teaches viewers how to employ the site's Boolean searches, which mathematically cross-reference databases to draw information from narrow topics.

More than 7,000 customers have used the tutorials. Approximately 17 percent of those who started the animation remained to view the entire production. The firm also determined that 42 percent of the viewers went on to use the database.

Designed to work for users with regular phone modems, the technology has an array of marketing applications, said George Gagliardi, CEO of Cinemetrix, Newton, MA.

"When people think of animation, too often they think of something like Looney Tunes," he said. "There's a valid business purpose for using narrative animations."

The cost of the service largely depends on the extent of graphics and other content that must be incorporated into the marketing project. Gagliardi said a four-minute animation could cost $40,000 to $80,000.

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