DMNews talks with Barry Berhoff, President, Shurhold Industries

Barry Berhoff, president of boat products manufacturer Shurhold Industries, discusses the company’s adoption of online customer support.

Q What was the motivation behind adding online customer support?

A Our biggest challenge as a manu­facturer is that we don’t have any inter­action with consumers, except for our Web site. And, that really is only for informational purposes – it doesn’t sell any product. So, we really wanted to do some fun things on our site to keep consumers coming back.

Q So, what did you decide to do?

A We worked with Conversive to create a virtual boat captain, which personifies Conversive’s automated customer sup­port service. He has information about our products and how to use them, as well as a wealth of other information, such as how to make a variety of cock­tails and how to tie knots. He’ll even tell you a joke if you ask him.

Q What are the benefits of adding this type of offering?

A It cuts down on the number of calls our customer service representatives receive, as this is one more way people can find information on the site — the other two are articles and videos. This helps make us an information hub and positions us as a leader in our industry.

Q How are you promoting the online customer support service?

A A visual representation of the cap­tain occupies a prominent spot on our company homepage and in the header. Also, as visitors click through the site, the automated customer supportis always highlighted in the header and in the right-hand column. Clickingon any of these takes visitors to the captain’s page, where he can start up a text chat with them.

Q What are some of the results?

A We have more site visits. People are staying on the site twice as long, and they’re visiting more pages now. We also learn some interesting things from reviewing the chat logs, because consumers seem to be less inhibited in a text chat than a phone conversa­tion. And, since introducing the captain, we’re receiving approximately 50% fewer calls to the call center.

Q What do you think has made this initiative so successful?

A It gives consumers immediate feedback to the questions they have. It is unique, and has a little bit of caché. And, it’s fun.

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