Global Response Shares B2C eCommerce Expertise with Bombay Company

Bombay began as a B2C company, became a B2B company for five years, then turned back into a B2C company. During that five years, Bombay lost a lot of institutional knowledge about distance selling. So when they began their search for a call center partner, they were looking for one with extensive experience in selling online and in e-commerce customer service. Global Response fit the bill on both counts, and now serves as a valuable source of business intelligence for Bombay on all aspects of selling over the internet.

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A Classic Outsourcing Decision

Bombay (www.bombaycompany.com) started as a mail order company in New Orleans in 1978. During the 30 years that followed, the brand grew to be a much-loved purveyor of furnishings and gifts. Bombay closed its doors in 2008, but re-opened that same year when Hermes-Otto International purchased the company’s U.S. license. Bombay is now a licensor of home and decorative products that can be found at several retail partners across the United States. In addition, the company recently launched its online store to sell directly to customers.

“Engaging an outsourced call center was a classic outsourcing decision for Bombay,” says Uwe Bald, Vice President, International Business Development, Hermes Europe. “Call centers are not a core competency for us and it would have made no sense to invest in building up the infrastructure and expertise necessary to run one internally. So we selected Global Response for their knowledge of the e-commerce space and the personal attention they give their clients and their clients’ customers.”

For Bombay, Global Response currently provides customer service over the phone and via email. The company is also investigating the possibility of working with Global on social media support.

Providing B2C Business Intelligence

Bald says that selling online presents several challenges for Bombay. “First,” he says, “furniture isn’t a typical item to sell over the web. It’s bulky, and therefore harder to ship. Second, we were used to shipping to other retailers, which is very different from shipping to individuals. Shipping a single item to an individual requires entirely different packaging from shipping several items on a pallet to a B2B customer. Global plays a valuable role in gathering feedback on the customer experience—from using the web, to placing orders, to receiving their merchandise. Then they analyze and share that feedback with us, and collaborate with us on ways to improve our policies and procedures.”

Because Bombay sells primarily over the web, they don’t talk directly to their customers. “But Global Response does,” says Bald, “and they serve as our ear to the ground. They pass along to us valuable first-hand information on customer reaction to our products, processes, brand and company.”

For example, says Bald, when Bombay launched its website to re-enter the B2C market, the company was puzzled by the initial response. “We saw from our analytics that there was plenty of activity on the site, but also a high percentage of abandonment on the product detail pages, and customers weren’t getting to the shopping cart. Looking only at analytics made it was hard to understand what was driving the numbers. When we met with Global Response, we found out that customers thought the new website was a virtual showroom and instead of buying on the site, they were calling Global to ask where they could find the nearest Bombay retail store. That was a key insight. We could see our conversion rate was unexpectedly low, but learning that customers were actually looking for the stores—which Global told us—clued us in to what was going on and what we needed to change.”

Bombay acted on the information from Global to make it clearer to customers that they could buy products on the site. They redesigned the site to display a more-prominent call to action, and added better product descriptions and videos so customers could get the information they needed to make a decision to buy over the web. They also included a section on retail chains that carry Bombay products so customers would know where to go to buy products in person.

Understanding Brand Value

Bombay has a loyal customer base. Understandably, they want to retain those customers and build their base with new customers. “We see Global Response as a valuable partner for both of those goals,” says Bald. “They understand brand image and brand value and deliver great service to our long-term and new customers. They also deliver great client service to us in being able to categorize responses from customers and make suggestions on how to improve the customer experience, our products and our sales.”

Bald says Bombay also values aspects of Global Response that set it apart from other call centers. “An outsourced call center with so many long-term employees is unique,” he says. “The benefit of that for us is that they offer a level of consistency in their customer service—which customers notice—and a true partnership with clients. They’re doing everything we’re asking them to do and we’re very happy with them. Global Response is a good fit for us.”