SUNNYVALE, Calif, March 11, 2002 – eGain Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: EGAN) today announced the first Japanese deployment of an online virtual agent for customer service. eGain Assistant ™, the company’s innovative software for creating Web-based virtual service agents, is powering an online virtual agent for Hokkaido Bank, one of Japan’s largest banks, with $28 billion in assets. Launched on February 25, 2002 at Hokkaido Bank’s Rapido Branch online outlet, eGain Assistant helps the bank’s Web site visitors complete loan and credit application forms, and thus lowers the transaction abandonment rate.
Rapido Branch specializes in individual loans and offers “Rapid Card” which gives users easy access to their account information. By using eGain Assistant, Rapido Branch provides convenient Web-based self-service for customer support, and monitors the fluctuation of card member applications on the Web.
As with all deployments of eGain Assistant, the virtual agent provides both company information as well as an emotionally intelligent interface, and has been customized to reflect the company’s culture and personality. In Hokkaido Bank’s case, their anime-like virtual agent has large friendly eyes, wears a Hokkaido Bank employee uniform, answers general questions, and supports the application process, such as filling out new application forms from the web.
With the high adoption rate of Internet in Japan, where more than 30% of the population has Internet access , new bank membership applications can easily be completed on the Web. However, similar to abandonment rates elsewhere, 75% to 80% of people give up before completing new applications due to questions about the site content and how to complete the Web forms. For Hokkaido Bank, this resulted in increased phone inquiries as well as the need for additional customer service representatives. Rapido Branch selected eGain Assistant to solve this problem.
With Hokkaido Bank’s new virtual agent, Web site visitors submit questions in natural-language format, just as if the customers are communicating verbally. During the interaction between user and virtual agent, eGain Assistant maintains a dialog for the customer on the subject at hand, and projects animated facial expressions on the screen that reflect the flow of each conversation. To make the virtual assistant both lifelike and consistent with Japanese cultural norms, Hokkaido Bank’s agent expressions were optimized for the Japanese market. For example, compared to a Western facial expression, the agent appears almost giddy when “she” is happy, but breaks eye contact and looks away when she’s upset. In contrast, the bold virtual agent eGain has deployed on its Web site blew kisses at the intrepid souls that flirted with her on Valentine’s Day.
Hokkaido Bank’s virtual agent is the first of many that eGain expects to deploy in the Japanese market. According to eGain’s president Gunjan Sinha, Japan has a particular affinity for eGain Assistant: “When we previewed eGain Assistant in Japan this past Fall 2001, the response and interest from the Japanese market was overwhelming,” said Sinha. “In addition to the steady progress we have made in Japan with other eGain solutions, we expect eGain Assistant will be especially popular.”
Screen shots of Hokkaido Bank’s virtual agent are available upon request.
1. 30.6% of Japan’s population has Internet access according to August, 2000 report by Nikkei BP.
eGain (Nasdaq: EGAN) is a leading provider of eService software. Selected by 24 of the 50 largest global companies to improve phone and Web-based customer service, eGain solutions increase service efficiency and customer retention – thus delivering a significant return on investment (ROI). eGain eService Enterprise – the company’s integrated software suite – includes applications for email management, Web collaboration and self-service, and enterprise-wide knowledge management. eGain has an operating presence in 18 countries and serves more than 800 enterprise customers worldwide – including Vodafone, DaimlerChrysler, and ABN AMRO Bank. To learn more about eGain, please visit http://www.eGain.com or call the company’s offices – United States: (888) 603-4246; London: +44 (0) 1753 464646; or Sydney: +612 9492 5400.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: All statements in this release that involve eGain’s plans, forecasts, beliefs, projections, expectations, strategies and intentions are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to eGain at the time of this release, are not guarantees of future results; rather, they are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in this release. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the anticipated customer benefits from eGain products; successfully integrating Inference Corporation into our product and business activities; increased competition and technological changes in the market in which eGain competes; our ability to manage growth; intense competition for qualified employees; and other risks detailed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our annual report on Form 10-K filed on September 28, 2000, and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. eGain assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
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