What's New in Technology for November 2008

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Online Customer Service Basics Are Key

If online sales are crucial to your business’ success, it may be time to make sure that the high tech experience your customers receive is also high quality. Providing a quality experience doesn’t have to cost a business owner a lot of money. The basics don’t have to be fancy, but they do have to meet customer expectations.

Phone Support

Whatever innovations occur online, the personal touch never goes out of style. You don’t have to offer 24/7 phone support to give your customers the reassurance that real-time help is at hand if they need it. Just knowing that phone support is there if needed, may encourage customers to proceed with a Web-based transaction or to utilize your live chat option. The only important proviso is that you post your phone-support times prominently on the Web site, on your voice mail system, and in any company or product literature.

Live Chat

Live chat works like instant messaging, and many customers, who use instant messaging and blogging to communicate with friends and family, are comfortable using it. It provides the advantages of personal service with speedy real-time help. Customers type their comments or questions into a small window created by the browser, and send their queries to your customer representative, who replies in turn. Unlike telephone support, this option allows a customer service representative to handle more than one customer at a time. Make sure to display information prominently on your website detailing when “Live Chat” is available to customers, and include it on your phone messaging services, and on appropriate customer communication.

Order Tracking

A high percentage of most customer inquiries involve questions about delivery times or the status of a specific order. Many shopping cart programs offer a built-in order tracking function. Typically, they provide customers automatically with tracking information as soon as you enter an order into the system as “shipped”.

These systems can – based on the data you enter—provide updates and notify customers of any changes to the delivery timetable, but you may want to go a step further and develop “support ticket” components. This allows customer an easy, online means to alert you to some of the inevitable issues—e.g. goods damaged in transit or requests for exchanges—that may occur. In turn, you can reply with the appropriate information on exchange or return instructions. Investing in an order tracking system facilitates prompt handling of the everyday issues that occur in any business, and this type of automated response program can be a real time saver freeing you and your employees up to address other pressing business matters.

It takes more than an attractively designed site and appealing graphics to keep customers happy. Providing customers with options, and the reassurance that there are “real” people available to answer questions and resolve problems, will enhance your business reputation and help ensure repeat business.


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