Technology services like email, live chat and website forums can help small businesses be more responsive with customer service
Instead of getting in the car to drive to a shopping mall or flipping through a phonebook to find a service company, many customers and small business owners now head to their computers when they want to buy something or need help. The manner in which a company provides online customer support often determines whether potential clients say “yes” and whether regulars return.
Digital technologies like chat software can improve customer support if you use them efficiently. Key technology solutions include timely response to email, live support and customer self-service features on websites including forums. Here are ways to use these strategies to make customers happy and keep them coming back.
Optimize Self Service Choices
With the spread of smartphones and consumers connecting to the Internet 24/7, accessible company websites attracts customers. Whether it keeps them depends in part on the efficiency of its self-service choices.
Website self-service primarily includes informational services such as FAQ (frequently asked questions) lists, contact forms to seek answers to questions not covered in the FAQ list and submittal forms for providing customer feedback.
Self service also includes online texting with company representatives. However, Inc. magazine says to avoid chat buttons if you can’t keep someone standing by to answer inquiries, because this alienates customers. At the least, Forbes adds, a real-time texting service should include recorded comments, such as “Leave us a message,” when the system isn’t active.
Customers like helping themselves. It warns that if you aren’t providing self-service tools on your website or mobile application, “you are missing out on a huge opportunity to create more engagement.”
Respond to Email Quickly
Whatever the manner that a company receives customer contacts, response needs to be timely. Obviously, customer service email is a rapid way to answer customer questions, set appointments and begin any troubleshooting necessary for previous purchases. However, it isn’t efficient if it remains in digital mailboxes overlong.
Provide Helpful Live Chat
When customers have questions while making a purchase or seeking help online, access to live customer support is important. Sometimes inquiries are complicated, such as software support, and require in-depth telephone conversations.
For customers who have hearing problems or difficulty understanding a variety of accents, chat may be a more satisfying than a telephone conversation.
Phaseware says that these written conversations are best for low to moderately complex questions. Instead of replacing telephone support, it should be one of multiple ways in which customers can seek help.
Forbes magazine notes that live support can be particularly effective and gratifying — for customer, staff and company — when employees who work on products or marketing are able to text with customers. Direct communication provides workers with real-time information about a product, service or need, Forbes adds. It allows company experts to spend less time making mistakes at the “drawing board.”
Help Customers Help Each Other
Another self-service choice that many growing companies are providing is the customer forum in which clients can swap information and help solve each other’s problems.
A forum is a comment section that allows customers to interact. Although moderated by company specialists, it primarily contains notes from one client to another.
Forums are composed of a community that is member driven. Those members participate by reaching out, helping others and sharing knowledge.
By Guest Contributor – Allyson Bonavita loves the outdoors almost as much as she loves writing. A New York native, Allyson studied at NYC and now freelances for technology-related clients in her spare time.
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