A Guide to Providing Good Online Customer Support

122
customer

Helping out customers so that they get the precise value for the product or services that they have purchased is the very cornerstone of delivering good customer service. This is especially true for when things do not go right with an order and a customer requires support. Whilst some businesses have full teams dedicated to providing assistance to customers, those ones that deliver the best levels of customer service make it a priority right across all areas of the business.

Even though it is those businesses that benefit from having a high customer retention level that are at the forefront of delivering the very best customer service, it is true that in recent years all businesses, across all industries have upped their game. This is mainly due to changing customer behaviour that sees those companies that deliver good customer service being financially rewarded through increased sales. 

This is backed up by the latest research which shows that around 50 percent of American consumers have admitted to abandoning an online purchase because they experienced particularly bad customer service. Where a business provides really good customer service, 70 percent of shoppers in the USA are likely to spend more than they would with a business that has poor customer service. In fact, one single experience of receiving bad customer service is enough to make 33 percent of customers change over to a competitor.  

When it comes to customer service, one area where it must always be the very best is customer support. This is the help and guidance that they need when things go wrong or they are having trouble with something. One way of ensuring that this process is as easy as possible for customers is by having the correct customer service channels in place.

Customer Service Channels

The support channels that a business has in place are essential in determining both the type and level of customer service that can be provided. It is simply not realistic to expect that a small online business has multiple different channels in place by which their customers can make contact through. However, it is important to have the correct support channels in place that not only fit the business but also the customers also. 

Some of the customer service channels that businesses ought to have in place as very basic requirement include the following:

  • Live Chat – this provides a great way for businesses to give immediate support to their customers in real time. With most of the live chat apps that are available on the market, businesses can quickly add them and even change some of the settings so that the service is not available 24/7. After all, having a live chat function available on a website that is not manned at the point in time when a question is being asked is pretty pointless. They can even be located just on specific webpages, such as those ones with products that get the most questions or throughout the entire website; there is functionality to do both of these things, plus so much more.
  • Social Media – with customer communication that is done over any of the various social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram, they are out there in the public for all to see. Nonetheless, it is important to treat every customer the same, as interactions on these platforms really do have the potential to make or break a customer relationship. Businesses should not try spreading themselves too thin and, instead, only provide support to customers on the social media platforms that they do actually use.
  • Telephone – this more traditional means of contact is still very popular with lots of people. It provides the perfect support channel for those customers that are wanting to get help or guidance quickly or if their query is relating to a product or service that comes with a high price tag. For any businesses that this applies to, it is recommended that they set up a telephone line so that customers can speak directly with someone or have the ability to leave a voicemail. Where this service is not available 24/7, make sure that the opening times are clearly visible online. 
  • Email – very straightforward and easy to manage, providing that huge quantities of enquiries are not sent that is, there is no requirement for staff members to be always available to reply to them as customers naturally expect there to be a certain amount of time before they get a response through this means of contact. However, it is always helpful to display on a website the length of time that it typically takes to get back to a customer email. 
  • Help Content – try to head off the need to provide any customer support by producing a webpage that contains content, such as frequently asked questions (FAQs) or other helpful information that customers would find useful, such as shipping and returns information. Knowing what questions are frequently asked by customers can be difficult for those companies that are relatively young, so it may take some time to build these up to a point where they are actually helpful. It is important to keep on top of this information as it will be constantly revised in order to stay relevant and accurate as the business grows.

Not all of these customer service channels are going to work for every business out there, so it is important not to be scared of getting rid of any that are not performing as effective support channels. The main thing here is to provide a good quality level of customer support rather than lots of it that is not effective. Having too many customer service channels to manage can become something of a juggle, impacting on all customer service that a business is able to deliver. 

Some of the skills that are essential to providing good customer service include customer advocacy, creative writing skills, being creative on a limited budget, developing a positive language, and having an in depth product knowledge.