importance of online customer service

The Importance of Online Customer Service

More and more customer service interactions are taking place online. The increasing prevalence of online customer services, like web-chat or social media, are changing the way customer service interactions are taking place. This article will outline the importance of online customer service and how it can be delivered effectively.

An unhappy customer online can share their upset far easier than in person. They can make comments on your website; leave scathing reviews; write critical remarks on forums; compose a harmful tweet, or easily find someone else offering a similar product.

Furthermore, once something negative has been written about your business, it is difficult to have it removed. This can damage your reputation as a business and could easily dissuade other potential customers from using you. Therefore, online customer service is becoming increasingly important and online customer service provisions are being enhanced.

Delivering Online Customer Service

Online Self-Service

Before a customer reaches out to you, it’s important to have some service provisions in place online. These might help a customer avoid unnecessary trouble and spend less time searching for the solution to their problem. Here are some essential tips to make sure your customers can ‘self-serve’ themselves:

  • Make sure your website is simple and easy to get around.
  • Ensure that your contact information is easily visible. Include telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, and opening hours.
  • If people use your business internationally, make sure your content is multi-lingual-friendly and easy to access. This will make customers feel more comfortable.
  • Be sure to have clear instructions to anything your customers may find difficult to understand. One way of delivering this is through creating a ‘Frequently asked questions’ (FAQ) page. This is a page your customers can visit to find answers to common customer problems or queries.
  • Regularly request feedback from your customers. To make your site as easy to use as possible, include options for customer feedback on website usability. This way you can tailor the site to better help customers.

‘Contact Us’

It is essential your website has an easy to locate section through which customers can contact you with queries. This can then be used in conjunction with FAQ’s to make sure a customer can easily get their question answered without spending excessive time.

By creating a simple form, customers can fill out the specific questions that they could not find in the FAQ. It is essential that someone in the customer service team is assigned to answer these queries quickly and correctly. Make sure that whoever is responsible replies quickly within an allocated timescale and understands how to answer customer’s questions clearly. However, if the response time is likely to be prolonged, ensure this is conveyed to the customer at the outset.

Online Forums

Another way of providing online customer service is through online forums. By creating a space for customers to interact with each other, you can increase consumer satisfaction with customer service. Forums allow customers to post questions or comments that other customers can view and react. Customers can often quickly find answers to common user questions. Furthermore, by enabling customers to help each other solve issues, this lowers costs, time, and resources.

Customers often respond to each other on forums quicker than customer service representatives feasibly can. Moreover, the answers they give are often enhanced by their experience with the product. If you trust the quality of your service or product and the loyalty of your customers, then customer forums provide a beneficial way of improving online customer service.

Nevertheless, forums must also be regularly monitored. Online forums must not be an excuse to offer less customer service. It should be used to augment and enhance other customer service provisions.

Live Chat

Live Chat makes it easy to help customers faster. It avoids the issue of delayed responses to emails, angry customers and keeps your customers engaged with your company website and products rather than losing their business to a competitor. The downside is of course that the service must be efficiently operated during listed business hours, to achieve the ‘immediate’ reply function that is sought.

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