Today, new technologies and online capabilities bring a whole new significance to customer satisfaction. So, companies are adopting the latest online technologies as essential components of their customer service strategies. Lately, online support has made customer service a collaborative effort, offering new online community tools that empower customers to find their own answers. In these online support environments, agents must develop special skills to create and maintain outstanding service.
While self-help and community forums are an important aspect of the complete customer support package, you shouldn’t overlook the power of direct engagement when it comes to happy customers. Moving customer service functions online will provide cost savings to companies, but not every company can afford to do so especially those that offer mission-critical products and services.
In a recent article featured on ZDNet, Mark Johnson, head of the Asia-Pacific division for Message Systems, said that online customer service capabilities help companies cut costs because agents are able to conduct multiple customer chat conversations simultaneously.
Additionally, for hardware, software and mobile problems, online support is more efficient to resolve consumer issues. "For example, when working with a technology product, pictures or specific written instructions are sometimes more effective in solving the problem," Johnson told ZDNet.
Recently, Apple (News - Alert) began providing online support via its Apple specialists for iPhone and iPad customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Brazil. Now, those customers can get online help before and after purchasing their gadgets without having to go to an Apple store.
The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Chinese mobile operators began using microblogging site Sina Weibo as a channel for customer service staff along with traditional call centers. According to Johnson, online customer support should not be the only channel for customers to get assistance; it should be part of a complete support program with tools like live video chats, instant messaging as well as call centers.
"If a customer's computer or Internet connection is down or if the company's website or server is down, a pure online model without a call center is useless and can lead to disastrous customer backlash," he explained.
This is specifically important for businesses that offer mission-critical products as issues tend to be time-sensitive. For instance, Johnson said, it is a bad idea for a telecommunications company not to have a call center because many customers call in due to their systems being down, making it impossible for them to go online for help.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein