Web Based Customer Service and How to Avoid Mistakes

Right or wrong?

Web based customer service is becoming increasingly popular, and we should all be thankful for this. For the longest time, we were stuck with the bare necessities for customer service, relying mostly on call centers. For a while, this worked, but it became overburdened. Thankfully, email and help desk systems became available on the Paleolithic internet. Yet these tools didn’t work very well, and the attention to the internet was less than it is now. It was an obscure novelty, not part of daily life.

So, call centers remained dominant, and the systems just got worse and worse. Web based customer service didn’t work yet, so they turned to other gimmicks to make the call centers work better. Elaborate phone trees replaced simple directories, voice recognition replaced button tones. It was supposed to be more organic, and more efficient. But, it did not work. Voice recognition is not a mature enough technology, and phone trees rather than operators is just a frustration waiting to happen.

But, now we live in the second decade of the 21st century, not 1998. We find ourselves fifteen years in the future. Surely marvels must exist that make web based customer service more than workable now, so we can mostly retire the call centers. How can we harness the power of the modern web, to use properly for this industry?

Well, let’s focus on avoiding some common mistakes. Web based service and online help desks/FAQs are not the same thing. Help desks are outdated, outmoded concepts that do not work, and until they are made to work properly, should not be used if possible.

FAQs are fine, but relying on them is a grave mistake.

Next, know that you can use multiple channels for one larger function with the internet. You can have simple, basic customer service issues – ones not private, handled via Twitter. Twitter is already in everyone’s lives, being present there for CS will make you reachable in a nanosecond.

But don’t confine yourself to it, also strive for proprietary customer service online if you can. Design an intuitive self service system to some level. Use boxed onboard software if you like, most of it works rather well frankly.

This will reduce the workload on the call center for routine non-issues dealing with customers, and allow customers to solve many of their own problems. Strive for this, it is worth the effort. Don’t back out on designing this it is a very big mistake.

Finally, don’t forget to encourage both kinds of feedback online. Establish your Twitter account, and respond positively to all positive tweets about you, and respond apologetically for all negative ones.

Have a presence. Don’t make yourself seem apart from your user base. Be part of the internet, a casual place where people can interface.

If you avoid these mistakes and heed these tips, then your foray into web based customer service will be a pretty smooth ride. Call centers are obsolete. The internet is now such an integral part of our lives, there’s no point in communications that use anything but it in this century. How about you?

 

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Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe