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How to Use the Internet to Improve Customer Service



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Do you want to improve customer service and reduce your customer service costs at the same time? Use the Internet. Here are a few ideas.

The Internet is one of the best tools for providing customer service. Because of its very nature, it can also save you a lot of money. How can you use the Internet for customer service?

You might have heard about the SaaS customer success, like many other web applications you can manage your customer success program. You can improve customer satisfaction which can lead to customer retention and upsell. But, here are a few things that you need to do if you want to manage your customer services department on your own:

First, you can use your web site to address typical questions that have a fixed answer. By fixed answer, I mean that the answer is the same no matter who asks the question and under what circumstances. Here are some examples:

  • What are your business hours?
  • What is your address?
  • Do you accept credit cards? Checks? Debit cards?
  • What is your return policy?
  • What is your layaway policy?
  • Do you deliver?
  • Do you sell gift certificates?
  • Where can customers return merchandise?

The list can get quite extensive. However long it is, you can answer each of these in a “Frequently Asked Questions” page on your web site. Customers typically expect this page on a web site and know to look for it. Even if they don’t know, a link on your home page will quickly take them there. To decide what questions should be included, keep track of the questions that your customers are asking. The more frequently they ask the question the more the question belongs on the “frequently asked questions” list. The great thing about this is that it cuts down on the number of phone calls you receive and it requires little or no maintenance. Sure, once in a while you will add or remove a question. Once in a while, an answer might change. But the amount of work typically required to make the changes once the original page has been created is trivial.

Next, let’s use your web site to provide information of interest to a specific customer. This may include questions like:

  • Have you shipped my order?
  • Have you received my payment?
  • Did you credit my account?
  • When is my appointment?

If the information is kept on a computer system, then you can make the information accessible to the customer via the web. It requires a little bit of sophistication because you must be able to identify your customer. You don’t want to provide the customer’s information to just anybody. However, if done properly, the information can be available to the customer the moment your computer system has the information.

In addition to your web site, you can use e-mail to keep your customers informed. For example, you can program your computer system to send an e-mail to the customer as soon as an order is shipped, payment is posted, a credit is issued, or to remind the customer of an appointment. Your web site can also be set up to take a customer’s inquiry. The customer will simply go to a customer service web page and he or she will fill in the information pertaining to the inquiry. As soon as they hit the submit button, you will get the inquiry. If you like, an acknowledgment can be sent to the customer immediately via e-mail. Once the issue is resolved, the response can be sent to the customer via e-mail as well.

What are the benefits of taking this approach? Here are a few:

  • Your customer has access to information 24 hours a day.
  • You can accept and respond to customer service inquiries 24 hours a day without having the staff physically present.
  • You will provide better customer service.
  • You will reduce the number of incoming and outgoing phone calls.
  • You may be able to reduce the size of your customer service staff.

Not all customer service problems can be solved over the Internet. But then, that is also true of the telephone. Certain problems require the presence of the customer. Others require that you touch the merchandise. Also, there is the issue of the customer protecting his rights which may require mail inquiries. Finally, there is the customer who will refuse to use the Internet altogether or who doesn’t have access to a computer. Regardless of all that, providing customer service over the Internet is a great idea for most companies. As a rule, the benefits of implementing online customer service far outweigh the cost.

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