Think Your Customers Want to Talk to You? Think Again

With self-service customer support options costing only a fraction of phone support, augmenting your traditional call center services with robust online options will not simply save you money, it will answer what 73% of customers are demanding: the ability to help themselves at any time using a variety of tools on your web site.

For some people, the one-on-one personal experience with a traditional call centre agent may never be replaced by automated, online services. Whether it is the emotional satisfaction of connecting with another human being, a complex scenario that needs a high degree of touch, or simply a lack of understanding or access to technology, on average 73% of customers still pick up a telephone when they have an issue or a question that needs to be addressed. But does this mean that your customers really want to speak to you?

Is Your Website Meeting Your Customer Support Demands?

There is a common misconception that your customers want to talk to you. In Forrester’s 2010 North American Customer Experience Online Survey, they reported that while phone is still the most common customer service channel, 72% of respondents actually prefer to use a company's web site to get answers to their questions rather than contact companies via telephone or email. What this research confirms is that customers are using the telephone because online alternatives aren’t getting the job done.

As companies begin to invest in better online customer service alternatives, a growing majority of people are selecting the time-saving, do-it-yourself methods of handling queries and account management because it delivers so much more than just a friendly voice at the other end of the line. A self-driven customer portal opens the door to information in a way that cannot be equalled by a call centre: by having this intelligence readily available online to be consumed at a pace that the customer demands. It becomes an easy, cost-effective way to deliver instructions, advice, facts and details about products and services to consumers. Today’s technology provides the tools that allow your customers to:

  • Get their questions answered through FAQs and Search options
  • Update account information, like contact numbers, address changes, etc.
  • Make payments and check account status online
  • Watch videos for instructions and demonstrations
  • Learn more about products and services from informative blogs at their own pace
  • Interact with peers through community forums
  • Be directed to linked websites for helpful, pertinent data
  • Work to their own schedule – 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year
  • Utilize Live Chat for personalized assistance when required

A Cost-Cutting Tool, Yes – But So Much More

According to  , self-service capability results in a 15.6% reduction in service requests. This means decreased overhead costs and increased productivity at the help desk. But the real payoff may be in terms of brand loyalty, where your organization will garner the largest rewards.

Because delivering a variety of integrated self-service options through a multi-channel portal provides a clear advantage to consumers who enjoy immediate service whenever they want, from wherever they are, using any device, this translates to a favourable consumer experience. And in today’s competitive marketplace, that’s a major factor in customer retention. When you consider that the cost of earning new business is about 7 times higher than retaining a current client, it’s a slam dunk.

Your Self-Service Check-List – What’s On Your Web Site?

To augment your call center and phone support options, ensure that your self-serve help desk includes the following:

  • If a customer has to register for service, ensure that set-up is easy and intuitive;
  • Protect privacy and avoid data breaches by enabling password protection for personal information;
  • Employ user-friendly technology that can be accessed from any type of device, especially smart-phones and tablets;
  • Anticipate and provide answers for common questions and concerns which will reduce the need for agents to take phone calls;
  • Provide a means for users to log requests for callback assistance when they cannot resolve an issue for themselves;
  • Set up a community forum so customers can help each other – peer-to-peer support builds loyalty and trust;
  • Include social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and set up mechanisms to respond to complaints;
  • Update blogs and videos regularly so customers can learn more about existing and future products or services, or keep abreast of changes that may affect them.

Customers Matter

Next to your sales desk, the help desk may be the most important tool you have for growing your business. Augmenting your help desk with a self-serve portal is the next step in delivering first class service to your valued customers as well as a scalable and profitable way for your business to operate.