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Small businesses with limited staff and resources can easily get overwhelmed when it comes to responding to their customers. Using homegrown tools and spreadsheets can get frustrating and jeopardize the customer relationship. The good news for businesses starting out today is the Web offers a whole host of easy, affordable tools that can help to ensure that businesses have a meaningful dialogue with their customers, even when they’re counted in hundreds of thousands. Below are three tips for startups on integrating Web tools into their customer service.
1. Legacy customer support systems built on complex rules and processes will create only headaches now and in the future. Look for a Web-based help desk product that allows you to eliminate any headaches associated with security, scalability, and ongoing maintenance. Keep the human touch in-house but outsource the infrastructure.
2. Creating a Frequently Asked Questions page is key, but the Web allows for an even more dynamic dialogue to take place among your customers. Including a discussion forum on your customer service page is a great Web tool to take advantage of, as it lets your customers with questions interact with the most knowledgeable and passionate among them.
3. Sure, angry customers can broadcast their frustration at the speed of light using sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but these are also places where your company’s most avid fans will flock as well. Having a dedicated staff person who interacts with customers to answer their urgent questions on Twitter shows how responsive and committed a company is to its customers. It’s not enough to throw up a corporate Twitter feed and a Facebook fanpage. Use these Web networks as just another way to keep a positive conversation going with your customers.
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To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.