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Use Online Service to Stand Out from the Crowd

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 14, 2010

A customer’s support experience is a key factor in determining loyalty to your small business. Today’s customers increasingly prefer to find information online or seek out others’ experiences in real time instead of sitting in a call queue. As a result, the online experience often drives customer satisfaction as much as phone responsiveness. Immediate satisfaction rules the day.

The proliferation of e-commerce and new Web tools is driving higher levels of engagement between companies and their customers. Extending your company’s touch by offering interactive online support tools can set you apart and create a support experience that drives customer loyalty. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Start by implementing a few simple online support tools. Web forums, for example, help foster a community of collaborators who share general knowledge and information on common issues and fixes. Live chat is another option for providing fast access to experts. Start with providing chat for quick questions and then determine whether to expand to more complex service requests.

2. Get employees and support technicians invested in your success through online support delivery goals and training. Review existing processes and measurements to ensure there are no roadblocks. Service technicians should provide service online as easily as they do on the phone.

3. Enable your customers to personalize their support experience. For example, provide options to help customers filter out unwanted information and to customize the set of applications they use online.

4. Ask for and respond to customer feedback to get closer to your customers. You’ll not only show them that you’re listening, but you can leverage their feedback in your product groups.

Product offerings are important—but your self-help service capabilities will set you apart from the competition and create satisfied, loyal customers.

Tony Kolish
Senior Vice-President, Customer Support Services
EMC Corp.
Hopkinton, Mass.

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