Automating Your Customer Support
My regular readers will know that one of the things I highly recommend doing with any online business is automating as many of your day to day tasks as possible.
From a personal point of view, one of the tasks that takes up a lot of my time is answering emails. It isn't just answering email that eats up the hours - sorting through and deleting spam and junk mail absorbs a lot of time too. In the good old days, I used to get a couple of spam emails a day. Now it is closer to 1000 a day!
In fact, when you look at it, email isn't always the best form of online communication. Not only is there the junk mail issue to contend with but also the fact that email is not 100% reliable. Emails do 'go missing' far more regularly than you might expect. Often this is simply because the recipients email software has decided that a particular email is junk and has transferred it directly to the 'Delete' folder. Other times it may be because the recipients ISP has decided that the email is junk and deleted it BEFORE it has even been seen by the recipient! (Yes this really does happen - imagine if your postman sorted through your mail and made the decision of which letters you want and which ones he should throw away?!)
One way to help avoid the spam problem when dealing with customer support enquiries is to make use of a contact form on your website instead of posting an email address. This will certainly help to cut down on spam but it still means that you have the problem of emails not getting to their destination (and when you have a frustrated customer waiting for assistance this is not ideal).
Therefore, probably the best option on the market presently is a full-blown helpdesk system. Setting up a dedicated helpdesk is a superb way of automating your customer support and speeding up the process of dealing with enquiries and support emails. Not only that but if you use a system that allows customers to create 'tickets', you don't have to rely on email as your customers can login to a special web page and view both their tickets and your replies online.
Another feature of many helpdesk scripts is an 'FAQ' or 'Knowledgebase' section. This is simply a collection of the most frequently asked questions/queries/problems along with answers and solutions. This means that customers can search the knowledgebase and hopefully find the answer to their question without having to contact Support at all.
Some of the more advanced scripts will even scan the customers support ticket prior to submitting it and then list a few possible answers to their questions just in case they didn't read through the knowledgebase before typing the ticket out - very clever stuff.
These scripts are also very powerful in terms of how they can benefit you. Just think how much time you could save if, say, 40% of your customer support emails just stopped coming due to the fact that your customers were now able to find the answers to their questions automatically.
Having an online helpdesk is also of benefit if you travel around a lot or if you are away from the office on vacation etc. Instead of having to take a laptop loaded up with previous emails from customers, you can simply login to your helpdesk admin page and all of your previous correspondence will be online and at your fingertips. It also means that you won't have to spend hours in an Internet cafe deleting a days worth of spam at a time just to get to the important emails since only the important emails will have made it through to the helpdesk in the first place.
As with most things, setting up a customer service helpdesk is one of those tasks that is always better done when you first start your online business. That said, it is fairly easy to integrate such a feature into your existing set up and that is exactly what I have done for all of my websites...
Over the next few months, I will be phasing many of my email addresses out - I simply can't stand the spam any more! With immediate effect, all customer support issues for all of my products and websites will be handled via a central Customer Support Helpdesk.
I am confident that this will improve the overall 'support experience' for both my customers and me :-)
If you are interested in installing a similar helpdesk on your own website/s, there are numerous options when it comes to suitable software. I chose a product called eSupport (link below) and whilst this is a very powerful script, I am hesitant to give it my full recommendation since the installation/set up process was, how can I put this, slightly painful. It doesn't help that there is no manual for the software which means that new users are left to figure out how it works by trial and error or by trawling through hundreds of posts on the company forum. That said, I am advised by the software creator that a manual is in the process of being written and will be available soon. As I say, an excellent and powerful script once installed and configured but definitely not for those lacking patience (and indeed, some computer knowledge). If you opt for this script, my advice would be to get the publishers of the software to install it for you. You can find out more about eSupport at: http://www.kayako.com
Other alternatives (neither of which I have tried myself) include Perldesk ( http://www.perldesk.com ) and Cerberus ( http://www.cerberusweb.com ). One advantage of Cerberus is that there is a free version :-)
Copyright 2005 Richard Grady
Richard Grady has been helping ordinary people earn online since 1998. He writes a free newsletter which is published every two weeks. To subscribe (and claim your free gifts), visit: http://www.thetraderonline.com/newsletter.html
Customer Conversion Mistakes That Will Cost You
The following are common mistakes that Sales Managers and Owners make in the sales process which could be costing you thousands or even hundreds of thousands in lost revenue.- No system to capture and log prospect information/contact data on incoming ad calls.- Poor tracking of incoming calls for source and ad success.- No attempt to offer something to a prospect that`s `on the fence`,like free information, a cost savings comparison or an informative video or audio with testimonials.- Not directing or leading the prospect towords what you want them to do. This is usually caused by not knowing what you want them to do next - what the next step in the sales process should be.- Not following up on leads with a phone call.- Turning leads over to a sales person that hasn`t been trained properly.
Client Service As A Competitive Advantage
As someone who has been heavily involved facilitating strategic planning processes with organizations during the last 15+ years, I often find it somewhat amus...(related: Customer Service)
Loyalty Programs May Keep Customers Coming Back ? But First You?ve Got To Earn Their Trust
Remember trading stamps? If you're over 40, chances are you will. Every time you shopped at a participating grocery store or gas station they gave you stamps to paste into a book. When y...(related: Customer Service)
Write A Business Thank-you Note
Have you seen that thing on TV where the gal tellsthe nerd she wonders why he never asked her tomarry him and he stumbles and says "Thank You" andshe turns to butter?The point of the message is that "Thank You" goesa long way to making people feel better.Personally and in business, develop the "ThankYou" habit.While it is generally expected to send a writtenthank-you for gifts and special favors, it is alsoappropriate to send one for employment interviewsand new business contacts. However, the mostpowerful thank-you note is the one that'sunexpected.Here are some "Thank You" points to considerYou should hand write it. With the exceptionbelow, don't use your computer to print it,...(related: Customer Service)
I Wont Tell My Lawyer But I Will Tell You
A general counsel of a large international consulting firm told us about his experience talking to an interviewer who had called to discuss his satisfaction level with his outside law firm. He had been using the services of a "high end, expensive" law firm out of New York.We asked if the interview questions allowed him to speak about all the issues that were on his mind regarding his relationship with his lawyers. His response was, "There were many small things that had been bothering me abou...(related: Customer Service)
The Great American Customer Service Unawareness Campaign
Q: I'm so sick of you so-called business experts always saying the customer is always right. This is my business, not the customer's, so I'm the one who's always right. Sure, they can have an opinion, but in the end it's up to me to decide who's right and who's not. And if the customer doesn't like it they can take their business elsewhere. What do you say to that, Mr. Business Expert? -- Paul W.A: Ah, Paul, and I had such high hopes that we would be friends. Oh well, so much for that hope. The fact is, Paul, within the context of a normal business transaction, the customer is always right. If you can't accept that fact, you won't have customers for long.Sure, the customer might also be unreasonable, d...(related: Customer Service)
Breaking The Ice And Winning Over The Client!
Wherever you turn these days you'll find articles covering every business strategy and tactic available to man, from how to make a great presentation to strategies for success all the way to negotiations and prospecting and getting a client to commit. But hardly anyone touches on the subject of breaking the ice with a new client and winning them over.Experts say it takes only three seconds to make a first impression. That doesn't give you much time to dazzle someone with your professionalism and polish, e...(related: Customer Service)
The Importance Of Good Customer Service
Do you have good customer service? Even for your free giveaways?I have been thinking over the past couple of weeks why some WAHP's have trouble growing their business. They host chats or do online parties. They do giveaways and exchanges and it seems everything that they can do to help promote their business. So why do so many fail to get new customers?I stumbled across the answer this holiday season. I had attended an online event that had giveaways that were sponsored by WAHP's and their Home-Based Business. I won two awesome products! I was so excited, as they would make wonderful Christmas gifts. I had won these prizes...(related: Customer Service)
Increase Sum In Your Check Account With Follow-ups
We'll be examining what makes follow up to prospects/customers so important on our online world today.Are you familiar with this scenario?
- Joined an affiliate program with good pay-out.
- Send an email to everyone you know and/or send an email to a list of people
- Didn't make any sales
- Change to another affiliate program