Internet Retailer recently turned to Facebook to support their customer service. By teaming up with Parature, Inc, they were able to create a “Support” tab on their Facebook Fan Page that hosts FAQs. If customer questions aren’t answered in the FAQ questions, customers can contact employees for answers. Not only does this get many of the questions answered, it allows Threadless to monitor what customer service issues need to be handled more quickly than others.
Brianne Hattaway, director of customer support for the online retailer, stated, ‘Our approach to support is shaped by our online community and their need for transparency and immediacy. We can reach out to our customers on Facebook even more than before and give them a fluid support experience across different channels with the personalized support that Parature enables on our site.’
What other kinds of innovative services have you seen to support customers on Facebook?
I came across this interesting thread on the UK Business Labs Forum in which a business owner was thinking about switching their online and phone service for customer service to strictly online only, eliminating the phone element. Many customers though still feel the need to physically speak to representatives on the phone right off the bat and when things aren’t being explained well online through instant messaging. Do you think this is a wise decision to remove phone service from their customer service initiatives?
This post on bizreport.com discusses how recent research conducted by ATG shows us that many Europeans are not satisfied with their online shopping experiences. In countries like Germany, Spain, and England consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with poor customer service, checkout problems, and unsuccessful login attempts.
Frank Lord, VP for ATG in Europe, the Middle East and Africa mentions:
It’s clear the e-tail market in Europe is still finding its feet. Web shops that consider customer service first by integrating the tools that meet local needs, such as shorter check out sequences in the UK and Germany, and live help in France and Spain, stand to benefit.”
It is crystal clear that European retailers still have a lot of work ahead of them in terms of online customer service.
This post in the Online Business Advisor details a few lessons learned from a recent stop at a store while searching for a laptop. Customer service in the online realm shouldn’ t be different just because you are not in the customers physical presence. Reviews of bad customer service can float very quickly now with the social web age. So here are a few lessons learned that all businesses should take seriously.
1. It’s important to know when customers want to buy. There should always be a point in your site that can get consumers easily back to the shopping cart, and it should be easy to navigate to as well.
2. Customers should not be aimlessly searching your site. There should be easy navigation, a clear call to action, and prominent offers should be visible.
3. Make sure to offer alternative to consumers and that they alternatives are easy to find.
4. The web doesn’t close, its a 24/7 business so even if you’re not around there should at least be a FAQ page with commonly asked questions and answers to help consumers when they are stuck.
According to this post on Econsultancy there should be a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of customers online. The results of a survey conducted by nGeneraCIM show that 91% of UK web users mentioned that customer service is crucial when purchasing online.
If customers needed help when searching through the site, 36% preferred email as a contact means, 26% said they would visit the FAQ section, and only 19% said they would call a customer service number. Many UK websites still haven’t provided adequate means of contacting customer service through the internet. They will have to do a better job, as well as utilize live chat to have an effective online customer service strategy in the future.
In an article at the Examiner, they look at Best Buy’s new effort to reach a tech-savvy crowd with customer service. They’ve launched a new Twitter, Twelpforce, to combine both online customer service and online marketing and sales. Customers ask questions either @Twelpforce or add the hashtag #twelpforce to their entry, and someone within Best Buy will respond to your question. Employees from throughout the company will be chipping in to answer questions from customers. This launched on July 19, and has since accumulated 2,531 customers.
I came across this post on ReadWriteWeb that discusses how a recent study published by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone shows us that contrary to popular belief that social media is simply a fad, 85% of Americans who use social media believe that companies should have a presence in the social media environment. Also, the findings show that users want companies to interact with them via social media.
Here’s some interesting data provided by the study:
This desire for business-to-consumer interaction goes beyond simply offering customer service via Twitter. Although 43% would like to see companies offering customer service through social media, 41% would like companies to solicit feedback and 37% would like companies to provide new ways to interact with the brand via social media. These numbers could not be more clear: these consumers are practically begging for businesses to get involved in social media.
Is your company going above and beyond expectations by using social media? What are some networks, other than Twitter, that your company has used to improve customer service?
At the 1 to 1 blog, Ginger Conlin took time to explain her most recent encounter with customer service and companies monitoring the internet. Even though it’s hard to measure social media and see the monetary effects of these tools immediately, Conlin suggests that it’s important to invest in them anyway for the long term revenue growth by keeping your current customers. Other benefits of investing in customer service on the internet are feedback gathering, responding to concerns, the ability to share content, and the ability to increase customer retention. We’ve touched on reaching out to your customers through the interent with a recent post about Comcast, and Conlin shared her experience with Citibank. Have you had a personal experience with this?