Stop Answering the Same Questions!

Jul 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Business Start-up Strategies, Customer Care/Service

Brief Description of Article:  Implementing a web-based customer service system can be challenging at first, but it will save you time and money, and it will give you new insight into your business.

Author Bio:  Bob Regnerus, “The Leads King”, is an expert at generating online traffic and converting web visitors into prospects and clients.  To learn more about how you can optimize your website and have a competitive advantage, please visit www.TheLeadsKing.com.

Is there anything more frustrating than having to answer the same question over and over again?  It wastes time, it wastes energy, and it gets worse with every repetition.  After a few dozen times, you just want to explode, but what if the person asking the question is a customer?  The satisfaction of blowing your stack will be short-lived (only as long as it takes for someone to ask the question again), and the trade-off is a lost sale or lost customer.  Definitely not worth it.

In another article, “Solve Your Customer Service Issues Forever”, I describe the value that automated customer service functions can provide to your customers.  The other side of that coin is just as important– when your website provides good customer service, you can stop answering questions over and over again, preserve your sanity, and spend more time building your business.  In this article I’ll take a closer look at the advantages you’ll gain as a business owner by directing customer service through your website.

The first advantage is the most obvious:  you’ll save time, money, and endless frustration by automating your customer service.  Building an effective web-based customer service function may take a fair amount of time and money at first, but you’ll almost certainly find that it pays for itself.  Your customer service team will spend less time repeating themselves and have more time to spend with high-priority customers and special inquiries, which can help you cut your labor costs and increase customer satisfaction.  If you allow customers to download and print your most commonly-requested forms, spec sheets, and manuals from your website, you’ll probably save on printing and postage as well.

Once your web-based service is up and running, you should consider updating your phone system with an automated reminder that customers will hear before they reach a phone rep.  You’ve heard this sort of thing if you’ve called a bank or insurance company in the last few years: “Remember that you can find account information, answers to frequently asked questions, and more on our website!” 

You may worry that automated customer service will seem cold or impersonal to your customers.  This may be true for a few of them, but I think you’ll find that most customers will welcome the chance to answer their own questions on their own time, and have the information available in black in white, rather than recited to them over the phone.  If you continue to offer phone support, even if it’s not as easily available as it was, you should still be able to keep the other group happy.

The other main advantage to web-based customer service may not be as obvious as the first, but it may be more important in the long run.  When customers ask you a question, they’re also telling you something.  They’re telling you that your sales materials aren’t detailed enough, or that your product instructions are confusing, or that your company isn’t doing something your customers would like it to do.  If you simply answer questions as they come in, especially if those questions are going through a number of customer service reps, you may miss the patterns and not learn the lessons.  Automating your customer service will force to you track and organize your customer inquiries, which will tell you new things about your business.

When you’re in the early stages of building an FAQ document or troubleshooter function, you’ll need to look in several places to identify your most frequently-asked questions.  Go through your old email, check your phone logs, and talk to your service team.  I bet you’ll find that issues have been staring you in the face for months or years without ever being noticed.

If you invest in a full-fledged helpdesk system, the software will do a lot of this work for you.  It will sort through incoming inquiries, categorize them, and present them in easy-to-read reports.  That’s the easy part, though—you’ll still need to take that information and figure out what to do with it.

A certain amount of customer-service frustration is unavoidable in business, both for consumers and business owners.

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