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How best to deal with online enquiries

How best to deal with online enquiries

Ian Davis, director OnDemand, ATG, explains why it doesn’t make financial sense to ignore your customers. 

Research from Fasthosts Internet this year revealed that 90 per cent of adults became angry and stressed at a slow or poor response via email from a company’s customer service.

Combine this with recent figures from customer service specialist, Talisma, which revealed that just 23 per cent of customer service related emails were responded to by clothing and accessories retailers – and, even then, only 31 per cent of email responses provided wholly accurate information – and the picture of the industry’s attentiveness to its customers seems rather grey.

I’m sure Basil Fawlty would have loved his customers to book online. He would not have had to listen to them so much, he’d just get a written request detailing their requirements.

Payments would be made over a secure server and real time interaction would have been kept to a minimum. He would only have to deal with them when they had an enquiry or complaint that needed addressing. And therein lies the problem – It’s hard to ignore a ringing phone; it is very easy to delete an email.

I have filled in a number of “feedback forms” online and wondered if they will ever be viewed by anyone.

To many, the internet does not appear to be the best channel for complaints; your voice can be turned down to the equivalent to an inaudible whisper when you try to complain or ask a question online.

Companies ignore the “silent” email at their peril. Not only is there the obvious consequence of losing a loyal customer if they feel they are not listened to, but by abandoning the internet as a channel for feedback, you are missing out on opportunities to foster loyalty and increase sales.

You need to ensure you have the correct processes in place to ensure an online enquiry is dealt with quickly and effectively.

Customer service representatives should have a wealth of information on the customer before they even pick up the phone.

Also, the ability to determine which segments a customer belongs to based on historical interactions, as well as those taken just moments earlier, can allow for high value, longtime customers to receive the best service.

In a world where products and services can be quickly copied and enhanced by competitors, the level of customer service offered is often the only true brand differentiator – and with today’s digitally sophisticated consumers, that means a lot more than just greeting them by name or sending them an email on their birthday.

To truly stand out from the crowd in the eyes of the consumer, you need to offer them a dedicated and compelling experience across every channel and throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Given what is often a dauntingly broad range of customers, channels, products and services many companies are put off from offering a fully dedicated service. It needn’t be complicated.

The solution lies in taking the customer’s perspective; a small investment of time taken to understand how each customer interacts with a business at each touchpoint – including the complaints inbox – can break about more than just basic personalisation techniques, it is about drawing on all the information available to you so that you can provide every customer with the kind of personal service that they could expect in store, and at a level that will help foster their trust and loyalty.

If a business finds itself falling into the trap of taking what seems like the easy option and letting its service levels trail away at the end of the customer lifecycle, it should come as no surprise if the customers choose to switch to a retailer who they think will listen to them.

Customers need to feel valued and the technology is now available that can make online relationships as successful as if they had occurred face-to-face.

Data capture and tracking technologies can provide information for all customer facing applications and staff and can ensure, not only that customers receive a response but that the response is consistent and relevant.

Marketing, sales and customer service functions can be joined up across the company creating a seamless experience.

Using technology to choreograph customer interactions as they occur across t he business ensures that the best possible outcomes, both for the customer and the business, can be reached more readily.

You wouldn’t tolerate a customer service rep blatantly ignoring your customers in a bricks and mortar store, equally you shouldn’t tolerate it online. It’s certain that your customers won’t.

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