There are dozens types of contact you are able to offer your customers in your online business. Choose carefully what will work best for you.

E-mail

The most popular type of contact. Highly recommended for all kinds of online businesses. Simply put an email address on your website, so your customers can easily find it and write to you. That can be something like support@yourbusiness.com, info@yourbusiness.com, sales@yourbusiness.com or anything else. That can be even your personal email address, such as firstname.lastname@yourbusiness.com.

The first type of email addresses (support@, info@, sales@*) works best for all the businesses that have bigger customer service department or which want to measure and optimise customer experience. You can easily put some kind of CRM or Customer Service Software on these addresses and handle customers’ requests through this software. It gives more possibilities (such as measuring requests/tickets, response times etc), but it is less personal/human.

The other type of email addresses (your personal email address) looks more personal/human. It builds a closer relation, but it’s much more difficult to handle if you have several people working in your customer service department. Try to imagine… if you write to mike@yourbusiness.com, you expect a response from Mike, not any other account manager.

My personal recommendations here: Zendesk, Base CRM, Salesforce, 5pillows, Zoho.

Contact form

Recommended for all the huge online businesses, where there are several customer service departments. In such a case it’s important to give an ability to choose a subject before writing a message, so this message goes directly to the responsible department and be handled smoothly by dedicated specialists.

It’s also recommended for all the businesses where customers can have troubles with writing emails. For instance older people.

You can use 3rd party software for building contact forms (e.g. Zendesk, Wufoo) or build your own form.

Phone number

If you are able to handle phone requests at some periods of time (let’s say Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm), it may be a good idea to give your customers the opportunity to contact you by phone. It’s simply intuitive. Most people know how to call.

You can display your phone number at your home page or after signing in to your service. For instance in PayLane you can find our phone number after signing up for a free account. It depends on to what an extent you want to handle customers’ requests by phone and what part you prefer to handle through other support channels.

Don’t forget to put your working hours right next to your phone number.

My personal recommendation here: VoipTalk.

Live chat

I personally love this support channel. It gives an ability to contact customer support department now, without calling them, while in the meantime I can do some other things. I can also be sure that my question will be answered quickly.

Highly recommended for all the online businesses. There’s only one very important condition: requests on live chats have to be handled quickly. It’s like a phone call. If I don’t receive an answer for my question quickly, I’ll be really angry.

Also look at 5 Reasons Why Live Chat is The Untapped Potential for Your Business.

My personal recommendation here: LiveChat.

Social media

In my opinion the most difficult support channel to handle, but these days – extremely important. Handling customers’ requests on Facebook or Twitter is as important as handling them via email. Or even more important, as these requests are public, so all the customer’s friends and followers, as well as your fans and followers can see them (as well as your responses).

And in social media… like in social media, it’s extremely important to answer to customers’ requests as quick as possible.

According to Convince&Convert:

  • Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.

Social Media Customer Service

Also look at Top 10 Brands From Our Twitter Customer Service Study and Providing Great Customer Service Through Social Media.

Tools that can help you in handling requests from social media: HootSuite, TweetDeck, Brand24, SentiOne.

What do people prefer?

According to a recent report by Zendesk:

The analysis of support interactions across the globe found that:

  • 91% of customers are satisfied with service provided via phone
  • 95% of customers are satisfied with service provider via live chat
  • 82% of customers are satisfied with service provider via email
  • 81% of customers are satisfied with service provider via Twitter
  • 74% of customers are satisfied with service provider via Facebook

Source: Across the Board - Blog on e-business and online payments.

Post by: Karol