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A Customer Support Plan for Every Site

Good customer support is the best sales tool you have.

By Julie Gomoll
March 10, 2006

For site visitors to trust you and take you seriously, you must give them some way to contact a human being.

A support plan can be as simple as an e-mail link, or as elaborate as 24/7 online chat and phone banks. No matter which solution you choose, know that people expect quick response. Strive to provide same-day response.

HELP SCREENS

The least expensive customer support is making “help” unnecessary through great user-centered design. Make sure to provide self-service, context-sensitive help right where it’s most needed, at key decision points or through tricky points of navigation. Include FAQs and analyze the traffic around key functionality — that can tell you where customers need help most.

“Make sure to provide self-service, context-sensitive help right where it’s most needed, at key decision points or through tricky points of navigation.”

E-MAIL

For a very small site, a simple e-mail address prominently displayed may be enough. Add a link to support@yourcompany.com on every page of the site.

WEB-BASED HELP DESK

Forums — allowing your customers and staff to post questions, solutions and recommendations — can be a great solution for small- to medium-sized companies. It’s best used in conjunction with another solution.

FORUMS

This is the most common, flexible solution for small- to medium-sized companies. Advantages:

ONE-ON-ONE CHAT

If an individual prospect or customer represents significant potential revenue, consider investing in direct customer support chat. Customer support chat can work on its own, but is best used in conjunction with another support solution. Consider these implications:

PHONE SUPPORT

Phone support can be resource and cost-intensive, so is most appropriate for websites that support smaller groups, such as a local audience or intranet, or where one-on-one sales are key to revenues. If phone support is a key component of your customer support plan, consider investing in call-routing software and phone equipment.

OUTSOURCING SUPPORT

Keep in mind that customer support is work that can be outsourced. Companies all over the world specialize in handling customer support affordably, 24/7. Tight communication, great site design, and well-produced support scripts and content are key to making an outsourced solution work.


Julie Gomoll is an industry expert in chat and online community. Yes, she's available for consulting.

MediaRich can help you create a support plan, write phone scripts, and make design recommendations to minimize the amount of customer support your customers will need. Contact us to discuss your own customer support plan.

 

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