Part 3: Online tools to improve your customer service

Online Tools for Customer Service

On the one hand, it’s great for a customer to be just a mouse click away from being able to get in touch with you about your (hopefully amazing!) service. This can be positive news when you’re doing things right. Your customers will want to share their experiences with everyone they know, through word of mouth and social media.

But a not-so-great customer service experience can, of course, have the opposite effect on your brand and your company’s reputation. Experiences either good or bad in the customer service arena can go viral, almost immediately.

If you’re savvy enough, the old adage of ‘all publicity is great publicity’ can ring true. You may remember a news item that went viral overnight when a 3-year-old girl wrote to the supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, complaining that tiger bread should be called giraffe bread? The marketing machine at Sainsbury’s whirred into action, and they replied with a very sweet letter and gift card – with the result that the story got posted all over Twitter and Facebook (and they changed the name to giraffe bread!). That’s good publicity you can’t buy. (If you missed this cute story, read about it here).

When a customer receives bad service, they’re likely to take to social networks to vent their frustration and warn their friends against using the company. To head off any of these types of issues, you should be doing everything you can to make your customers happy. After all, without them, you wouldn’t have a business.

With the increasing availability of online tools, it’s now easier than ever to create a caring and responsive customer service process. Online tools can be integrated into your business processes to improve customer retention, satisfaction and cross-selling opportunities. Whether you outsource customer care to a call centre or handle it in-house, here are five tools to help you recognise the basics and provide the best customer support experience for your business.

1. Help Scout

If you’re the type of business that receives tens or hundreds of customer support emails every week, it can be difficult to tell who’s answered what, which issues are closed and what support you’ve offered that customer before.

Help Scout copies emails sent to your support email address to your Help Scout mailbox. Issues are then assigned to members of your team and checked off when they’ve been closed.

2. Zendesk

Similar to Help Scout, Zendesk provides a ticketing system to help you manage support requests. The difference with Zendesk though is that it takes customer communications from your website, email, phone, Twitter, Facebook and chat and lets you respond from just one place.

It’s a little more expensive than Help Scout but it comes with many more features – ideal for companies that get a large volume of support requests that are dealt with by several different support agents. It comes with a 30-day free trial.

3. Rusic

Communities are a great way to offer support. If you get it right, your customers could be helping you respond to support requests as well as offering you ideas for how to improve your product.

Rusic is an online tool where you can develop your own support forum. Here customers can post their issues and help other people with theirs.

4. Olark

Most of us don’t like phoning customer support ourselves but we know that requesting support via email is usually very slow. Offering your customers live chat on your website is a great way to give quick and easy support.

Olark is a tool that brings live chat to your website so you can offer support before visitors click away. Respond in real time, answer queries, offer them information they may not know and you can turn a ‘wavering’ customer into one that wants to buy. 

(Recommendation from CBW: We use Olark here at Clever Towers to help manage our online chat system. It’s quick, efficient and super-easy to use).

5. Freshdesk

With 20,000 customers signed up in just three years, Freshdesk is a web-based help desk software that allows small businesses to support customers over email, phone, the web, Twitter and your company’s Facebook page. Comes with a 30-day free trial.