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Great customer service online: how to improve and save

Great customer service online

When we first started developing Calconic, we wanted to give users a dynamic tool to address a number of different challenges small and medium businesses face when managing their digital channels. Great customer service quickly became one of our priority topics, and now that Calconic is live, we’re confident in our ability to bring users a valuable solution in this critical area of their businesses.

The digital marketplace is somewhat of a double-edged sword; it’s given consumers unprecedented access to brands, products and services, but it’s also raised the bar in terms of good customer service standards and has driven customer patience to an all-time low.

In fact, it’s gotten to the point where almost two out of three potential customers expect a response to any marketing, sales or customer service inquiries within 10 minutes of making them!

As a fellow startup we know that great customer service is essential to success, but we also know that time and resources are both valuable and limited, which makes responding to inquiries within ten minutes of receiving them more than a bit unsustainable.

It’s not enough to say something is unsustainable, though. If a customer is not satisfied with your ability to respond to their inquiries, they’ll go elsewhere.

What does great customer service mean to you?

We are all customers in one way or another, and there’s nothing we can do to escape this reality. I’m not sure about you, but when I’m in the buyer’s position, I have questions that need to be answered, now!

Live chat has become an effective solution to this challenge, and with up to 33% of consumers expressing a desire to engage with companies via live chat, it’s certainly an avenue worth considering.

In fact, we use it too, and it definitely helps in supporting Calconic users while allowing us to maintain a satisfactory response rate. But…and there’s always a but – live chat is costly, especially if you want to reply to customers within that ten-minute window.

Live chat supports an instant connection between buyers and businesses. But does it support a fast resolution of buyer problems? There are no guarantees. Why? Live chat has no intrinsic value. Like any other communication channel, chat is just a vehicle for buyers and brands to get where they need to go. Jon Dick, Hubsopt Research

Live chat might make more sense for businesses with bigger budgets, but smaller companies might benefit from a sort of hybrid solution, like transforming part of the customer service workload into something that is more self-service oriented.

Think explainer videos and FAQ pages that are more interactive and aligned to meet each customer’s unique need, and every customer’s short attention span.

With this in mind, self-service becomes the next logical step, a step that Calconic facilitates with calculators that can help transform customer support issues into self-service situations. It’s worth noting that almost as many consumers expressed a desire to interact with a business through self-service opportunities (30%) as they do via live chat. That means helping customers help themselves!

Moreover, a self-service solution can be beneficial for both consumers and the businesses they interact with.

There are three steps that come to mind along the consumer journey that an interactive calculator can support, and in doing so, promote self-service among potential customers:

  1. establishing a need,
  2. demonstrating value,
  3. determining an exact price.

Engage to establish a need

Even a fairly simple interactive calculator can engage prospective customers and help them learn about your product or service.

Think back to what I said about customer impatience regarding marketing and sales inquiries; consumers also don’t want to have to read too much, and aren’t likely to watch informative videos that run beyond a minute or two.

Conversely, our latest stats reveal that almost half of users who visited a website using one of our calculators interacted with it at least one time. And once they did start interacting, they continued with an average of 5.40 additional interactions each.

The calculator in question doesn’t need to sum up prices and shipping costs, either; it could be something fairly simple and even novel that serves to engage potential customers and begin the process of educating them about your product. Think of a gardening service provider for example; a calculator can be used purely on an interactive level to allow potential customers to calculate the size of their lawn, how long it usually takes to cut their grass, and how many people in the household contribute to weekly gardening chores. A user might soon realize that at the current rate they will spend 5% of their leisure time cutting the grass this summer, and that maybe the gardening service in question can help reduce that number. In this particular case, the calculator alone helped establish a need.

Demonstrate value

Customers typically have different questions that may arise while on different pages of your website or even on different visits to the same website. So while you may have established a need with one calculator, having another one in a different section of your website can help demonstrate value, or Return On Investment.

Again, by getting users to input data into a calculator themselves, you can help customers help themselves. If a calculator helps a user realize they spend 200 hours annually cleaning their house, it can also propose a service to cut down on that time. Why spend 200 hours of your free time cleaning when you could be golfing instead? That free time is certainly a Return On Investment; it doesn’t necessarily have to be money, per se. In fact, ROI can be even more valuable to customers if it’s connected to something emotional or personal. So yes, a calculator can tell someone how much money they are saving over time by investing in a particular service or product, but benefits and value could be expressed using other units – calculators let you get creative with math.

Make pricing easy and transparent

Finally, a calculator provides potential customers with an exact price, which can really come in handy when calculating things like customizable services (how much will the services I require cost me if I say yes?). This creates transparency, gives the customer enough information to allow them to make their own comparisons, and ultimately, saves a lot of time while increasing conversion rates. This is something that everyone understands and that requires almost no creativity.

Giving customers a self-service option also empowers them as consumers and can build trust from the business’ point of view. Moreover, it could decrease the time spent and costs accumulated in responding to inquiries. The point isn’t necessarily to eliminate these interactions altogether, but to make them more valuable and efficient for both parties. Plus, allowing potential customers to figure things out on their own gives you the opportunity as a business to spend time responding to those who might have more in-depth inquiries. This means that self-service doesn’t have to compromise your ability to ‘be human’ with customers.

Conclusion

The self-service element of our calculators respond to is just one part of the much bigger customer service picture. They can be implemented at any stage of the customer journey outlined above and can ultimately drive success and conversion rates for your business. I would say our calculators are a must-have feature/tool if you want to offer online users great customer service. It's an up-and-coming solution within the digital marketplace that is growing in terms of applications and giving businesses a competitive advantage.

With extra feature like sending potential customers their calculated results, providing them with an order form and allowing them to make on-the-spot payments, you can make the most out of every lead while maintaining an exceptional customer service standard.

If you have any questions about enhancing customer service with our calculators or want to share some ideas, feel free to drop me a line @Andrius

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