I think I wrote this for the Cork Independent in 2010. The answer is no but you might have to suck it up a bit more unless you are very sure of your offering.
Can the customer be even more right with the web?
Last week we looked at customer care and how good and bad service can propagate far and wide thanks to digital word of mouth. Focusing as much as you can on your website and having it as a core part of your customer service system cuts down on costs and allows people to figure out their issues with less pressure.
Using actions to change behaviour
Many times when people contact a company via phone or email it’s to sort something that seems completely simple to an employee. Customers will look at things differently to an employee who lives and breathes the product and ways to use it. Even consumer giant Apple with their elegantly designed products still field calls about their iPods and iPhones, just ask their staff in Hollyhill.
Ideally each interaction you have with a customer should be a learning experience on both sides. Take note of how the customer describes their issues and the language they use and try and reuse their phrasing on your online help sections as the main wording or alternative text. For the customer you should be educating them on how to use the website and go through simple steps to solve the issue.
It sounds almost cruel, like keeping sweets out of reach from a child but just giving a customer an answer and getting them off the phone means they’ll call back again. Gently walking them through the action of how to fix their issue (if they can do it themselves) means that next time they might remember to do it themselves. Always follow up calls too with an email confirming the issue and how to fix it, step by step. Think of the safe cross code ads and how they thought kids to cross roads.
Unfortunately, the way customer support systems have been run over the years means a percentage of people mistrust ringing phone numbers or sending emails and instead take the quickest route to vent, crib or ask for help: Twitter!
You mightn’t know it or want it but you are going to have to do customer support via social networks nowadays. If someone that is connected to 200 people or even 2000 people complains about your service, you should at least be listening and try and sort their issue. If you don’t have a presence, reach out and bring them into your customer care system and use your traditional system to meet their needs.
Again, show them areas on your website where they can help themselves. Importantly to note when you help those on Twitter and blogs is that you are getting into an almost live commentary of your support. People will ask their Twitter friend how they were treated and are they happy with the result. The good with supporting your Twitter customer is that if you tell them how they can remedy the situation, they’ll share this with others. Twitter is a megaphone. Good things can be sent down it or bad things. It’s up to your core company philosophy as to which one you can have.