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Lesson 3 Keeping your Web (and other) customers satisfied
Objective Describe the role of customer service in e-commerce.

Keeping your Web Customers Satisfied

Let us imagine for a moment that you successfully launched a Web storefront, either B2B or B2C, and sales have increased dramatically. Unfortunately, you have not changed the structure of your customer service offerings on your new Web site, so you have increased the demands placed on your customer service department just as much as you have increased sales.

Considering customer service

Customer service cannot be underestimated when launching into e-commerce, and should be considered whenever you plan a major product mix change, marketing campaign, or alteration in pricing. In fact, customer service snafus, particularly if they become public knowledge, can just about kill an e-commerce site. It's one thing to create the "eye-candy" with your Web storefront. It's a far more difficult challenge to actually fulfill and service all your new customers.

Web-based self-service

One way to ameliorate added customer service demands associated with e-commerce sales is through Web-based self-service. Provide your Web customers with extensive product information and support, such as warranty information and FAQs.
Some of the specific customer self-service options you can offer are described in the table below.

Customer self-service options Description
Obtaining technical support FAQs and searches for information on how best to use a product.
Customer care questions "If I have a problem what do I do" information can save direct calls to your customer service center.
Obtaining contact information Your customer service operation might have a lot of specialized areas and phone numbers.
You can reduce on the phone traffic within your customer service center substantially by providing good customer service contact information on your Web site.
Searching for products and services Very often customer service acts as a cross-sell and up-sell opportunist. So if your customer is on your Web site, you can make those suggestions directly by providing good, clear cross-sell and up-sell information on your Web site.
Company information, products and services This falls into the "branding" category of customer service. Plenty of customer service calls have to do with "Who are you?"
Provide an "About Us" section on your site, and make sure that you offer explicit policy information about privacy, customer service, and warranties.
On-line customer service representative Some Web sites offer immediate, personal customer service right on the Web with technologies such as Chat.
Online customer service is easier on your customers; they don't have to switch contexts (for example, switching from using a computer to making a telephone call), and they should be focused on their problem.
Customers with better focus on problem resolution are usually more explicit defining their problems, which leads to quicker resolution and lower customer service costs.

Synchronization of customer service

The ultimate customer service challenge for many e-businesses, however, involves synchronization. Does your customer call center have the same product information that is available on the Web? If a customer uses Web self service, then switches to a customer service call, does your customer service rep know ahead of time what the customer attempted to accomplish on the Web?
In order to accel at e-commerce customer service, all of your customer service channels need to be coordinated as well as sales. In the next lesson, you will learn about one-to-one marketing, personalization, and portals.