Superior service on the Web is about helping customers resolve their service issues immediately.
Posted Jul 26, 2004
In the classic Frank Capra holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life," Clarence is assigned the role of guardian angel for George Bailey, the troubled businessman who is thinking of escaping his problems by ending his life. By guiding George through a tour of what the world would be like without him, Clarence is able to show George the value that he brings to his community.
In much the same way as Clarence, customer service representatives (CSRs) can use the latest Web collaboration technologies to show value to customers by guiding them through a tour of the products and services that are being offered by their company. These solutions allow the CSR to speak directly with a customer through instant messaging, or lead a customer to the information she seeks through cobrowsing capabilities.
Superior service on the Web is about helping customers resolve their service issues immediately. Live interaction enables customers and prospects to quickly and easily engage with contact center reps, converting browsers into buyers and ensuring that self-service sessions are satisfactorily completed online so that customers aren't forced to pick up the phone. With Web collaboration contact center agents are empowered to assist customers and prospects with a new level of responsiveness that enhances customer satisfaction, as well reduces customer service costs.
The need for Web collaboration is clear. Abandonment rates for online customer transactions approach 50 to 75 percent. Why are these figures so high? When a potential customer encounters a stumbling block during the process of completing an online transaction, the likely next step is to abandon that transaction unless any issues or concerns can be resolved immediately.
Examples of such issues cut across a range of vertical markets. In the retail banking industry, it could be a confusing set of instructions to complete an account transfer that causes a customer to resort to higher cost channels, such as calling into a contact center. In high tech an example might be the need for additional or more detailed product information, which could lead a customer to abandon that Web site in favor of a competitor's--resulting in a lost sale. Regardless of industry, however, these stumbling blocks all share one thing in common: They stand between the customer and the decision to make the final click to complete the transaction.
In these instances picking up the phone or writing an email requires too much time. Rather, it is necessary for customers to find the help they need precisely where they encountered the problem: on the Web. The latest Web-collaboration technologies can reduce online abandonment rates and improve overall customer satisfaction by enabling service representatives to provide immediate resolution to online issues.
What is Web collaboration?
Collaboration has most often been associated with collaboration on ideas, documents, and discussions within an enterprise. Web collaboration for customer care brings that same spirit of open dialogue designed to reach a successful conclusion to the external-facing customer service process.
Just as collaboration within an enterprise creates cost-savings through efficiency and brings value by helping organizations drive activities forward, Web collaboration can save global corporations millions of dollars in customer-support costs by serving customers through lower-cost Web-based channels. But Web collaboration has the added impact of helping customers reach buying decisions in real time, driving top-line revenues, as well as bottom line cost-savings.
Effective Web collaboration is more than just one technology or channel for customer service. The best Web-collaboration offerings involve multichannel support to serve the customer by the means that best suits both the customer and the needs of the organization. Key elements of a comprehensive Web-collaboration solution include:
o text chat enabling CSRs to conduct multiple chat sessions simultaneously
o cobrowsing capability to guide customers to appropriate Web pages
o Internet callback to automate an agent-to-customer or customer-to-agent phone call
o Integration with all other point-of-customer contact, including knowledge bases, email response, and call centers
Bringing benefits to both the customer and the organization
As Gartner highlighted in a recent report on the value of customer experience management, enterprises cannot avoid providing a customer experience. A poor customer experience is a step on the path to defection, while a good one encourages loyalty.
Effective Web collaboration is a critical means by which enterprises can work to provide a positive customer experience, allowing CSRs to play that role of guardian angel to the customer. Without Web collaboration, the enterprise is blind to the thoughts, needs, and demands of its Web-based customers--leaving open the possibility of a frustrating or negative customer experience. By building Web-collaboration components to their customer service capabilities enterprises are able to understand the needs of their customer at the most critical time: When they are actively seeking to buy the products provided by an organization.
Web collaboration helps companies be successful in those moments of truth, providing a positive customer experience and driving both cost savings and revenue for the organization.
About the Author
Brian Kelly is executive vice president of marketing and products for KANA. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.