By Mike Lande
The Internet has revolutionized the customer grievance process. Before the Web, customers that recorded a complaint could expect weeks to pass before receiving resolution considering business practices of the day.
Today all that has changed. With the speed of the Net, a customer’s complaint can travel from their desktop to your e-business customer service department in frighteningly little time. In addition, the Internet has radically increased customers’ expectations. e-customers know or believe they know a reasonable time to expect a reply because their requests set the e-business standards. The e-customer expectation for a response to online inquires is down to six hours according to Jupiter Research. Expectations are high!
So, how do you deal with today’s online frustrated customer?
The key to online customer satisfaction is to catch the complaints as early as possible. Examine your Web site and ask yourself, “How would a customer register a complaint?” If you are like most e-commerce sites, you could benefit from this process. Registering an online complaint MUST be easy to perform.
The objective is to catch the complaint early. It is in the best interest of your company to keep grievances between you and your customer. If your disgruntled customers can’t find customer assistance on your site, they might visit one of the many third party “customer grievance” sites out there to register their dissatisfaction. This will cost you not only more time and money, but also a great deal of bad viral marketing. So be proactive about managing complaints. One simple way is to offer live customer assistance from every page on your site.
If your e-business has the potential for product return or refund, make these processes efficient and simple to execute. Guide your customer to the processes they need. Make the steps clear and post them on your Web site. The details of your company’s policy on returns and refunds should also be in the response libraries of your InstantService account for your agents’ aid. They are the first point of contact for your customer and should be as knowledgeable as possible. This will enhance their ability to resolve their customer grievances.
The quicker the refund/return is resolved, the sooner your customer can contemplate an alternative purchase on your site. A delay in responding at this point could result in losing that customer for good. No one willingly goes through an annoying process twice if it can be avoided!
Instead of greeting your online customer with a cold e-mail link or resolution form, today’s online customer interaction technology allows you to offer them the friendly and courteous service of a live attendant. Statistics show that the quicker you resolve a customer’s concern the more likely you will extend their customer loyalty or increase their customer lifetime.
Instant resolution is the key — e-customers to your site won’t have the time to complain if you can resolve their concerns in real-time.
Instant resolution is the key – e-customers to your site won’t have the time to complain if you can resolve their concerns in real-time.
Who is Mike Lande?
Mike Lande is Chief Executive Officer of Instant Service.com and sits on its board of directors.
While an attorney at Preston Gates & Ellis and a partner at Seattle’s McDonald & Quackenbush, Lande served as counsel to Microsoft Corporation, Starwave, Corbis and Conversational Computing, as well as numerous start-up organizations. He holds a BA in Business Administration and Finance from the University of Washington and a JD in Law from Seattle University.
Lande and his team of 33 created the Instant Service product based upon Sun Microsystems’ Java technology that allows a scalable system that includes elaborate queuing system and administrative management tools. InstantService.com offers live online interaction and facilitates customer acquisition and retention by enabling companies to conduct text-based chat or voice-based sessions, to push topical content to customers in real-time, to conduct integrated e-mail, and to engage in true collaborative browsing.
In the first three months of offering the service, InstantService.com saw the product’s usage rocket from 2,000 to 20,000 minutes used a month.