Written by Larry Alton
We’ve all been known to gripe about the computer on the other line, and sometimes those bots can be a real pain. But when you’re a small business owner, it’s worth considering the value of automating your customer service. This route can help you to make the most of a slim budget and limited staffing, and it can allow your customers to get the help they need without long lag times.
Why Automate Customer Service
One of the biggest reasons that automating customer service can be a boon to small businesses is that real-time person-to-person customer service is expensive. Business News Daily reports that a single live-support phone call can cost $33. That’s simply not an expense in which most small businesses can afford to invest. Additionally, if your staff’s small, sending someone to handle a service call can be a real drag on productivity, costing you even more.
Oddly enough, even though most of us say that we’d rather get a “real person” on the phone for a customer service call, for members of a younger generation, if a computer can solve their problem, it’s probably all the better. This is to say that, depending on your business demographic, there are pros and cons to automating customer service. As I pointed out at Desk.com, so long as your business isn’t “selling life insurance to seniors,” then you should be okay going high tech with your customer service.
Top Automation Tools For Small Businesses
There are a number of different ways you might approach automating your customer service. If you want to keep things relatively personal, but also broaden your service, one strategy is to use an online chat service. Mike Sansone of ConverStations recommends this style of customer assistance as ideal for a text-heavy society.
If you’re ready to go more high tech than a simple chat, Brian Wu at Amigobulls has been watching the numbers on Zendesk, a cloud computing system for customer service management. Zendesk not only handles more traditional modes of customer service, such as phone and email, but also it can help your business to navigate the waters of social media. Also, Zendesk’s “Embedabbles” offer new options that can be added to your existing infrastructure. Wu has observed strong growth on the part of Zendesk, including in international markets, and we can expect to see more from this company as it continues to grow and shape its trajectory.
Somewhere in between the hardcore Zendesk and the simple online chat approach to automated customer service is something like nanoRep. NanoRep is the best of a kind of basic AI that is able to use available information databases to answer customer questions, using FAQ searches and internal programming. NanoRep also knows how to run graduated searches and ask appropriate questions to drive customers toward the right answer. Because this system’s knowledgeable about internal business issues, it can also answer questions about promotions, as opposed to just troubleshooting product use. Businesses using nanoRep have seen excellent results in terms of both customer satisfaction and customer conversion.
We’ve reached a point where no business can easily write off automated customer service, even if you hate to be the company with the computer at the end of the line. Customer service solutions have advanced to such a degree that they aren’t just there to frustrate: they can be real problem solvers for your customer base.
The real key is choosing a system that works well for you and always thinking twice about any system with voice responses. Even if most systems have come a long way, anything that responds to speech will probably be a pain in the neck to everyone who encounters it.
Author Bio: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Making The Most Of Your Time: Managing Customer Service As A Small Business is a post from: ConverStations