It used to be a nice added extra. Something that would be pitched by the customer service managers at a budget meeting, but essentially taken out of the final proposal because of budget restrictions. It’s called real-time online support. And if you have been to a strong retailer’s website in recent times you have likely seen it offered. It’s the small box at the bottom of your screen on a number of websites that offers you online help.
While you might be forgiven for thinking that this was simply a bot, it is, in fact, a real person. And if you type to them; they type back. In real time. If you type your concern, a real person will respond promptly and have direct access to the areas of the business needed to resolve your query.
Whether it’s large companies that offer a range of household items like the Groupon Coupons page for Soft Surroundings or smaller franchise businesses like your local pizza store, the most common questions asked by management teams all share a common root. What benefit does it bring to the business?
The short answer – the ability to resolve a customer’s problem before they make it public.
Imagine this scenario:
You are sitting at your computer and your cell phone service stops working. Given that you can’t access many of its services, you turn to your computer.
The first thing that you do is visit the website of your cell service provider. You have the option to send them a tweet or leave a comment on their wall and wait for somebody to get around to your comment.
It is this wait that gets businesses into trouble. You see, you’re already angry at your phone service not working, and now you need to wait until you can have the problem addressed.
While waiting for a reply to come in, you take to social media to express your disgust in the always failing service. Whether it is like this or not, a social media rant is just that, a rant. And they are powerful. Soon people start to catch on and one slight problem with a friend’s service eight months ago snowballs into a hashtag and your marketing team are going into damage control. All because of a simple wait time.
Now, imagine the same scenario, however, instead of sending a tweet or message and waiting, you receive an immediate response. Furthermore, the response is from a real person who has access to your account and the business at large.
As you type to this person, they are working behind the scenes to resolve your concerns. And within the same time that it would take you to receive a reply to your tweet or comment, the problem has been solved, with a small thank you credit added to your next bill.
The difference between the two scenarios is the wait. Without the wait, the customer doesn’t have that chance to vent their anger to the world. Sure, they may vent it to the customer service agent, but the more that the angry customer types to them, the less they are typing to the world and the more time that the agent actually has to resolve the query or concern.
For business owners and their reputations, real-time online support is no longer a nicety. It’s a necessity.