The Value of Good Customer Service
But like me, customers are also searching for a good customer service experience, and oftentimes will pay a premium to be assured such service. Good service builds trust, and loyalty. And, only when you have a receptive customer base, can you be successful at marketing and selling to them. The optimal customer service experience should start up front, prior to a user even becoming a customer. The Web site should be visually pleasing, easily navigable, with a consistent user interface propagated throughout the site. Breadcrumbs and recently viewed pages should be displayed to help orient the user within a site.Clarifying questions should be used to narrow relevant search results and guide the user to the most relevant topic. And, spelling suggestions for mistyped words should always be available. In addition, sites should also display answers to the most frequently asked questions. Search should not be limited only to content within, for example, a product knowledge base, but should also return pertinent solutions from the Web site and discussion boards linked to the Web site. And if the user is not able to find the information that he is looking for, he should be able to escalate from a self-service session to an agent, via e-mail, chat or phone and not have to repeat information. Sophisticated sites also run under-the-covers searches on the questions that are being escalated, in hopes of presenting a relevant solution to the user, thereby passively de-escalating a request before it reaches a call center agent. Once the user becomes a customer, any visit to the Web site should be personalized and targeted exactly for that customer demographic. The site should have memory of a customer's every transaction, every action -- their orders, their past and pending service requests, transcripts of their chat and e-mail interactions with agents, as well as history of any self-service interaction that was escalated to an agent. The customer's search history should also be preserved, so that when a new search is launched, search results can be tailored to the persona of the customer. Techniques like these help assure customers that they matter, that their interactions are understood, and that their history with the company is important. Companies need to go a step further and offer services as a value-add to basic customer care. Examples are personalized offers, based on past purchase history and demographics, or service alerts tailored to the specific product that was purchased. At the heart of each of these customer service solutions is a knowledge base integrated with a case management system that can manage multi-channel customer requests -- via the phone, web, e-mail or chat. This integration ensures that a customer's consolidated interactions are visible via a self-service Web session, or by a call center agent in the case of an escalation. Analytics coupled with the customer service solution allow you to analyze your customer base and target specific, relationship-building offers and product information to them. Customer service software like this allows my service provider to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and keep customers like me as a loyal customer and passionate supporter of their service. Kate Leggett is the Director of e-Service Product Strategy at KANA. Her 10 plus years of experience as a senior Engineering management professional in the enterprise software industry have been instrumental in allowing KANA to consistently deliver robust and competitive Knowledge Management products. Prior to joining KANA, she spent a decade working in many diverse areas of the eCommerce and CRM software industry. Kate uses her experience to help deliver world-class customer service solutions.
The site should offer a variety of self-service methods to find on-topic results -- methods which appeal to different categories of users. For example, novice users are often most comfortable with a guided search approach, which leads the user down a particular discovery path to the correct solution. More experienced users may prefer navigating a browsable folder structure. Yet others prefer keyword or natural language search, search techniques that include phrase search as well as the ability to search within a specific product category.