4 Ways to Provide Valuable, Virtual Customer Service

Customer Service
Customer Service
Learn how to get to the heart of your consumers by providing them with relevant and reliable online customer service they'll continue coming back for.

While your company and its services might be virtual, the world of customer service is a repeating reality.Without goods they can feel and touch or a store they can walk through, purchasing products and services online has the potential to be very impersonal for your clients.Learn how to get to the heart of your consumers by providing them with relevant and reliable online customer service they'll continue coming back for.

1. Think and Click Like Your Customers

As a business owner, you could probably navigate around your company's site with your eyes closed.This is not the case for clients who might be first time visitors or returning for a different reason than before.The Internet provides a variety of outlets and places for consumers to take their business; this is why it is so important to approach your site through your client's eyes.Test your site's usability by pretending you are a first-time visitor who's intention is "x." Then, take the steps necessary to fulfill your "x" goal and repeat with various "x" scenarios.The less clicks and re-directed pages, the better, keeping in mind that convenience is the ultimate reason to purchase something online.Another helpful customer service tactic is to provide visitors with a FAQs or "Recently Asked Questions" section as a way to anticipate their needs.

2. Be Readily Available

Phone numbers and contact emails are necessary when providing goods or services online.But if you're sitting at your computer for a good portion of your day, consider going the extra mile for your customers.Try testing out a Skype window - designated times when customers can not only speak to, but have a face-to-face with, a real-life representative of your company.The option for this type of personalized interaction can make your ecommerce business stand out among the competition.For most sites a questions/comments box for customers to send input comes standard.In addition to your automated "thank you" reply, think about adding a "we will get back to you within 48 hours" clause and stick to it.When online customers are not lost in cyber space, but instead are guaranteed a response window, they will be more likely to stick around and keep the relationship going. Another tip: Cross-communicate with a Facebook page and Twitter feed, and provide links to each unique communication portal on your main site.

3. Be Clear (and Flexible) With Your Return Policy

Setting clear and easy to understand guidelines for returns is essential if you want to shine in the customer service department.Another important step: Post these guidelines where customers can see and agree to them before they make a purchase.When it comes to returns, your customers will appreciate you making the process as simple and quick as possible.Yes, it may cost time and money to instill a 100 percent hassle-free return policy, but it will provide you with customers who will happily shop with you again, knowing they are safe if they change their minds. Can't commit to returning the full dollar amount? Find value in your customers' return by providing a company credit that never expires, free shipping on their next order, and so on.The most important thing to remember when defining your parameters for returns is that we are all human and each case has the potential to be unique, so be open to accessing the situations that do not fit into a pre-determined box.In the end, the more guarantees you can provide your customers, the better off you will both be.

4. Join the Conversation

Somewhere in the tangled World Wide Web, your company and its products are being discussed.Join the conversation by responding to posts and tweets that comment on your services. Remember you are not there to police your customer's voices; your job is to play an active role in the topics up for discussion.Notifying clients of upcoming promotions, sharing news relevant to your consumers, and reconnecting with former customers can all be carried out effectively using online forums.By interacting with your consumers, you are making connections with them while simultaneously displaying your great customer service skills to the rest of the world. Not sure how to start?Change your perspective first by engaging online with personal products that you use in your everyday life.By practicing this step from a consumer's perspective first, you will become in tune with the needs and wants of online commentary.This type of exercise will provide you with insight and will prepare you to step into the new role of company representative.

In summary, the golden rules for great customer service still apply as we have shifted from onsite to online businesses. For the smart entrepreneur, the customer will remain always right and he/she will continue to focus on serving clients well. With an incredibly competitive and telling online market, instilling some quality customer service practices like these promise to pay off.