Minimizing the Need for Customer Service Is the Best Support Option
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
As an author, I upload my books to over a half-dozen online stores and distributors, using their respective portals to enter each book’s information and files. The interface for each one differs, with some being easy to use and others being more cumbersome. Sometimes it’s clear what information they seek, and other sites provide on-page tips to answer essential questions.
Each one of these online destinations offers a degree of customer support.
One online bookseller, the oldest of them all, has a confusing-to-navigate website that leaves users questioning what information to enter. They offer both email and telephone support, though experience encourages me to use these options only as a last resort—and then to question the results. Given the quality of communication that occurs through both options, I assume these reps are in a different country, one far removed from mine.
I’d be fine with this if they were easier to understand, and I trusted what they told me. Too often, however, I wonder about the accuracy of their answers. And when I really question the validity of their advice, I contact them a second time and receive a contradictory response. I don’t recall ever getting the same answer twice.
Unavailable and Delayed
Another publishing vendor offers email and text chat support. They used to be most helpful and responsive. However, in the last year this has changed. Their text chat option is unavailable most of the time, turning on and off throughout the day. Checking during posted times of availability, I’ve twice seen that chat was online, but before I could enter my question, it went off-line.
I’ve now given up on even trying chat and use email instead. I measure their response time for email requests in weeks, not hours. The good part is that I respect their answers—at least most of the time.
Professional and Accurate
The other companies all offer just email support.
Two of them surpass all others—not only in the publishing industry but for all e-commerce companies. Though they don’t meet my hope for a quick response, they do respond, usually by the next business day. What makes them excel, however, is the professionalism of their communications and the accuracy of their answers.
I fully trust what they tell me.
Follow the example of these two booksellers. Make sure that your online presence is easy for customers to use and offers accessible, helpful, on-page support. If you have customers or vendors who upload information to your website, make sure the backend is equally easy to use and helpful.
Customer Service Success Tip
Make your e-commerce store easier to use, for both customers and vendors. Each improvement you make online will lessen the work your customer service support staff must do later.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Sticky Customer Service, to uncover helpful customer service tips, encouraging you to do better and celebrating what you do best.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Recurring themes included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management. He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books and posts.