Customer service will always be vital for ensuring customers’ loyalty through the swift resolution of their support issues. But as online transactions increase their dominance, and are increasingly conducted via mobile devices, speed of results is now crucial for increasing a company’s bottom line – both through preventing website and shopping cart abandonment and creating new sales opportunities.

The proliferation of self-service tools will further expedite answer flow and heighten conversion rates for savvy businesses. Companies should consider the following guidelines when devising their online customer service strategy:

1. Reduce the size of the support team to control costs

Customer support representatives (CSRs) are the largest contributor to customer service costs, which can account for up to 60% of total costs for a high-tech company according to former Gartner research director Esteban Kolsky. Because the majority of incoming customer support questions are repetitive, companies should look for tools that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology capable of answering these, relieving the burden from support representatives, who are left only having to answer new and more engaging questions. Besides having the effect of tremendous cost savings through support staff reductions, customers benefit from shorter wait times, and reps become more efficient and productive.

2. Learn from customers’ repetitive questions to improve your product offering

Clients’ needs and tastes are reflected in the questions they ask your support department. Your marketing and support teams should work closely with one another to analyze these questions and identify trends. Quick action should be taken to adapt product or service offerings. After adjusting the product to fit the needs, make sure your CSRs are educated and ready to direct customers to new offers. Support systems that include a self-learning knowledge-base can also quickly and automatically learn from customers.

3. Provide support throughout the sales process

Customers who navigate away from their shopping cart to look for answers on specific products or services are less likely to complete the transaction. Support must be readily available during the process on every webpage rather than on just a dedicated support page. Look for support systems that don’t require customers to navigate away for answers.

4. Focus on high-value customers and questions

With the right systems in place, your agents can concentrate on the most valuable clients, those asking questions most likely to lead to add-ons, up-sells, cross-sells, accessories sales, service contracts and training offers. Being able to use their time and expertise more efficiently will increase agents’ morale, allowing you to retain them longer and saving you the training cost of new agents every year.

5. Replace FAQs with interactive software

Instead of bothering customers with a tree of questions and answers to navigate, look for software that answers them directly, giving them both accurate and instant responses no matter how their questions are phrased. Further accelerate your conversion rate by presenting visitors with answers to similar questions asked by other people on the same product page

6. Improve visitors’ customer experience with contextual assistance

Use navigation-based search capabilities, which allow visitors to ask their questions in free language from any page and receive search results related to the displayed product/page, instead of requiring them to search through categories to finding the right product first.

7. Don’t forget your mobile customers

With 51% of smartphone owners using their devices to look up product information and NFC chips standard in newer devices, companies whose mobile support doesn’t keep pace will suffer. Look for solutions with an optimized mobile version or in-app experience.

Implementing several of these strategies will allow you to convert your support center into a profit center – simultaneously reducing costs while boosting revenue.

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Hausman Marketing Letter