Email was once viewed as a main method of communication when handling customer support online. Why? Because its easy to manage and low cost. But, over the past couple of years new technology has increasingly taken over emails dominance. Such as live chat and social media. Here we will look at whether email customer service is dying, and if so what solutions are taking its place.
Email as a Form of Customer Support
In the past the standard way that customer support was supplied was through email. A contact form and / or an email address, would be placed on a website. The customer could then send use this to send their query to customer support. The customer would then need to wait until customer support was able to reply.
While this solution did work, it also had its drawbacks. Firstly replies to email could be slow. The query would need to be received, an answer formulated and then it would need to be dispatched. There was lag time at both the sending and receiving end, which slowed down the process. Smaller companies were often not able to offer 24/7 customer support, so emails outside of working hours were often slow to be answered. And because each query was in some way unique, it was difficult to provide boiler plate answers to very common questions.
The Rise in Self Service
Self services is one of the biggest consumer trends. Supermarkets and big box retailers are increasingly enabling their customers to purchase their own products. Self service reduces labor costs for companies and allows retailers to provide a more efficient check out process.
This same trend is also changing online customer support. More and more customers are being empowered to help themselves online. This is allowing customers to find the answers to their problems faster and more accurately. This also benefits companies by reducing the need to hire customer support staff.
Self Service Options For Online Customer Support
There have been a number of different solutions created in order to provide self service customer support. Some of the most popular are social media, forums and walkthroughs. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook are common ways that customers are now seeking to solve their problems. Unfortunately most companies are still failing to provide the 24/7 support that customers expect from social media. Queries that are not answered fast enough, can result in customers using the same social media to sully the businesses reputation.
Forums are another popular form of customer support. Here other peers provide the answers to questions. Customers can also search through the forum to find previously answered questions. This is an inexpensive option which creates a user generated database of answers. However if not properly monitored, forums can become a place where disgruntled users can vent their frustration at the company.
A more recent development for self-service customer support is walkthroughs. A good example of these is WalkMe, which uses highly intuitive walkthroughs to help guide the customer step by step through problems that they are encountering.
How Self Service Can Compliment Email
Email is likely to remain a popular way of receiving customer support, if for other reason that customers are used to it. However self-service customer can be used with email in order to enhance the experience for customers while also benefiting the business. When a query is received by email, customer support can use a permalink to direct them to the self-service tool that they need. This allows the customer to find a fast and comprehensive solution to the problem that they are facing.
Email may not die out any time soon, but it is likely to lose its dominant position. Self service is the future of online customer support. When used correctly it can reduce the customer support burden for business while allowing customers to quickly help themselves.