Online customer service cuts cost, speeds response, but doesn’t entirely replace call centers
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/04/2012 -- The head of Asia-Pacific for Message Systems recommends companies move as much of their customer service capabilities online as they can to cut costs.
The cost savings of online customer service is largely based on the fact that one customer service representative can chat simultaneously with several customers online versus talking to one at a time on the telephone, said Mark Johnson.
The online customer service platform is more conducive to assisting customers calling with problems pertaining to hardware, software, and mobile handsets, said Johnson. "For example, when working with a technology product, pictures, or specific written instructions are sometimes more effective in solving the problem," he added.
Johnson is not alone in seeing the value in switching to online customer support. Telstra closed two call centers in August, resulting in 422 job cuts. A company spokesperson said the decision was based on a 20% drop in calls.
Apple recently began providing online support for iPad and iPhone users in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Brazil through its Apple specialists.
Johnson noted that the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Chinese mobile operators are using microblogging site Sina Weibo to augment their customer service programs.
However, Johnson cautions against relying entirely on online support to provide customer service. He recommends a diverse system including live video chat, instant messaging, forums and call centers.
"If a customer's computer or Internet connection is down or if the company's Web site or server is down, a pure online model without a call center is useless and can lead to disastrous customer backlash," he explained.
Vietnam-based civil servant Nguyen Thao Nguyen said she prefers instant messaging for customer service, but wants to know that she can speak with a company representative “as soon as possible” for immediate answers. "I don't like to wait for too long or even worse--waiting [only to get] no reply," said Nguyen.
Singapore-based student Adrianna Tan also prefers online customer service to phone calls. However, she is not impressed by email customer service. "I prefer online customer service. If it's online but inefficient, I'd rather not use it. I need immediate answers during customer service queries," she said.
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