Customer Service, Social Networking

Is real-time customer support commendable or crazy?

Go for it! Real-time Customer Support is Commendable, not Crazy.

Why is Real-time Customer Support commendable?

  • customers don’t get enough support
  • early, well-supported customers will become your evangelists
  • it’s a lot cheaper than trying to fix problems later

Why is Real-time Customer Support crazy?

  • if you think customers don’t want immediate help, you probably think offering real-time support is crazy.
  • if you think customers won’t go to your similar competitor and that you can’t differentiate on service, you probably think offering real-time support is crazy.
  • If you don’t want to learn from customers as fast as you can whether your product or service is working or not, you probably think offering real-time support is crazy.

Ok, so how do you do it on low or no budget?
Start by reading Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans (…) and go out and get them. Near-real time customer service is a great way to start.

Here are some ideas for how to provide that support on a limited budget:

  • ABC – Always Build Content – if you get a question from a customer, write it down somewhere, preferably somewhere where they can search it and find it out themselves. (I use Zendesk to help with this task.)
  • Funnel all of your support channels through one place (again, Zendesk is very helpful here and reasonably priced.)
  • Be Authentic – publish your phone number (or a phone number), and admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. People will appreciate that you own your mistakes
  • Listen – use a listening framework (there are many good ways to do this – please feel free to reach out and I can share my own) and respond when you’ve solved a problem.

I don’t think you’ll be able to reach every person, but you should try like crazy to reach every person for as long as you can. It will instill good discipline for you and your team that customers will form the long-term success of your company.

Good luck!

(Follow the discussion on Quora here: Is real-time customer support commendable or crazy?)