Simplify the Customer Experience for Online Services
Every online service today is either the web-face of an offline service or a designated web service supporting other web products and services. Despite often catering to different target audiences, for both types of online service providers – Customer Experience is a key component to engaging customers and building a sustainable, successful business.
Today’s online customer experience strategy has to consider all aspects of the customer’s interaction with both website and human factor: user experience, user interface, navigation, assistance online and offline assistance channels, reaction speed and response time, not to mention Social presence and integrating the entire experience to be a consistent and comprehensive one.
The most common guideline for creating a good online customer experience is to simplify it, as much as possible. Provide a resistance-free, straightforward customer experience for your leads and customers. This principle needs to be applied to all your aspects of customer service:
In regard to user experience and user interface – make sure the important tabs (About, Contact, Pricing, Help) are accessible from anywhere on the website. You may want to consider Flat UI design – it is simple to implement and seems to be working as familiar browsing territory for many users.
Navigation is a very important aspect of user experience – design simple flow, while limiting the amount of data on page section. Like in every other kind of writing (academic, journalism, blogging, literature) – massive blocks of text are more off-putting than welcoming, especially in today’s 140-character online state of mind.
Planning your help channels may be the trickiest segment of the operation: design, UI and work flow can be tested and it’s mostly a matter of finding the right formula that works for most of your website visitors. When it comes to customer service and support, you are faced with two separate issues:
- Balancing expenses with efficiency – you probably can’t afford to maintain an entire call center that will be available 24-7. On the other hand, you don’t want to be that service provider than gets slammed on Facebook for being available in any other channel except for support emails.
- Delivering customer service through a range of channels as varied as the types of customers you have – different users have different needs, when it comes to consuming data and using support tools. As a service provider, you need to cover as many methods of delivering customer service as possible.
Image: stuart miles at FreeDigitalImages.com
The solution for this is to spread your customer service resources thin and wide. After you figure out which channels are expandable, you can eliminate them. But for the time being, offer as many support solutions as you possibly can. Some of them are surprisingly affordable and easy to implement: walkthroughs and site tours, which can be added to any and every page for quick, on-page guided assistance. You should also invest in support chats, but make sure there is someone to man the supporting end of the chat – waiting too long for a chat support agent to respond defies the purpose of instant help and is considered poor supportmanship. And of course, make sure someone is answering emails promptly and that the phone support working hours are plastered in neon on a reachable, central place in your website.
Do you have any more tips for simplifying the online customer experience?