Five First Steps to Top-Notch Customer Support

first call resolutionIf you’re reading this, I am going to make a wild assumption that you have a business and have some sort of presence online. Your business needs to connect with customers online. In today’s era of online customer service, you want to be sure that your customers feel they have your undivided attention.

That’s not an easy task; very few of us have an extra minute to spare. Your goal is first call resolution to customer issues. Save time with the tips below and your customer outreach will become a whole lot easier.

Set Up Alerts for You and Your Brand

By setting up alerts, you receive a notification when mentions of your supplied keywords appear on the web, in blogs, photo sharing and video sites.  Though the old standby is Google Alerts, I haven’t found it to be reliable lately. I recommend Mention as a platform for business to get the most accurate alerts. They have a free version which gives you up to 250 mentions a month, which should be enough for a burgeoning business. Their next step up is 2,000 mentions for $6.99 a month. Alerts are also flagged by importance.

When using Google Alerts be sure to put your business name (or yours) in quotes so that Google will only notify you when your specific keywords come up, as in “Marsha Collier” 

Buff Up Your Website

No doubt you have a website where your customers can find your business. Customers should be able to understand how you do business completely by visiting. Think of every question that was ever asked of you about your business; write them out along with the answers on a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Use Google Voice

Signing up for Google Voice gives you a phone number which can become the hub for all your phones. Input all your numbers: office, mobile, home and even VoIP lines on the site and you can decide where you want your calls to go. You can forward your office line (when you’re not at your desk) and Voice will forward the call to any of the numbers you select.  You can also be unavailable and receive a voice mail which is either transcribed or you’re sent a link to play the message. You will immediately know when a customer has an issue that needs attention. I use this number as my contact number.

Pay Attention to Email

When a customer sends an email, 80% expect their emails replied to within one hour. Be sure to check frequently. When replying? Don’t use a ticket number as a subject line. Let the customer know you understand their issue. Personalize your response using first names and add a Twitter handle to your signature. Letting your customer know you are on social networks is the first step to freeing up your email chores.

Use a Chat Floating Button on Your Website

For example, the ones from Snapengage. Even my blog has a Help tab, to enable my readers (customers) to reach me easily. Clicking on the button will allow someone to contact me instantaneously through Google Talk messaging on my browser or, if I’m not logged in, to send me an email.

If you like these tips, I share many other actionable ideas in my book, Social Media Commerce For Dummies.

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  • Mitch Jackson

    Marsha- Great tips for being available for customers and clients. About a year ago we added a real-time live chat service to our law firm site and the results and client feedback has been fantastic. Potential and existing clients like the 24/7 convenience. Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Marsha Collier

      I wrote about the challenge that Law Firms face these days in my Social Media Commerce book. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

      Legal clients can be especially needy. The more information you can give the the better. Great to hear about your success!

      • Mitch Jackson

        was just validating your excellent suggestions. I like needy clients. Keeps me on my toes and things interesting :-)

  • Bob Schrader

    Great article Marsha. I still us Google alerts for reputation management, and also have various alerts for up to date developments in my client’s industries, it’s great to be able to email them copy of new article, case, regulation, etc. that might impact them. They appreciate knowing your thinking of their interests. In the ‘old’ days use to clip articles and mail with a note, as I’m sure Mitch has done. Google alerts, RSS feeds, etc, now make this easy and more timely. I generally email items to specific clients, before sharing on Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn. All goes along with the helping approach to building a community.

    • Marsha Collier

      Love that idea. With the popularity of online networks, passing along industry related alerts through social media also can build you community -and eventually client base.

      Thank you for commenting!

  • Alexandra Petean-Nicola

    I do consider that it is great advice for establishing a great relationship with your customers. I am not found of the sites that have chat flout. I don’t actually like it from a user perspective and a being the one to answer. Maybe that’s because I am mostly on the go and can rarely sit down and wait for people to chat with me.

    • Marsha Collier

      I dislike “chat flout” too – I use a tab on my blog. If someone want to click it – they get a chat box from SnapEngage

  • Sid Heroor

    Google Voice is something I didn’t know about. Thanks for sharing.

    Also, it might it worth looking at Twitter (and other social media) as customer support channels. Several companies are beginning to have helpdesk twitter handles alongside their normal examples. Example – @Etsy and @EtsyHelp.

    • Marsha Collier

      Glad I could Help, Sid. Hopefully brand “help” accounts will answer customer tweets.

  • Renee Fishman

    Great tips here, Marsha. I have also found Google Alerts to be unreliable lately. I’ll check out Mention. One caution about the chat interface on websites: from a user perspective, I find them incredibly annoying. When I go to a website and a chat box appears with someone asking me how they can help, I leave the site. I find it incredibly intrusive. I think that if a business employs that technology, they should leave it to the user to initiate.

    • Marsha Collier

      Renee. Some people like them, personally I’m not a fan of chat boxes (I use a “help” tab that opens a box). But? Some people are. I believe in giving every option possible.

  • iGoByDoc

    Nice post Marsha. Google alerts is also very flaky for me as well. Pretty much have given up on it.

    Re: the questions and answers, I would suggest using the company blog to answer each question, rather than a FAQ page. (FAQ page could link off to most popular questions/posts I guess).

    Love Google voice, been using since it was GrandCentral.

    Thanks for the Mention and SnapEngage links. Had not heard of these providers.


    • Marsha Collier

      Doc, I scour all these tools for my books. I go into depth about company blogs in my Social Media Commerce book, and I am also a believer. Glad I could be of help!