\ Which Customer Support Service is Right For Me?
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Which Customer Support Service is Right For Me?

By Keith Loria for America's Backbone Weekly

Some business owners underestimate the importance of customer interaction when it comes to requests and complaints, but if you want to keep your clientele happy—and generate more sales, it's an important area to invest in.

According to Forrester, 72 percent of customers prefer self-serve help via your website versus calls and email support. Not only is self-service help the customer preference, self-service is also significantly less expensive: a support call can cost upwards of $12 while self-service is roughly $.10 per customer.

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help your business take control.

For example, Issuetrak is an adaptable web-based complaint management system that lets you leverage multiple communication channels to ensure fast responses to complaints and keep track of all issues so you know which have been resolved. XSellco helps companies proactively encourage more positive feedback and to quickly react to negative feedback. Freshdesk meanwhile, allows you to track all customer complaints coming in through phone, email, chat, Twitter, Facebook or even your mobile app.

One of the best ways to extend customer relationships is to fully disclose the root causes of issues and the steps you are taking to address them. Customers want the companies they do business with to make things right and stay connected with them throughout a problem.

Jim Emerick, executive vice president, customer support and service for Sage North America, notes one of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with customers is to be humble and apologize.

"A sincere apology goes a long way and will humanize your company and spokesperson, while delivering confidence at a time when it's needed most," he says. "Be nimble in acknowledging the issue. Don't let your customers wonder what's happening—that will only upset them further."

Joe Silverman, owner of New York Computer Help, says as a small business, he works hard to ensure his front desk check-in and initial phone inquiries are as friendly and helpful as possible.

"Customers are coming to us for computer issues and we must be sympathetic to them and realize they are not coming in with a good mood," he says. "They already know they have to pay money to fix an issue that they were not expecting. So, we must realize this and be as positive and empathic to their needs."

Silverman utilizes software to ensure a follow-up email is sent after each visit to field any possible issues, questions, or complaints.

"This email is a way for them to easily reply to us instead of bad-mouthing us on Yelp or other review sites," he says.

Wes Higbee, president of Full City Tech Co., says all businesses should provide a premium service for customers based on what matters to them, not what matters to you. And not what you think matters to your customers—ask them.

Remember, be honest and keep your promises. It's always better to under-promise and over deliver than the opposite. Don't promise more than you can provide, and never lie through omission; it will be found out in the end.

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