Monday, January 9, 2012

Run Your Customer Service in the Cloud

Customer service can bring groans to mind for those who have had experience with it, as a customer or as a business member. Long wait times, inadequate information, and other problems can make customer service a tedious task for everyone involved.

Traditionally, customer service has required customers to place phone calls to call centers, where call center representatives access a variety of spreadsheets and databases to retrieve the information needed to answer a customer’s question. Service of this manner is not always time-efficient, nor knowledge-efficient. Often customer service reps will need to place calls to other people for further details, or even call a customer back with answers, hindering the process of providing quick, relevant answers.

To address their customer service needs and ensure that customers are receiving the best possible support, many businesses are turning to cloud computing. Cloud computing, which manages applications, technical support, and infrastructure from afar, provides businesses with new options for handling customer service. Many cloud computing services have a variety of customer service applications available to make the process more streamlined from start to finish.

With cloud computing customer service applications, businesses can update their call center capabilities. Rather than have reps use multiple different spreadsheets and databases, which can be inefficient and time consuming, they can take advantage of tools that allow them to retrieve key customer data, histories, and contact information quickly from one location. Having a complete customer view at their fingertips, call center reps can potentially provide customers with faster service and more informed answers, augmenting the chance for customer satisfaction.

Many people are turning to the Web for answers about their products or services as a means of servicing their own needs. They may go to Google to find out what others have done about a particular problem. In answer to customers servicing their own needs, many cloud computing applications are providing businesses with avenues to develop their own customer self-service portals.

Self-service portals can allow customers to log cases if they are having trouble with a product, as well as get updates on their products, services, or histories with 24/7 accessibility. These portals can be customized to fit your business’s specific needs. In addition, self-service applications can enable users to post ideas about products and services, vote on others’ ideas, and comment on ideas. In this capacity customers can solve their own problems and you can obtain their insight. These portals may also provide companies with a way to deliver content-rich presentations on their website so customers can learn more and find another way to answer their questions. Self-service portals supported by cloud computing services can make the customer service experience more engaging for customers, as well as reduce the service team’s burden.

Cloud computing services may also help businesses establish customer service via social networking applications.  While companies can do this independently, using a cloud computing service to aide the process can help companies manage feedback received from applications like Facebook and Twitter, integrating feedback and ideas into existing processes. This can help companies capitalize on the valuable feedback customers provide, as well as quickly manage customer service related concerns.

Customer service is integral to a business’s success. Providing timely, efficient options for customers to get assistance and answers will help to ensure their satisfaction is achieved and that they keep returning for future business. Cloud computing services provide a variety of options for companies looking to enhance their customer service capabilities and streamline the process, from beginning to end.