One of the biggest problems facing any business is how to handle customer support. Most businesses take the wrong approach towards customer support; they treat it as overhead or expense, when it can, in fact, be the core of making money in almost any company.

To make your customer support center pay for itself, you need to be serious about providing good customer service. If you’re a small or medium-sized business, this means you need to be cost-effective when you set it up, but proactive in how you handle it. One of the first things you should do is to enable email customer support. Here are five reasons why:

It’s Readily Available

Almost every internet customer has an email address these days. It’s very cost-effective to place a “Contact Us” button on your e-commerce site, and send the responses to a common email queue. Your customer service reps can work off the queue and provide good service to the customer with a simple workstation (which can be something as portable as a smartphone). They can do it from the office, from home, or even on the go.

It’s Fast

If your reps work the queue efficiently, you can have questions answered and problems solved in a timely manner. There will be situations where the problem sent in will take hours, days, or even weeks to resolve, but your rep can stay in email contact with the customer, assuring them that the problem they are having is being worked on each and every day. You can resolve most problems within a few hours this way, and your reps can work on more than one at a time; if you rely on voice communication, or even live chat, you reduce your turnaround time considerably.

It’s More Thorough in Less Time

It takes less time for both parties to give detailed information about a problem or its resolution in an email than it takes on a voice or live chat call. A customer can enter valuable information and thoroughly explain the issue in an email much faster than a rep  can on the phone. A live chat call gets the information entered by the customer, but usually the rep has to prompt for it; if a customer is taking their time to write an email, they will usually provide more complete information. Even though this might not always be true and more information will need to be requested, your turnaround time is still quicker and you’ll know which questions to ask to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

It’s Cheap

Email customer support saves money in two ways:

a. Fewer customer reps are necessary to handle the same number of issues
b. Email reduces the number of phone lines needed.

You can handle a larger volume of customer complaints, suggestions, and compliments via email than you can with voice. For one, as noted above you can have fewer actual representatives handling the same number of calls if you handle them via email. For another, the amount of inbound lines, workstations, and voice recording equipment is drastically reduced. You will need to devote a few reps, along with the needed equipment, to voice calls, but the vast majority of contact can be handled through the email queue.

Provides an Audit Trail with Less Investment

You’re going to need an audit trail of all of your customer support issues, whether it be by voice recording of the call, or storage in folders of email. You already have an email system; modify it to have a common queue accessible by all of your reps, and set up a folder system on your storage devices, indexed by customer and incident number. You can save all of the contacts with a customer in a smaller amount of hard drive space than you can with voice recordings. Unless your voice recorder system utilizes compression, and even with compression, the voice recordings will be larger in size than emails. Emails are considered legal proof, if it comes to a court issue, and they save space in the long run.

Keep Your Customers Happy

Most people are happy to start the customer service process with an email. They may get to the point where they want to speak to someone, but you can generally solve most of your issues electronically. You will need voice backup for the times when email simply won’t do, but you’ll need fewer reps at this level. Save some money, and keep your customers smiling – it’s a win for both of you!

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