High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce

 High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

Author: Micah Solomon
Pub Date: May 2012
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814439319
Page Count: 208
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417911

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Delivering Great Self-Service

Seven Rules for Supporting Options for Autonomous Customers

Why should people who take pride in—and businesses that depend on—serving customers embrace self-service? Because, as Micah Solomon, a “new guru of customer service excellence” (Financial Post), states: as an adjunct to great human-provided service, “great self-service offers a way to provide great anticipatory service.” As he shows in his new book, HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE (AMACOM 2012), great self-service helps suggest choices and behaviors to customers via details volunteered by those very customers. Here are his seven rules for successful self-service:

1. Customers need a choice of channels. When customers call on the phone, they shouldn’t be told to go to your website. “A choice means they choose, and you respect their decision,” Solomon stresses.

2. Self-service needs to have escape hatches. For starters, automated confirmation letters need to prominently feature a reply-to address. And when you end FAQs and similar self-help postings with “Did this answer your question?” contemplate what should happen if the customer’s response is “No.”

3. Usability is a science that needs to be respected. It pays to play by the hard-and-fast rules of what customers can easily process and have come to expect. For example, “O” on a telephone menu should always take you to a human, and the search bar needs to be at the top of a web page—right where the customer expects it. “Reinventing the wheel as far as usability is self-defeating,” Solomon guarantees.

4. Customers need to be able to shift lanes. Whether a customer enters through your website, a phone line, or an email, the experience of connecting with your company should be cohesive. Customers shouldn’t have to start from scratch if they’ve already shared information with your company in another channel.

5. Self-service has to be monitored and reviewed regularly. “Modern self-service can’t be set and then forgotten,” Solomon emphasizes. “It’s an endless work in progress.”

6. Your staff needs to have used—recently—your self-service channels. “Otherwise,” warns Solomon, “they won’t ever recommend, understand the issues with, or be able to converse intelligently with a customer about using them.”

7. Ugly upsells through self-service are a brand killer. Amazon.com handles upselling in a gently suggestive way, with a “frequently bought with” message. “Harder sells are especially hazardous in self-service, as there’s no human tone of voice,” Solomon asserts. He strongly suggests trying to soften a direct upsell with tongue-in-cheek humor.

Adapted from HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce by Micah Solomon (AMACOM 2012).

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