Tuesday, July 05, 2011

How To Improve Online Customer Satisfaction: A Forrester Study.

I have read last week a quite interesting study by Forrester, which goal was to show out how a bad online experience could affect customer loyalty. Indeed, Internet has become the most important medium between one customer and one brand. If the customer does not find the information he wants while surfing on the Facebook page, Twitter account or website of a company, then he will without a doubt disappoint him.

Forrester brings up 5 key factors of success in order to secure customers’ satisfaction while seeking for information online:

Organize the company into specific silos:
The idea is to create small structures which will be faster to respond to any kind of questions. It will ease the process of finding information for the person in charge of responding to customers. One of the good idea I found in this part is to create a kind of “social network” inside of the company, which would allow people to identify clearly the people who will respond the best to their request.

Offer better web tools to customers
The goal is to ease the access to information online. The idea is for example to have a powerful search engine which could organize properly the information upon the request.

Allow customers to customize their online experience
I like this idea. Somehow like Netvibes is working: you should be able to have the information you want, where you want, in the form you want. This is somehow also the concept of ubiquity. You may be careful though not to make the website too complicated by becoming too complex or complete.

Provide to employees the appropriate tools to interact with customers.
Customers aim to have a quick answer, and sometimes, they don’t quite understand why it takes so long for companies to get back in touch with them. It comes to the fact that companies are complex organization, which implies several people to take part into the solution. Therefore it is important to faster the communication between departments and people. Likewise, it is also important for employees to have all the media available to get back with the customers: email, phone, chat, social networks… Depending on the request and the source of the question, it is important to use the appropriate medium for response.

Provide clear and extensive information to employees
Employees in call center or customer relationship management departments have loads of different information to give to customers: Billing information, information about the service, the products, the fares, the after sales service… It is difficult for them to know it all. A company should focus on educating its personnel and also to give them support to give appropriate response to its customers.

Moreover, I wanted to add a very important point, which has not been much discussed in the white paper I read: It is important to give back some freedom and decision making power to employees in customer relationship management center. Indeed, our society, and company’s offer has brought a lot of complexity into customers’ decision making process. And so did follow the response expected by them. Therefore, classic question and answers prepared are not enough, and employees must adapt the response and the offer depending on the customer’s expectation. It is also important to keep this aspect of the job, as it is most of the time stressful, and then allowing employees to bring some of their added values can only bring to them some satisfaction about their job.