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Can online customer service drive customer loyalty?

Learn about the pros and cons of online customer service and how it can drive customer loyalty in this tip from Lior Arussy.

What's your take on new media like online customer service and how it affects classic customer service techniques? Must a company have self service to be successful these days? We are a busy call center, and I don't know if pushing some of our customer service online is the right move when the call center is working well for us.
There are two types of online customer service initiatives: efficiency-driven and customer-driven. The efficiency-driven initiatives are based on internal goals to save money and they can often damage the customer experience and loyalty. The customer-driven initiatives respond to certain market segments that prefer convenience and lack of human interruptions in their customer experience. We see such trends with younger customers and customers with busy work schedules.

In the case of customer-driven initiatives, customer loyalty can be increased as long as the Web experience is...

pleasant and customizable. The ROI in such an initiative is based on the ability to create repeat business by tailoring the customer experience. This means that each time the customer returns to the self service site, the site remembers his or her preferences and purchasing history, which will save the customer time during the interaction.

However, one of the risks is that with online customer service, all competitors might look the same. Additionally, opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling might not be maximized. There is value to the human touch that comes with a call center interaction and the ability to transmit passion and commitment between employees and customers. These abilities should not be underestimated.

This was last published in March 2007

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