According to a new study, most businesses that still rely on ‘old school’ means of communicating with their customers may be missing an increasing number of those customers as time goes by. Already, almost three-fourths of all online customers in the United States prefer to get information from a web site rather than through personal contacts such as telephone inquiries or emailed questions. We live in an age of ‘on-demand’ technology where even television programs can be requested at the push of a button. In such a world, customers expect a company’s web site to be proactive; answering their questions before the customer even formulates them.
Because of such trends, many businesses have already made the World Wide Web their primary portal for initial and return customer contacts. The days are gone, however, when a mere list of FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions, are likely to sate customer demand for detailed information. Now, some business organizations are beginning to launch ‘smart FAQs’, which consist of interactive computerized assistance.
Many of us are familiar with this concept from Microsoft Office, which for years utilized a helpful computer animated paper clip that would pop up at key times to offer advice and pointers. A similar, though more nuanced, approach to customer service can be implemented at the web site level. Such answer agents have been shown to have positive effects on qualities as diverse as customer satisfaction and the effectiveness of corporate branding efforts.
A sound way to explore the new world of virtual assistants is to contract with an IT consulting firm with expertise in the next generation of online customer service.