Delivering service functions to your customers via your website offers one of the most lucrative sets of applications imaginable, for more reasons than you may think.
Although there may be startup costs, it generally costs far less to deliver services electronically, and depending on the application, companies may recoup their development costs in as little as a few months. However, the savings go on forever, and it is rare for a company that has successfully made the transition to return.
Perhaps more important, your customers care. For years, some companies have resisted, thinking that their customers prefer old fashioned customer service by human beings. Well, they do sometimes, but less often than you might think. While everyone is different, enough people would prefer to do it themselves once they know how that personal assistance with routine transactions is being the exception rather than the rule.
Of course, an enlightened management will generally offer their customers choices, and most do. For those customers that prefer handholding, or for the occasional non-routine transaction, customer support staffs are alive and well, except their staffing levels are far lower, and they can handle a far greater volume of business.
Types of customer service applications
There are many different types of on-line customer service applications, and the cost and difficulty in implementing them vary widely. The main categories are:
Informational applications - Customers can view or look up information on your website, but not enter transactions (or enter them using a separate application). These applications are usually easier to develop and maintain than transactional applications.
Customer service requests - Customers can enter requests, which will be queued up and later processed by the a staff member. This allows customers to enter their requests whenever it is convenient (such as 3 AM on the weekend), and permits the customer service staff to process the requests at their convenience (usually during normal business hours).
Customer Care On-lineTM is a complete turn-key, software-as-a-service system that can be tailored to your exact requirements without the need for internal IT support.
Transactional applications - Customers can execute transactions electronically, usually without human intervention. These applications fall within two broad groups: