Ask even the most established e-business about the principles of online customer service, and you’re likely to hear some wild misconceptions. These are four fallacies we’d love to see erased from the industry:

1. Text chat is an adequate way to communicate with every customer, in every situation. Text chat sure is a wonderful tool. For many, many customer interactions, a quick text from a skilled service agent (who might be supporting multiple customers at once) is enough to get the job done and convert a prospect into a purchaser. But for some business-critical situations, text chat is not enough to attract and retain customers.

2. If your business is online, you can’t deliver personal service. E-tailers cannot afford to accept this idea. If you are to entice consumers away from your online and offline competitors, you need to be able to connect with them when they require a personal touch. When a customer needs to hear the voice of your business, see a live rep. or watch a detailed product demonstration, your support system must deliver.

3. First-rate online support is too expensive for the small e-tailer. This is flat out wrong. We can start to dismantle this idea by sharing our free option for real-time multimedia collaboration, but we also need to mention the cost of not offering superior customer support. All the money you put into SEO, advertising and marketing activities is for naught if you can’t help a qualified target convert once he arrives on your site. And if there is inadequate support for product selection, you’ll eat the costs in terms of call center resources or product returns.

4. Customers don’t want to engage with us in any significant way. Yes, your customers are a busy bunch. They shop online – at least in part – because it is quick and convenient. But wandering around your site unguided and unsupported is frustrating. If website visitors cannot easily access a knowledgeable rep. to help them when they need assistance, they’ll bounce. Let your customers and prospects engage with you on their terms and at the level of support they need, and you’ll see the returns in conversion and sales rates.