Online personal customer service has become increasingly important in building long-term relationships with customers and increasing overall companies’ ROI. Experts agree that in today’s competitive environment, every interaction the company has with a prospect or a customer has to be a good experience not only to build loyalty but also to avoid negative feedback that dissatisfied customers may spread through social networks.

Self Service & Call Centers aren’t Enough for the Online Customer

In order to be more customer-centric and competitive, organizations today need better tools to meet customer online needs instantly and often spontaneously. For that reason, many companies across the globe are putting sincere efforts into strengthening their customer service interactive capabilities, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. The ClickFox 2012 Holiday Customer Service Audit asked consumers on their preferences and experiences with customer service during this current holiday season. The responses (recorded October 2012) showed among several other things that 50% of consumers polled report a negative experience with customer service via phone and that only 23% of consumers identified online self-service options as the most influential on customer purchasing. Clearly, the area of providing online personal customer service is still an opportunity for several companies.

A perfect and emphatic personalized service are one which takes care of the customer beyond their expectations when such help is needed. A personal touch in the online customer service world focuses on the human side of the interaction. It tries, despite the distance, to address the customer’s needs for help in person instead of only letting pure technology tools drive response.

Effective personalized help not only builds trust and loyalty with the customer but it becomes a competitive advantage. 81% of companies with strong customer experience capabilities report that they outperform the competition (Peppers and Rogers, 2009, Customer Experience Maturity Monitor).

Picture of a Customer Service Survey

What can be done to provide more personalized service?

E-mail, chat or even phone support can be effective if done correctly and used to address the right situation. However, when fast and in-depth human interaction is needed when shopping or filling in information online, for example, sometimes tools that can mimic face to face interaction that personalizes help are a better solution. If used right they can help convert a prospect to a customer, or help keep a dissatisfied customer and turning him or her to be a loyal customer in the future.

Companies need to seriously evaluate whether their customer service capabilities include all the necessary channels to address customers’ need for help and whether they have the tools to personalize interaction when needed. This includes the online customer service channels such as instant live chat, audio, audio / video, co-browsing and content share capabilities. Such tools should help companies increase their conversion rate and sell more. With personalized online customer service, the customers would get more from the product and service manufacturer.

Synchronous set of online tools that include audio or/and video chat capabilities that integrate with the above channels is one effective way to provide that personal touch. When customers can see and hear the customer service agent, this resembles real-life interaction, which builds the necessary trust. More and companies are showing interest in this medium which is likely to become more wide-spread and potentially an industry standard.