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Enterprise customer service is largely about how many people you can help before the costs become prohibitive. To do it well, you need to forget a bit about the quality of contact and about customers’ contact preferences. You pick what gives you the most answering power.
No real-time customer service method will allow you to offer reliable enterprise customer service to all your customers. Some solutions will be more scalable than other, but in the end, you need more people to answer more questions. And when you have thousands of customers knocking at your door, you’d need a customer service department the size of a small army to be able to do that.
To provide stable enterprise customer service, the biggest businesses need alternative means of resolving customer problems.
Enterprise customer service is about scale
When talking about enterprise customer service, we need to discuss the concept of scale. Scale is a characteristic that shows how a tool or service behaves when you start throwing more and more users at it.
For example, you can use a scheduling app that works perfectly when 10-15 people use it at a time. If the app is able to work at a scale, you should be able to throw a couple hundred users into it and it still should work pretty much same.
Basically, scaling is what needs to happen when a business starts growing rapidly.
When it comes to customer service, some tools will scale a lot better than others. For example, phone customer service is an example of a tool that doesn’t scale at all. If you want to be able to take one extra call at a time, you need exactly one additional person to handle it. Businesses try to get around this by introducing IVR systems to their phone customer service, but in the end, you won’t ever be able to have more than one phone call at the same time.
Live chat is in a similar spot but it allows agents to take on more than one customer case at a time. A skilled agent will be able to take on around 10 cases at a time, which make live chat way more scalable than phone.
Emails scale in a similar way to live chat and are bit more forgiving. Customers give you a lot more time for an answer so you can have more ongoing cases at the same time. However, the whole magic of real-time customer service is gone so it has its pros and cons.
The final option – self-service customer service – is a completely different animal.
Self-service is the go-to enterprise customer service
Most businesses that need enterprise customer service will use some form of self-service because it beats every other option in terms of its ability to scale. You can’t get a better bang for your back.
One customer service resource like a knowledge base article will be able to help thousands of customers at the same time without requiring any action from your customer service team. As long as your website can take it, that number can go up ten times and it will work just as well. Just think of the cost you’d have to bare if you were to provide help on that scale via real-time customer service.
Check out the LiveChat Knowledge Base for examples of self-service materials!
Creating a self-service material is also a one-time cost, whereas offering support from a representative is a recurring cost. You can argue that updating self-service materials also takes time and resources, and you’d be right. However, the associated costs are really marginal and insignificant when compared to real-time customer service from an agent.
Enterprise customer service and avoiding talking to customers
With so much potential value behind self-service, it’s no surprise that big companies shift to providing help with as little involvement from a representative as possible.
You could say, that it’s in the company’s best interest to make real-time contact harder for customers and offer self-service alternatives instead. This is why self-service is presented first and real-time, or even email contact is offered only after the customer exhausted all other options.
For example, a big company can limit their live chat only to customers who have seen several knowledge base articles. An automatic invitation can be created that would check which pages the visitor has seen and it would trigger only if they were switching between knowledge base pages.
When it comes to the reaction customers have to this kind of practices, you can often see people complaining on social media that a business has “terrible customer service because you can’t talk with anyone directly.” However, this is more of a necessity than a choice. Google and Facebook customer service wouldn’t work if everyone could simply demand to talk with a representative. Even smaller services like Uber and Netflix and their customer service wouldn’t be able to take on that kind of challenge.
Some bigger companies try to go around that by giving customers a chance to set up a meeting in a physical location. This way customers who absolutely can’t solve a problem without the involvement of a representative get a way out of a tough problem. One example of such business is Apple with their idea of Genius Bars. Every Apple store doubles as a kind of customer service hotline, with existing customers coming to the store to get answers from highly-trained representatives.
Some bigger businesses offer an alternative solution by fostering helpful online communities. A business can set up a community forum and reward the most helpful users with perks, discounts and other kinds of rewards. For example, you can use the Facebook community forum to get some answers about how to run a Facebook fan page.
What is your experience with enterprise customer service
What do you think about enterprise customer service? Are the solutions we see today enough or do you think the bigger companies will have to come up with better alternatives sooner rather than later?
Maybe the chatbot technology is the answer here? Bigger businesses could scale their real-time customer service by offering a chat bot that would be able to take on the basic customer problems and transfer the conversation over to a real representative when necessary.
Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section!