Providing Superior Online Customer Support

Providing Superior Online Customer Support

These days, customers no longer shop exclusively through brick-and-mortar stores; online retailers have changed the game, permanently. Likewise, customers no longer expect product support to be delivered exclusively at a store counter or over the phone. Online customer services provide more flexible solutions for assisting clients remotely. As with more traditional methods, however, there are definite dos and don’ts for providing exceptional online customer support.

Consistency is Key

Similar to marketing, consistency is vital when it comes to a company’s online customer support presence. The tone and information being conveyed to customers should be cohesive across the board, paralleling the experience they would receive via phone or in person. This not only ensures an ideal interaction, but also greater confidence in your brand.

Online and On Time

Imagine visiting a major retail store and finding its doors locked midday on a Tuesday; you might feel bewildered and think twice about returning in the future. Your online customer support channel must take the same mentality, posting set operating hours to avoid confusion and frustration.

Larger companies providing round-the-clock support still must be prepared for hang-ups. Much like a phone recording reassures callers that they are still in the queue awaiting service, your chat service should be provide an automatic response after a predetermined duration. Keep customers in the loop to keep agitation to a minimum.

Security Sensitivity

Despite the parallels, online customer services vary from other support methods in several ways. Transmitting unsecured data over the Internet is risky, and it’s important that your website makes customers aware of this. Provide them with the ability to send such information via secured web forms or telephone and ensure that your staff is trained to discourage sensitive details from being sent via chat. This includes passwords, personal info, and credit card numbers.

Coming on Too Strong

It’s helpful if your online customer support is readily available via call-to-action buttons or preset triggers. Trust your client to take the next step, however—trying too hard to initiate dialogue is tantamount to a pushy clerk. In many cases, it discourages interaction rather than encouraging it.

If your chat numbers aren’t what you envisioned, consider displaying support agents’ names and/or photos to add a human touch, or decrease the amount of information required upfront to initiate the session.

Train for Success

Online customer support is all about communication, so make sure your staff is trained accordingly. The technical-minded people who make up your support team might think differently than your average customer, so it’s important that your reps stick with simple, straightforward language. Overly-technical descriptions may further cloud customer issues, exacerbating problems instead of working to resolve them.

There are several other ways to promote an ideal customer experience. Make sure to emphasize for your team the importance of conveying a friendly, helpful disposition, which is often more difficult in text. Going beyond agent names and photos, you might implement the use of emoticons to keep the mood upbeat.

Last and certainly not least, ensure that your team has the tools to succeed. High-volume support channels should be equipped with ticketing systems to keep responses organized and prioritized. Call scripts, data sheets, and other literature should be readily available so that customers are efficiently provided with clear, consistent information.


Many contrasts and similarities exist between online customer service and more traditional channels. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your goal is the same, regardless of the platform: staff good people that will deliver a consistent experience for your customers in a timely fashion. By respecting these basic tenants of customer service, your chat—and your brand by extension—are sure to enjoy success.

This post was first published on LinkedIn

Jim Iyoob

Jim Iyoob

Jim Iyoob is the Chief Customer Officer for Etech Global Services. He has responsibility for Etech’s strategy, marketing, business development, IT, program implementation, operational excellence, and product development across all Etech’s existing lines of business – Etech, Etech Insights, ETS & Etech Social Media Solutions. He is passionate, driven, and an energetic business leader with a strong desire to remain ahead of the curve in outsourcing solutions and service delivery.

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