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Why Do I have To Provide Customer Support Online ?

Why Provide Customer Support
That is a reasonable question and deserves a reasonable answer.
The Short Answer
“The reason smart business people provide customer support and service is because their customers are the life blood of their business”.  Period! That’s a pretty simple answer; right?

And here’s a quote from Warren Buffett, a man most would say has done pretty well as a self made business man:
“It takes 20 years to build a good reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Another simple truth!

So in considering the obvious truth in the statement and quote above, a reasonable person might think, “Then every business should not only provide excellent customer service and support but at the same time they should be striving to maintain and constantly improve upon their customer relations and businesses reputation. Right?

Not so fast. While common sense tells us that the statements above are certainly true; why then are there are there so many small business owners not providing any kind of customer service or support. Of course there are those that are providing what they consider support, but for the most part they are failing at it miserably.  And what’s more it’s costing them money to fail at it.

In most cases it’s because they don’t think they are failing. Otherwise they would change their ways. But what then could be their reason for not providing excellent support or worse, none at all?

Why indeed! Obviously either those individuals or companies have lost site of the simple truth that, without providing support it wont be long before their customers wont support them.

So for all intent and purposes, without providing support services or better yet excellent service and support, they are unknowingly going into business just to put themselves out of business.

The rest of the answer is: Attitude . . . .
See It As A Cost, Necessary Evil, or Drudgery? Then You Lose!
Neither this section, nor any section of this guide is intended to brow beat anyone, especially you. But if you do happen to relate to any the information herein, please at least consider it food for thought.  Take it in the manner which it is intended.  It’s intended to be a constructive look in the mirror but only if it’s the real you in the reflection – Think about it 

However this is just as good a place as any to tell you, I shoot straight from the hip, don’t pull any punches and I’m known for being brutally honest when necessary.  I will find it necessary from time to time in this guide to bring all of those attributes to bear, but that is only because I am so passionate about there being no excuse for providing anything less than excellent customer support at a profit.

You’re Answering a Call for Help

A request for support should not just be considered a cry for help. It should be considered an opportunity to provide help to someone that has already helped you by purchasing your product(s) or service(s). Why?  Because #1. Your customer is providing you with an opportunity to demonstrate you are the provider or vendor they want to continue to buy from. And #2. They deserve it.
Are You As Happy To Support It As You Were To Sell It?
If any business person can’t bring themselves to be just as happy to help a customer with the product they bought from his/her business, as the business person was to sell the product to the customer, then one of 3 things needs to happen with that business person:
1. They need an attitude adjustment, (which hopefully this guide will help some of the “Needy” to accomplish).
2. If the attitude adjustment is just not possible at the time, they need to graciously pass the customer off to someone with the right attitude, (If at all possible).
3. If they just can’t find it in themselves to be as happy to help a customer with a service or support issue as they were to sell them the product/service, they need to fall back, regroup and start asking themselves questions like: “Am I really cut out to be in business for myself”? . . . OR . . . “Am I really cut out for customer support”?

Actually there are several variables that can come into play with each of the necessary steps above.  But when you think about it, those three choices are ultimately the only options a person has in that situation.

I will be covering the different variables that affect how each of the above options may vary but still ultimately be accomplished without ever getting to the wrong answer for number 3. For now let’s continue on with why you should provide customer support.
The 3 Primary Reasons To Provide Support
1. Building A Good Reputation Means Sales – EASY Sales!
The first reason to provide customer support is to prove yourself in the eye of your customer that you have a GOOD reputation. The reputation of your business and therefore your reputation as a professional business person is reason number 1 for why any business should provide the best customer support possible. 

Can you personally think of a company that has a bad reputation for bad support?  If you own a computer then you probably can.  And regardless of whether you learned about their bad support first hand or from the negative report of a friend or colleague, how likely are you to do business with that company/business?

Every business study makes the point that finding a new customer will costs significantly more than making repeat sales to existing customers or sales to customers “referred/recommended” by existing customers. So yes the good reputation you build by providing good support does mean additional sales to your business but the really great part is it means easy, less expensive sales for your business.

2. Good Customer Support Keeps Sales Sold. Refunds!  Don’t ya just love’m? There are a number of things to consider when thinking about returns or refunds but the basic thought is, “Customer Support can keep sales sold”. Let’s face it; one refund/return can equal the cost of 2 to 4 sales. OUCH!

Certainly then it should be obvious that Customer Support should be charged with reducing the number of returns.  If your product has an unconditional “No Questions Ask” policy then it is the job of support to work to retain that customer’s loyalty on a best efforts basis.  The cost of losing the customers loyalty on top of the cost of the refund usually means losing all future purchases by that customer to your competition.

While using a support desk can save time and money, and is suitable for most support issues, it’s a proven fact that most dissatisfied customer want to talk to a live customer service representative. That is something you may want to at least consider as an option for reducing refunds/returns or handling especially long solutions.  It takes far less time to give some one an answer or solution over the phone than deliver the same thing in written form and it takes a couple of pages.

The point with returns is, if you do all you can honestly do to reduce refunds/returns then you are probably doing more to retain customer loyalty than your competitor.  Or at least you should hope that is the case. The fact is there are people out there on the super information highway that make a concerted effort to find unconditional money back guarantees just to they can demand the refunds and keep the free product.  That fact just comes with the territory if you offer that kind of no questions ask refund policy.  If you don’t, your good customer service can reduce your number or refunds.

3. Support Doesn’t Have To Cost A Dime. With all of the free support desk software products and systems, and online live chat support systems that is available these days, your actual online support system doesn't have to cost you anything but the time to set it up.  I will cover the different server software programs that are available in a later chapter.

If you are an online or offline marketer who is just starting to get your business going, you don't have to immediately go to outsourcing your support or hiring someone to handle support. The technologies that are available can simplify handling customer support so one individual can handle it all with a free support system.

As well, if your system is free and you set it up with as much information as possible in your knowledge base and FAQ’s, you then have a free support system that will handle much of your support for you.

Using free online support system that makes it simple for your customers to get the information they need allows you can eliminate the 2 primary reasons many small business and home based business owners avoid offering any kind of support online; system cost and time. While this doesn't mean you will never have to answer a support ticket, (And even some of that can be automated to a certain extent), will free up even more time from providing support that you can put into marketing, sales and other day to day operations.

However, if you are a sole proprietor and operate your business without even one assistant, your time is worth more money.  Even with computer technology saving time compared to what business operations did pre-computer era, you are required to wear the hats of and do the jobs several employees would normally be doing.  So at the very least you want to at least break even on “$pending” the time you have to devote to support based on the what you have valued your per hour worth. Ideally you should actually be able to make a profit on the time you spend supporting your customers.

Here’s SIMPLIFIED Example: If you take 20 man hours to produce say an information product or software, another 10 man hours to ramp up for you product launch and another 10 man hours to put your marketing plan in place for your product launch; then you have a total of 40 man yours into getting your idea from concept to market.

If then in the next 40 man hours you sell 100 units of your product at $47.00ea that’s $4,700.00 for an 80 man hour profit cycle. $4,700.00 ÷ 80/hrs = $ 58.75 per hour as your per hour value based on an 80 man hour profit cycle.

Then let’s say on 100 units sold you spend a total of 5 man hours during your next 80 man hour profit cycle helping customers with your previous product sale. Being valued at $58.75 per hour you lose the gross sales amount equal to 6.75 product sales. How are you going to make that loss up and turn it into a profit? Let’s take a look.
Lacing Your Service Replies with Money Makers
Here is one of the keys to turning your support desk into a profit center.

This technique requires you do 3 things in preparation for replying to your support tickets. This technique requires some forethought and planning to accomplish your goal; making money providing support for your customers. I will provide the structure for these pre-defined support ticket replies in a later chapter. 

Whether you are working with a support desk system that has pre-defined email features or not, you can seriously reduce the amount of time you spend answering repetitive support questions by writing and building a pre-defined reply email database. By the way, the same concepts apply to canned responses you can use in free live help chat systems.
Prefabricating Support Replies for Profit:
1. Research, locate and categorize other products of your own, Private Label Products or affiliate products that will compliment or add to the different aspects of your product the customer is inquiring about.

2. Write your pre-defined reply emails for your product in separate text documents, then name them and file them by category in appropriately named folders on your computer.

3. From your pre-defined reply emails that address specific questions about your product, copy the paragraph or two that recommends the complimenting product for that situation and file it in a sub-folder or your “Pre-Defined Emails” folder and name the sub-folder “Pre-Defined Email Reply Elements”.

I will be expanding on the above strategies and more later.

If your support system has Pre-Defined Email Database features, you will want to categorize and load them into that database.  If not you will need to database them yourself locally.  I will show you a little technique I use to make your local database pre-defined system work almost as fast a support desk with a pre-defined email database feature.

You want the link to your complimenting product or affiliate product as an anchor text link in your replies.  If it is a link to an affiliate offer, it makes sense to have the link cloaked as well. I will cover how to structure your pre-defined email replies and reply elements in a later chapter.
The Pay Off For Supplying Customer Support
By addressing and providing a solution to your customer’s or prospect’s support issues, questions and hopefully even pre-sale inquiries and including a testimonial endorsement recommending a complimentary product you make a profit on, you have significantly increased your potential to make profit with your support desk.

The thing you need to be aware of is: when you recommend a product that compliments the product involving the support question, the ideal situation is the recommended product will bring you twice the profit as the original product.

The recommended product could be the OTO, (One Time Offer) the customer did not buy when the originally purchased the primary product in question, or anything else that has double the profit potential of the original product sale; by doing so you have improved you potential of recovering your losses and even making additional profits by a factor of 2.

But the real key to this support up-sell strategy is to never recommend something you have not actually tried/experienced yourself.  Just because it looks good or pays a lot and the offer for the recommended product has extremely well written sales copy, you can be cutting your own throat if you recommend something unseen and untested. 
For example: The fact that an affiliate product pays a high commission rate shouldn’t cloud your judgment as to whether or not you should recommend the affiliate product. 

Your REPUTATION is on the line here.  Plus you want to be able to make recommendations based on something in particular that you benefited from, as a result of using the recommended product yourself. Otherwise you’re basically selling a lie.

Recommending other products in your support replies, done properly can also cause you to profit in non-monetary ways that can have long term pay off potential as well.
A Warning about the Automation Trap
While automated support supplies or pre-defined email responses can save you a ton of time, and they are prepared to look as though each of them was a personal reply just for that one customer, you don’t want to over do using them or rely on them for every support inquiry you get.  Certainly you will get inquiries that your pre-defined replies don’t address adequately. 

If an inquiry requires you actually type a reply to a support ticket, you can usually transition from your answer to a ‘pre-defined element’ that recommends a complimenting product that will serve the same purpose.  I’ll be covering structuring your support ticket replies in a later chapter. 

For now, I just want to be sure you understand that every single customer support inquiry on a particular subject is an opportunity for you to do 3 things that can improve your potential of profiting from your support desk:

1. Demonstrate that you sincerely care about your customer

2. Build trust in your business to increase customer loyalty

3. Soft sell another product and make more money through recommending additional products that are suitable solutions for the issue that you honestly believe will be in your customers best interest.

Now I know if you are new to Internet marketing, you may be wondering just how it is you are supposed to come up with these products that compliment yours if you haven’t developed them yet. The answer is you don’t necessarily have to come up with the additional products you recommend.

Later in this blog I will be directing you to where you can find products that will compliment just about anything anyone sells.
 

 

Leon Edward is the owner and webmaster artof Internet Home Business where you'll find legitimate online business ideas , home business management and marketing information where you can even get step by step  affiliate marketing training to start your own affiliate marketing business
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