Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Customer Service, Welcome to the Cloud

In the good ‘ole days…

Customer service use to be simple — if you had a problem or a question then you called the designated 800 number. In more advanced systems you had a menu of options to choose from (“Press 1 for sales, Press 2 for technical support, Press 3 for general questions”).

Still, simple systems aren’t always good systems. Generic support lines suck for customers (they reinforce the “us vs. them” dynamic that the best companies avoid), and they suck for companies (unhappy customers equal lost business). Lose lose.

Recent changes in business software (led by cloud-based applications) has changed things drastically. While customers still frequently call into a designated 800 number, and sometimes are still prompted to select a numerical option (ugh), company’s now are able to seamlessly record and catalogue inbound calls into robust customer service helpdesk software systems.

If you are an active customer the the system will match your phone number with the one already in the database and the support ticket will automatically get created under your name. No manual entry or tedious searching necessary for the support team, and customers receive higher quality, quicker support (theoretically, at least).

Support on your terms

More importantly, the support “channel” is no longer just a designated 800 number. Customers can now submit support requests through a host of different channels; email, web form, text message, live chat, social media, and more. Whichever is most convenient for the customer works all the same for the customer service team. Your ticket gets created into the helpdesk system, attached to your user profile, and it is automatically distributed, assigned, and handled by customer service teams dedicated to different areas of support.

For the customer, you have several channels to submit help tickets and you will receive more efficient and more personalized help. Hopefully, you will never again be told by a recording that “you are currently number 6 in the queue and your estimated wait time is 25 minutes”.

Better support means better business

For the support team, your customer service just got much more efficient, much easier to handle, and way more powerful. Small businesses now have access to powerful reports that show which agents are handling requests the fastest, which issues are showing up repeatedly, and much much more. Cloud-based software systems frequently include these robust reporting capabilities as part of the service subscription, meaning there’s little capital expenditure. Oh how we love the cloud.

What does your customer service setup look like? Could it use a makeover? If you are looking for some professional guidance on improving your customer service, give us a shout. It’s 2012 and we no longer expect to wait for support.

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More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.