A brief look at the e-commerce industry and the need for live operator customer service support.
There is an epidemic in the United States. An epidemic that is so overlooked, if gone unchecked any longer, could cripple the economic strata of the U.S. An epidemic that could be responsible for the genocide of millions of businesses. Curious what it is? I am referring to the gross mismanagement of e-commerce businesses. Okay, perhaps the phrases “cripple the economic strata” and “genocide of millions of businesses” was stretching a bit too far, however, it is a fact that the bulk of e-commerce businesses are not built on an infrastructure that embodies stability. I am referring to a lack of customer service support in the umbrella of businesses designating themselves “e-commerce” or “virtual businesses”.
It is true that the lure of starting the e-commerce business is powerful. An endeavor as such usually requires little or no capital investment, a credit card processing account, and rudimentary knowledge of HTML coding. These three elements compose the basic formula for starting an e-commerce business. There is a marked difference in the formula for starting a business and the formula for maintaining a business. To expound on the latter, what truly makes a business thrive is proper customer relationship management and immediate telephone / live voice account support. This is the key component that is missing from most on-line or “virtual” businesses.
Take, for instance, the internet based company Netflix. If you are unfamiliar with the company, they are a relatively young e-commerce business specializing in mail order DVD rental. The minds behind the ingenious idea that is the basis of Netflix failed to create telephone support for their product. There is no doubt this decision was a calculated one as they most likely weighed the cost of maintaining an in-house call center vs. integrating purely e-mail based support. Without looking at the numbers side of the argument, imagine the frustrated consumer having problems with their order and having to rely on a 24 hour lagged e-mail response system to rectify their account issues. Based on this plausible conjecture, I believe lack of live operator support will be the ruin of the Netflix organization and the downfall of all e-commerce businesses that follow the same train of thought. What these businesses do not realize is that it is possible and extremely cost effective to outsource your call center needs to an established advanced call center facility. This solution has a two fold benefit. It serves to establish a solid foundation of customer relationship management and opens businesses up to benefit from word of mouth advertising.
I believe even a small internet business can greatly benefit from utilizing a call center to manage their customer service or sales calls. The initial investment is usually zero (excluding research time to find the appropriate facility) and most call centers charge on a per call basis (meaning you only get charged for the calls they actually receive). If looking at business from the customer’s perspective as opposed to looking at it from an initial profit standpoint, it behooves all e-commerce businesses to initially setup a live call center to manage all of their calls. If the infrastructure is not initially setup correctly, your business may fail before it has even begun.