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Many of those emails, chats and calls are from customers who are unsure about the right product. They want to buy something, but they don't know exactly what. And that is logical, because a customer usually does not have the expert knowledge needed to make the right choice. So they call the customer service people. But those people are not scalable. And even if contacting consumers is not always the required expert knowledge in the customer service team.
That is why decision aids have become an indispensable addition to existing customer service channels. Too quick a conclusion? Please read on and we'll explain.
Advantages and disadvantages of customer service channels
Where you used to only call or maybe send a letter, a customer now has a wide choice of different communication channels. But not every channel is equally desirable and convenient for a webshop manager, customer service employee and for the customer themselves. We list the pros and cons of each channel:
The least used feature on everyone's phone. However, calling is often still the chosen route when there are complex or urgent questions.
+ human, personal, reliable, suitable for complex issues
- the webshop takes a lot of time, difficult to scale, duration, waiting times
Another classic. And classics are there for a reason. Because (almost) everyone has an email address, this channel cannot be missed. In addition, email support from the webshop is also a nice option, because it is less annoying and plannable.
+ personal, peak load can be absorbed
- costs the customer a lot of time, he has to wait for an answer, not scalable, risk of problems
👨💻 Live chat
With live chat, customers or prospects can have direct conversations with customer service employees or sellers via the now well-known pop-ups on web shops.
- not always available (or you have employees who have to work 24/7), peak times, when none dedicated person is interrupted from other work
💬 Social media and messaging apps
A variant of live chat is social media chats and messaging apps. The high adoption of these channels - by both customers and web shops - makes it logical to also offer this as a customer contact channel.
This offers the same advantages and disadvantages as live chat, but is more asynchronous. In other words, it's not a live interaction, but a delay.
The dream: a smart chatbot, driven by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, that learns from interactions with one customer and then helps the next customer even better.
The reality: such a smart chatbot is only accessible to the biggest ones (the thick ones and the cold ones) and even then, the application areas are limited to process-based questions (e.g. about the status of an order, the return policy, or the opening hours of a store).
+ convenient and cost-efficient after implementation (for the biggest ones)
- not smart, (extremely) high start-up costs, large AI learning curve, only suitable for “process questions”
📖 Inspiration and self-service content
Every (good) webshop now has an extensive content section - and team - to inform, inspire and advise customers with articles, lists and videos. The purpose of this content marketing is twofold: acquire and convert.
+ scalable, always available, accessible, good for acquisition
- requires a lot from the customer (customer must search, read, understand and apply to his situation)
Why decision aids work well as a customer service channel
With so many channels available for the customer and webshop, why yet an extra channel?
Most customer contact channels - calling, emailing, (live) chat - depend on employees. The big advantage of this is that “real people” - in theory - can help customers with everything: from explaining the return policy to finding the right model of bike. The major disadvantage is that the use of people makes customer service expensive and scalable to a limited extent. Ensuring a high level of quality is also challenging and requires constant training and knowledge sharing.
Many web shops are trying to overcome this challenge (the dependence on people) with technology. For example, a chatbot should be more scalable, efficient and cheaper. But a truly smart, automated and scalable chatbot is not available to 99.9% of all web shops.
Content does work well. 75% of customers indicate that content (FAQs, blogs) is a great way to help them get started. 67% even say that they would rather get started themselves than contact an employee.
But content also has its gaps. Content about the process (returns, delivery, inventory) works great. Product content also works well. Think of a top five air conditioning units, ten spring hiking boots, or a guide to choosing the right mattress.
However, this is generic content. A customer must read, understand and translate this into their own situation in order to apply it. Because “a best” does not exist. The best one depends on your needs, priorities and opportunities. my best is not your best. And exploring this further requires a lot from the customer. Too much.
Decision aids solve this problem. With a decision aid, you can put generic product information into a customer-specific, accessible form. Without the customer having to invest time or effort in this. It transforms dozens, hundreds, or sometimes thousands of similar products into a personally curated selection in a few clicks.
Maximum results with minimal effort. For the customer, but also for the webshop. Because a decision aid you will make it within a day. And then you have an automated, high-quality and scalable customer service channel ready for your customers 24/7.
Visually oriented? We've created a matrix for you that summarizes it all neatly:
Want to read more about how other web shops use decision aids?