Just a Click Away: Hosted Customer Service Automation

Article excerpt

Today's small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are challenged with the need to balance personalized customer service with growth.

As a SMB, your ability to maintain personal relationships with customers has enabled you to leverage the intelligence of these interactions and react to their needs quickly and efficiently. This process allows you to understand customer pains and provides the capability to develop new, customer-driven products and services. But as you grow, adding personnel and customers while maintaining service excellence, can be a daunting task.

Hosted service desk solutions provide an effective tool to help SMBs keep pace with growth, without compromising customer service and support. They offer a centralized system to manage all inbound service requests received via multiple channels--eliminating issues from falling through the cracks. Hosted solutions deliver the flexibility to quickly deploy a service desk utilizing the Internet and Web browsers. These systems make it easy for personnel and customers to log requests and manage them throughout the problem resolution process. Whether the product is purchased or hosted, Web-based customer service desk solutions can deliver substantial cost savings, offer greater control, leverage best practices, and make your customer service operations a seamless component of your business.

With more choices available than ever before, SMBs must closely examine hosted service desk solutions as they can offer varied pricing and licensing models with different features and functionality. Should you deploy software and maintain it on your server and within the firewall, or do you utilize a hosted solution? The answer largely depends on your specific needs and the capabilities required to support your customer service operations.

Comprehensive customer support automation offers the capability to centralize all customer requests received via multiple channels--phone, Internet, email, chat, and wireless devices. Some solutions offer extensive email management for both incoming and outgoing email, enabling customer support centers to record, route, and escalate incoming email and populate services desk tickets. Plus, with outgoing email capabilities, notifications can be automated to keep customers informed during the problem resolution process, as well as customer surveys.

HOSTED CUSTOMER SUPPORT AUTOMATION DESK: KEY CONSIDERATIONS

Below is a list of key criteria that will help guide you through the selection process of a hosted customer support automation solution:

MULTI-PROJECT SUPPORT

Doing more with less is critical for any SMB. Having the capability to create multiple partitioned databases on the fly, each with its own unique fields, forms, rules, and users are extremely helpful when managing different types of customer service activities.

UNLIMITED CUSTOMIZATION & WORKFLOW

Having different levels of flexibility and customization are critical. As your processes and workflow change, you should be able to continuously add and modify project databases, business rules, and data fields.

IMPLEMENTATION FLEXIBILITY

Once you trial a hosted solution, see if the vendor offers the capability to bring the system in-house, without incurring any penalties or costly delays. …