Companies will increase their spending on Internet-based customer care by 34 percent in 2002, according to a February survey of 220 U.S. companies with 100 employees or more by Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, a sister company to CIO’s publisher. During the next year, companies in IDC’s study will spend an average of $1 million on Internet-based customer care?the process of receiving and handling questions, purchasing decisions and problems from customers online.
- Don’t count on completely replacing telephone-based interaction with Internet-based interaction. “Communication with customers still occurs over the telephone 70 percent to 80 percent of the time,” Bingham says. “We don’t see customer care moving 100 percent in either direction.”
- Anticipate the needs of your high-value customers. Some customers will still require telephone support in addition to Internet support. Knowing who those customers are up front provides up-selling and cross-selling opportunities and can prevent you from alienating your key clients.
- Consider outsourcing all or part of your customer care. Bingham suggests that companies look for vertical industry expertise when choosing an outsourcer. “Maintaining customer care in-house may not always offer clear value,” Bingham says. Leading service providers offer ˆ la carte services as well as seamless comprehensive solutions?meaning the customer is unaware that it is dealing with a third party. “These companies have been providing customer care for 20 to 30 years,” Bingham says. “It is their core competency.”