E-commerce has become very instrumental in conducting businesses in the present day. Values such as speed of service, convenience, personalization, and price adaptations have been enhanced. Quality customer service can therefore not be ignored in order to ensure success. Customers have become very cautious due to tight budgets hence there is a need of not only to find various products and services on the internet but also need to find information fully describing the products so as to know whether it is ideal. Customer service is important in enhancing loyalty since research shows it costs 6 times more to sell to a new customer than to sell to an existing one. Lack of customer service will probably cause a disgruntled customer to tell of his or her adverse experience to other people. Further, 75% of complaining customers will do a repeat business if the complaints are quickly addressed and resolved hence regenerate sales. A live customer service such as toll free call centers is therefore necessary in order to answer various questions on information needed by particular customers. A ticketing system provided at a low fee by a provider whereby customers can submit queries, complaints, suggestions and requests to the firm is vital. Customer service is also vital in making refunds on damaged goods or for goods not delivered. A good customer service goes a long way in inspiring customer confidence and trust which is key to the success of any business.
In marketing and the virtual marketplace, customer lifetime value (CLV) and an ideology of customer life cycle management whereby the present value all future cash flows which is accredited to the customer association. It places greater emphasis on customer service and customer satisfaction in the long-term, rather than on concentrating on short-term sales. Customer lifetime value has insightful appeal as a marketing model since it theoretically represents the monetary value of a particular customer hence the amount the marketing department should spend on that particular customer can be estimated.
The call center’s primary concern is customer satisfaction through effective resolution of issues and concerns. Some call centers handle as many as 3,000 calls per day and without the use of CRM applications the cost of handling such a volume would be cost prohibitive and less-satisfying for the customer. Some call centers handle routine problems with automated voice mail systems leaving the more complicated problems to be handled by a customer service representative (CSR). CSRs who handle problems may also have the opportunity to up-sell (selling a better quality item) or cross selling (selling a complimentary item). Returning customers require that marketing managers have a thorough understanding of the customer’s needs and the diligence and wherewithal to stay in the relationship with the customer through its cycle of ups and downs. For example, some companies offer long term customers in good standing price incentives toward the purchase of future goods and services. Automated CRM information systems facilitate the measurement and analyses of customer retention and defection rates and distributes the results to other functional areas within the company. Subsequently, marketing campaigns and sale force objectives keep salesmen focused on company goals and customer satisfaction.
CRM systems have been affected by the enforcement of recent laws, most notably, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Services Modernization Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Gramm-Leach-Bliley is forcing companies to “clean” their customer data so that the data matches across all business functions and processed. This situation allows privacy preferences such as “opt-in” to be consistently applied throughout the organization. HIPAA restricts access to customer data on a need-to-know basis, thus databases must be restructured throughout the firm to allow this granularity of access. When customers know how their data is being controlled and managed, it gives them a feeling of security and trust which is the basis for good customer relations and effective management of CRM.
In order to enhance their customer base and improve existing services, various e-businesses have implemented a Frequently Asked questions site (FAQ) whereby common queries are easily answered rather than calling customer care or enquiring through e-mails. This is a faster and more convenient way. Cisco Systems, a networking giant, has initiated online support mainly through FAQ so as to address common questions and problems. Currently, 79% of Cisco’s customer support is done online. A good customer service should be based on the latest technological advancements hence customization is inevitable. Updates to the installed system should be easily upgradable to ensure further ease of access. There are numerous software in the market developed to enable online customer support for e-businesses. However, tailor-made software can still be installed for a particular business need.
Industry estimates for United States firms point out that approximately US$35 billion per year is spent on returns. People tend to purchase online products that they are more confident in their usage and they don’t have to return since this is a barrier since poor return-handling techniques have been put into place. (Windham). It is therefore crucial for e-businesses to ensure customer support and information means such as free-toll call centers and e-mailing services are open to ensure goods are not returned on the basis of inability to use. Proper feedback systems should be put into place so as to enable a firm to respond to changes in the market.