Your Secret Customer Service Agent

Did you ever stop to think about your secret customer service agent—the customer service representative you may not even know you have? I'm talking, of course, about your business’s website. (You do have one, don’t you?)

These days, your business website is your front line when it comes to providing customer service. After all, when you're looking for a business, you go online first, right? You check out the company's website — and what you find can make or break your decision to do business with them.

It's the same for your prospective customers. So how do you make sure your website is providing great customer service? Ask yourself these five questions:

1. Is it easy to use?

Visitors should be able to quickly navigate around your business website, whether it's a few pages of information or a sizable ecommerce site. Is the key information easy to find “above the fold” — that is, without paging down? Do the right-side and left-side navigation bars clearly indicate how to find additional products or information that users might want? You can use Google Analytics (it's free to sign up) to see what visitors do when they come to your website. How long do they stay? After the homepage, where do they go next? If everyone seems to come to your home page and then leave without going anywhere else, maybe your homepage is too confusing.

2. Is it informational?

Visitors should be able to find essential information on your website easily. If you own a physical store, restaurant or office, the basics include your business address, hours of operation, phone number and other ways to reach you, such as social media accounts or email. If you sell products on your website, it should be easy to see what you offer, find different product categories, and get essential information such as return policy, shipping times and shipping costs. Don't make visitors hunt around for this type of information, or they probably won't bother.

3. Can it answer questions?

If visitors have questions or run into trouble with your products or services, being able to get help from your business website makes life easier both for them and for you. In addition to a phone number so people can call for customer service, how about adding online chat to your website? There are many low-cost chat tools tailored for small business websites. You can also include a frequently asked question (FAQs) section with answers to the common questions customers have or directions for solving problems they often run into. This allows your visitors to help themselves, saving you time and money on providing in-person customer service.

4. Is it quick to assist?

In other words, how fast does your business website load? Customers have high expectations for websites today, and if your website takes more than a few seconds to load, it's the customer-service equivalent of making them wait in a long checkout line or listen to your hold music for half an hour. Regularly test how quickly your site loads on a variety of browsers and on both computers and mobile devices.

5. Can it help them anywhere, anytime?

Speaking of mobile devices, they’re more important than ever as a customer service tool. Busy customers expect to do just about everything on their mobile phones, from checking up on an order status to quickly calling your company or looking up your restaurant menu online. If your business website still isn't mobile-friendly, you're falling behind the curve in terms of online customer service.

Think of your business website as your always-on, never-tires-out customer service representative, and make the most out of it. 

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia"></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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