CUSTOMER SERVICE

Helping Customers Help Themselves

Your online customers need help, not template e-mails. This automated support tool learns your replies and gets smarter over time.
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One of the biggest challenges for any website is providing customers with help. If you're selling online, the last thing you want is for someone to abandon his or her shopping cart, start searching for your product elsewhere, or just close that browser tab because they can't get a quick answer. For a start-up, the biggest component of helping customers is usually time.  If you're a lean organization with just a few people, anyone taking time to answer customer questions and e-mails—a vital part of making customers happy—is taking them away from their "other" job on the product, service, sales, or marketing end of the company.

Enter nanoRep, a start-up service that starts with your own frequently-asked questions list and creates a knowledge base that it claims has 90 percent accuracy in identifying users' questions. NanoRep does this with Artificial Intelligence with four-dimensional Natural Language Processing, which means it is trying to figure out the question your customer actually has—and not just matching the words with a search.

As nanoRep learns the answers, it can automatically answer more customer questions instead of pushing a customer to email, phone or a live chat session. Customers in the future will get answers quickly and accurately, and take fewer company resources.

Rubybox, a beauty-sampling start-up in South Africa that has been operating for the past three months, just started using nanoRep. Sylvia Gruber, Rubybox's co-founder, says: "Initially we only set up a customer-help e-mail with an auto response saying we'd handle customers issues within 48 hours. But we were getting more and more e-mails with the same questions. We created five FAQs, and we included these in the auto-response. Then we'd read the e-mails as fast as we could and if our auto-response answered the question, we'd consider it closed. Unfortunately, our customers didn't like this, and many ignored our reply, so they never saw the answer.”

A contact recommended nanoRep to Gruber. Upon implementing it, she says, "Immediately we got a 33 percent drop in customer e-mail questions. That's even before we've started adding anything past our initial questions to the database." The Rubybox team can track usage with a dashboard that shows how many answers customers are finding out automatically. This has given the team incentive to build out their list of questions and answers, and they believe they'll quickly be at more than 70 percent of inquiries answered via nanoRep.

NanoRep's pricing is based on a monthly subscription package. "The package is tailored to a client's actual usage and includes nanoRep's ticketing system, automated, instant answers, and search functionalities, self-learning knowledge base and nanoRep's Facebook application," according to Doron Herzlich, nanoRep's CEO and co-founder. The basic subscription for small-to-medium business is $199 per month for companies with 5,000 visitors per day. A professional subscription for larger websites with 100,000 unique visitors per day costs $399 per month, and there are larger packages to purchanse as a company grows. An extra knowledge base (i.e. for bi-lingual websites) can be purchased for an extra $199 per month.

NanoRep has also announced an integration with popular customer chat service LivePerson. The integration is free for customers using both products. NanoRep's database learns the answers to every new ticket or question that was escalated to a live chat representative via any channel (Facebook, e-mail, etc.) and will be then be used for other visitors in various phrasings or wording.

How do you help customers in a timely fashion? Share your tips with us in the comments.

IMAGE: iStock
Last updated: Dec 8, 2011




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