When customers need help in a store, they search for a helpful salesclerk. Even if those businesses are short staffed, they provide at least one person who can direct customers to products and answer any questions they have. For ecommerce stores, customer support can be more challenging. To get assistance, customers must email or call a customer support desk during regular business hours. Many customers won't bother to take this extra step and will instead search for an easier-to-understand site.

To remain competitive, online businesses must find ways to get help for their customers as quickly as possible whenever requests come in. This means being able to automatically route an email to the appropriate support representative, who then receives a notification of the assignment and responds quickly.

Another way to do this is through live chat invites, which appear as a customer browses a business's page, offering assistance. You may want to arrange this so chats are only available if the customer requests one. This way, a customer service representative is notified that someone needs help and then provides it. Here are several top tools to help businesses speed up response times without spending a fortune.

ClickDesk

ClickDesk is a live chat app that asks visitors if they need help, giving them the option to ignore it or type something into a chat window. When a customer sends a request for assistance, the software automatically collects the person's name, email address, referring site, browser, operating system, chat history, and location information. This gives the customer service representative a head start on helping the customer. In addition to chat, support can be handled over video and voice chat with translation services available.

Desk.com

As requests for help come in, businesses will need a way to assign them. Since 24/7 ticketing representatives can be costly, automation is the best solution. Desk.com not only integrates with ClickDesk for live chat, but its business rules can help with automatic routing. When an email comes in, Desk.com's software can create a ticket and assign it based on rules administrators have created. If cases aren't resolved within a predetermined amount of time, they can be escalated to a supervisor.

Salesforce Community Cloud

Many ecommerce businesses have found that the best help can come from other customers. For that reason, certain organizations may find the best option is to set up a community on its website where customers can interact with others. Salesforce's Community Cloud gives businesses a forum for customers, vendors, employees, and partners to share thoughts, ask questions, and find information on a business's offerings.

Get Satisfaction

For businesses that want a simple community solution without the complexities that come with Salesforce, Get Satisfaction can be a better alternative. With Get Satisfaction, you can set up a community and encourage member participation by offering rewards for those who reach "expert" level within the community. When customers need help, they can connect with your business or other customers and customers can even generate their own content for the community. This members-helping-members approach saves businesses time while encouraging brand loyalty.

Snap Web Apps

Many help desk apps offer knowledge bases as a feature, but if you're looking for a way to add one without paying for it, Snap Web Apps could be the best option. The free knowledgebase widget allows professionals to create, publish, and retire useful articles about products. Articles can be organized into categories using tags and visitors can either browse or search to find the information they need.

Online customers need assistance occasionally just as store-based customers do. When that happens, it's important that brands find a way to offer top-quality customer service as quickly and efficiently as possible. With the right tools in place, businesses can automate the customer service experience and make sure they never let a customer request slip by unnoticed.

Published on: Mar 3, 2016