Customer Service in a Web World

CustomerShortly after posting a recent article about Google Documents, I was emailed by a director in the Google Documents team requesting more information on how I use the service.  Additionally, a post about Google Gears spurned a blog comment/email discussion with a member of the Google Gears team about how Google Gears could be leveraged with other sites around the web.

This post isn’t about praising Google, rather merely using them  as an example of good customer service.  Google is a large corporation with thousands of employees focused thousands of products/initiatives.  Yet, they take the time to reach out their customer base to enhance their products and gain feedback from users.

In another example, Netflix has experimented with online customer service but has recently launched an effort to handle customer service requests over the phone.  According to the IndyStar newspaper, online retail outlets rank higher in customer service satisfaction than brick and mortar stores.

We all have customers, whether we are freelancers who have to consult with clients on a project or every-day employees who have to keep in contact with teammates and bosses.  How do you keep customer service at a high level when you’re located hundreds if not thousands of miles away?  The key is communication.  In fact sometimes it might mean over-communication and dialogue.

Luckily web workers have cheap (if not free) tools such as email and VoIP to help us keep in touch with our customers.  Largely good customer service just requires dedication to “reach out” to your stakeholders to seek feedback and build trust.

How do you ensure good customer service to your “customers”?  Which tools to you employ to accomplish this goal?

(photo credit: Flickr user striatic)

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