Before I move on from Clearbooks by the way I have to point out another new innovation – they are now posting all of their development logs online for you to see what’s being worked on. Definitely a bold move, and a welcome one. I’ve always found however that the developers that have worked for me have never really put together comments that are suitable for polite public consumption, so let’s hope they don’t have that problem!
Back to Get Satisfaction, and more specifically community systems for your support and suggestions and why you should be using them if you provide an application that people use online.
Way back in the day, support was mainly done by phone or email, then this was improved slightly by ticketing systems that are still commonplace on many customer facing websites today. While ticketing systems do have their uses, such as to discuss support issues that are specific to the user account in question and may contain sensitive information, they fall down in the way that the earlier email and phone support systems did. You inevitably end up answering the same questions over and over again.
The solution to this was to build up a comprehensive Frequently Asked Question section (FAQ), but customers tended not to readily use the system and just sent in their query direct anyway, unless of course you hid the direct contact details at the end of the FAQ journey, which tended to infuriate customers to the point that they just stopped using your system!
Community style systems break this trend by putting the answers to questions in the open for everyone to see. If someone asks a question, the instant your customer service team respond, the answer is there for all to see, and is available for anyone to refer back to who has the same issue in future. Similarly, it provides a platform for taking suggestions for additions to your system that is vastly superior, allowing customers to see suggestions that have already been made, vote for how important they feel it would be and add any thoughts of their own with extra features that may make the solution even more useful.
And it’s worth mentioning that all that content that such a system creates will be indexed by search engines, giving you a better chance of being found by potential customers.
Once again, Get Satisfaction, like Clearbooks, get it right in terms of how they address their business, embracing social media with an active presence on Twitter @getsatisfaction, syndication on Facebook, and expert information and opinion on their blog (the latest post is extremely interesting and has echoes of our only providing valuable services mantra, though with a definite focus more on the ability to work well with a client..
So if you provide customer service online, give some serious thought to an open, community style customer service system, and you are unlikely to find any better than Get Satisfaction. It starts from as little as $19 USD per month, and you can be up and running in minutes.