LESSON #58: Supporting Your Customers

Throughout this lesson series we’ve been looking at how to develop an information product and sell it online.

But it seems it wouldn’t be right for me to go through this entire lesson series teaching how to sell stuff online, if I didn’t also take the time to talk about supporting your customers.

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

  • Customer Service – providing service to your customers before, during, and after the sale.

  • Why is it important to support your customers?

    1) It’s the right thing to do.
    2) It’s good for your business. (Fewer refunds, more repeat business, referrals, etc.)

  • Some frequent areas of support for information products:

    – Presales questions
    – Download problems
    – Opening/reading the files
    – Product-specific questions (How to use it, etc.)
    – Refund requests
    – Billing cancellation (for recurring billing products)

  • Ways of communicating with customers…

    Telephone (including VOIP, Skype)

    -the old-school standard.
    -putting a phone number on your sales page can help your conversion rate.
    -it could help your business, but you DON’T have to provide phone support. (I don’t)
    -if you offer personal coaching/consulting… phone is expected.
    -if you do offer phone support; outsource it or hire staff ASAP.
    -If you don’t offer phone support, make sure your other method(s) of support are accessible and reliable.

    Fax

    -should be viewed only as a supplement to your support.

    Chat/IM

    -Live chat is a great solution for anyone who has an outsourced support staff.
    -Hosted chat solution is better suited than a standard IM.

    Free solutions:
    Help Center Live www.helpcenterlive.com
    Crafty Syntax Live Help at www.craftysyntax.com
    GotLiveChat at www.gotlivechat.com

    Paid solutions:
    PHP Live! Support www.phplivesupport.com
    AliveChat www.websitealive.com
    LIVECHAT www.livechatinc.com

    Social media (ie. Twitter)

    -Good because it focuses on building relationships with customers.
    -Supplemental only… won’t work for all support.
    -Use with caution; it can be a huge time suck (I don’t use it for support).

    Forum/Blog

    -Ideal when the support is beneficial to many customers.
    -Good for peer-to-peer support.

    Email

    -Standard communication medium of the internet.
    -See lesson #26
    -Not easily scalable.

    Helpdesk

    -Support ticket system works well.
    -Better than plain email because it…

    +Keeps track of the conversation
    +Keeps track of the customer’s history
    +Avoids email delivery issues
    +Is easily scalable
    +Can easily be outsourced

    Free solutions:
    osTicket www.osticket.com
    PHP Support Tickets www.phpsupporttickets.com

    Helpdesks that I personally recommend:
    Perldesk www.ericstips.com/perldesk (This is what I use)
    Kayako www.kayako.com

  • Some support tips based on my experience…

    – When it comes to disgruntled customers… kill ’em with kindness!
    – Once in a while, you may need to fire a customer.
    – (See video for my tip about threats, bullies, and blackmailers)
    – Use bonuses and/or your other products to reduce refunds. (see video for example)
    – Automate your support by using templates and macros. (Resource: Push Button Marketer with Macro Marketer software)
    – Outsource it ASAP!

    Action steps:

    1) Decide what method(s) of contact you’re going to offer to your customers, and implement it on your website.

    2) Think about how you can use automation tools and outsourcing to support your customers as your business grows.

    In the next lesson we’re going to start talking about one of my favorite marketing topics… list building!

    As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below.

    Have a great day!

  • 50 comments on “LESSON #58: Supporting Your Customers

    1. Nicolas

      Another great lesson. Thank-you. I really liked the point of not needing everything like phone support. I think what I am going to do now is ask customers to contact me first through a support ticket and determine which is course of action is best for the follow up. (i.e. whether it can be handled better by continued e-mail support or a quick 3-minute phone call)

      I know previously you talked about outsourcing vs in-house and how to figure which is best but I can’t seem to find the lesson. Which is lesson is that? Also, are there any guidelines to help one decide when it is time to move to outsourcing?

      Thanks again and God Bless.

      Reply
    2. Eric Post author

      I did talk about outsourcing your product, and then I talked about outsourcing copywriting in lesson #52. But I don’t think I covered in-house vs outsourcing.

      But generally, I would recommend outsourcing your customer service/support. The reason is because there are many individuals and companies that specialize in it, so it can be done fairly easily (and it’s cheaper than hiring in-house staff).

      There are certainly some situations, where your ROI might be better as a result of hiring in-house support staff. For example, Hostgator outsourced their customer support when the business started growing. But their reputation took a beating because of it.

      So they switched over to all in-house support staff, and it caused them to gain a great reputation again and explode their business to new levels (Inc 500 company two years in a row now).

      It’s time to move to outsourcing as soon as a task is taking away from your focus on marketing and growing the business. In other words, ASAP.

      You don’t HAVE to outsource everything. I don’t outsource everything, because I’m happy with the level of my business, and I like doing a lot of stuff that I do. But from a true entrepreneurial standpoint, you should outsource (or hire staff for) virtually everything.

      Reply
    3. Pakistani Wedding

      If you are outsourcing then definitely provide a phone support. If you are starting out then you don’t have to do that. In my experience I had a variety of customers and I kid you not one paid me $4000 for a $6.00 product. Being ethical I did do a refund. That spread the word and increase in sale. Thanks Eric.

      Reply
    4. Luca Di Nicola

      Hey Eric,
      This has got to be one of my favorite videos you’ve done. That’s probably because I’ve been in sales most of my working career. Mostly offline and recently online. The techniques are very much the same except the technology is different. In the offline world there was much more of a personal touch, especially with local customers. The internet brings a whole different way to communicate with customers as you’ve outlined in your video. However, customer service is customer service. The bottom line is to take care of your hard earned customer.

      I do have a problem with internet customers in the fact that I often don’t know who they are. For instance in affiliate marketing I’ll get an email confirming a sale but I have no idea who bought the product or how to get in touch with that persson.

      Right now I’m using email to communicate with customers but as business grows I’m planning to use a support desk approach.

      Thanks Eric,
      Luca

      Reply
    5. surabhi

      hey Eric,
      This chapter is not so much clear in some sentences.

      Thanks

      Reply
    6. Ramesh.G

      Deat Eric, Thank you for all your lessons , I have been following all your lessons . youe lessons are unique and of high standard.Now i am in the midway of my ebook creation ….plz keep send your lessons to me..

      Thanks again for all your support

      Reply
    7. Heal Mesothelioma

      Thanks for the tips Eric! I love your blog…always provide very helpful information.

      Reply
    8. Liz

      Customer service is one of those things that seems to get ignored and it always amazes me how many businesses ignore the needs of their customers. They ignore emails, they don’t offer prompt refunds or get really short with customers that ask too many questions. Since customers make paydays possible your support and response is one of the most important parts of business. Thanks Eric.

      Reply
    9. Kristina Lim

      Hey Eric, what are the main differences between osTicket and PHP Support Tickets? I’m not sure what to look for when comparing them. Thanks

      Reply
    10. Reed

      Hey Eric….

      Another Great Lesson !

      Customer service is really important, and I really doubt whether there could have been a better way to learn how to incorporate customer service into your business. Really Great insights !

      Now there’s one more thing I’m looking forward from you…Traffic Generation….and I hope that’s coming soon! And I can’t help scratching myself all over in excitement, because I know, if it’s coming from you….it’s going to be a bombshell !

      Thanks and all the Best once again! Man, you’re super !

      Reply
    11. Eric Post author

      To be honest I have not tried either of them, as Perldesk has always worked great for me and they do not look any better than it. But they seem to be the two most popular free solutions, both available in Fantastico. So feel free to report back with your findings!

      Reply
    12. Eric Post author

      Thanks, and yes… I will be covering traffic generation in depth 🙂

      Reply
    13. Rick Ray

      Eric, great video on customer service. I’ve been watching your tips everyday, but after lesson #57 I haven’t received any for a couple of weeks. I hope you get back to the daily routine soon. Thanks and have a great day.

      Rick

      Reply
    14. Josh Incoyr

      Hi, please add (under Chat/IM “free solution”) GotLiveChat.com
      Thanks!

      Reply
    15. Kristina Lim

      Looks like osTicket has much better support – a good reason for me to go with that. I’ve got it up and running 🙂

      Reply
    16. Eric Post author

      Just added it, thanks. Since it seems to be your website, feel free to let us know if you have any additional advice regarding these solutions (anything that makes yours better, etc).

      Reply
    17. Will Mac

      Hello Eric, I have been studying your lessons off and on for several months now and there is a puzzle piece I am missing. Once I have identified a niche, seen there is a good demand,how do I create a quality information product that will sell? Do I try to write an ebook to give away in exchange for an email address? Then how do I develop the money making product? Thanks in advance, Will

      Reply
    18. Holly

      I love your site and have learnt a lot from it and I am trully grateful thank you

      Reply
    19. Eric Post author

      Information product development is covered in lesson #44-47.

      Giving away an ebook in exchange for an opt-in is one possible strategy, and that will be covered around lesson #61-62.

      Reply
    20. William Wallace-Bruce

      Hi Eric,
      I can’t believe you are giving all this stuff for free. God richly bless you and your family.
      Thanks a million times

      William

      Reply
    21. William Wallace-Bruce

      Hi Eric,
      Can you please let me know in what lesson you will be covering “Traffic”

      Reply
    22. Eric Post author

      I will be covering web traffic from lesson #71 – 85. And technically the list building lessons (59-70) are a part of traffic as well.

      Reply
    23. Rob

      hey Eric, top site and I think I can learn a lot. I need to know how to access lesson #2 for example after watching lesson #1. I typed it into your search box without any luck.

      Rob. NZ

      Reply
    24. Web host

      That was a good lesson, it is to early for me to need a help desk… Email is sufficient and not too troublesome so far!

      The quidence on refunds was excellent!

      Reply
    25. DANIEL

      I;VE TRIED TO BUY A FEW THINGS OFF U ERIC. DON;T KNOW WHY IT HAS A PROBLEM. IT EITHER BOOKED OF OR SOME OTHER LAME EXCUSE. I LOVE THESE TIPS. THEY HAVE HELPED ALOT. HAVING NOT MADE A FORTUNE. BUT I’M PULLING ABOUT 4600.00 A MONTH. THANK -YOU

      Reply
    26. Eric Post author

      Thanks, if you still have any problems placing an order feel free to contact my helpdesk and we’ll try to help you.

      Reply
    27. Nick

      Hi Eric. Love your content. Just wondering if you can help me get in touch with Dave Guindon? I know you’ve mentioned being a buddy of his before. I purchased his exit splash software and had a question about it. I tried his support email without a reply. I went to post a ticket to his customer support help desk but it was down. I emailed Dave and got no response. I went to his blog and posted a comment on his blog that was deleted. At no time was I being rude. I like his product but I have a question about a problem I seem to be having with it which is sometimes for some people the pop-up comes up even when people have clicked the order button. Anyway, I thought it was appropriate to post this here seen as how you know Dave and this is a support lesson. 🙂 Any help you could give me on contacting Dave would be most appreciated. Thanks.

      Reply
    28. Eric Post author

      Sure thing. I’ll send an email to Dave and CC you on it. He’s a great guy, and I’m guessing somehow your requests got deleted without him seeing it.

      Reply
    29. Jack

      How many of the paid live support solutions do you recommend someone use at once?

      Reply
    30. Jorge Dutra

      Hi and Hello Eric,

      I am enjoying your Eric’s Tips very much. My action is to go through the lessons the first time and then with more emphasis the 2nd round. I ask if I could be of service to you on an administrative level so here is my resume. Please and Thank You look forward to your response.

      ” Always speak the Truth and Honesty at all times!”

      “Business is Life…Life is Business!”

      “Truly Caring for your Success!”

      Reply
    31. Jeniffer

      I closely watched your video and tips are really very useful. Specially i noticed on “Action steps”.

      We are doing business to generate revenues but the customer service must be prior for all business.

      I appreciate the customer service of Live2support. (http://www.live2support.com)

      Reply
    32. aida c. suarez

      Hey Eric! Good lesson! It was suppose to be the first! Well, this is an exageration. Keep it up… you talk and i listen, because i know that something will rub. Today I am ispired, because I did not know how to cantact properly th

      Reply
    33. violet

      the same could apply “Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.“In today’s competitive society, manners are important for survival.

      Reply
    34. Marija

      Hi Eric,
      Please, suggest me what kind of payment would be appropriate for customer in personal coaching/consulting, done via phone? I mean that is easiest for both side. Thank you! Marija

      Reply
    35. Kassanndra

      Hello, Erin, I completely agree with everything you have said. I have been using HappyFox, a customer support tool and ticket management software for a while. The tool has certainly helped us improve our efficiencies in address customer request and has also played a significant role in retaining customers.

      Kassanndra
      Marketing Coordinator (HappyFox)

      Reply
    36. Mark

      Great lesson again.

      Mark

      Reply
    37. Anna

      Hy Eric Thanks again for another great lesson. There certainly is a lot to think about. Which is the better way to go.
      Thanks again

      Reply
    38. Terri

      Greetings All, It is starting to be our peak season at my job and I will have to work 12-14 hours 6 days a week. (The biggest reason why I want to get my website up.) During this time I know I will fall behind. I hope no one minds if I post questions from a previous lessions. Thank you for your help and understanding.
      Terri

      Reply
    39. Hannah

      Hello Eric!

      Thanks so much, as this lesson was great! You answered my questions about having customer service support.
      I would like to offer good customer service support by phone. Like with any business, online or offline, once you start a service it has to be maintained. I probably will not have too many customers for a while, but as I grow, I want to make sure that I have good customer service support especially for the type of info product I am doing.

      BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS and MORE BLESSINGS!

      Hannah

      Reply
    40. Franco

      Awesome video and information but I am curious about the outsourcing to a help-desk company. I suspect that one would have to provide some detailed documentation. But I have not seen any information as to what information needs to be provided or how to create the information that will be used by the company who is answering the help request. I guess I am curious about the amount of preparation required and what information needs to be available before I outsource to a help-desk company. Are there lessons on Eric’s Tips that cover this type of effort?

      Reply
      1. Micah

        Hello Franco,

        Specific needs would really depend on your your own business, and what you are supporting. But, there are some general tips that will be helpful.

        Here is the link to Eric’s lesson called, Outsourcing Your Website:
        http://www.ericstips.com/tips/lesson39/

        Reply
    41. Michael R. Scrivens

      What about merging the lines between support channels? With the modern customer having less time on their hands, it’s more imporant than ever to be able to engage with them using a platform that keeps track of requests in one place. That’s what Helprace is trying to do with the introduction of a helpdesk, feedback community and knowledge base. It’s an idea that could work for companies trying to centralize their support.

      Although Helprace doesn’t offer phone and chat as channels yet, there’s been discussions regarding it here: http://support.helprace.com/i43-is-there-a-plan-to-add-a-chat-function-at-all

      Reply
    42. DJ

      Greetings Eric,
      Do you have suggestions for getting a phone number?’
      Much Success always!

      Reply
      1. Micah

        Hello DJ,

        If you are currently using a landline, or paying for internet or cable, you might be able to add a business line to your bundle.

        Reply
    43. Marc M. Demers

      Hi Eric,

      Great video on customer service.

      One of the best parts for me was : Some support tips based on my experience…

      Thanks

      Marc

      Reply

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