Hidden costs of customer service software

6th Mar 2014

In today’s omni-channel world, consumers now expect to be able to seamlessly move from one customer touch-point to another, receiving the same level of service across each of them – effortlessly.

Key to an organisation being able to provide this service is having the right customer service software technology in place. The rewards are two-fold - improving customer satisfaction levels, whilst generating proven cost savings.

With Forrester reporting that nearly 70% of consumers use web self-service and 43% use live chat, it is evident that the majority of consumers prefer to use a company website to find answers to their questions rather than contacting via telephone or e-mail. Those organisations that offer a multi-channel customer service can, on average, deflect the volume of inbound calls and e-mails they receive by up to 40%.

However, as well implemented and maintained as your customer service software may be, if you choose a vendor based primarily on their product set and overlook their pricing model and account management offering, you may well find your organisation hit by unexpected bills, putting a significant drain on your bottom line.

Web self-service has many benefits for an organisation;

*Reduce costs / fast ROI
*Increase FCR / conversion rates
*Improve customer satisfaction / loyalty
*Provide valuable customer insight - analytics

A major benefit of web self-service tools is their ability to support your business during real times of need i.e. during seasonal peaks in customer contact or a sudden surge of enquiries caused by an unexpected event - like adverse weather conditions disrupting flights for travel companies or storms creating power cuts for utility providers. It's during these periods of increased customer contact - often out of contact centre hours – that organisations rely on self-service tools, helping to alleviate the weight of inbound enquiries to contact centre agents.

Shouldn’t web self-service support an organisation as well as the customer?

During elevated traffic levels, organisations should be safe in the knowledge that their self-service tools are able to handle an un-limited number of questions by an un-limited number of customers 24/7, however, if your pricing model is based on a pay-per-session model rather than a fixed-cost agreement, you could find your costs spiraling rather than providing you with a fast ROI.

From an operational and cost perspective, pay-per-session can be unpredictable and prove difficult to manage and budget effectively. A fixed-cost pricing model, based on the amount of data in your centralised knowledge-base - something you control - means budgets can be planned efficiently, with no un-wanted bills when you experience those spikes in visitor levels.

Hidden costs – key questions to ask:

The following questions should be considered when choosing a customer service software vendor.

*Is billing based on pay-per-session or fixed costs?
*How will the payment model be affected by predicted seasonal peaks in customer contact / visitor levels?
*How will the payment model be affected by un-predicted surges in customer contact due to unforeseen events?
*Will my hosting fee be affected by increases / decreases in traffic?

If you’re considering an investment in web self-service, make sure you’re aware of all the charges you could be liable for, and not just the up-front costs. A robust vendor should offer you a transparent pricing policy – with no nasty surprises.

Free White Paper: How to choose the right customer service software vendor

Once you've identified the need for multi-channel customer service software, deciding which vendor to use can be a daunting task. To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve written a new white paper.

Our white paper will help you to:

*Identify the key questions to ask a vendor
*Understand the implications of hidden costs
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