April 1, 2004, 12:00 AM

Where customer self-service options shine online

Some online shopping tasks require live help, but functions such as product selection and ordering can be best addressed with automation, says eGain.

Some online shopping tasks may be more easily accomplished by customers with support from live help, but for other tasks, the self-service option shines online, Anurag Juneja, vice president of services and solutions at eCRM technology vendor eGain Communications Corp. tells Internet Retailer.

One scenario where self-service is actually more appropriate for online retail than live help is product selection, Juneja says. “Say you want to buy a digital camera but have no clue as to what models are available and what you should be looking for,” he says. Through a guided approach--in which the shopper is presented with a progressively narrower set of questions or options based on responses to queries presented online--a retailer can effectively help consumers reach a buying decision via automation. For online product selection, he adds, retailers should offer a guided version of self-service if the product has technical or functional complexities.

The online ordering process is another task that online self-service can most often accomplish without the need to escalate to live phone, chat or e-mail help, Juneja says. Success depends how well the process serves customers’ needs. “Throughout the ordering process, there are questions every step of the way that a consumer might have. How you answer the question at the right time in the ordering process without sending the consumer back to the FAQ page is something we work on with our customers,” he says.


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