ecommerce telephone system

by huron
13 replies
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What does everyone use for their ecommerce site for customer service? i called a call center outsourcing company and they charge $2,000 a month!

do you guys get an 800 number and handle all of your customer phone calls?

how do you handle the customer service side of your ecommerce business? thanks.
#ecommerce #system #telephone
  • Profile picture of the author Robert Mangan
    Huron,

    for my ecommerce site I tried using a call centre company - Answering Service, 24x7 Phone Answering | AnswerConnect.com™ - but it didn't work for me.

    Their service was great and they weren't expensive (can't remember exactly but I think I got a deal for around $200 per month for them taking calls from customers) however, for my niche customers will call wanting to know detailed product specifications etc. before they buy and I found that the call centre solution just didn't work for me.

    The agents who work for companies like AnswerConnect are distributed all over the States; incoming calls can and are routed to any of their agents. So, no agent ever gets to know your business or its products. The agents just follow a script you've put together and anytime a customer asks a question that's not on the script the agent will end up taking a message and telling the customer someone will get back to them. You can lose sales because of this.

    In the end I got my own 800 number from 800 Numbers | Toll Free Numbers | Virtual PBX | Virtual Phone System - RingCentral - a company that offers a virtual pbx solution.

    I now answer customer calls.

    The services offered by RingCentral are superb and they're not that expensive; my plan features 800 number, toll-free fax and a landline number (you tell them what city and state you want and you get a number that is applicable) and I pay $55 per month for it, including in and out going calls. You also get a piece of software called Call Controller that allows you to make and receive calls from your computer. This is great for me as I don't reside in the States but my business does so, I don't have to make or pay for international calls. I can take customer calls, make calls to customers and suppliers and send/receive faxes (from my computer: don't need a fax machine) all for $55 per month.

    When you start to make a profit from your ecommerce business you can then hire your own, dedicated VA to take customer calls. This way you can train your VA to handle calls exactly as you would do yourself - and using software like RingCentral, the VA can be based in any country.

    Robert
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  • Profile picture of the author David Keith
    i have always used ringcentral.com you can do several things with it like forwarding call transcripts to email address and thus online help software solutions.

    there are several ways you can then include others employees to help handle customer service.
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    • Profile picture of the author Your Brand Ebooks
      Grasshopper is the cheapest and most full-featured.
      With features similar to what David describes above.

      Use their tell-a-friend form to send yourself a discount code.

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      • Profile picture of the author Increaser
        Hi Huron,

        I live in the UK and use:
        SwitchboardFREEâ„¢ | Virtual Switchboard | Free 084 Numbers | Call Tracking.

        You get 2 free business numbers starting with 0844 and a free Virtual Auto Attendant.
        They have a professional answering system setup and can forward free to a UK landline.
        You also have the paid option of forwarding to a mobile and they send you text alerts if you've missed a call.
        The upgrade option also offers Google Analytics.


        Another free registration and good service in the UK is:
        DMClub

        They also have a good service, but their free numbers start with 070 (more expensive to the caller), but they will also forward free of charge to a landline and you can have a free switchboard.
        Their switchboard is very well setup too.

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  • Profile picture of the author huron
    Thanks guys, that is a lot of great info...

    Do you guys think I could handle all of my customer service by email, and just leave an email contact and tell all the customers that I will respond to any question or concern within 12 to 24 hours? what do you guys think?, it would be a great way to save costs.
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    • Profile picture of the author Increaser
      Hi Again Huron,

      I think you can always answer people by email, as long as you use a helpdesk as suggested by David Keith.

      If you just give people an email address, you will receive a lot of spam.
      Also I think people abuse of your time with an email address, because it's so easy to send an email.
      But with a helpdesk, they have to first go online and submit the ticket.

      The other advantage of a Helpdesk is that both you and the customer will have records of all the conversations in one place.
      And they can refer to it at anytime.

      You also have the advantage of banning abusive customers via IP Ban function; most good helpdesks will allow this.

      You will also have the other advantage of adding a Knowledge Base so that New Customers can refer to these answers, avoiding to create a support ticket for a previously answered issue.

      There are many helpdesk scripts out there and Hesk.com has a good one which is also free.
      If you host your site with CPanel, you can also install some other free ones, ready for you to use.

      In the end, it all depends on the type of business you are running.
      Some niche businesses will definitely require a telephone number to call; but not regular resell rights, digital download products.

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  • Profile picture of the author David Keith
    hesk.com is a great open source customer support script. it really helps organize and keep track of that sort of stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Mangan
    huron,

    the only ecommerce businesses that can get away without having a toll-free number prominently displayed on their sites are Amazon, Dell, Microsoft etc.

    Unless your business is that universally well known and respected I don't think you'll get away with no toll-free.

    I really do believe that you will lose business not having a toll-free number on your site.

    Personally, I would never buy off any site without a phone number and I always call the retailer before making my purchase just to check that they really do pick up and answer customers' calls.

    Robert
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  • Profile picture of the author bkat52
    For my Ecommerce sites I used phone.com home office or virtual office (I don't remember what they called it then). And then I realized I got a free 800 number through my web hosting company so I started taking advantage of that. The phone company was actually called voipo.com. They were alright, not real impressed by them. The back office was very basic and not very user friendly.

    Yes. I use 800 numbers for all my customer service lines.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    Forget call centers - they are too expensive and the customer support is only following a script that has nothing specific included on it. Unless your niche involves people calling for basic reasoning, there is no point in even looking into hiring a call center.

    If you do want to consider hiring a call center, instead, find a person who's willing to work for you as a part time job. Therefore they will obtain experience regarding your product(s) and you'll have no trouble with customer support.

    I've recently taken on a market that requires toll-free numbers in order to obtain many sales and I'm looking into using Callture. It looks like a great company with many features available and the cheapest pricing I've seen online (and yes, I've done a lot of research)! They are also a large corporation and provide great support (you can call them, request a live chat, send them an email, etc.) if you need any. They also have an up-to-date and easy to use interface that you'll have no trouble configuring.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    I forgot to mention previously that you can always find a freelancer to outsource customer service work if you particularly require somebody to provide customer service for you and don't want to hire an employee of your own. Obviously they won't be better trained than the call centers, but they'll focus on your task and they are extremely cheap!

    I've purchased a guy before for another niche I was in which required a lot of customer service and he did the job for $3/hour, 10h/week. Also, when requesting a change large call centers and corporations probably won't give a crap while freelancers will because they aren't making a large income - every customer is valuable for them.

    These are my recommendations and I hope you find them useful.
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  • Profile picture of the author Online Bliss
    I prefer e-Voice.
    They are now offering a 6 month free trial and then only
    $12.95. I totally missed that free trial but I have used them for years.

    hesk.com is a great open source customer support script. it really helps organize and keep track of that sort of stuff.
    I always thought Hesk was more like a support help desk and not a call center. :confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author huron
    Okay, if I do all the customer phone support, how often do customers call? Will my phone be ringing 10 times an hour?
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