The Web industry, while still in its infancy compared to the auto or banking industries, is moving ahead as a collective force, and some see that 2012 will be the year of customer service for the Web.
In a recent article for Net Magazine, author Craig Grannell lays out some areas where the web industry is evolving. Development of two-screen models, Web app fragmentation and increased customer service are mentioned as as industry trends worth watching. And these trends are already playing out in the business place. New ways to work with apps and use good design for work-related purposes is already strengthening company products.
In areas of employee training and customer service, for instance, live chat is evolving as a unique way to help customers. With live chat enabled, questions can be asked and answered online before a customer wastes time looking for the information they need.
Making something like live chat work for companies is a direct connection between web designers and account managers working collaboratively, according to Smashing Magazine. According to author Paul Boag, web designer’s focus shouldn’t be exclusively on code, design, and user experience. Rather, good web design can help to exceed client expectations and understand the needs of the business in question. Good communication complements these vital dynamics that can help the focus of a designer.
Another top change in 2012 will be seen in “distributed workforces.” Designers and developers may need to target talented professionals who work solo,m and may not want to be part of a company culture. One expert in the earlier article noted “As the economy improves, many designers and developers won’t be willing to trade in their work style and relative freedom for a cubicle space. With a growing number of high-profile tech companies embracing a mobile and distributed workforce, employers looking for top-notch talent may need to re-evaluate their workplace culture.
Right now, in most web companies, all customer service is happening on the front-end, while designers are left “only” to work on the actual product. Boag argues that this is a mistake, and that designers should be not only present at client meetings, but present and active through integral communication periods.
In Boag’s words, “collaboration is essential to ensuring a happy client and a successful website. When web designers understand the nuances of the project, business and client, they produce better websites.
Using collaborative tools like live chat software and video conferencing can also assist in making customer service a hallmark of new web companies. And customer service can be a vital part of any designer’s work, regardless of the level of interaction of the customer and the actual designer.
Yet, what does strong customer service look like? Here are some tangible tips that professionals might want to consider:
- Never miss deadlines or charge the customer over the agreed price without consent
- Don’t be afraid to get help from a specialist, if it’s outside of your skill set
- Give two weeks notice for vacation time
- Always be on time for meetings and calls, and respond quickly to emails
- Explain things to a customer to let them in on the process
When designer follow these simple guidelines, it can be a better experience for customers. Isn’t that what customer service is about?