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Service With a Smile

Follow these basic steps to create a solid customer service program for your site.

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This story appears in the November 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Neil Closner ran a brick-and-mortar store for baby products, he could look his customers in the eyes, answer their questions in person and tell by their smiles-or frowns-how satisfied they were. As president of 2-year-old, 12-employee BabyUniverse.com, the 27-year-old entrepreneur can't perform any of those basic customer service functions. "Online, you don't have that human, physical interaction," says Closner. "We have to make up for it in any way we can."

Closner and other e-business entrepreneurs are making up for this lack of human contact in multiple ways: e-mail, telephone support, well-staffed chat lines and easily accessible FAQs. These automated and semi-automated customer service tools are admirably suited to the 24/7 schedule of e-commerce. But there's no doubt that replacing the friendly smile of a salesperson with all these techno-tools raises some very relevant questions. Here are the basic steps of creating a solid customer service program for your site.

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