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Ring My Bell

When your e-customers ask for help, is anyone there to answer?

This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Just as in the world of brick-and-mortar, customer service can make or break your e-business. Yet dealing with customers online presents a daunting set of challenges. A recent survey conducted by Jupiter Research revealed 72 percent of online buyers cite customer service as a critical factor in their online shopping satisfaction, but only 41 percent are satisfied with the service they've received.

A variety of customer service solutions are hitting the Web to mend this weak link in the e-commerce chain. Busy netpreneurs are finding two types of third-party services useful: sans humans or humans included. Either way, the aim is to reduce expensive support phone calls and piles of unanswered e-mail.

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