Help me figure out a customer service system for my website
September 27, 2013 1:43 PM Subscribe
I have been working for a small non-profit for a little less than a year, and one of my major projects has been to manage a newly created website where we sell our publications. I don't have much experience with website administration, and have learned a lot on the job, but I seem to have hit a wall with coming up with an efficient, streamlined process for keeping track of all of the customer service and order related pieces and correspondence. I figure there must be existing programs or systems that I could use, instead of having to come up with something from scratch, but the caveat is that it would have to be free or at least low-cost. More complications inside.
posted by Neely O'Hara to computers & internet (4 answers total)
The two biggest problems are managing the correspondence, and managing the relatively large number of orders that can't be placed directly through the website. Here's an example of what a typical order process is:
-Customer wants to place an order for our publication, but needs to pay by check. They email me through the contact form on the website, which goes to an Outlook inbox dedicated to website emails that my coworker and I have access to.
-I email an invoice request form to my (one-person) accounting department. They email me back with an invoice. I then send the invoice to the customer so they can process the payment.
-Once the customer sends the check, my accounting department informs me that we've received payment. Usually the customer has ordered a combination of online subscriptions and print copies. I'm in charge of activating the online subscriptions, and then I send an email to our external fulfillment center, asking them to send the print-only products to the customer. (I receive no confirmation that the order has been sent.)
When this works, it works well enough, but there are SO many places along the way that things can or have fallen through the cracks. I've sent orders to the fulfillment center that didn't get mailed, and I don't find out until the customer calls to ask where their order is. (This is also complicated by the fact that everything is sent media mail and have we no tracking information.) I'm also new enough that I'm not entirely sure what the relationship between my org and the fulfillment company is, so I don't know how much power I have to recommend that they change the procedures on their end.
It's also really messy trying to keep track of the correspondence. My supervisor wants us to keep a log of all calls - right now I have an ad hoc online survey that I use to record the calls for reporting purposes (so I can show how many calls we get, and what the topics are), but it doesn't help for follow-up.
As for the inbox, my coworker and I have endless folders in Outlook where we file emails according to the topic of the question/complaint. (again, for reporting purposes), but it's very hard to keep on top of who is answering what emails and what's been said. If I am in the customer inbox, the sent mail goes into my personal sent mail folder, not the customer account sent mail, and the same for my coworker. (My IT department says there's no way to arrange otherwise unless we use webmail instead of Outlook, which really isn't an optimal solution.) We went a few months never knowing what the other wrote to customers, until we just started CC'ing the customer inbox email address and moving the messages into that sent mail folder.
Basically, I feel like we've cobbled together a makeshift system that is clunky and inefficient, and I feel like there has to be a better way. So, my question is, can you recommend any software or system that can make this process less painful? Again, free or low-cost is best, but if there's a more expensive system that's perfect for dealing with this situation, I'm happy to pitch that as a worthwhile cost. Any suggestions for any improvement welcome!