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The Importance of Customer Service
by Muffy @ GayAw

I typically spend a couple of hours each day perusing the big adult Webmaster boards to find out what’s new, to catch up on gossip, and to basically look for some inspiration for my articles.  I have started to notice a trend on these boards and it is that people are posting their frustrations at not being able to get in touch with someone, or they have a beef with a sponsor, etc. and they are not getting a response.  They hope that by posting their problem in public, that the party they are trying to reach will eventually see it and be forced to respond.  With the frequency that I see these kinds of posts, I have come to the conclusion that customer support in this industry is lacking.

When it comes to customer service, it does not matter what industry you are in, you need to be there for your customers.  Many Webmasters hide behind the fact that they can be virtually “anonymous” and they feel that they can get away with much more due to the fact that there is no face-to-face involvement with their clientele.  This should not be a mandate of any website; in the virtual marketplace, and yes even online porn, customer service is even more important.  Whether you are a content provider, run an affiliate program for Webmasters, or you own a paysite, you must make customer service one of your top priorities.  I have compiled a list of customer service rules that if followed, should make your business compliant with the highest standards of customer support.  In short, by incorporating these customer service techniques you should be able to grow your business by maintaining relationships with your current customers and developing relationships with potential customers.

1.       Have an email address clearly listed on every page – I have visited many sites where I have had to search far and wide for any form of contact information.  Those in which I was finally able to find an email address, it was hidden with tiny letters on some obscure page of the site.  Make sure that customers do not have to search for ways to contact you.

2.       Have an additional contact medium – While most online users prefer to use email for their inquiries, there are still some who do prefer the good old-fashioned telephone.  Having a 1-800 number for customer support is a smart idea and one that could end up rewarding you with more business.  The phone is a great sales tool and by far easier to win over people than email.  If having a customer support number is beyond your means, then perhaps you could add an instant message contact, or even live message chat to your site (check out LivePerson).

3.       Answer all inquiries within 24 hours – There are no if’s, ands, or buts about this.  The number one complaint that I see webmasters make is that nobody has responded to their query in two days, four days, or even a week.  This is completely unacceptable.  If it is not possible for you to get back to your customers within 24 hours, then hire someone who can do the job for you.  Using excuses such as you were on vacation, your dog got sick, or your email was not working properly just does not cut it.

4.       Go the extra mile for your customer – Keeping a current customer is much easier and cheaper then having to go out and get a new one.  If you current client asks you a question, respond accordingly.  If they would like something fixed, then fix it.  If they have a complaint, do everything possible to turn their frown upside down. 

5.       Encourage referrals – If people are going to talk about you and your business (especially to the boards), give them something good to say.  If you provide excellent customer service and because of it your client states their pleasure, there is no harm in asking them to spread the news.  The worst thing that they can say is no, but chances are if you are always courteous and polite when dealing with your customers, then they will have nothing but good things to say about you.

6.       Include an FAQ page – Otherwise known as frequently asked questions.  You can make your customers life, as well as your own, much easier by including this simple page on your site.  When your customers want to know what to do when they lose their password, when they want to cancel their membership, or they are having trouble downloading something, save them the time of having to contact you by having the answers provided for them on the FAQ page.

7.       Be nice (at all times) – There will be times when your customers will be downright rude, or will ask stupid questions, or even threaten you.  The best thing to do in these situations and any situation at all is to keep a positive front.  If you get upset or you yourself are rude to the customer, then you will only succeed in further angering them.  By remaining calm and polite, you will force your customer to calm down if they are angry.  If they are asking stupid questions, then by being polite and helpful, you will not hurt or embarrass them. 

By following these simple customer service rules, you could be possibly changing the face of your business.  Having impeccable customer support can turn into more customers and more business for you.  It will also lend you and your business a good reputation within the industry and this is worth its weight in gold.  I have seen way too many message board “pissing matches” that have erupted as a result of poor customer support and I feel that it is time for us to see some changes.
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