Working in the assumption that I am managing a team that provides content for a gaming website whose ultimate goal is to land a spot in Alexa Ranking’s Top Ten (preferably to take over the number one slot; and the company is currently playing around the 1,500 position), this paper will draft the customer service and complaint image that my company must adapt to attract more page hits and views that will result to the company ultimately achieving its goal.
Although website readers may be violently contested as not being strictly customers, they are the ones that click on links and generate Google ads – therefore, it is their support that keeps a website afloat. With that reason, readers can be classified as customers. As the content of a website is the product that this kind of customers ‘purchase’, it is necessary that everything that goes up on a website – the articles, the advertisements, and the layout – is of high quality. Keeping in my mind the truth that readers are the lifeline of a website, my company should live with the following vision/mission:
Mission: Provide the readers around the globe necessary information on the latest generation of gaming consoles: Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii for home consoles and Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS/DS Lite for hand consoles. This we should do by updating the website 24/7 with fresh news gathered from each console-maker’s press kits and websites and from other reliable sources and websites. “Necessary” will be defined by the readers themselves through a number of steps with the sole purpose of getting pertinent opinion from them. After all, “Customer service is meeting the needs and expectations of the customer as defined by the customer.” (Directory Journal, 2007)
Vision: The above mission, if executed properly, will create for the company a certain image that will make it more appealing to readers and, ultimately, sponsors. It is therefore inevitable that with the mission goes the following vision:
1.The website will be known as the most up-to-date websites around.
2. It will be in the top ten of Alexa’s Top Sites.
3. It will be known that the website is reader-oriented and always keeps the readers’ opinions into consideration, making changes according to popular demand.
4.It will, by page views and hits alone, generate enough income to keep the company afloat.
5.It will, through additional income from advertisements, expand to covering other issues and or stories that may or may not be gaming-related but still caters to what the present and future readers want.
To be able to achieve the company’s mission/vision, it will be essential to create a great customer service plan that will improve the current service, leading to maintaining the present readers and expanding the website’s reach.
According to Martin (1989), there are five steps a company must undergo to make that leap from “where the customer service is now” to “where you want it to be”:
1. Understand your customers.
2. Set superior service standards.
3.Build a winning team.
4.Check up regularly.
5.Provide proactive problem solving.
These steps will roughly be the basis for the company’s building of a better customer service management.
First and foremost, the company should be able to get the demographics of the readers and then gather the reasons why these readers support the website. Currently, the website can be accessed by anybody – members and non-members alike. This works to the site’s advantage because it lets anybody else view the content, encouraging more readers to visit the site and possibly bookmark it for future viewing.
But this will make it hard for the company to outline who the readers are (‘understanding customers’). While it is in the best interest of the company to make it open, it will also be wise to ‘force’ the visitors of the site to register, hence making it easier to track the audience. To go about this, the company should create content that will be exclusive only to members – example are reviews to high-profile games are exclusive downloads of trailers and demos. To make this move popular with the viewers of the site, the following steps should be undertaken:
Put up an article announcing that members will now start getting more for their continued support. The article should highlight that aside being able to post comments, which is the only privilege they are currently enjoying, they will now be able to access exclusive content. It should be emphasized that membership is totally free.
Make the sign-up box more prominent and place a visible link to the article explaining why they should become a member.
Place a ‘testimonials’ corner where members can rave about the advantages of being a member. In short, make the non-members realize that they are indeed missing out on a lot of exciting materials.
Of course, aside from making it easier for the company to note the demographics of its readers, the move to make exclusive content will also give the website an air of excitement that is sure to buzz through the Internet pipeline, and this is sure to attract more readers.
To ensure that the website delivers exactly what the readers want, the company should undergo a three-fold process of knowing reader preferences.
The first fold involves a team focused on mapping out customer trends. The team will concentrate on checking out which articles of the company’s website – which we’ll now dub as GamingWebsite.com – actually generate more page views and positive comments. This will also go hand-in-hand with determining what the readers’ complaints are by sifting through the comments.
Going out of GamingWebsite.com and scanning the worldwide web for any comments on the site will be tasked to another team. Since not everybody deem it necessary to leave a comment on the actual website and are sometimes taken to spreading their opinions via other means (Ilett, 2007), this team will have to actively scan forums plus blogs and check out what the people are saying about GamingWebsite.com and try to thank the people for any praises posted. If utterly necessary, the members of this particular team will also rectify any damage a detrimental comment may cause; this will be done through a polite and apologizing manner so as not to make the commenter feel attacked.
Having this team is not only useful in knowing what the people are saying about the company but can also boost the company’s website. GamingWebsite.com’s constant presence on readers’ personal forums and blogs can make the readers feel important making them keener to spread word that the company’s website is not just another website because is aims to build a more personal connection.
Also a must for getting reader preference is the installation of chat support, implementation of an “e-mail us” campaign, and dissemination of e-mail surveys. Right now, the only way a reader can communicate to a writer or administrator of the site is via article comment, making general comments, complaints, and commendations lost in article-related comments. Having a chat support and an “e-mail us” campaign will provide a venue for all these, making it easier for the company to address any issues brought about by the readers. And to be able to acquire the exact information the company wants from its readers, it may opt to send out a quarterly survey e-mail to all members.
This tracking of the audience will now make it possible to put up articles that are less a result of whim and more of reason (MacGregor). Therefore, all information gathered from the measures mentioned above – demographics, customer trends, persistent positive and negative feedbacks from non-GamingWebsite.com sites, constant chat and e-mail support issues, and results of surveys – will have to be forwarded to the team leaders of the writing team. The team leaders would then have to map out what kind of articles should and should not be put up on the site.
With a number of new processes, the company structure would definitely have to change – but not that drastically. New teams assigned to the new processes would just have to be created under a new roof called “Customer Research”. The greatest impact of this to the existing teams will be the enforcement of a more evidence-based editing of articles.
With information straight from the readers themselves, the researchers will now know exactly which leads to forward to the writers and editors will have a more definitive reason for denying an article. Because of this, the writing team will now not have to “make their way in the dark” but instead would have enhanced professionalism due to the fact that everybody is unified in having a clear view of the path the company is supposed to tread.
As have been mentioned above, this new customer service management plan will create this image that GamingWebsite.com creates a personal relationship with its readers and its primary aim is to please the readers. With the clearly drafted survey e-mail that communicates that the website is aimed at delivering exactly what the readers want to read, it will be hard for the readers to deny that GamingWebsite.com is serous about publishing only articles that matters. This image will surely raise the bar as to customer expectations but with the continuing exercise of the new customer service management, the website will be able to meet these expectations.
Indeed, catering to an online audience is hard, especially since the product is also hard to gauge. There are a lot of websites out there and a lot of them will also cater to the same audience, but keeping a scientific approach will definitely give one an edge. But it cannot all be science; there should also be just the right amount of personalization that will make the readers feel that the website is not just about business and generating page views and ads but is also about making a connection. This is the formula that the new image and the set of actions detailed are trying to aim for. And with people naturally wanting attention, the formula is a cinch to succeed.
List of References
Directory Journal. 2007. How to Create a Customer Service Plan 2007. [online]. [Accessed 11 August 2007]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.dirjournal.com/guides/how-to-create-a-customer-service-plan/>.
Ilett, D. 2007. How to find out what’s being said about you. [online]. [Accessed 11 August 2007]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/53361c0e-15d6-11dc-a7ce-000b5df10621.html>.
MacGregor, P. 2007. Tracking the Online Audience. Journalism Studies, 8 (2), pp. 280-298.
Martin, W.B. 1989. Managing Quality Customer Service: A Crisp Fifty-Minute Series Book. Boston, MA: Course Technology.
WIKIPEDIA. N.d. Customer service [online]. [Accessed 11 August 2007]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_service>.