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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers

Learning Outcomes

Retailers will identify the online Customer Support strategies that can best suit their business. [printfriendly]

mod-arrow Customer Support Plan

Your current Customer Support plan

ocs3There are basic Customer Support and service features and functions each business should have. How you prioritise each feature will depend on your company, products and services, process, customers, and other variables. Companies with little to no current Customer Support systems may wish to consider adding the “must have” recommendations and then focus on additional areas of best value.

Must haves:

  1. Website: A basic website is a requirement. There are free and easy-to-use tools to create a website. Visit the Selling Online module for examples and links for creating a website. Adding other functionality for customer support is an option (now or down the road). However, plan for what functionality you want to add later (Example: live chat) and make sure the website you build can integrate these functions when you need them.
  2. CRM system: A must-have in today’s business world. There are numerous free to low-cost solutions that are a great improvement over manual (handwritten) or Excel systems. When starting with a basic CRM, plan for more advanced features you may want to adopt in the future, and ensure your system or application provider can accommodate them.

Planning for Customer Support: The next level

Evaluate your current Customer Support program by mapping the touch points your customers have with your brand. Go to What is Customer Support? to provide ideas for support that may not yet exist in your business and can be enhanced through online methods.

Consider which customer interaction with your retail business:

  • Produce the most contact with your customers.
  • Produce the most time spent with customers.
  • Results in the most sales.
  • Frustrate your staff the most and why.
  • Frustrates your customers the most and why.

Response time:

  • What is your current turnaround time to reply to a customer question?
  • How long does an average response take?

As each company is unique, you need to go through the process of documenting your own Customer Support and service processes and determine if there are bottlenecks causing service delays. For example: Waiting for a staff person who knows about the customer’s history, to return because it’s “his/her” client. This can be remedied with a CRM and/or ticketing system. Where can your company recognise the best gains in Customer Support and service?

Once you have mapped out your customer service process and weak links, then use the resources on this website to research which technology will offer the best solution. Consider what you can and should be doing online to enhance your customer experience, even if you are not actively selling products or services online.


Don’t add live interactive tools if you are not going to be online! It is worse customer experience to send a support request and not have it replied to than not having the option at all. “56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored”. (Source: AllTwitter)