Making Online Customer Service Information Safer

People tend to trust search engines. The concept seems simple, actually. When you have a question, click over to your favorite search engine, ask your question, and browse through the results offering a bevy of information that usually – hopefully – answers your question.

However, phishers, scammers and anyone with the intention of stealing information and personal data are now leveraging search engines for their own use. One recent story suggests these harmful users are taking advantage of unknowing people who attempt to find customer service contact information for mega-sized companies such as Facebook and Google. After all, do you know Facebook’s customer service 800-number? Why not “Google” it?

When a person types in “Facebook customer service”, there are results that appear that look to be official web pages offering up contact numbers for the company’s customer service department.

Upon further review, these numbers lead people directly to harmful scammers who are quick to use tactics that obtain personal information and security details.

We shouldn’t be quick to sound the alarm. This article isn’t designed to deter people from using their favorite search engine, which still serve a monumentally helpful purpose in research and obtaining information.

However, when it comes to engaging and communicating with a certain company or brand, such as contacting the customer service team at a specific company, there may be a better, safer, way.

Customer service is moving toward more digital support and for many brands a self-support environment, where consumers log onto a brand’s website or social channels, type in their query and access a variety of digital support materials available to help answer their question. And since those channels and the website are controlled by the brand, the information is more trusted and reliable than what may be found in general search engine results.

The upside here, besides the increased security of the data, is the fact that people of all age groups are now used to searching online for answers to their own queries. Favorite things to do in Key West? Best minivan for my family? Cooking instructions for a turkey at Thanksgiving? These are all questions we ask a search engine, and the results help get answers to what we’re looking for.

Customers call on service departments all the time, or even walk into their local store to get help. Consider a new smartphone purchase; often times after the purchase, customers will have a variety of questions regarding their account, or the functionality of the mobile device itself. Rather than waiting on hold for thirty minutes to speak with a customer service agent at their mobile carrier to ask questions, this same customer service information is now pre-loaded onto the carrier’s website and digital properties like Facebook, accessible to any customer, anytime, anywhere, for a more convenient way of handling customer queries and concerns.

With today’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, the more customers utilize this type of channel with a positive outcome, the “smarter” the process becomes for future customer interactions.

For example, the way to optimize search for self-service is to implement a metric that allows the best results to match a user’s satisfaction rating. The best measure of quality for search results is content effectiveness. Content effectiveness combines the frequency with which a customer selects a piece of content based on the search terms and the quality of the interaction with content as measured by positive feedback, time spent on content and deflection of calls to customer service.

As more customers rely on branded websites and self-service digital support materials, the more convenient and safer the customer support process will become in the future.

Editor’s Note: James Ramey is CEO of DeviceBits, a software company that services clients through a predictive and personalized understanding of interactive tutorials, adaptive FAQs, Interactive Guides, and Videos designed to for self-serving consumers. For more info visit Device Bits.

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