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The role of an Engagement Co-ordinator is to ensure customer messages are acknowledged and responded to in a timely manner. The process by which this is achieved is very straightforward. In general, this encompasses the following steps:
- Collect the feedback. This often occurs via email, though (as we will see below) it can also be collected via many other channels.
- Acknowledge receipt of the query. This is sent as a matter of courtesy to notify the customer that their message is being attended to.
- Investigate if appropriate. If a query cannot be responded to immediately, further in-depth investigation may be required.
- Make a full response and manage any follow-up correspondence. Following any investigation a complete answer must be provided. This may involve several rounds of communication back and forth with the customer.
- Archive. When complete, the feedback is recorded in the Feedback Archive.
The Channels by which Feedback is Received
Website feedback is most commonly received by email. These emails may be generated by a simple contact address posted on the website, or by way of a more comprehensive feedback form. Indeed, forms can facilitate the sorting of queries into categories, by asking customers to tick a box that indicates the type of feedback they are submitting.
However, feedback extends far beyond simple email and can be received through several other channels. The most common of these include:
Some organisations, such as banks, may use chat as a means of customer contact. Chat allows the facility whereby a customer can engage real-time with a company representative. This has the advantage of allowing immediate contact, so that queries can be resolved quickly. However, it is a resource intensive method of contact and so is only recommended for the largest of websites.
This follows the same model as Online Chat. The drawback is that the website user must have Instant Messaging software available on their computer. However, as this can be downloaded free from the internet, it is not a serious impediment.
Feedback Bulletin Board
A Bulletin Board for feedback is often used on websites that are built around a specialised subject matter or that aim to foster a sense of community. For example, a website about astronomy may have a bulletin board reserved for Website Feedback, as well as others for discussing the subject itself, e.g. Mars or the Moon. The Feedback Bulletin Board is used to encourage users to submit ideas for development or other issues for the attention of the Website Maintenance Manager.
In the event that a website is unavailable, one of the few remaining feedback channels is the telephone. Telephone contact may be necessary if, for example, a website is undergoing maintenance and needs to be shut-down temporarily. An interim homepage may indicate a phone number that can be used to contact your business in the meantime.
Telephone contact can also be used in ordinary circumstances. A common facility in this regard is Call-Back, whereby a customer logs a query via an online form, together with their phone number and a note indicating a suitable date/time for contact. You then accept the cost of a call by phoning them back to resolve their query.
Finally, feedback may be received by way of ordinary mail. This is quite an unusual method of contact. In fact, it is so unusual that any feedback received in this way is likely to be a lawyer's letter demanding that you "cease and desist" from some form of website activity!
As part of the Feedback Monitoring procedure, the creation of a communications archive can prove useful for chronicling site issues and queries. At a minimum this should contain details about:
- The nature of feedback received.
- The channel by which it was received.
- The date it was received.
- The action taken.
- The date the query was resolved.
This can then be used to assist service improvement, perhaps by highlighting trends. For example, a web page of 'Frequently Asked Questions' could be created based on commonly occurring themes within the archive.
Finally, it should be remembered that website feedback is often the only way that customers will ever make contact with you. As such, it is your one and only chance to convince them their needs are taken seriously. It is crucial therefore that an effective procedure is in place.
The task of Feedback Monitoring is investigated in more detail in 'The Website Manager's Handbook', now on sale.