When businesses engage in customer service, there is a unique thing that happens: science and art collide. Satisfying customers and creating ongoing loyalty is a true art form, while ensuring that call center representatives are highly efficient falls more on the scientific side. Blending both of these worlds can be very challenging.

Fortunately, it is possible to increase the productivity and efficiency of customer support staff, while also expanding customer satisfaction at the same time. There are solutions that streamline online customer interactions by having customers complete a short pre-chat survey, which then serves up automated lists of related topics and answers.

But where do these answers come from? We all know that customers have unique problems and a list of canned responses can only go so far.

Your Customers Know the Answers

Fortunately, there are next-generation CRM solutions that actually mine responses from communities to ensure accuracy and customer satisfaction. Organizations with a broad, active and vocal communities of users, can fully embrace these types of data mining solutions that increase efficiency of call-center support staff and help with sales conversions.

In addition, unique social media feedback tools can now mine customer insights and serve them up in real-time to the call center specialists.

The way these new tools work is very simple. Online customers and prospects fill out a pre-chat survey. Based on the responses, the call center support person is provided with a real-time response from the overall knowledge base. So, as opposed to having canned answers at their fingertips, these live chat operators are armed with the right knowledge and insights required to meet the customer’s expectations.

In addition, the insights from the crowd-sourced knowledge base are also provided to the customer once they complete the pre-chat survey -- allowing customers to have the information they need even before the chat begins. Or if the data provided is sufficient, the customer can move on with their purchase online without corresponding with call center personnel.

Making the Most of What You Have

These new CRM tools really help with one important thing: helping companies maximize the use of live chat software. While many organizations make the investment in live chat software, they often lack the tools and training to leverage it fully.

Most organizations simply don't have the tools and training to take full advantage of live chat’s full capabilities. According to Gartner Group, nearly 42 percent of CRM related software licenses are never even implemented.

One of the biggest e-commerce challenges is dealing with high shopping cart abandonment rates. According to Forrester Research, 88 percent of website visitors abandoning the shopping cart at the payment stage. Each abandoned shopping cart equals lost revenue.

In addition, 44 percent of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is highly important, according to Forrester Research. We know that shipping and pricing are the main drivers behind shopping cart abandonment. By knowing these issues in advance and being able to mine the right information, e-commerce sites can greatly enhance overall sales conversions.

Unlike a retail outlet like Nordstrom, where they provide top-level service in a face-to-face environment, it is much more difficult to satisfy customers online. By arming themselves with these new CRM tools, along with the right guidance for usage, organizations can go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction, and drive more revenue in the door.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading the following:

-- The Disconnect Between Real and Perceived Customer Service