Customer Support from Fax Service Providers
One feature to consider when shopping for an online fax provider is the type of customer service offered. Typically there are four options, and providers may offer several of them: a ticket system, email service, online chat, phone-based customer service and online self-service. Here we take a look at how each one works, and the pros and cons.
A ticket system helps a provider deal with issues that come up from a large customer base and allows the provider to organize those issues as they are reported and keep track of all the fixes made. If the system is run well, it will also track queries or complaints and ultimately help a provider stay on top of problems, so they don't become recurring issues. Unfortunately for the customer, this is one of the slower forms of customer service.
With a ticket system, the customer clicks a button to create a "ticket" or "case." In the ticket, the customer can choose the type of issue they are experiencing and provide details of the problem. The system will typically send an automated email confirming receipt of the ticket and provide a case number. Then, a customer service agent or agents working for the provider will respond with an answer (usually within 24 hours) or notify the customer when the problem is solved. In most ticket systems, all communication is recorded and saved online, which creates a history of the issue as well as mutual transparency.
Email support response times vary substantially and are highly dependent on the quality of the provider's processes. As with a ticket system, there's usually a link on the provider's customer service page that will open up a new message. The primary difference between an email-based system and a ticket system is that all communicaitons are sent through your email rather than a web portal and there is no repository for the communications that the customer can access. However, you can always search your emails and assemble the history yourself. Here, as with all of the options, the knowledge base, location, and hours of the customer service representatives make a big difference in the quality of responses. Having a North American-based customer service team can also make a big difference with email support, simply because time zones impact the likelihood of your message being answered quickly.
As the name implies, this is a more immediate form of customer service. Customers click on a link and provide the fax number in order to begin a typed chat with an online representative. Many online fax provider web sites have a window that automatically pops up when you first enter the page, asking if you want to chat, but this is usually a sales representative. Sometimes those people can answer your question, but, if it's complicated, they might refer you to the appropriate link for the customer support chat. Again, the knowledge of the representative and the hours they are available make a big difference here. With an experienced representative, it won't be hard to get your point or query across.
Depending on the company, a phone number connecting you with a live representative can be easy or very difficult to find; providers often want to steer queries to online communications.
Generally online phone support is the best option; you call, select the service you need to discuss, and are connected with a representative. However, long wait times and inexperienced customer service representatives can be a big drawback to this form of support. Many companies with U.S.- or Canada-based customer support advertise this prominently, although it's no guarantee that representatives will be more or less helpful.
In addition to these customer support options, many providers offer an FAQ page or access to online communities. These give the customer a chance to search for queries and solutions that they themselves may be experiencing, and read troubleshooting tips. There's a wide range of quality within these online communities, depending on how active a community is and what kind of information is posted.
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