I was talking to a customer helpline manager today, who works for a high end kitchen utensil manufacturer. They are struggling with a huge volume of emails, which is becoming a backlog.
He was telling me that many of the calls and emails that they receive are not necessarily complaints about quality, but  questions about how to use products or order replacement accessories. If customers don’t call, they email.
The company’s website is OK, but not great, and I suspect that people go straight to the ‘contact us’ button rather than explore the site for answers.
Being interested in how people access information online, I suggested a few ideas that may help them stem the flood of emails:

– FAQs: clear, simple and one click from the home page
– Youtube tutorials: show people how to get the best out of your products. Exciting recipes using the company’s utensils, or perhaps a behind-the-scenes peak at their R&D work.
– Customer forum: the customer base is loyal, with many buying products over decades. Why not let them discuss their experiences together, online? Customer generated hints and tips.
– Customer services blog: previews of new products, recent questions, sources of information, and a new recipe or cooking technique every week.

Simple ideas, yes. But also very effective and not hugely expensive to deliver. Particularly compared with the cost of paying someone to manage 100+ emails a day.

A typical Youtube tutorial that can help sell a product and support customers: