directwheels - 2:49 am on Oct 10, 2011 (gmt 0)
Call me crazy, but the way I apply the 80/20 rule to my online business is to provide no customer service. No contact phone or email on the site.
The product is simple, priced fairly low, and is self explanatory. If you have questions, you probably shouldn't be buying it. With this, I eliminate a lot of high maintenance customers (yeah, the ones that email you 15 times before they buy and send you 10 emails to ask you why their items having arrived although they have the tracking numbers.)
Those few high maintenance customers created a lot of work for me and make up for a small portion of the revenue. It was probably the 5% of the high maintenance customers that created 70-80% of the work for us. So by eliminating that, I get to spend that time on better things that generate revenue for this business or my other projects.
My volume is high and each sale is relatively small. Having a staff spend 15 minutes on the phone with somebody is simply not worth it. By doing this, I also hope that I am hurting my competitors a bit because those customers who want to call someone and ask a million questions will end up with them. Those are also the customers that are much more likely to have complaints and want to return stuff.
Be warned that this approach may not work for your business.