Forrester has launched the Online Customer Service Functionality Benchmark, a new tool to help eBusiness professionals assess the performance of their online customer service functionality and gain insight into their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

This review assesses the availability, accessibility and functionality of online customer service channels. Our approach follows three steps:

Step 1: Define user goals.The review attempts to complete user goals that we selected for each customer service channel such as looking for product information, seeking pricing options, and managing accounts.

Step 2: Score the sites on user criteria for five online customer service categories. We evaluate 103 criteria to assess a Web site’s ability to provide best-in-class online customer service. The review is broken up into categories including self-service, live help, social customer service, email and video customer support. Forrester assigns weightings for criteria based on importance, with higher weightings for availability and resolution. The score for each category is normalized to accommodate the varying number of criteria in each.

Step 3: Apply category weightings. Forrester assigns weights for each of the online customer service categories. Categories are weighted based on higher consumer usage and higher satisfaction data.

Our first published evaluation looks at US wireless communications service providers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Congratulations to Verizon for achieving the highest overall score. You can read more about our findings in the newly published report called “Online Customer Service Review: Wireless Communication Service Providers.”