Whether you’re in a highly competitive niche or you’re looking to boost sales and build brand loyalty, great customer service is one of the best ways to get it done.
Today, over two-thirds of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer service. It’s one of the primary reasons Amazon is the leading eCommerce platform in the world today. The trends show that customer experience is the new competitive battleground, which goes hand in hand with customer service.
In this article, we’ll cover what customer service is, its impact on eCommerce businesses, and the seven best eCommerce customer service practices you can use to take your eCommerce business to the next level.
eCommerce customer service is the support an online store offers to customers during and after their shopping experience on the platform. Everything from helping customers with pre-purchase inquiries, tracking orders, complaints, and a lot more all require a robust customer service framework to keep shoppers satisfied.
Depending on the incoming inquiry, there can be different branches of customer service to resolve the problem, but the core three elements are:
An effective customer service framework is key to a successful eCommerce business. With the right team and tools, good customer service will build your brand and bring in positive customer feedback that boosts conversions.
Let’s take a quick look at what the numbers say on how customer service can impact your business.
And the list goes on. With eCommerce becoming ever more popular, good customer service can be a deciding factor in a company’s success.
We’ve gone over the basic three elements of customer service, but what exactly does it include to result in a great customer experience?
According to a consumer report by PwC, the importance of customer experience for brands is growing rapidly. Consumers rated each of the following factors over 70% in importance for a good customer experience:
These factors overlap between traditional retailers and online businesses, with one key difference. eCommerce stores have the advantage of using technology and automated services to ensure:
One of the key takeaways from the report is “Customers generate revenue. Employees drive the experience.” While that’s certainly true for a physical retail store, for an eCommerce business, it’s the platform and a robust customer service setup that drive the experience.
In this digital age, building a seamless customer service framework for online businesses has never been easier. Let’s take a look at the best customer service practices backed by data that can put your eCommerce business ahead of the competition.
Despite the ever-increasing use of mobile devices for online shopping, the top complaint by consumers is that reaching customer service on mobile is difficult to navigate/shows up incorrectly.
Another driving factor is speed on mobile devices. Slow loading times for support pages or poorly optimized live customer support on mobile will lead to customer frustration and a higher churn rate.
The key takeaway here: make sure your customer service channels are mobile-friendly.
Nearly three-quarters of consumers prefer finding solutions on a business’ website rather than through other channels. Luckily, many incoming inquiries can be answered without a customer service representative getting involved, with the two most common self-service options being:
If customers don’t find what they’re looking for, simply having these self-service options still adds to the overall customer experience. And with time, your knowledge base will grow and help reduce the volume of customer support tickets, greatly saving you both time and resources down the line.
While automated messages can seem robotic and frustrating when used at the wrong times, there are many instances where automated template messages can add to the overall customer experience.
When a certain support ticket or issue arises, automated messages are important for instances such as:
A handful of templates for the most common issues such as returns, refund requests, damaged products, etc. will allow you to instantly engage with customer inquiries while you look into the problem.
Be sure to make your templates personal and with a human tone that matches your brand. Speaking of which…
Personalization is a hot topic in marketing and customer service, but the approach differs depending on the industry. In general, consumers appreciate interacting with humans over AI, and likewise prefer a personalized experience when being addressed.
Some examples of personalization in customer service are:
Automated messages can also be personalized with integration code to include a customer’s name and order info.
Bonus Tip: If it aligns with your brand image and tone, emojis and gifs are a new and trending way to liven up your customer support.
PwC explains that a good customer experience leaves consumers feeling heard, seen, and appreciated. And what better way to do that than by engaging with good and bad customer reviews?
Engaging with customers is a proactive customer service approach that shows shoppers you hear what they have to say loud and clear. Whether through Google reviews, social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, or on your platform, interacting with reviews is a powerful way to encourage others to chime in and build brand loyalty.
We mentioned the importance of speed when dealing with customers, but with even just a handful of social media profiles and a customer service system to boot, keeping up can be a challenge. But don’t let that deter you, because speed and consistency definitely pay off.
Many businesses suffer inconsistencies in how they manage inquiries. Some might reply quickly over Facebook Messenger but completely disregard their main business email, and vice versa.
If you have a channel open for communication but don’t frequently check it, it’s probably best to simply remove it. Staying on top of these channels will immediately make you stand out because it’s an area many businesses are lacking in.
Nearly 90% of consumers said real-time shipment tracking made their buying experience more enjoyable, and over 20% of online shoppers say they are likely to make a repeat purchase if shipment tracking is offered.
There are many online tools that eCommerce businesses can use to make order tracking easy and part of a customer’s experience. When offering order tracking, try to include:
Shipment tracking is a great way to keep customers up-to-date and ready to receive their orders. With the right tools in place, it’s an effective way to boost customer experience.
Even as technology improves, consumers from most countries indicate they prefer human interaction over an automated one. Since most chats are initiated with a chatbot, giving the option to chat directly with a customer representative if the query is unresolved can streamline the process and make it easier to directly address the issue.
Live customer support can be in-house or outsourced, but starting out it’s always best to have a team in place and implement your standards before entrusting a third party. Having your own team to deal with customer inquiries helps you build your knowledge base, FAQs, and learn more about your product.
As you scale your business (or during the holidays), outsourcing your customer service can be an effective way to keep your service available 24/7. Keep in mind that good customer service is a focal point for your business, so not just any third-party support will do. It’s a good idea to actively vet and research a company before deciding to outsource.
Customer service is a dynamic area of a business with lots of problem-solving, learning, growing, and plenty of room for optimization. While customer feedback after resolving an issue is important, it’s just one of many ways businesses gauge the effectiveness of their customer support.
You can optimize your customer service with the wealth of data collected in the process. Important metrics to keep an eye on are:
By measuring the above you will know what are the most common problems by location or demographic and how those problems are solved. Your FAQs and searchable knowledge base will expand to cover most issues and can be a source for your team to automate or paste answers.
Several factors go into building a successful eCommerce business, but few can get far without a great customer support setup. The reality is that many eCommerce businesses are lacking in this department, making it a golden opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd.
When building a customer service system for your eCommerce business, keep in mind: