Great customer service is important for businesses in all industries, and that’s particularly true of those in e-commerce. Building a successful e-commerce business is challenging, and the support you offer your customers can make all the difference in whether you succeed.
So if your customer service isn’t where it should be, keep reading to learn why it’s time to make some changes, as well as six tips to help you get started.
How is E-commerce Customer Service Different?
Customer service often takes different forms for different types of businesses. The approach that works for a small local retailer, for example, is unlikely to be effective for a national brand. And e-commerce can be considered in a league of its own, largely because a customer’s entire purchasing journey can take place online.
Unlike physical retail stores, where customers can easily have face-to-face conversations with an employee, e-commerce businesses have to put a little more strategy into interacting with shoppers. After all, a customer could require assistance in any of the steps shown above.
It makes sense, then, that in the Freshdesk Customer Happiness Benchmark report, we found that businesses in the retail industry see more support requests than those in any other, with an average of up to 4,800 per month. And if you’re an e-commerce business, you need to make sure you’re equipped to provide that level of support.
Your customer service at each of these stages can have a significant impact on their perception of your brand, including whether they choose to shop with you again, and whether they’ll be willing to recommend you to friends and family.
In fact, one study found that after a poor customer experience, 56% of customers will never use the company again. On top of that, 52% will tell their friends and family about the experience. So if you’re not yet providing the level of service your customers want, it could be damaging your business in several ways.
6 Ways to Set up Your E-commerce Customer Service
Improving your approach to customer service doesn’t need to be complicated, but it can be tough to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled six tips to help you get started.
1. Give Your Visitors Options
In the past, many companies simply offered a single phone support line to assist all of their customers. And while this used to be perfectly acceptable, it’s no longer enough. Consumers now expect multi-channel support, or the ability to contact businesses on a variety of channels.
That’s why today, email, phone support, and social media are all widely considered standard practice. Beyond these, some businesses also offer features like live chat and text support. For example, take a look at Barnes & Noble’s contact page.
In this case, the company offers four support channels. So regardless of how a customer prefers to communicate, they can contact the brand in a way that works for them. If you currently only offer one support channel, you might be wondering whether the added convenience for your customers is worth the extra work for your team.
But in our Customer Happiness Benchmark study, we found that companies who offered multi-channel support increased their average CSAT by 35%. Adding more channels had a significant impact on overall customer satisfaction — which is more than worth the investment for most businesses.
2. Offer Quick Responses
It should come as no surprise that today’s consumers expect speed. This is true in virtually every aspect of their interactions with businesses, and especially so when it comes to customer service. In fact, one survey found that 30% of consumers expect a response to their email in under an hour.
That number online increases for social channels, with 50% of Twitter users expecting a response to a direct message in under an hour. Of course, this isn’t to say that your team should rush through customer interactions with the goal of getting to the next one as quickly as possible.
Quality is still important.
That said, it’s clear that customer expectations are high when it comes to speed. And if you’re not meeting those expectations, your customer satisfaction levels could be suffering.
3. Help Your Customers Help Themselves
Some of your customers will reach out with unique issues and concerns. But many of them will contact you with the same handful of questions your team has already answered hundreds of times, about your return policy, warranties, and other relatively simple inquiries.
This is where having a comprehensive FAQ page or knowledge base becomes extremely helpful. IKEA, for example, offers a straightforward FAQ page that addresses their customers’ most common questions.
This not only makes it easier for customers to find the information they’re looking for but also eliminates the need for their customer service team to repeatedly address the same few questions — freeing them up to handle more complex issues. In fact, in our Customer Happiness Benchmark study, we found that companies who implemented self-service tools reduced their average response time by a minimum of four hours.
If your site doesn’t yet include answers to common customer questions, adding them could make a huge difference in your team’s efficiency.
4. Tailor Your Approach
Each of your customers is unique — and they wanted to be treated accordingly. But unless you’re a very small, niche business, it’s nearly impossible to establish personal relationships with each of them. Fortunately, most customer support platforms today offer tools for saving information that will enable your team to provide a more personalized experience to each of your shoppers.
With Freshdesk 360, for example, you can import CRM data or add notes with important details. This way, if your team isn’t able to resolve a customer’s issue during their first interaction, they’ll be able to pick up right where they left off later — even if that customer gets assigned to a different agent.
5. Consider the Entire Customer Journey
As you look for ways to improve your company’s service, it’s important not to limit your efforts to helping customers who reach out after experiencing an issue. When done correctly, your customer service team can play a role in the entire customer journey. From your social media channels to your website to your email newsletters, you have many opportunities to engage with your customer base. And when you consider that engaged customers spend 30% more, you don’t want to neglect these opportunities.
Looking for ways to involve our team with customers at every stage of the buying process is an excellent way to strengthen your overall customer service — and drive even more sales for your business.
6. Ask for Feedback
Part of providing excellent customer service is making sure that your customers feel heard. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is by asking for feedback on a regular basis. As an e-commerce retailer, you likely already ask your customers to leave product reviews. For example, many businesses now use automation to send emails like this one from Blue Planet Eyewear shortly after a customer makes a purchase. This is a great start and can lead to helpful insight for your business.
But if you’re looking to improve your customer service, specifically, you can use CSAT surveys to gauge ow satisfied your customers are with the level of service you’re providing. This will not only make them feel heard but will give you a clearer idea of how effectively your team is currently helping your customers — and how you can improve to provide even better customer service in the future.
Great customer service is an essential part of any successful e-commerce business. It’s how you keep your customers happy, make sure they’re satisfied with their purchases, and encourage them to continue shopping with your brand. And whether the quality of your service isn’t up to par, or you’re looking to take it to the next level to stand out from your competitors, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve.
First, provide multiple service channels, make sure your team responds to inquiries quickly, and create resources that enable your customers to find answers on their own. Then, look for ways to tailor your responses and solutions to individual customers. Finally, collect feedback on a regular basis and use it to improve both your customer service and any other areas of your company that present problems for shoppers.
With this approach, you can continue to improve the experience you provide to your customers and earn the kind of excellent customer service reputation you want.