Customer service in eCommerce is far more vital than in any other business. It can drive rewarding returns in the form of higher conversion rates, better average order value (AOV), and an improved customer satisfaction rate. It helps generate positive customer reviews, thereby attracting new customers, positively influencing the buyer’s journey, and creating a sustainable purchasing cycle for any business. As more users shift to the digital spectrum, eCommerce customer service is spreading wider via call centers, live chats, help desks, and other interaction channels.
The market has conditioned customers to prioritize offerings like fast delivery, unlimited inventory, and rock-bottom prices over customer service. But, expectations are meant to be exceeded. Since eCommerce does not provide the real-time visual cues of offline shopping, the context has to come in data, design, and overall experience, which generally converge to uplift the customer service and overall brand experience. Companies have the advantage of approaching customer service from an analytics standpoint to monitor experience metrics and deliver improved and relevant offerings. This means for businesses that the shoppers who feel most informed and confident are also the ones ending up for more purchases. But consumer confidence also varies by the customer service they get from eCommerce players. In fact, consumers expect brands to reflect their values on customer services.
It is no piece of cake
eCommerce customer service faces several unique challenges like high volumes of support requests, common questions related to products, fulfillment, and returns, and the need to monitor multiple channels with fast response times. The sheer volume of static and complicated requests can lead to a negative customer experience that, in turn, can result in loss of sales, damaged reputation, and negative online reviews. Moreover, various out-of-the-hand issues like technical glitches in the website, stock unavailability, discount expiry can also impact the service terribly. Customer frustration grows when they run into issues and can’t easily find a representative to talk to. 3 out of 5 customers never complete their purchases due to poor customer service.
As companies grow, more employees, locations, products, and customers are roped in, calling for more customer support. Suppose the brand’s prominent voice dissipates away from the core stakeholders, the focus shifts from emotion to processes and scalability. Personalization, contextualization, and individual concern are lost. Therefore, customer service is tasked with being the brand’s voice — a human touchpoint in an otherwise transaction and digital world.
Here’s how you can make your eCommerce customer service a game-changer
1. Unify key product information across channels – In today’s interconnected world, customers can reach out to your brand through many touchpoints. 66% of consumers use at least three different communication channels to contact customer service. Some want to call to talk to a customer service representative, others are interested in live chat or email, while some want to tweet. Therefore, synchronizing the information across all channels is a life-saving mantra. Even more importantly, customers usually connect to get information over a solution or its shipment. That product information should always be at your fingertips. For that, make sure to equip your team with the right technology and tool. ERP, MDM, PIM (Product Information Management), and CRM can help segregate channel-based communication, prioritize requests based on severity, and even record the history of conversations between you and the customer.
2. Strengthen omnichannel strategy – Customers contact enterprises over many channels, shifting between them and/or even using channels simultaneously. Enterprises usually react by adding headcount (which is not a sustainable strategy). You must transform operations by identifying the channels best suited to communicate with and supporting your end-users while maintaining consistency across all. Today customers have several devices and platforms at their disposal, and they might not always want to wait in the pipeline to connect with an agent. An omnichannel strategy can help you in the longer run, even when new channels emerge and few others phase out. It will help you offer the right messaging, in the right format, at the right time, across all touchpoints. Not only will your customers love the immediate attention, but it’ll allow potential customers to see how responsive your company is. To accomplish this, your internal communications should also be seamlessly wired. The offerings you push to social media can be different in format and length but must convey the same thing as on the email. You must also boost self-service options, better manage customers’ emotional side, and minimize the resolution time of customer’s issues and complaints across all interaction channels.
3. Empower personalization and behavioral targeting – All customers seek a personalized experience. In fact, statistics show that over 70% of US and UK customers expect personalization from online businesses. 30% poll the most important aspect of a good customer service experience: speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent. Personalization is at the heart of the customer relationship in eCommerce. But, what you need to do to raise the bar higher is record logs, analyze details, and maintain context. You can leverage pattern recognition to understand customer preferences from their previous interactions and integrate and optimize one-to-one interaction with live chat or video calling. Remember past purchases, check out information, shipping address, and suggest genuine offers and items similar to their previous purchases. Personalized emails are another great way to connect on a more personal level. You can evaluate a channel’s volume, track the busiest hours, and follow trending topics before proactively reaching out to your customers for the best reactions and relations.
4. Please, the pickiest buyers – In eCommerce, one size does not fit everyone. Consumers don’t care too much about prioritized buying options across different product categories. They care more about best buying deals. They choose brands that promise to deliver better experiences, including checkout convenience, faster discovery, better access, and curation. It would be best if you satisfied the power users. It will help grow retail revenue if you focus on building a personalized rapport with true enthusiasts by gathering detailed data about their preferences, needs, and interests. Moreover, you should provide greater and convenient access to hard-to-get items and customize offerings to deliver elevated expectations. You must consistently reduce churn by consistently evaluating if you’re measuring up to consumers’ expectations and making adjustments if you’re missing the mark.
5. Automate order-related processes – A non-negotiable tenet of customer service automates every process that can be automated. Over 69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own via preferred automated self-service portals. What’s more, 74% of customers are likely to have already used a self-service support portal. Done right, automation can allow your team to engage personally with more of your customers. While it has become customary to automate basic notifications like order confirmations, receipts, and shipping notifications, there is a much larger scope for automation. That includes the one-off or recurring conversations your customers send when they find a bottleneck or cannot find a product or see a way out. It can range from static FAQs that you are already aware of or actual complex questions. But, automating the support response for these queries across channels can take you a step closer to your customers yield bright-colored results.
6. Turbo change customer support with AI for FAQs and quick query resolution – 12% of Americans rate “lack of speed” as their number one frustration with customer service. 90% of customers rate an immediate response as “important” or “very important.” The bottom line is that customer service is not an advertising channel. People turn to it when they have a problem that needs to be solved. And that is the primal exercise that needs to be practiced before marketing and promotions. You need efficient, responsive, and skilled customer service to help customers with the main issues they may face. Considering that 83% of online shoppers need assistance to complete an order, AI-powered bots can be implemented along with agents for fast responses, real-time assistance, 24X7 availability, and easy-to-understand, intricately detailed answers. Personnel can focus on more challenging tasks, while AI-enabled customer service can ensure that customers are not lost in the eCommerce site and services.
7. Simplify the ‘Buy and Return’ process – Reports say that 63% percent of Americans check the return policy before making a purchase, and 48% would shop more with retailers offering hassle-free returns. Multiple factors come into play for eCommerce customer service here. First, your product page must have all the relevant information decorated intuitively with no inaccuracies, ambiguities, or redundancies. You have to make the most out of the data. Second, customers prefer easy checkouts and equally easy returns. Now, whatever your return or exchange policy is, the point is to make the execution seamless. Approximately 15% – 30% of online purchases are returned, and therefore, it is critical to have a simple, easy-to-understand return policy in place. Ideally, the steps should appear on numerous pages of your site and in purchase confirmation emails. For that reason, a knowledge base delivered with PIM or any other data management approach can provide detailed answers to common questions and empower customers to make informed purchases. With a clear process in place, customers can make purchases with confidence.
Make Customer Service a Customer Experience
Dealing with customers is often the most challenging but also an exciting job to do. But retaining old customers is far less expensive than attracting new ones, and for that, you need to be on your tiptoes at customer service. Damage control is not an option. Your strategies should have practical implementation and a long-term vision. Invest time and effort in crafting the most wonderful customer experience to set your company apart by implementing the true value of customer service. Work closely across departments to map the customer’s journey and identify opportunities at each phase on how your company can over-deliver customer service. No matter what stage your business is in, what your niche may be, or what type of customer you are dealing with, you ought to be up the ante in customer service all the time.
P.S. – Do not forget to self-evaluate from time to time and make the necessary adjustments in your approach.