Customer Service Can Make Or Break Your eCommerce Business
One of the biggest aspects of running a successful eCommerce business that store owners seem to neglect, or forget to properly implement is customer service.
A good customer service experience can create pathways in your customer’s brains that make it impossible for them to shop at another vendor when they’re ready to make another purchase in the future.
A poor customer service experience can cause them to find your biggest competitor and complete their purchase through them, never giving you another chance to win their business in the future.
The worst part about most stores that haven’t properly implemented customer support strategies into their business is that giving your customers what they want isn’t difficult.
It does require effort and a willingness to keep your customers happy, though.
Today, we’re going to help you figure out where you may be dropping the ball, and help you tie up the loose ends in your customer service strategy.
Here’s What You’re Going To Learn
- The most common customer service channels that eCommerce business owners are, or should be, using to keep a finger on the pulse of their business.
- A few examples of some eCommerce companies that have figured out how to implement great customer service strategies into their own business.
- Why automating your customer service can actually hurt your business’s growth more than it helps it, especially when you’re in personal, touch-based industries.
- 10 different ways you can set yourself apart from your competition by providing better customer service and leaving a lasting memory with your customers.
- How to revolutionize and simplify the way you deliver customer service so your customers get instant responses and add the personal touch to your business.
Let’s dig into the common ways most eCommerce businesses are helping their customers when they have problems and need solutions.
Typical Customer Service Channels
There are certain channels that customers have come to expect, when they need to get in contact with a company they’ve either purchased products from or are considering purchasing products from.
If you don’t already have these channels implemented in your eCommerce business, take the time now to open each of them to your existing customers.
Even though eCommerce transactions occur primarily on the internet, some customers still want to pick up the phone and talk to another human about the problems or questions that they’re having.
If you’re not allowing them to contact you, or providing a phone number where they can contact you if they have issues or questions, you could be costing yourself sales.
Obtaining a 1-800 number that forwards to your phone, even if you’re only open certain hours of the day, is a great way to increase your customer satisfaction and allow your customers to talk to an actual human.
Instead of picking up the phone and making a call, many of your visitors and customers are going to want to fire off a quick email with the questions or problems that they’re having, and receive a response from someone on your customer service team.
Prominently display an email address somewhere on your site (usually near your physical address and phone number) so your customers can get in touch with you by email, without having to search for how to do it.
Sure, you may get a little spam because you’re publicly displaying the email, but it will set your customers at ease and increase your conversion rates.
Whether you like it, or not, if you have an active social media profile (and you should when you run a digital business), you are going to get customers that resort to using it to reach out to you whenever they have problems or questions.
If you aren’t already utilizing social media in your eCommerce business, you’re not only missing out on a massive traffic source that will drive sales to your business, but you’re also missing out on a great way to stay in touch with your customers.
On top of using social media for customer service, publicly replying to any questions, comments, or concerns from your customers will help you solidify your brand in the minds of other people who have been on the fence about purchasing from you.
When they publicly see how you handle your customer service, they are going to be drawn towards making their purchase from you, instead of from one of your competitors that isn’t properly utilizing social media.
A Knowledge Base, if you’re not familiar, is where you’re going to keep any manuals, instructions, tutorials, and how-to’s for the products that you’re selling. Customers can access this database at any time.
A good Knowledge Base is going to be easy to search, and well organized so that customers can find the information or the answers to the questions and problems they’re having without having to reach out to you for assistance.
Making it possible for your customers to help themselves will save you a ton of time when it comes to customer service. You’ll be surprised how many people would simply prefer to take matters into their own hands, using your Knowledge Base, instead of reaching out to your support team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Similar to a Knowledge Base, your Frequently Asked Questions page should be prominently placed and easily accessible by people who are either considering making a purchase or have already made a purchase are having problems.
This is another scenario where most people would prefer to help themselves and get the answers they’re looking for quickly, rather than waiting for your customer support team to get back to them through email or picking up the phone.
When you get questions from customers, take note of any of them that are happening on a frequent basis. The questions that you’re answering time, and time again should make their way into your FAQ page.
Finally, you need a way for customers to get in touch with you without having to pick up a phone or copy and paste the email address you’ve included on every page of your store into an email.
The best way to do this, and one of the most common ways to handle customer service in an eCommerce store is to use a Contact Form. Where most people get this wrong, though, is their “Contact” page simply includes a phone number or email address.
Make life easy on your customers and actually build a contact form into your contact page. It’s a small way to show your customers that you’re going to take care of them when they may be frustrated, and if your competition isn’t doing it, you’re easily ahead of the curve.
Examples Of Excellent Customer Service
To give you an idea of what good customer service can do for your business, here are a few examples of popular brands that have made a huge impact on their sales and revenue by taking care of their customers.
Swanson Health Products
Swanson Health Products, originally founded in 1969 as a mail order catalog, sells natural health products and have built a reputation for themselves by promptly answering any support requests that come in.
On average, Swanson responds to emails within 6 to 12 hours, and phone calls within 2 minutes. When the industry standard is 24 hour email responses and 4-5 minute phone calls, Swanson set themselves apart from the pack and did it in a big way.
They also offer a full year return policy. This return policy, coupled with their amazing response times has kept them in business for nearly 50 years, and their growth has been sustained year, after year.
Firmoo operates in one of the most competitive marketplaces online -- luxury eyeglasses.
They’ve managed to secure their place in the market by offering great quality at reasonable prices, and delivering one of the most responsive customer service experiences known online.
With more than 570,000 followers on social media, keeping up with all their fans is no easy feat. They’ve obtained hundreds of amazing reviews from customers, with many of them praising their customer service.
This success has been formed on the back of a huge network of bloggers that offer reviews for their eyewear, and explicitly asking their customers for reviews in emails, in blog posts, and on social media.
Moda Operandi is at the other end of the spectrum, charging substantially higher prices than Firmoo and Swanson do, but this hasn’t swayed their customers from becoming fiercely loyal to their brand. And many of them attribute their loyalty to Moda’s customer service.
Even though they sell high-end products that most people can’t, or won’t buy, they have still managed to obtain more than 500 reviews on TrustPilot, with an average rating of 8, or higher.
Moda’s customer service experience goes far beyond answering questions, though. Which they do well. It reaches into the packaging that they ship products in, using only the highest quality packages that are perfectly branded to their business.
Their packaging, attention to detail, asking for reviews, and providing answers to all the questions that their customers are looking for has reduced their customer service inquiries by 78%.
Humanless Automation Is The Enemy
Where all 3 of these companies have carved out a name for themselves is in customer service. Not just any customer service, though. They make sure they treat each customer like an individual, and that those customers can contact actual humans when they need to.
Humanless automation, or sending bulk, pre-written replies to any email inquiries you get, or outsourcing your telephone support to third-world countries that do not understand your business simply won’t cut it anymore.
If you’re trying to automate your customer service, you are going to end up killing your conversion rates, and having a really hard time building up a sustainable, long-term eCommerce business.
Instead of getting by with the least amount of effort possible, make a point to separate yourself from your competition by going above and beyond, every chance you get. It will make a huge difference in your business, and keeping you relevant in your customer’s minds.
How To Provide Better Customer Service
There’s quite a few different ways you can improve your customer’s experience, and increase your sales at the same time. Below are 10 different tips you can implement right now that will make a mark on your customers, and make your business more profitable at the same time.
Tip #1: Lightning Fast Responses
In the example of Swanson, we showed you how important it is to respond quickly whenever you get a request from one of your visitors or customers.
Making them wait more than 24 hours for a response to their email, or sitting on hold on the phone for more than a few minutes will do nothing more than irritate them -- making it that much harder for you to make them happy when you do finally get around to helping them.
If you can, respond instantly. While it isn’t always possible, it’s a great goal to have for your business.
Tip #2: Don’t Argue Returns
If a customer wants to return a product, even if it’s simply because they decided they no longer want it, just accept the return.
Never argue with your customers. Even if you know you’re right, you’re having a bad day, or you have a zero returns policy.
The most vocal customers are those customers that have become upset with a company, or feel slighted by the experienced they’ve had. The customers that you upset are going to take to the internet to leave negative reviews about you.
It’s never worth the argument, because long-term damage can be done. Just honor the return and move onto making more sales.
Tip #3: Treat Good Customers Better
A bad customer can make your life miserable, while a good customer can become your biggest cheerleader -- if you treat them right.
When you have good customers, you need to reward them, especially when they’ve placed more than one order with your business. Implementing loyalty programs and incentives for sharing your products and store with their friends is a great way to build loyalty.
Whenever you develop that loyal bond with your existing customers, your cost per acquisition is going to drop, which is one of the biggest goals you should be focused on when you’re trying to build a sustainable eCommerce business.
Tip #4: Expect Problems, Become The Solution
It doesn’t matter how good you run your business, or how well you treat your customers, you are always going to have a few that have problems.
You need to expect it’s going to happen. Even Swanson and Firmoo have customer service issues from time, to time.
The difference between them and most other eCommerce businesses, though, is that they expect these problems are going to arise, and they already have solutions in place to fix them.
While you may believe you are in the eCommerce business, you’re actually in the customer service business, helping your customers solve problems that they have.
Tip #5: Treat Every Case Individually
Each person that lands on your store and makes the decision to purchase the products you’re selling are different, even if you believe they have the same problems or they’re asking the same questions.
When you’re dealing with customer service issues, you need to treat every person like they have made multiple orders from your business, and your business depends on them for it’s survival.
Because it does.
Treat each case as it’s own issue, even if you’ve heard the same question hundreds of times, or have dealt with the issue hundreds of times. You never know when you’re going to be helping a long-term customer that’s going to become loyal to your brand.
Tip #6: Get Social
When it comes to social media platforms, everybody is watching what you do and how you handle your customer service.
When you have happy customers that are posting about how much your business has helped them, or changed their life, make sure to thank them.
Likewise, when you get negative feedback from someone about your business, make sure you’re taking the opportunity to put your best foot forward and publicly help them with whatever problem they’re having.
You never know when someone that was on the fence about purchasing is watching, and great customer service has the ability to go viral, driving huge amounts of traffic to your store.
Tip #7: Support Multiple Channels
It’s already been stated, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you’re not allowing your customers to contact you using whatever support channel they want to use, you’re missing out on opportunities to position yourself ahead of your competition.
Some people are going to want to contact you through email. Others are going to want to pick up the phone and call to talk to a live person.
There are people who will want to contact you through social media. Then there are people that will want to help themselves, making your job that much easier.
Whatever platform they want to use, make sure you’ve made it available to them.
Tip #8: Build An FAQ Page
You’re going to get people that seem to ask the same questions, over, and over again.
Thankfully, many of these people are going to go searching for answers before they reach out to you for assistance with the problems that they’re having.
You can cut down on the amount of support requests you receive by putting all of the most frequently asked questions your support team receives into an FAQ page.
Then, once the page is created, add a link to it in a prominent place, like your footer or sidebar, so that it’s easy for your visitors to access.
Tip #9: Track Customer Satisfaction (Surveys)
Surveying your customers is one of the best ways to figure out how well your business is doing, and how well your customer service team is performing.
The best time to survey your customers is directly after they have made a purchase.
You can send them an email or use a popup box once their order has been completed asking them about their experience, and for any suggestions that may help you improve your business.
You don’t just want to depend on surveying customers that have recently made a purchase, though, because they’ll generally give you positive feedback. You also want to pay close attention to negative feedback you may be receiving when customers contact your support team.
Tip #10: Prepare For High Volume Periods
The bane of every eCommerce business that’s focused on providing a positive customer experience is high volume periods. Everything seems to go wrong during the busiest times of the year.
Major holidays like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and others can create huge headaches for your customer service team if they’re not prepared for the massive influx in sales and new customers.
When you know you have a major holiday coming up, work on streamlining your customer service experience and possibly even hire more people to help you handle the increased demand.
How To Revolutionize And Simplify Your Customer Service
Most of the problems that we’ve outlined here can be fixed by implementing one customer support channel that most eCommerce businesses are just starting to learn about.
Many eCommerce businesses are using live chat to automate their customer service requests, but they’re failing in a big way.
They’re either manning the lines themselves, or overpaying for customer support representatives to handle their live chats when they could be doing it substantially cheaper.
You should already know by now that using real humans to handle your customer support requests is the only way to keep yourself from dealing with increased headaches, and add that personal touch to your business that sets you apart from your competition.
But training your own customer support reps can be expensive, and tiring when you have to constantly check up on them to make sure they’re keeping your business’s best interests in mind.
At Live Chat Ninjas, we’ve figured out the biggest problems eCommerce store owners are having with their customer support, and have built a service that’s designed specifically to address each of those problems.
- Our customer support representatives handle your live chat lines so they can respond instantly to any customer service requests you receive.
- They’re available 24 hours a day, 6 days per week, and they cost substantially less than hiring your own team of reps -- with substantially less involvement on your end when it comes to training them on how to handle your specific business.
- Their your hands-off customer support team that you can monitor with weekly reporting and trained specifically to handle your business, delivering the high-quality customer service experience you know your customers deserve.
- When you’re ready to revolutionize and simplify your customer service, you depend on the Live Chat Ninjas.
Click here to see how they can change your business, give you more free time, save you more money, and help you develop the long-term service-based reputation that you need to build a sustainable eCommerce business.