Making e-commerce customer service your secret weapon
2020 saw customers moving towards online shopping at an unprecedented rate. But, that brings a challenge for your e-commerce business.
A larger customer base tends to lead to more support requests. How do you make sure they’re all satisfied? And is it fine for you to just leave them satisfied?
Welcome to e-commerce customer service 101. Today, you’re going to learn how to scale up your customer support, without losing out on that touch of personalization.
You’re going to see how to not just satisfy your customers, but how to make them want to do business with you over and over again.
Let’s get started with this comprehensive guide to e-commerce customer service.
What is e-commerce customer service?
Customer service and customer experience. These are very possibly the two biggest differentiators when it comes to e-commerce portals.
Everyone’s stocking the same products, quoting very similar prices. But, do they make the shopping experience pleasant? Or is it downright frustrating?
Do they have any concern for you after you’ve made your purchase? Or do they treat you like a non-person?
That’s what makes the largest difference. Taking care of customers and treating them right is what gets them to keep coming back, again and again. And that’s what e-commerce customer service is all about.
Why is it important for e-commerce companies to provide exceptional customer service?
Whatever business you are in, your customers are not comparing your service to the best service they’ve experienced in that category or industry. They’re comparing the service you provide to the best customer experience they ever had, period.
Essentially, your customer service is always compared to the service provided by the likes of Amazon, Zappos, etc.
But, that’s not the only thing that makes high-quality service an absolute necessity. There are a couple of other problems you could see your business facing if you’re not striving for e-commerce customer service greatness.
A drop in retention
Substandard customer service could make customers slide away as if your business were coated with Teflon.
Sure, the internet makes it really easy for customers to find you… but guess what — it makes it equally easy for them to find your competitors. 1 bad experience is all it takes.
According to American Express, 78% of customers quit transactions because of a bad customer service experience.
A tarnished reputation
There are 2 factors at play here. First, humans just love to gossip. And second, customers might want to spare their friends and family from having to endure an unpleasant customer experience.
Either way, if you’re serving up a bad customer experience, people will hear about it.
How does better customer service help your e-commerce business?
You should not be looking at customer service as a cost center. In fact, improving your customer service is more of an investment than an expense for your e-commerce business.
A better customer experience can help your online store in many ways.
Higher quality customer service makes it easier for customers to trust your business. It makes them feel like you actually care about them and have their back.
The experience you create has a major impact on your customers’ buying decisions. In fact, 73% of respondents in a PwC study said that customer experience does influence their purchases.
But it doesn’t just make them more comfortable with purchasing your products. The actual magic lies in the fact that 42% of respondents in the same study were more than ready to pay a higher amount for better customer service and a more friendly and welcoming experience.
We like warning friends about businesses with bad customer service. But we also enjoy referring them to good ones.
Studies have shown that 89% of consumers tell their friends and family about good customer experiences.
Crafting great customer experiences and delivering fantastic service could be a very potent way to get your customers to do your marketing for you.
Reduced cart abandonment
How many times have you been hunting for a product, found one that seems right, and then had to ditch it simply because you had questions about it and couldn’t find an answer? You’re not alone.
According to Forrester, 53% of customers would abandon their carts if they don’t get answers to their questions immediately.
Deploying a chat window on your e-commerce portal would make it easier for them to find the answers they need and even increase their trust in your business.
Cart abandonment truly is a nightmare, but it can be overcome. Providing great e-commerce customer service is the first step towards recovering those carts.
It’s really easy for customers to switch over due to the bad service. But there’s a bright side to it.
If you’re providing fantastic e-commerce customer service, those frustrated customers will be switching over from your competitors to you.
E-commerce customer service best practices
Reduce customer effort
This is literally one of Amazon’s tenets of customer service. The easier you make it for customers to make purchases and reach out for support, the better the experience.
A chatbot could help you do both. It could help your customers find and purchase products without having to navigate through the entire website. It could even help them reach out for customer support right from the apps they prefer using, eg. WhatsApp.
Listen to the Voice of the Customer
Paying attention to the Voice of the Customer data can dramatically improve your customer support process. It can show you which parts of your customer journey are the least enjoyable. It can even show you which problems your customers are the most concerned about, and sometimes, these can be issues that you never even thought about.
But listening to the Voice of the Customer has another major advantage - you find out what your customers actually want, what problems they’re facing, and what they expect from your organization.
So now, you don’t just know how to improve your customer service, you even have information that you can use to modify and improve your products. You’ll be in a position to give your customers the products that they actually want.
It all boils down to requesting feedback and actually acting on it, rather than simply looking at it as a formality.
Localize your support
Going global doesn’t mean you standardize everything. In fact, a global presence tends to warrant local relevance.
You need customers across the world to look at you as one of their own, not as an outsider. That starts with you speaking to them in their own language.
So, you either have to hire staff to handle queries in all the languages across all the regions you service or you need to look at multilingual chatbots. Engati’s bots can converse with your customers in 50+ languages, including Arabic.
Provide tracking updates
Tracking updates are a crucial part of e-commerce customer service. I interviewed Brian Fanzo on the Engati CX show and he spoke about how important it is to be transparent about this and how it improves your customer experience.
One of the things we realized is that even when you order a pizza, you’re not really wondering “Why isn’t my pizza here yet?” as much as you’re asking yourself “Where is my pizza?”.
Now, what if you could reduce the effort your customers have to make to get those updates?
Rather than making them navigate across your website, you could let them simply send you a message on WhatsApp or whichever messaging application they’re comfortable with.
Now you can simply have a bot pull this tracking information and send it over to them immediately.
They realized that there was a lack of trialability. So, they made shipping and returns free. What they noticed was that people started buying more products because they had the option to return them. But they weren’t actually returning them.
Once you make a purchase, the Endowment Effect kicks in. This means that you value something more when it’s yours than you did before you owned it. So customers feel more inclined to keep the items they purchased rather than return them.
Amazon now ships every package with a pre-paid return label. Today, that’s what most customers expect of all e-commerce portals.
Be available 24/7
Having an e-commerce business allows you to sell your products all over the world. But the caveat is that you need to be able to serve customers across the world and answer customer queries as soon as they arise.
Even as you sleep, you may have customers on the other side of the world that need your help. You have to be there for them. Customers aren’t particularly interested in filling a form or sending an email and waiting for a response when you wake up.
They want answers and they want them immediately. Don’t give them these answers in real-time and you’ll find them abandoning their carts, just as Forrester warned you.
Deploy a chatbot to answer all the repetitive questions without any delay. An intelligent chatbot like those from Engati can answer about 80% of your customer queries. That could work out to a large drop in your cart abandonment rate.
Make all the information available
A few months ago, I was looking for a pull-up bar online to make up for my gym being closed during the lockdown. I found a few promising-looking options. But there was a problem.
They didn’t specify the length of the bar. How was I supposed to know if it would fit in my door frame?
Needless to say, I didn’t end up buying any of those pull-up bars.
Sure, most bars would fit on any standard frame, but seeing the measurements would certainly have reassured me. And like most other shoppers, this is certainly not the first time something like this has happened to me.
You need to display all the information a customer could need about your products. And if it’s not possible to put all that information on the product page, at least have a chat window from which they could request this information.
You should also maintain a knowledge base and list FAQs on your website.
Engage customers on the channels they prefer.
A Microsoft report has shown that 86% of customers use at least 3 different communication channels to contact customer service.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 73% of customers prefer using multiple channels for their shopping experience.
Give your customers what they want. Serve them on the channels over which they prefer engaging with you.
Make use of predictive analytics and solve problems before they ever arise. Anticipate issues and be transparent about them.
If you’re running out of inventory, inform your customers about it, don’t let them find out later. As humans, our memories are structured around the most intense emotion that we feel during an experience.
So, if you expect a problem to arise, you should proactively attempt to reduce the intensity of the negative emotion.
By being transparent about issues, you’re setting expectations and reducing the disappointment that could arise from your customers finding out later.
Requesting customers to leave reviews has multiple benefits. Firstly, it helps you understand the Voice of the Customer.
But, it also acts as social proof and reassures prospective customers about your offerings. In addition to these benefits, if you’re selling on Amazon, you could find their algorithm treating your products better when you have more reviews.
Personalize your support
Local brick and mortar stores win at personalization because the storekeepers can build a relationship with their customers. They know their customers’ likes and dislikes and even know about their family to some extent.
Online stores used to find it hard to personalize at scale. Not anymore. No more ‘Dear valued customer’ emails.
Artificial intelligence helps you not only to address your customers by their own name but also to hyper-personalize your support and marketing material. It can pull data about your customers from the system and base support conversations on that data, instead of being generic.
Don’t wait for your customers to reach out to you for support after a purchase. Get in touch with them yourself and ask them how they feel about their experience and how well your products are working for them.
Proactively reaching out for feedback gives your customers more reason to trust you. It makes them feel like you care about them.
Ways to improve your e-commerce customer service
Provide live chat
Forrester reports have shown that 44% of consumers believe that live chat is the best feature that an e-commerce portal can have.
Customers are impatient. If they don’t get answers right when they want them it’s, “Bye-bye...see ya never!”
While bots help you respond quickly and answer repetitive questions, you’re always going to have customers who have unforeseen issues and need personal assistance. That’s where live chat comes in.
These customers don’t want to call you up and wait on hold. They certainly don’t want to send you an email and wait 24 hours for a reply. They want answers as fast as possible and in the most effortless manner possible.
Live chat solves that for them. But that’s not all it does. It makes your support team more efficient as well.
An agent can only handle a single customer at a time over the phone. But what if they could converse with multiple customers simultaneously? Sounds like something that would reduce wait times dramatically, right?
Well, you can’t do that with phone calls, not without annoying customers by continuously putting them on hold. But you can do that with live chat.
Use a one-view inbox
Let’s say that a customer urgently needs help. She’s got no time to waste. So, she texted you on WhatsApp, sent you a direct message on Twitter and even shot a message over on your website chat window.
Now, your agent will have to hop across multiple messaging applications to handle these queries. That’s going to be terribly inefficient for your agents and is sure to infuriate your customer.
If you could funnel all your messages, across all your channels into a single inbox, life would get so much easier for your agents. Engati’s one-view inbox allows your agents to view all their conversations in one place, saving them the effort of hopping across multiple inboxes.
Don’t force customers to repeat themselves
This is one of the cardinal sins of customer service. You don’t need me to tell you that asking someone to repeat themselves over and over again is exasperating.
But, what can you do about it?
For starters, integrate your chat system with your CRM. You’d always want to make sure you get a chat system like Engati that displays transcripts of past conversations a user has had, both with bots, as well as with agents.
Now you have documented responses to every question that the user has answered while interacting with your organization. Bye-bye, repeat questions, hello, happy customers.
Allow customers to follow up with the same agent
After an agent builds a rapport with a customer, it would generally be a good idea to route the next conversation with that customer to the same agent.
The customer is already comfortable talking to that agent. Why try to get him to warm up to a whole different agent?
As far as possible, try to route conversations to agents who’ve already spoken to that customer.
Automate all repetitive questions
Not all queries warrant personal attention. A lot of them can be handled by an intelligent chatbot.
That means that you don’t need to have your agents rush through customer queries at lightspeed without even knowing whether their issues are fully resolved.
Your bots can handle all the repetitive, monotonous questions, the kind that make your agents wonder, “Why do I have to answer this all the time?”. As for your agents, they can now take care of your customers in a far better manner.
They won’t just have more time to answer their questions, they’ll also be in a better mood. After all, you’re getting rid of a major frustration trigger.
Provide great e-commerce customer service
44% of customers did tell Forrester that live chat is the most important feature that an e-commerce website could have. But do you know what could make it better? Automation!
Augment your customer service with the power of automation and the warmth of live chat. Start using Engati’s intelligent chat systems today!
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