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8 Best Practices For Effective Ecommerce Customer Service
July 23, 2022
You have a website and you sell products online. Every day you have to ask yourself how you can provide the best online customer experience to your visitors.
The good news is, you are not alone! Ecommerce customer service innovation and practices have improved a lot in the last decade to help online businesses.
The bad news is, you are not alone… With the ecommerce competition rising like never before, ecommerce customer service has become one of the main differentiating factors and thus a key success factor.
Customer loyalty has dropped online. Rules are changing. Marketers used to claim that 20% of your customers should generate 80% of your revenue. It shows that loyal customers used to play such a great role in business profitability. Now, studies have observed that the golden rule that says 80/20 tends to decrease to a 60/40 rule or even a 50/50.
This is mostly due to online shopping. Indeed, when you shop online, other stores are literally a click away. Then everything is more transparent with review platforms and social media. In the end, you must provide the best online shopping experience possible.
1. Enable Self-service for Your Ecommerce Business
Self-service is a win-win as it offers buyers more control over the buying process. Though one of the most underrated e-com business tactics, customer self-service if employed properly can make a difference.
It is estimated that over 60% of the consumers in the USA prefer self-service channels such as e-com sites or mobile apps. And almost 77% of the consumers have used a self-service support portal.
What is more interesting is that according to Forrester, knowledge base is the most sought-after self-service channel.
Did you know by offering an FAQ section you can reduce your customer support volume by at least 20%!
Knowledge Bases You Can Adopt
Here is a list of knowledge base tools you can add to your app and websites:
Knowledge base articles
Glossaries and definition lists
Knowledge Base Articles
In addition to making customers happier, a self-service knowledge base has one more benefit – better SEO ranking. Target short and long-tail keywords using such articles. Adding an FAQ section to product pages also increases the page length.
The content is keyword-rich and even the most awkwardly worded keywords can be placed quite naturally.
Setting up a self-service portal doesn’t cost you much and customers love browsing through how-to or help articles as they want to solve issues themselves.
This means that your support team doesn’t have to spend time on one-on-one support to solve every issue. They get to focus more time on helping customers that face complex issues.
Frequently Asked Questionsor FAQs are considered to be Knowledge Base Articles close cousin for a reason. Like the articles, they too offer solutions by answering easy questions.
If you place your FAQ sections where the eyeballs fall, buyers can easily find answers to some of the frequently asked questions about your product.
Obviously, your support team doesn’t have to spend a lot of time answering easy questions.
FAQs also bring you SEO benefits making your product page content-rich sprinkled with naturally occurring keywords.
Step-By-Step Process Guides
A Step-by-step process guide, as the name suggests, walks the customer through the process of installing, assembling, troubleshooting, or caring for a product.
These guides help the customers figure things out on their own without having your support team walk them through the process. A win-win for all of us, right?
So, by adding a few explainer videos on the site you are helping customers figure out how to install a product or fix a particular problem without the intervention of your support team.
Remember, your videos can also appear on search results boosting your rankings.
Glossaries And Definition Lists
Not all readers are familiar with the terms and jargon you use on the product page. So, it is better to explain them with a glossary and definition lists.
In fact, the glossary list can be used to:
Educate the audience about your products, services and brand
Position your brand as an industry expert
Boost SEO and drive relevant traffic
Drive early-stage prospects
Do you know who loves glossaries more than searching humans? No price for guessing – search engines.
2. Opt For Omnichannel For Your Ecommerce Business
As an e-commerce business, you offer customers an opportunity to make a purchase via email, push notifications, SMS and social media platforms. Your sales are omnichannel, so should your customer support.
Returning customers that lead to increased revenue
What Are The Omnichannel Tools You Can Adopt?
You can implement effective omnichannel customer support by integrating the below to your communication channel:
As a customer, seeing a chat button on the site or app is reassuring. When they have a quick question, some people just want to have a quick chat rather than emailing or calling.
Quick answers without moving away from the website or app – that’s what young customers who are looking for a smooth shopping experience want. Millennials, aged between age 16 – 24, believe that quick customer responses mean a better buying experience.
When it comes to customer support, email is the king among the older generation. According to a recent survey, around 47% of customers preferred email support as it offers convenience compared to other channels.
At least 12% of the customers chose it as there are no chances of dropped chats or calls and 64% feel that it offers a record of communication. Email still reigns supreme when it comes to customer support.
24/7 support, that is what people expect and what channel is better than social media to offer it! Remember, 45% of the world's population uses social media and the platform never sleeps.
It is estimated that responding to a social media complaint can improve customer advocacy by as much as 25%!
It’s all about communicating at the right time, convincing and converting the right audience. Don’t miss out on a huge audience that is ready to follow your brand.
We live in a world where everyone prefers texts. However you might be surprised to hear over 50% of the consumers, across all age groups, prefer . Most customers still feel comforted knowing that they have a direct channel of support. This is the channel that will give you the extra edge over your competitors. It also creates customer loyalty better than any other channel.
Offering A Standardized Omnichannel Approach
Now, let’s say a customer asks the chatbot a question that can’t be answered in a line or two. They can now be given the option of getting their answers through email. Or, they may be directed to reach out to a customer service agent.
The agent will already have all the necessary information so, customers won’t need to repeat themselves. The result – happier and more loyal customers.
Customer service, when done right, can have a positive impact on your sales funnel. As they say, customer service can make or break relationships, so optimize your omnichannel support experience to keep your customers happy.
3. Make It As Human As Possible
Did you know 75% of customers fall in love with a brand because of the friendly customer service? When interacting with your customers, especially via online channels, it’s important to show a human touch.
Even if your customers are interacting with a machine, you need to find a way to connect and interact with them the way a human being does.
So, How To Bring a Human Touch To Your Online Customer Support?
Here are a few ways you can remind your users that there is always a human touch to your customer engagement:
Using personalized communication
Showing your personality
Using Personalized Communication
Emails, chats or social media messages, everyone likes getting personalized messages with their names on them.
And also make sure that your agents introduce themselves on instant chats and calls. You can improve online conversation by 8% when you offer a .
It is estimated that 86% of buyers will spend more if you offer a good customer experience. Being kind and thankful to your customers are the best ways to keep them happy.
Showing Your Personality
Nobody likes to talk to a machine. Show your customers your warm personality and make them feel welcomed.
4. Invest In The Phone Channel for Your Ecommerce Business
The phone channel is about human-to-human interaction which makes it the most preferred customer service channel. It’s also the one that gets problems solved faster.
What Are Advantages Of The Phone Channel?
The advantages of phone channel include:
Improving your credibility
Making yourself always reachable
Getting found in the local directory
Improving Your Credibility
Having an official phone number gives your company credibility and makes it appear legit. You want to sound like a successful company even if you’re still in the growing stage, and having a professional call line is how to do it.
Making Yourself Always Reachable
Virtual phone numbers also make your company seem more reachable. For example, you may be based in the US, but some of your customers may be in Europe. By getting a virtual European number, your company seems more relatable to your customers.
This also gives you the freedom to move the physical location of your office without changing phone numbers. The image created is one of a stable, local company.
Getting Found In The Local Directory
Investing in a business phone channel also makes sure your business can be found in the local phone directory. This will make customers feel like they always have a way to reach you.
Remember, visibility and availability are critical to customer satisfaction.
4. Minimize Your Ecommerce Customers' Costs
What’s easier to do – exchange a series of emails or pick up the phone and call? The latter, right?
Unless a customer has a question in the middle of the night, they’re going to want to call you instead of waiting for time to send emails back and forth.
How to Minimize Your Customers' Costs?
You can minimize the customer cost by addressing the challenge of calling fees.
The Challenge Of Calling Fees
This is another reason to get a business phone number. If you are getting a business phone number, you need to try to make sure that customers won’t get any charges to call your number.
If they are calling from a landline, they probably won’t incur any calling charges. But sometimes they could get a charge if they’re calling from a cell phone. And of course, today, basically everyone uses cell phones over landlines.
So, you need to find a way to make sure your customers are charged when they call you.
How To Avoid Calling Fees
An easy way to do this is by training call center representatives to note the customer’s number and call them back with a response rather than keep them on hold. Your customers will thank you for it, later.
Of course, you need to make sure your phone plan allows you to do this without incurring too high a cost to your company.
5. Leverage The Power Of Data For Your Ecommerce Business
Online shopping is vastly different from in-store shopping. In-store shoppers leave physical clues helping sales reps understand the mood of a shopper and pitch products accordingly.
For instance, an experienced salesperson can easily identify if a shopper is at the store to kill time or they intend to make a purchase.
However, online shoppers don’t leave such clues. So, how do we understand their needs and suggest products accordingly?
This is where data comes to play. Data when interpreted contextually can offer a lot of actionable insights which can be used to boost your sales.
How To Collect Data And Get Actionable Insights From It?
Let’s find out more about collecting and turning data into insights. You can also find a few examples of how to interpret data and convert it into insights.
How To Collect Data?
There are many ways to collect customer data including:
Google Analytics (GA)
You get a lot of information about customer engagement as well as demographics from GA.
The customer profile on the site or app is another free way to collect data.
Newsletters And Customer Surveys
The newsletter sign-up option also helps you collect customer data in the form of email IDs while customer surveys help you understand their preferences.
How To Turn Data Into Insights?
To turn data into insights, you can use AI-driven technologies and a few other proven techniques such as:
Product Recommendation: Recommend products based on their purchase history
Market Basket Analysis: Suggesting a related product to the customer based on their previous purchases
Price Optimization: Around 80% of buyers identify competitive pricing as an important part of the e-com shopping experience.
Data Insights: Examples
Here are a few examples of how you can turn data into insights. If you’re a hardware store and your customer’s address is in the middle of downtown, you don’t want to offer a lawnmower; they don’t have a yard.
If you’re a fashion retailer, and your customer orders a Hawaiian T, don’t offer them the sweaty experience of a full fur coat.
Take a deeper look into what your customer’s purchases to understand what their web activities mean.
6. Measure the Performance of Your Ecommerce Business
Offering customer support is one thing, measuring your team’s performance and improving your customer experience is an entirely different thing.
You can use volume by channel and look for trending topics among customers to create a strategy to refine your process. You can measure performance by evaluating the following metrics:
Individual agent metrics
When analyzing case level metrics understand the following:
The volume of conversations in a particular time frame
Most discussed topics as this may indicate a problem in your products
The locale where an issue arises. You can decide if you need to go for more localized support by analyzing this data.
Individual Agent Metrics
By analyzing individual agent metrics, you can understand the number of customer interactions, resolved cases and average handling time as well as the rate of customer satisfaction.
Based on the data, you can see if the resource needs further training in handling complaints.
Measuring team level metrics helps you determine if you need to improve the time to first response or the number of interactions per resolution.
Check for customer interaction rates and see if adding better product descriptions and more self-service options can improve the buying experience.
7. Improve Ecommerce Upselling Opportunities
Upselling is a great way to improve your revenue and only a good customer support team can make your dream a reality. Well, you can’t get your unhappy customers to upgrade their membership or purchase premium products, right?
Follow the below tips and you will see your upselling dreams come true:
Use Insight From Previous Interactions
You need to identify your customers’ buying patterns by analyzing their previous purchases suggesting products that add value.
For instance, if you offer a technology solution to small and medium enterprises, you need to suggest premium plans and show them the savings and benefits they can get by choosing the premium one.
Engage With Happy Customers
When you make an upselling pitch, be sure to approach a customer who is satisfied with your product and services.
For example, if a customer comes back to you with a question about one of your products or plans, try and gauge their level of satisfaction while offering them the answers. Make a few suggestions about premium plans and products, if the customer is a happy one. They might surprise you by making a purchase.
8. Get Positive Online Reviews for Your Ecommerce Business
Did you know about 95% of buyers check online customer reviews before making a purchase! And it is estimated that about 75% of buyers won’t make a buying decision until they have read reviews.
No one can negate the power of positive online reviews. They build trust and reassure buyers about the quality of your products. So how to get some positive reviews?
Collecting reviews from customers will also help you understand the positives and negatives of your products and services. Here are some ways to get good reviews online:
Right after they make a purchase, email your customers asking how they find the products. You will be surprised to see customers responding to your emails.
Encourage Customer Support
It is estimated that around 43.8% of consumers are happy to leave a review after being asked to do so.
So, encourage your customer support to request user reviews the moment they spot a happy customer.
Hire Social Influencers
According to a survey, 49% of consumers trust recommendations made by social influencers. Businesses also earn around $5.78 for each dollar spent on social influencers.
So, get the right influencer and the platform to review and endorse your brand.
Key Takeaways for Ecommerce Customer Service
Always remember that the way you treat your customers can make or break your brand. So, don’t take them for granted.
Improving the customer experience is easier than you imagined. Make sure you are always accessible to your customers.
Start by getting your brand a dedicated business phone number. Then, do the little things that make them feel special – address them by their name, respond to their queries quickly and keep striving to go beyond their expectations.
Paul is a tech and business phone system enthusiast always open to discuss ideas. If you’re interested in collaborating on content projects or getting a product listed on our blog, don’t hesitate and reach out to us: [email protected].