In an ideal world, customers would come to your online store, purchase products, and impressed with the whole experience would like to visit the store again. But the reality is far from this ideal image.
There can be several online shopping problems due to which a customer might not have a very pleasant experience on your store. In a lot of cases, they’d also like to get in touch with your customer support department.
Just like all the other crucial aspects of your online store and the type of experience you offer to the customers, customer service too deserves special attention.
As per a recent PRNewswire report, 70% of the consumers agreed that they remain loyal to a particular online store as they offer good customer service. Another McKinsey report states that poor customer service is the reason for 70% of the consumers to not purchase from an online retailer.
More importantly, a post on Aspect suggests that 79% of the shoppers in America believe that it is through customer service that they get to know how much an online store values them.
These stats clearly suggest the importance of good customer service for eCommerce stores. But even when an online store has a customer service team in place, there are still a number of reasons like unprepared or unknowledgeable staff, higher than expected order volumes, and 3rd party mistakes that can result in a bad experience for your customers.
As per Accenture’s recent Global Consumer Pulse survey, 66% of the global respondents agreed that they switched brands in at least one industry due to poor customer service in the past one year.
Surprisingly, most online stores do know that their customer service is not up to the mark. Apart from the few traditional ways to try and improve the support they offer, most stores often do not look for other alternatives.
Modern consumers are nothing close to the consumers the e-commerce industry catered to 4-5 years ago. The attention span is declining and they have innumerable alternatives to choose from if at all your online store isn’t able to tickle their fancy or at least offer a rewarding shopping experience.
While you might already be working on the design, user-friendliness of your online store and even your marketing strategy, it is time that you also start focusing on ways to improve the customer service you offer.
As you can see from the stats discussed above, the customer service you offer has a major impact on your reputation and the success of your online store. If none of the traditional ways have succeeded in providing you the expected results, we have a list of some valuable tips that you should definitely try.
While live chat has been around since the 1970s, it is only in the last few years that online retailers have started implementing it in the form of offering customer support. As per a CustomerThink report, this feature is expected to grow by up to 87% in the next 12 to 18 months.
Rising popularity of live chat is due to the fact that the majority of the online customers prefer talking to a human in real-time rather than talking to a software or calling on the hotline number. As compared to other channels of communication, live chat is currently the most popular as it is easily accessible and adds a sense of intimacy to the conversation.
As per a study done by Econsultancy, the customer satisfaction level is the highest with live chat as compared to any other channels of customer support. 73% of the consumers who’ve used live chat were fully satisfied with the experience.
The popularity of this feature has been such in the past couple of years that new retailers have the live chat feature implemented right from the initial e-commerce store design. If your online store is not yet offering live chat, it is high time that you start experimenting with this powerful customer service feature.
If you’re looking for magento ecommerce or WooCommerce e-commerce development, there are now several service providers and apps like Jumpseller, Zopim, and Tidiochat for adding live chat support on your website.
Some tips that can help are as follows-
While you might be offering 24×7 phone and email support, you’d need far more resources and employees to offer 24×7 live chat. As a result, most stores only offer live chat during the standard working hours.
If you follow the same approach, make sure that your customers clearly know the duration during which live chat is available. You’d not want your customers to wait for a reply from your support staff. Let them know that they can use other modes of communication when the live chat is not available.
Creating a knowledge base along with an FAQ page when creating your eCommerce store design would not just function as a goldmine for SEO but would also make it easier for your customers to find answers to basic questions.
Talk to a few customers and ask them about the problems they face when using your website or the things they’d like to know when placing an order. Offer all these details through the FAQ page and direct the customers to this page if they have basic queries.
One of the oldest and still a very popular way to serve your customers is through the telephone. No matter if you’re an existing online store or building a new one, phone support is something that you should focus upon if you want to offer good customer service.
As far as the training of the phone support staff is concerned, there are a few important tips that can help-
Make sure that the staff knows everything about the products and services you offer. They should also know your store policies. If any customer suspects that the support agent is not too sure or is unknowledgeable, it’d surely create a bad impression.
Ensure that the support staff tries to develop a connection with the customer. Ask them who they are, where are they from, etc. to add a sense of intimacy and be empathetic about the problem they are facing. This would make a customer believe that the support agent is genuinely concerned about their problem.
Also, the support staff should try to add some amount of flexibility when talking to the customers as this can easily make them loyal customers who’d return to your store often.
The website should be designed in a way that the best channel of customer service should be advertised at the top. For instance, if you offer multiple modes of communication like live chat, email, and phone but you want email to be the last option, you can place the email contact details on one of the internal pages or at the bottom of your website’s homepage.
Similarly, if your live chat support is better than other channels of support, try to promote live chat on multiple web pages of your store and at top of the homepage.
One of the best ways to build a connection with your customers is through social networking platforms. Almost every popular brand is now available on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
But rather than making your social media pages about the brand, ensure that it offers original content and support to your customers. The rule of thumb is that you should promote your brand in only 20% of the posts while the rest should offer helpful content to your customers.
But with so many social platforms now available, it can be confusing for an online store to pick one. While a multichannel approach is fine too, in the beginning, it is better to stick to one or two platforms based on what your customers prefer. You can interview some of your ideal customers and ask them about the social networking platform they prefer. You can also check the platforms your competitors use.
In the past couple of years, Twitter has turned into a popular choice for online stores to offer customer service through social media. But the dynamics of Twitter are as such that your support team is required to be very quick in replying to the customers. Any response which takes more than 30 minutes can negatively affect your reputation.
While social networking platforms are great to connect with your customers, negative experiences are shared much faster than the positive ones by the customers. So, only use Twitter if you have the necessary resources and capacity.
Some good practices to keep in mind-
If you are active on social networking platforms, ensure that you or your staff members track all the comments customers leave on your posts. Respond to these comments in public as this will let others know that you listen and respond to the customers. Further assistance can then be provided through private chat with the customer.
Many of the platforms like Facebook now let you set automatic responses to make sure that you never miss sending a reply to any of your customers. If your average response time is about 1 hour, you can set a message saying “Thank you for writing to us. We will reply to your message in a maximum of 1 hour.”
Try to reply to the messages and queries in about an hour or two unless you are using twitter where you should reply within 30 minutes. If you are currently involved in Magento 2 web development for your e-commerce store, there are online platforms like Hootsuite, Social Sprout, SentiOne, and TweetDeck which you can use to manage your accounts on multiple social platforms.
If you are new to e-commerce and want to compete with the top brands, good customer service is something that can help you reach there. Modern consumers now expect online stores to offer support through multiple channels and the quality of support across the channels should be highly satisfactory.
If you fail to offer the same, a potential customer would switch to another store and you might lose him/her forever. If you are searching for the best B2B e-commerce features that you should focus upon, focus on customer service more than any other feature and you are sure to witness a considerable increase in your website traffic, sales, and customer satisfaction.
Try to implement as many tips mentioned above as possible and make sure that you make your customers believe that you genuinely care. If you succeed, you might get yourself a lot of loyal customers who’d love to return to your store.