Ecommerce is booming, and there's a lot of opportunities for businesses online. But with all the competition out there, it's essential to set yourself apart from the pack. There's no better way to accomplish that by providing outstanding customer service.
This article will help you identify what ecommerce customer service is and why it is so important. Then, we'll provide six key ways you can improve your customer service to build a loyal customer base for life.
Ecommerce customer service, what is it and why is it important
Regardless of your business, customer service is essential. It should integrate into all aspects of a buyer's journey. From greeting potential customers when they land on your page to helping them choose the right product, to resolving an issue, it's all customer service. And it needs to run smoothly across every channel.
For ecommerce businesses, this is not just a 'nice-to-have'. It increases your revenue! In 2020, Microsoft released their 'Global State of Customer Service'. It showed that 90% of consumers factor in customer service when doing business with a company, and 58% will go to another business if they receive poor customer service.
Needless to say, the expectations are high with today's consumers. And with more channels to leave reviews and feedback, they'll definitely let you know if things are not up to standard.
Fortunately, according to the 4th edition of Salesforce's 'State of the Connected Customer', 78% of consumers will do business with a company again if they have exemplary customer service around a mistake.
Defining Ecommerce Customer Service
When you take action to provide help for your customers—new or old—at any point during their customer journey, that's ecommerce customer service. It can be answering a question before the sale, guiding a customer through checkout, or resolving an issue post-sale. The goal of any ecommerce customer service team is to make this journey quick and free of issues.
Ecommerce business owners must examine how customers and potential customers interact with the business and find ways to be helpful. You can set your website up with an easily navigable FAQ, answer questions directly—phone, email, chat, and social media—or indirectly via chatbot technology.
Regardless, it means that your customers will always have a channel for help and never feel neglected. It also entails creating a consolidated voice throughout multiple channels to create a seamless and transparent experience. The only way your ecommerce business will succeed is through providing this type of service experience consistently.
You may wonder how this differs from a brick-and-mortar business. Read on to find out.
What is the difference between ecommerce customer service and brick-and-mortar?
Technology is the key factor when differentiating between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar customer service. But that's obvious, so let's dig a little deeper and add layers to this concept.
An ecommerce buyer's journey happens online and not face-to-face. This means brick-and-mortar has a key advantage: they can create personalized service—with a real person!—build rapport and create a loyal customer-base.
Ecommerce instead relies upon technology to recreate this process through several channels. Doing business entirely online creates challenges that brick-and-mortar companies do not face.
Ecommerce businesses experience a higher volume of inquiries and higher customer standards around quality and speed. If you can't sustain superb customer service and rapid response times on multiple channels, it will become a problem if it isn't already.
So how can ecommerce companies take on these challenges? Let's look at six best practices that can help you improve your ecommerce customer service and build loyalty towards your brand.
6 best practices for ecommerce customer service
1. Uniform customer information
Our Customer Care Trends & Figures whitepaper found that "65% of consumers expect all agents to have access to the same information so that they do not have to explain their situation all over again once they are redirected."
When a customer seeks support, it's essential your reps know who they are, including their order history before they tell you. This will make them feel valued and personalize the experience instantly.
Your business cannot accomplish this without a customer service solution and processes that allow your agents to view all aspects of how a customer has interacted with the brand. They should be able to see connections, calls, emails, chatbot history, etc.
2. Address the customer in their language
According to AllTheResearch, the rise of millennial growth in the ecommerce market will cause the cross-border market to reach over $2 trillion by 2026. That's a growth rate of 17.4%, annually!
It's vital for ecommerce companies to engage in cross-border growth for success. What's the internet for anyway if not to reach the global marketplace?
But operating cross-border comes with some specific customer service needs that ecommerce companies must address. If you're going to sell to a Spanish or Latin American market, then you need customer service reps who can answer questions and handle issues in Spanish. Obviously, this applies to any market you want to enter.
Going cross-border will net more revenue. But to build upon that, customer service in a market's language is necessary to continue that growth. CSA Research (2020) published the results of a survey in 29 countries that states 76% of consumers prefer products listed in their own language.
If you want a piece of this rapidly growing market, you must address your customers in their native language.
3. Focus on the right data and KPIs
Ecommerce business is driven by data and KPIs. Companies constantly collect data from their customers so that sales and marketing teams can make smart decisions.
Over the past years, Customer Service joined their ranks. Businesses are using and optimizing KPIs like net promoter score, average response time, and first response time to inform decisions around customer service.
While using these KPIs is helpful, it's more important to focus on the right data and KPIs. First Contact Resolution—the measure of your customer service team's ability to resolve a customer service question or issue in the first interaction—is a KPI that should be on the top of your list, yes, higher than first response time.
First Contact Resolution creates higher overall customer satisfaction than first response time. It's more beneficial to both your NPS and CSAT score, and a high FCR means that your customer service team is working with greater efficiency.
Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Would you rather have to call customer service three times to have something resolved, but get a quick response with each call? Or would you rather wait an extra minute or two on hold and have your issue resolved on the first call? In a perfect world, the customer gets a fast response and a resolution the first time. But it's obvious which is the better scenario.
KPIs and data are excellent tools. If you focus on the right ones like First Contact Resolution.
4. Provide self-service options
Superior customer service interactions may not always result from an interaction with a representative. A Harvard Business Review article titled 'Kick-Ass Customer Service' found that 81% of customers try to answer questions and take care of issues before reaching out to a live representative.
Self-service options can include a range of channels, like automated chatbots, an extensive knowledge base, and a thorough FAQ page. These tools will help your customer service team in every aspect of their day.
When you provide—and guide—your customers to information, it allows them to do what they really want to do: solve the problem on their own. This opens your customer service team up to customers with complex issues who really need hands-on service.
5. 'Where' is defined by your customers
Many ecommerce businesses owners focus on customer service channels they prefer. But this practice can seriously impact your customers' experience if you don't choose the preferred channel of your audience. That's not to say you shouldn't have multiple channels for customer service—see the section below. But it's important to put more resources into the channels that are used most frequently by your customer base.
All you cross-border entrepreneurs, pay attention! The preferred customer support channel differs from country to country. You can see a breakdown of this within the country pages of our whitepaper.
Regardless of what the statistics say, analyze your customer service interactions and/or survey your customers to find out which channels they prefer the most to ensure top-notch service.
6. Hybrid customer service, best of both worlds
Customer service in the 21st century advances almost every year. With new technology, customer service representatives can both deal with complicated tasks and evaluate their previous interactions to improve service.
We established that offering self-service options along with your customer's preferred channels is key to good customer service. But some customer issues will always require a live person, and they'll want to switch from technology to human empathy with ease. How do you balance this mix of technology and real-person, live interaction?
The key is to not go too far down the rabbit hole with automation. Especially if it sacrifices the customer experience. Automation can help you reduce cost and increase resolution times. But if you're sending customers away to other businesses, then what's the point?
This is where hybrid customer service is key. It blends the elements of self-service through FAQs and chatbots. And it also allows customers to transition over to a person when they need it.
With these six ways to improve your ecommerce customer service experience, you hopefully have some ideas about what you need to do to enhance your customer service. But if you're unsure of how to accomplish your ecommerce customer service goals, then please contact us. We're happy to walk you through our process and help you succeed.