Here’s the truth: ecommerce customer service is one of the most underrated avenues for blowing up your business.
Why? Because modern consumers place customer experience on par with both ‘product’ and ‘price’ when making a purchasing decision.
Despite this, research shows that just 8% of consumers say online retailers currently deliver ‘excellent customer service.’
So, how does such a discrepancy happen?
Well, the thing is, most ecommerce brands make it their goal to create satisfied customers. And while such customers are better than unsatisfied ones, they’re not the ones who’ll sing your praises from the rooftops.
In this article, you’ll learn how to go beyond creating indifferent shoppers and discover how to transform your customers into a tribe of irrationally passionate fans who grow your business on auto-pilot.
Sounds good? Let’s jump in!
What is Ecommerce Customer Service?
ecommerce customer service is the support you provide to customers both before and after and after purchasing from you.
Exceptional ecommerce customer support involves things like:
- Helping your customer choose the right products
- Fixing customer issues quickly when they arise
- Educating customers about how to get the most out of their purchase
- Making the customer feel valued and appreciated
Some of the challenges facing modern eCom customer service are:
- High volumes of support tickets
- Providing fast response times across multiple channels
- Maintaining a consistent brand voice across all customer interactions
Later on, we’ll address these challenges and overcome them. But for now, let’s tuck into three reasons why customer service is more important than ever.
Why Amazing Ecommerce Customer Service Matters More than Ever
In modern times, ecommerce customer care is becoming more critical for brands that want to excel. Here’s why:
1. Customer Service Allows Small Business to Beat Big Business
Big players like Amazon and Walmart pack massive firepower in terms of logistical prowess and buying power.
Trying to compete with eCom behemoths head-on is likely to leave you feeling outgunned and under-resourced. But when it comes to customer service, their sheer size is their disadvantage.
Consumers, especially younger consumers (whose buying power is increasing by the day), are gravitating towards brands that provide personalized service with a human touch.
So, going beyond the robotic service of today’s ecommerce titans is vital. If you can relate to customers in a way that matters, you’ll win their hearts, minds, and business - even if you can’t compete with the big boys on price.
2. Social Media Is Amplifying Your Reputation
Thanks to social media, it only takes a short series of poor customer experiences to send your business into a downward spiral that’s hard to break.
Some studies suggest that 92% of customers will call you out on social media for inadequate customer service.
On the flip side, a steady stream of positive customer interactions can quickly pump-up your growth and create a passionate customer base who’ll tell their friends about you.
This means that the potential for damage to your brand from sub-par service is enormous. But so is the potential for gain if you can consistently delight your customers.
3. Excellent Customer Service Boosts Revenue
Get this: a whopping 84% of consumers consider customer service a key factor when deciding whether to purchase, and only 3% percent say it’s unimportant.
What’s more, 78% of customers have backed out of purchasing based on a poor customer experience.
The implication? If you’re providing substandard customer service, you can bet your bottom dollar you’re not maximizing revenue.
But customer service doesn’t only affect front-end revenue. It has an enormous impact on retention and loyalty too.
For example, 52% of consumers say they’ve made more than one purchase from a business following a positive customer service experience (plus they’re more likely to tell their friends about you too).
And when you consider that a 5% increase in customer retention can produce 25%-95% more profit, it’s easy to see how delighting your customers is like rocket fuel for your business.
Indeed, Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, wasn’t wrong when he said: “Customer service is the new marketing.
5 Tips for Mind-blowingly Good Ecommerce Customer Service
Ok, so we’ve covered why it’s super important to have fantastic ecommerce customer service. You know the impact that it can have on your reputation and your bottom line.
Now, let’s jump in and figure out how to get started delivering remarkable support.
1. Make it Dead-Easy for Customers to Reach You
If you’ve ever shopped online and needed to reach support, you understand how frustrating slow responses can be.
That’s why if you want to leverage customer service to grow your business, there are three things you need to do:
- First, figure out what channels your customers gravitate towards online.
- Do they prefer to email you?
- Use live chat?
- Go to your self-service help center?
- Tweet you?
- Hit you up with an Instagram DM?
- Secondly, decide to what extent you can cover all of those channels. Alternatively, determine if your resources could be better spent directing customers towards the top 1-2 channels they generally prefer to use.
- Thirdly, once you’ve decided on your channels, make it crystal clear on your website, socials, and emails where customers can reach you (via tweet, email, chat, etc.) and when they can expect a response.
For example, if you’re selling to a younger audience like Gen-Z, you may find that many people are trying to reach you on Instagram, but you’re not responsive.
Instead of merely sending the old canned response that redirects customers to email, why not pivot your approach and start providing proactive support directly through Instagram instead?
Finally, when figuring out which channels to prioritize, don’t just choose the most convenient ones for you. Instead, choose those that are most convenient for your customer base, and make it genuinely effortless for them to reach you.
Key Takeaway: Evaluate the channels customers are using to reach out to you. Decide if your current support offering matches your customer’s ideal offering. Always ask: how can we make it easier for customers to reach us?
2. Create Consistency Across All Channels
Consistency is a crucial ingredient for superb ecommerce customer service. But what separates average brands from those who excel is the ability to deliver consistent service across multiple interactions and channels with the same customer.
This is where the customer helpdesk, like DelightChat, comes in. A quality help desk will allow you to pull customer requests from many channels into a single organized inbox.
We've curated a list of some of the most popular customer support apps for Shopify stores to help you make an informed decision.
Not only will this help your service team to work more effectively, but it’ll also allow them to do things like:
- Recognize customers from previous requests (no matter which channel) and tailor interactions on the fly.
- Quickly relay requests to the appropriate person without leaving the help desk.
- Modify orders, issue refunds, and more without having to jump between platforms.
- Proactively follow-up with customers to make sure issues are resolved.
- Prioritize tickets to make sure response times are optimized.
In addition to a help desk, creating guidelines for how your team interacts with customers is also a good move.
Outline your voice, personality, language, how you want customers to feel, etc. Then, create a google doc and include it as part of your onboarding process for new hires.
Be sure to define your guidelines in-line with your brand because nothing is so jarring as a playful brand with customer service that speaks like a team of lawyers (or vice-versa).
Key Takeaway: Your customers need to get the same service level no matter where they reach out. The easiest way to achieve this is with a quality ecommerce helpdesk and clear operating guidelines for your service reps.
3. Embrace Tech, But Lead With a Human Heart
There’s no doubt that technology can help you deliver better ecommerce customer service.
But in the quest for more efficiency, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that customer support is still about serving humans, not tickets on a system.
Adding a human touch to customer interactions and showing a bit of heart makes you unique and sets you apart from your competitors.
Remember that unlike traditional retail, where you can rely on body language and expressions to build rapport, in ecommerce, you need to make an extra effort to create a personal relationship with customers.
In order to do this, you'll need to hire and train the right personnel to match your brand's voice and tone. If you're finding this part challenging, you could use a customer support outsourcing solution like LTVplus to recruit and manage qualified remote talent to support your customers across all your channels of communication.
Making customers feel welcome generally involves things like:
- Repeatedly using your customers’ name
- Kicking off interactions with a unique greeting
- Speaking to customers in their lingo
- Using emojis and gifs where appropriate
- Being interested in them as people
Here’s a great example from customer service titans Zappos discussing tv shows with their customers on Twitter:
TV shows have nothing to do with Zappo’s products. But what their customer service team understands is that building meaningful customer relationships is about more than simply fixing things when they go wrong.
Key Takeaway: Strike a balance between customer service automation and authentic human interaction. Use tools that streamline your workflow, but never to the extent where your customers feel like they’re dealing with Robo-support. Always help customers feel like they’re important to you (because they are).
4. Go Beyond’ Satisfied Customers’ & Create Super-fans
In 2021, it’s no longer enough to conceptualize ecommerce customer service as a way to ‘resolve customer issues’ and call it a day.
You need to think bigger than just putting things right when they go wrong and give customers a reason to choose you over your competitors.
Zoom out and think about all of the ways you can empower your support to knock your customers' socks off. These don’t have to cost a lot of money.
For example, you could:
- Handwritten thank you notes for first-time orders or regular shoppers.
- Give customers a shout-out on social media.
- Award freebies, swag, and credit to your best customers.
- Send customers a birthday gift or first shopping anniversary gift.
- Create a loyalty program that people want to use.
- Send your best customers new products to test and ask for their feedback.
Use these or get creative and come up with your ideas. Shifting your focus to delighting customers instead of merely keeping them from being unhappy will pay huge dividends.
As Pat Flynn, author of Superfans, says:
“Instead of spending money on ads, spend more time on people. Instead of worrying about the latest growth hacks and strategies, worry about identifying and addressing the biggest pains and problems in your target audience. Instead of figuring out how to optimize your conversion rates, figure out the rate at which you’re able to connect authentically with your audience and make them feel special.”
Key Takeaway: Choose 2-3 ways to delight customers outlined above and commit to it for the next six months. Watch your fan base expand as new customers hear about how great you are.
5. Drive Customer Success With Info-Packed Content
As you scale and the number of support requests increases, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
One solution is to build a help center packed with answers to the most common questions you get via your helpdesk. For simple queries, the majority of modern customers prefer to use self-service options.
Alongside help center articles, you should also create content that shows customers how to get the most out of your products. This could be in the form of e-books, video tutorials, or by only posting articles on your blog.
Case in point, male grooming company, Beardbrand:
This kind of value-packed content will not only help your existing customers succeed, but you can be sure that it’ll attract organic traffic into your funnel, too.
Plus, to hammer home the previous point, check out BeardBrands dedication to customer service in the 3rd paragraph of the post:
If a freestyle consultation to kick off the relationship can’t seal the deal, then maybe it was never meant to be!
Key Takeaway: Write out the 15 most common questions customers have - outline an entertaining blog or help center post for each question and add the posts to your editorial calendar. Check out these Shopify blog examples for inspiration.
Go forth & Serve Your Customers!
In the wise words of business author Michael LeBoeuf, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.
And as consumer expectations continue to rise, going above and beyond the status-quo will be the difference between brands who survive and brands who thrive.
In this article, we discussed the importance of:
- Making it easy for customers to contact you
- Staying consistent across all channels
- Embracing tech but leading with the human heart
- Aiming higher than the goal of a ‘satisfied customer’
- Using content to help customers succeed
Implementing these five tips will go a long way to leveling-up your customer’s experience and earning you a unique piece of real estate in their hearts and minds.
This is a guest post from Fintan Meagher & the team at EasyCall - the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to create a call center on Shopify. Fintan is a savvy digital marketer with a pretty creative noggin on my shoulders.