Customer service is a key differentiator for eCommerce stores. Only a retailer who cares about excellence in customer service can build a positive reputation and distinguish their store from the competition.
In an eCommerce market dominated by giants, many of which sell the same products as smaller stores, it’s vital to build a strong relationship with customers so they become brand ambassadors and return for future purchases.
Amazon, which the vast majority of eCommerce stores count among their competition, has established a well-deserved reputation for excellent customer service. To compete, smaller merchants have to be just as committed to making customers feel valued.
Customer service can be a major cost center for smaller eCommerce busineses, but it’s a necessary component of long-term success — it’s difficult in the extreme for an eCommerce business to recover if it develops a poor reputation for customer service.
Offer Multiple Ways To Get In Touch
Personally, I’m not a fan of talking on the phone, and if a retailer only offers phone support, I’m likely to go elsewhere. I prefer to contact retailers by email. My father, however, much prefers to be able to talk directly to a representative on the phone.
An excellent customer support experience takes account of its customer’s preferences and offers multiple contact channels. In today’s world, that means phone, email, instant chat, and social media at a minimum.
Many smaller eCommerce stores avoid offering customer support over the phone, because it can be expensive, and for some stores, it’s not necessary.
Stores that focus on millennial customers who often prefer not to make phone calls can probably do without phone support. However, retailers should make sure they have a clear idea about who their customers are before closing any line of communication.
Track Customer Service Interactions
The best customer service happens when there’s no need for the customers to reach out at all because their needs have been anticipated and pro-actively resolved.
Online retailers have access to a lot of information about customers. Data about previous customer support interactions can be used to identify common pain-points in the eCommerce journey. Retailers can design processes and informational resources that give customers what they need before they ask for it.
Most customer service interactions are the result of customers seeking information. Is this product suitable for me? Does it do what I want it to? What are your return policies?
Smart eCommerce merchants anticipate these questions in advance and create content that answers them in the form of blog posts, FAQs, tutorials, and so on.
Support content has the added benefit of being an excellent SEO resource.
Set Response Goals And Take Them Seriously
There’s little benefit to offering multiple channels of contact if no one is there to answer customer queries. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as waiting on hold for half-an-hour for a response to a simple query. Ignoring user email for several days will not endear you to the sender or incline them to make future purchases.
If you offer multiple support channels, set response targets for each channel, measure the speed at which customer service operatives are able to respond to customer requests, and focus on improving response times.
Much of the above is common sense, but for online retailers focused on marketing and promotion, customer service is often not a priority. That’s a mistake: recurring custom is less expensive than attracting new customers, and the cost difference frequently makes it worthwhile to spend a little more on keeping current customers happy.