With more and more consumers switching to online shopping, ecommerce customer service has become a focal point for most businesses.
Every online customer knows they can share reviews across a range of different social media platforms. With one simple tweet, status update, or blog post, they can reach thousands of people right away.
In one negative post from a dissatisfied customer, lies the potential to ruin your brand image. With that in mind, it’s vital you provide the best customer service possible.
Customer service should form the center of your ecommerce business strategy because by providing excellent service, you create satisfied customers.
Let's have a look at the 13 best practices to improve ecommerce customer service for your business.
1. Develop an omnichannel strategy
An omnichannel strategy blends different promotional and distribution channels, positioning you to reach, connect, and build rapport with your customers all into one. An effective omnichannel strategy for retail is often optimized for results — that’s the end goal.
There is fierce competition in ecommerce throughout the world today, so when brands are unable to determine the best channel to use for customer service, they suffer.
However, If you want to deliver top-notch customer service, you can’t rely on one channel only. The days of limiting customers are gone.
Are your customers on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram? Do they prefer to be serviced by email or phone calls? No problem. Make it happen. Developing a multichannel strategy means you can be wherever your customers need you to be.
A study by Aberdeen Group found that companies with the strongest multichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers.
The goal is to take the service directly to your customers — they shouldn’t have to come and ask for it. Give them an easier life by removing the pain of waiting days for a response.
When you establish these ecommerce customer service channels, ensure you let your customers know about the options available to them. But most importantly, deliver quality customer service across all the channels you provide.
2. Offer live chat
Live chat applications on websites provide a quick means of communication with customer service representatives and a way to resolve customers’ challenges.
There are many reasons you can benefit from offering a live chat service on your ecommerce website. Not least the fact that customers love it. According to Econsultancy, live chat is the preferred method for customer service.
Customers may decide to leave your website if they face challenges in trying to purchase, but with live chat in place, they can quickly contact you to resolve them. It also provides a perfect point of contact for queries regarding product warranty, return policy, and payment process.
Adding live chat into your customer service strategy is a no-brainer.
If you’re already providing live chat on your ecommerce site, check your chat history periodically to see how effective your conversations with customers have been.
Let's check out some more strategies to improve ecommerce customer service.
3. Proactive customer service
Excellent customer service practices create positive relationships. In order to offer exceptional customer service, adopt a proactive customer service approach, dealing with potential issues before they arise. When ecommerce companies operate in this way, they are seen as partners, rather than abstract organizations.
According to one report, 50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves and 70% expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.
A FAQs section including answers to all the commonly asked questions gives customers access to instant solutions without needing to contact customer support. It’s still important to display contact information clearly, though, so that customers can easily reach you if they can’t handle the issue themselves.
If you want to deliver better-personalized experiences that resonate with your customers, check out this podcast on how to improve your service and brand on Shopify and beyond.
4. Personalize your email campaigns
A study has shown that 94% of businesses agree that personalization is critical to their success, yet many ecommerce websites still send this type of email:
Emails without personalization are easy to ignore. They do not directly address the customer — perhaps they even think it’s an error, or simply nothing to do with them. A personalized message mentioning your customer’s name, on the other hand, makes customers feel acknowledged and boosts email open rates.
Have a look at this:
This email is clearly going to perform better than the previous one. Just by mentioning their name inside the body of the message, you make things so much more personal.
Here's a more technical way to improve ecommerce customer service.
5. Forecast inventory need
Forecasting your inventory needs in advance helps fulfill customer demands on time.
- Calculate your reordering point - how much to order and when.
Ordering excess quantities will result in carrying the cost of inventory, whereas ordering less will result in an increased need to replenish stock.
The below calculations show you the exact number of items that you need to order at any particular time.
If you know you reorder point, you can plan your purchases in advance and make sure you have the right amount of inventory at the right time.
Reorder Point Calculation
Reorder point = (Lead Time + Safety Level Stock + Basic Stock) * Unit Sales
LEAD TIME: The number of days between issuing a purchase order and receiving the product(s).
SAFETY LEVEL STOCK: The number of days’ worth of inventory you keep in case of emergency.
BASIC STOCK: The number of days’ worth of inventory you normally keep to hand.
UNIT SALES PER DAY: The average number of products you sell each day.
Safety Level Stock Calculation
Safety Level Stock = (Maximum Daily Consumption * Maximum procurement time in days ) - ( Average Daily Consumption * Average procurement time in days)
6. Optimize and automate online order fulfillment
If you haven’t already, it’s high time to move away from a manual order fulfillment system to an automated one. Manual order fulfillment systems are slow, inefficient, and prone to human error. Using an automated system to handle the whole process from beginning to end will save you time, improve your productivity, and increase customer satisfaction.
One of the best examples of this is Amazon FBA - If you are using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) for stocking and shipping, the service simplifies things by fulfilling orders on your behalf.
Using Amazon FBA, you can calculate the shipping costs in real-time from various sources and choose the most cost-effective service.
About half-way done with our list of improving ecommerce customer service, let's keep going.
7. Find the gaps in your order management process
This is a common problem in the ecommerce industry. When parts of the order management process system aren’t effectively stitched together, then issues can arise and inaccuracies abound.
Gaining visibility in the order fulfillment process is the most important aspect of a successful order delivery model. If the fulfillment process is not streamlined, businesses end up sending the wrong order, or customers miss out on the delivery entirely.
Automation helps guard against this issue as it cuts out the human error that is so often the cause for these kinds of miscommunications.
This next one is a great way to improve ecommerce customer service.
8. Sell your brand via storytelling
Enough with the sales emails, blog posts, and other marketing content. Start telling your brand story in a way that resonates with your customers, leaving them wanting to buy.
Customers don’t like being sold to, but engaging them with the information they are looking for, and is consistent with your brand, will keep your brand fresh in their mind, turning them into brand advocates.
Rather than being pushy, content marketing allows you to create value for your customers and encourage them to buy.
A good example of a storytelling business is the jewelry brand Dannijo, founded by sisters Danielle and Jodie Snyder in 2008. They believe trustworthy storytelling is the key to creating a successful brand. The sisters use Instagram to display snaps of their own lives, along with lifestyle pictures including their products, and photos of celebrities or models wearing them.
9. Connect and engage with mobile customers
Your customers are mobile-savvy, so you should be too. Ensure that your payment processor accepts payments on mobile devices. Some ecommerce sites don’t provide payment options for mobile users, but that is a sure-fire way to miss out on sales. No customer wants to pick out what they want to buy, only to find they can’t then checkout.
Providing a secure mobile payment system for your customers makes complete sense. Neglect mobile customers at your peril.
10. Offer 24-hour phone support
In some situations, customers prefer talking to a customer representative over the phone. If possible, develop 24-hour phone support capabilities to meet these needs and keep customers engaged.
There are several products available to take voicemails when you’re not online. However, with a 24-hour live answering service, you give your customers the chance to communicate with a real person whenever they want.
The human touch has a real impact. Invest in this level of support and watch your ecommerce customer service inspire customers and drive more sales.
11. Use ecommerce customer service software
When a customer query gets spread across multiple representatives, it can be frustrating. There’s a real danger that customers may not get their questions answered properly. It’s not fair to force your customers to explain their issues over and over again.
Using conversational customer experience software helps you streamline the process — the most popular way of tackling problems is through ticketing.
According to SalesForce, “CRM is a strategy for managing all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. It helps you stay connected to them, streamline processes and improve your profitability.”
A good ecommerce customer service software will make life easy for you through automation and help you make informed decisions to increase your ROI.
12. Measure customer satisfaction
Measuring your customer satisfaction is important because it’s the most relevant yardstick for improving your overall customer service and marketing strategy.
If you’re using CRM software, you can ask customers to complete surveys after each customer support session, recording how they feel about the service they received. You could even send a follow-up email asking them to share their experience or to write a short review you can put on your website or social media.
It’s simple, but this type of feedback is extremely effective, providing invaluable insights into what you’re doing well, and what you could do better.
13. Show billing history
Customers want access to their invoices, their purchase history, every transaction, and inquiry they’ve made. They should be able to see all of this on their dashboards. Make sure everything is available and can be easily accessed.
If for any reason they can’t access this data at some point, let them know the reasons so they don’t get unduly worried.
The last word on ecommerce customer service
If you want to grow your ecommerce business, provide customers with an unrivaled experience. With proper planning, strategy, and by implementing some of the ideas detailed in this post, your ecommerce business can be a success.
How has your online store improved ecommerce customer service? Was it anything from this list or something we missed? Let us know in the comments.