The recent explosion of ecommerce has been something of a double-edged sword for hopeful entrepreneurs. On the one hand, all the different Shopify-style platforms out there have made starting your own business easier than ever. The flip side to this, of course, is that all these new businesses has made the competition very formidable. If you’ve been running your ecommerce store for long enough, you’ll know that it’s a tough market out there. However, you can still set your business apart from the rest by making sure your customer service is excellent. Here’s some valuable advice for delivering customer service that will have people coming back again and again.
One feature which will make sure you’re giving your customers exceptional service is a live chat. We live in an age of mass communication. These days, if consumers have a problem with a product or service, they expect to be able to get onto a social media platform, and be able to talk through an IM interface with someone who can answer their questions. Your customers aren’t going to be any different, so don’t let them down by not setting up a live chat on your site! You can use this to handle sales enquiries, get in some direct upselling, resolving problems and anything else which requires a direct line to your customer. Compared to phone calls, a live chat can help you stay more productive, as you can keep pre-written responses handy for those questions that keep coming up.
You can save even more time on customer enquiries by cutting them out altogether, and putting up a handy FAQs page. This is the more straightforward cousin to your live chat, and can make it so much easier to deliver great customer service. The main advantage here is that you’ll save a lot of time which would otherwise be spent manning your live chat and replying to social media messages. Similar to knowledge bases, FAQ pages will also give you a slight SEO edge. You’ll be able to add some natural length to some of your pages, and use this to squeeze in some more keyword-rich content.
A clear and straightforward returns policy is another feature which can really improve the standard of customer service at your ecommerce business. It may be hard to believe, but it’s actually possible to write a returns policy that has a direct, positive impact on your conversion rate. Returns, although you don’t want a lot of them, are just another part of doing business. Just like any facet of your business, you should pay a lot of consideration to how it will affect your customer’s opinion of your brand. Look at your current public returns policy. If it reads like a contract; one long column of indecipherable legalese, then there are some changes which need to be made. If you have a customer who wants to make a return, they’re already going to be frustrated with something about the product. Then, when they look for your returns policy and find a load of gobbledygook, they’re going to end up feeling even worse. Even if they jump through all the hoops and make the return, you can be certain they’re not going to come back for another purchase. You should have a returns policy that’s simple enough for you to recite in person off the top of your head.
Getting some customer service software could be another smart move towards making your customer service the best it can be. As a B2C business owner, I’m sure you realise how important your customers are, and do everything you can to stay on top of queries, suggestions and complaints. The issue here is that there are so many different channels of communication your customers could use that it can be hard to stay on top of it all manually. You finally polish off that Facebook post, call a customer back about a problem they’ve had with their product, and in the mean time someone else has sent you several emails that are being ignored. Using some good customer service software can help you avoid these kinds of mishaps. This kind of software gives you access to a centralised helpdesk, where you can link up your social media accounts, live chat, and even a VOIP phone system. A ticketing system will ensure you’re getting to everyone’s queries on a first-come, first-serve basis. Overall, you’ll be able to maintain a much more transparent chain of customer interaction, and ensure your replies are reaching your customers faster.
Make sure you’re keeping high standards and sticking to them when it comes to shipping. Here, we come to one of the few downsides to the ecommerce business model. In a physical retail outlet, your customers come in, pick up the product they want, pay and leave. Although logistics are very streamlined these days, this process is a little more complex for an ecommerce business. The big cornerstone to good shipping is making sure orders are met on time. All products should be packaged and shipped on the day of the order, and insured against any loss or damages. Furthermore, it’s almost a given that you offer your customers free shipping. There have been countless cases where a customer fills up their ecommerce shopping cart, gets to the checkout, realise they have to pay for shipping, and abandon the cart. No matter how stylish or unique your products are, it’s almost certain that your customers will have some alternative store in mind that will ship their orders for free. Whether it adds to your product prices or comes out of your profits, free shipping is a key feature to great customer service. Of course, if your store is only being run by a handful of people, then it can be pretty hard to establish this kind of smooth, streamlined system. In your early days, it may be worth outsourcing product fulfilment.
Taking advantage of video content is another great way to raise the bar for your customer service. Both before and after sales, video content can be a fantastic extension of your self-service features, especially if your products or services aren’t exactly self-explanatory. Video content in general now makes up a massive proportion of the web, and your customers will be much more receptive to it compared to masses of text. “Getting started” videos which walk your customer through their first use of your product, along with simple tutorials on some of the things you’d use your product for, are extremely valuable when it comes to giving your customers a better experience. The idea of investing in videos may be a little frightening, but they don’t have to be expensive. Modern iPhones shoot in great quality, and screen capture tools can be handy for tech products.
Finally, realise that improving your customer service isn’t a one-off job. After making these kinds of changes to your ecommerce store, you need to measure your customer satisfaction on a continuous basis, and keep on tweaking the little things. Some customer service programs will allow you to send out surveys to people after they make a purchase, and present the data in easy-to-digest way. CSAT scores, for example, are an easy way to gauge how good your customer service is, and the feedback will show you the exact areas where you need to follow up. Other testing and analytics systems can give you valuable insights into where your site could be improved. Business is constantly changing, and so are your customer’s standards!