Most ecommerce customer service is conducted online, but that doesn’t mean it loses its personal touch – it just requires a slightly different approach. Here’s ten tips for providing exceptional customer service in the virtual world.
1. Know your brand
All great customer service – ecommerce or otherwise – starts with a strong understanding of what makes your brand different. Some experts even believe that your customer service is your brand. Clever marketing and beautiful design is essential, but it’s how you interact with customers that really counts. For example, if your brand is youthful and lighthearted, your customer service should be fun, upbeat and not too serious (while of course still being helpful). Inject your brand personality into every step of the customer journey.
2. Write scripts and guidelines
As your business grows, ecommerce customer service is one of the first things to be outsourced to a third party. Before you trust someone to handle customer requests, make sure they understand your brand as well as you do. Write scripts and detailed guidelines for your customer service team, so everyone is united in their approach. Consistency is key.
3. Provide instant support
In today’s digital age, people expect answers fast – especially when it comes to online shopping. Put processes in place to ensure you can answer questions any time, day or night. For example, install live chat software on your website, or hire virtual assistants across multiple time zones so there’s always someone manning the fort.
4. Get social
Social media now surpasses traditional customer service channels, such as phone and email, according to a recent report by Sprout Social. The report also found that 30 per cent of people will go to a competitor if a brand doesn’t respond, and that people expect a response within 4 hours or less. With these findings in mind, make sure you’re actively monitoring your social accounts for customer enquiries. Social media is about more than just content promotion – treat these platforms as two-way communication channels.
5. Make it easy for people to get in touch
Nothing sends a customer to a competitor faster than hard-to-find contact details. Make sure your contact information is clearly listed all over your website and social channels, so people can get in touch in a matter of moments. This is another reason why live chat is a great tool – it’s fast, it’s easy and your customers don’t even need to pick up the phone.
6. Answer the phone – every time
If someone does go out of their way to call you, make sure their call is answered – ideally by a customer service representative, at worst by an answering machine. If you don’t have the facilities to process phone enquiries, you might be better off removing your number from the website and concentrating on digital channels instead. Phone service does require time and manpower, but it’s the closest your customers can get to talking face-to-face with someone, so it’s often worth the investment.
7. Send follow-up emails
When a customer interaction comes to an end, send a follow-up email a few days later to see if they need any further assistance. This is a great way to show that you care and many people will appreciate the friendly gesture. You could also use this email for marketing purposes – for example, you could invite them to like your social media pages, or write a review about their customer experience on Facebook.
8. Publish your FAQs
How many times a day do you get asked the same question? Probably too many times to count. Publish your FAQs on your website and see if this minimises repetitive enquiries. More often than not, people will look for an FAQs section before getting in touch – remember, they want to find an answer to their question in the fastest time possible.
9. Simplify the small print
Customer service isn’t always about answering questions – often, it’s about making the purchasing process so clear that your customers don’t have any questions at all! Simplify your small print – such as shipping, returns policies, and terms & conditions – so that it’s easy to understand and makes your customers feel confident they are getting a great deal.
10. Plan ahead for busy times
When you’re running a major advertising campaign, coming up to peak shopping periods (such as Mother’s Day or Christmas), or experiencing fast growth, make sure you have enough staff and systems to handle an increase in customer enquiries. Every customer that reaches out could be a potential sale – give them all equal care and attention so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to convert.