Elevating Your Ecommerce Customer Service: Tips and Techniques
Owning and running an eCommerce or online business can be a fun and rewarding venture. With more and more people shopping solely online, there’s an opportunity to grow your e- commerce business to great heights.
One of the main things that online businesses struggle with is providing the customer service that one can get in an in-person store. How can you ensure you provide the best customer service experience without in-person customer interactions?
If you’re looking for ways to improve your customer service in your online business, be sure to check out these tips and techniques to enhance your customer support team.
When it comes to owning and running your eCommerce business, providing excellent customer service is vital. If you’re looking for ways to help you take your customer experience to the next level, implementing better customer service practices is the way to go. We’re here to help you understand these practices and how they can positively affect your eCommerce business.
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How Can I Provide Excellent Customer Service for My eCommerce Business?Providing excellent customer service isn’t something too challenging, but learning how to do it well in an online space has its own challenges. E-commerce customer service is about being present for your customers and understanding their frustrations. Here are a few ways to provide top-notch customer service, regardless of the type of eCommerce business you have.
Having Multiple Customer Service ChannelsSince you’re an online store, a customer can’t waltz into a store and ask to speak to the manager. So you’ll want to have more than one customer service channel to better serve your customers. When you give people more than one option on how to get in touch with you or your customer service agents, they’re likely to be more satisfied with your business. Not everyone wants to make phone calls or can, and sometimes people prefer to speak to someone directly and not over email or live chat. Either way, providing at least two communication channels is sure to improve your customer service drastically. When you have positive customer reviews about your customer service and business, you’ll see an increase in online shoppers. Potential customers will start shopping with you because others trust you. You might not be able to provide a lot of options, but sitting down and assessing what is realistically doable for your business is necessary. It’s better to have one or two channels that you can work with effectively than three that you only sometimes succeed with.
Answering Customer Service Inquiries Promptly
It’s not enough to offer various methods of customer service. You have to be able to answer all inquiries promptly. When online shoppers wait for hours, days, or even weeks to hear from you about their customer service questions or concerns, customer satisfaction will decrease.
It can give them the impression that you don’t really care about your customers. Frankly, you won’t be living up to customer expectations because all customers assume businesses care about the people who shop for their products.
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to answer all customer service inquiries the second they come through, but that’s not always realistic. Sure, if you’re a larger eCommerce business, then you might have a large customer service team who can handle immediate replies, but not everyone can.
You’ll want to keep your average reply time consistent. Even if it’s not the fastest time out there, at least your customers and potential customers will know what to expect when reaching out to you.
Response times will vary depending on the time of day and how many you have to get through, but make sure you reply as quickly as possible can help keep online customers happy. Having proactive customer service is a surefire way to elevate your eCommerce business.
Training All Employees on Excellent Customer Service Practices
Even if you have a dedicated customer service team, ensuring that all people working at your online store know how to use the customer service channels and provide high-quality service is a good idea.
Whatever your customer service strategy is, ensuring all your employees have the knowledge base to provide a good customer experience will help you keep your loyal customers and gain some new ones.
Some ways you can provide training include:
- Technology training on your customer service software
- Using examples from past customer service experiences
- Educating them on the five A’s of customer service
Whether you want to train them on how to calmly handle upset customers, how to use communication channels, or something else, ongoing training is an excellent way to elevate your customer service.
Have a Dedicated Customer Service Team
You should have a dedicated customer service agent or team if you can afford to do so. This person’s sole job will be to handle complaints, comments, and concerns, so you can focus on other aspects of your eCommerce business.
They’ll be your go-to person for handling all complaints, and since they can focus on nothing but customer service, you’ll likely see a vast improvement in customer satisfaction and repeat customers.
Make Sure Your Return Policies Are Clear
While most companies do their best to clarify their return policies, these are at the root of many customer complaints. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that the return policy is clear on your website, and you can even go as far as to include it in the email confirmation of their purchase.
Clearly stating your return policy won’t stop people from having issues with returns, but it is a great way to help reduce the number of complaints due to people not being aware of return policies.
What Channels Should I Use for Customer Communication?
As we mentioned above, a great customer support strategy has multiple communication channels online shoppers can use. You’ll want to consider implementing four main channels to give your shoppers a seamless customer experience.
The first, and one of the best ways, to allow your customers to get in touch with customer service is via a phone call. Some people choose to use a central phone line, while others will get a phone number strictly for customer service inquiries.
It’s up to you which method you prefer, but allowing your online shoppers to speak to someone as they would in a physical store, is a great tactic. Many people prefer this method because average response times feel faster, even if they’re not.
Being able to speak verbally with a frustrated customer allows for a better customer service approach. It’s better because messages can often be misinterpreted over online chat or email. By speaking directly with the customer, you can easily convey your sympathy and create a safe space to handle the customer’s issue with your product or company.
Another popular communication channel for online customer support services is email. Most people will advertise their customer support email on their website somewhere so that people can have easy access to it if they need it.
Emails are a comfortable communication tool that is helpful in the online shopping experience. Many people feel more comfortable drafting an email to a company than talking to someone on the phone, so making sure this is an option will appeal to more customers.
The best part about customer queries in an email format is that you can effortlessly search through and find the conversations if you need to at a later date. This can help you review customer interactions and adjust your approach if necessary.
Depending on the size of your company, the level of customer service will vary when you’re using emails as a channel for communication. Some people can answer emails quickly, while average response times for this method of answering customer questions are lower than phone calls and live chat options.
Regardless of average response times, ensuring that you have the option for your customers to email you with questions, comments, and concerns will help you build a customer relationship and provide an excellent customer experience.
Lastly, an excellent customer service tool is live chat. Online chat options are increasingly popular among online stores and even your favorite brands with brick-and-mortar stores and websites.
As one of the most popular customer support channels, live chat software is necessary for operating an online business. As people shop around your website, they can see the online chat option on their screen, so they don’t need to navigate anywhere specific to find it.
This channel is geared more towards simple questions or concerns because there isn’t always a record of the live chat. Either way, most people have a positive experience with live chat because it’s a great way to get fast answers.
Average response times for online chat are far faster than emails and about the same with phone calls, depending on the size of your business. As a preferred channel, you’ll see a lot of happy customers from this method as long as you provide a personalized experience.
Use Social Media Platforms
Most online businesses have at least one social media platform. It helps give them a competitive advantage because they can reach more customers that they might not be able to reach otherwise.
The best part about social media platforms is that if you have them, you can use those as a customer service channel. Even if you don’t intend to use them for customer service, you’ll likely get customers reaching out via message or tags to get your attention.
Whether you’re utilizing Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or a combination of several social media sites, you’ll want to provide the same level of service across them all. So the best thing you can do is respond to these queries as quickly and as professionally as possible to ensure a consistent experience across all your customer service channels.
How Do I Handle Customer Complaints and Negative Reviews in the eCommerce Space?
One of the most challenging things when running any type of business, online or otherwise, is learning how to deal with complaints and negative reviews of your company effectively.
It can be challenging to stay calm and professional when someone is attacking you or leaving negative reviews, but it’s possible to do that.
Be sure to handle all customer service inquiries with grace, professionalism, and care to ensure you can help rectify the complaint or concern effectively. If you do this, you’ll be looking at a positive reputation for your customer service no matter what industry you’re in.
Here are some helpful tips for handling customer complaints and negative reviews.
Address Negative Reviews and Complaints With Grace
You’ll want to remain professional and friendly and handle the situation gracefully whenever you’re speaking with, chatting online, or emailing a customer.
It can be very hard to stay calm when someone is upset with you, but you have to do your best. Nothing positive will come out of the situation if you cannot keep your composure, even if someone yells at you. No one deserves someone to yell at them in customer service, but it does happen more than you would think.
The best thing you can do is to let the customer get all their anger and frustration out before communicating with them effectively. When they’re upset, they might not be thinking rationally. Once they calm down, you can begin to get to the root of the problem calmly and effectively.
No matter what the issue they have with your product or company, you’ll want to use a pleasant tone of voice and try to convey to them that you understand their frustrations, even if you don’t agree with them.
The same goes for if you’re responding to negative reviews on social media or other review websites. You never want to attack the customer back but reply with grace. Always follow the five A’s of customer service and ensure you’re acknowledging how they feel and that you understand why they’re less than thrilled.
Seek To Find Solutions the Customer Is Satisfied With
When handling customer questions, comments, concerns, or complaints, you’ll want to find a solution to their issue. If all they’re doing is asking questions about their order or general product information, this should be pretty easy.
Customer service can get a little more tricky when a customer is truly upset about something and you have to rectify the situation. Some options include replacing the product, giving them their money back, securing them a discount on their next purchase, etc.
How you solve the problem your customer is facing will ultimately be your choice. Just remember you can’t please everyone, but you’ll want to try and be consistent in your solutions so each customer has a similar experience. Having a similar experience and a solution to their issue will lead to a positive customer review and experience.
One of the things you’ll want to do when running your eCommerce business is to learn how effective your customer support is. Even companies with high-quality customer service have room for improvement.
But how do you track your effectiveness to know where you can make improvements and alter your approach? There are a few ways you can identify necessary improvements and measure how well your customer service approaches are.
Tracking Loyalty Rates
Most business owners’ goal is to have a lot of customers, but preferably loyal customers who will return again and again. There are several ways that you can build relationships with your customers and turn them into loyal ones; the main one has excellent customer service.
If you’re not sure how many of your customers are actually repeat customers, you can use various software to help you have a better idea of your loyalty rates.
There are several kinds of software out there that can help you do this. Many of them will be able to provide you with other analytics that can benefit your company’s growth too. Each software will track customer loyalty in a different way, but you’ll see similar results across the options.
The software will use customer analytics to understand how many times customers visit your website, which pages they visit the most frequently, and how often those website clicks convert to sales.
Having a better idea of who your loyal customers are and what products or services they’re regularly coming back for can help you provide a better customer experience for them. If you begin tracking loyalty rates and see that they’re not where you want them to be, altering your customer service approach might show you an increase in these rates.
You might have to change some approaches a few times to see the loyalty rates you want, but utilizing software that will gather the data for you is a step in the right direction.
Watching for Customer Satisfaction
When you have loyal customers, it’s safe to assume that customer satisfaction is high enough since they continue to return to your online shop for something. But loyalty isn’t the only way to gauge customer satisfaction.
Sure, loyal and repeat customers are great, but not everyone returns to a shop. That doesn’t automatically mean that they have a negative experience with your company. Many customers visit a website only once and have a great experience.
Monitoring your customer satisfaction will allow you to tweak your customer service approach to improve the statistics if you feel like they’re not where you want them to be. Even if you have high customer satisfaction rates, there’s always room for a little improvement. So, how do you watch for customer satisfaction?
As Customers For Feedback
One of the best ways to gauge how satisfied a customer is with your company, service, or customer service is to ask them.
We’re not saying get a list of phone numbers from your previous customers and start calling them asking for feedback, though. A great way that you can ask them for their feedback is at the end of a phone call, email, or at the end of a live chat conversation.
You can ask them how their customer service experience was but ask them to rate it on a scale, describe the experience, or however else you want. Most people will respond to these messages or questions since they’re actively speaking with you.
Create Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Another great way that you, as a business owner, can gather information on how happy your customers are with your customer service and other aspects of your business is through surveys.
Not everyone will participate in these surveys, but you’d be surprised by how many people actually take the time to fill them out. You can make it as short or as long as you want, but the shorter, the better because most people don’t want to fill out lengthy surveys.
How you’ll approach the surveys will be up to you. You can send them out to email addresses you have on file from orders, attach them to order receipts, or another way. If you notice that not a lot of people are filling out your survey, you can offer discounts on their next order or other incentives to encourage customers and potential customers to fill it out.
Remember, while surveys are helpful in gauging customer satisfaction, they’re not everything. There will be several customers who don’t fill them out, so it won’t be able to give you a total picture of all your customers, but it’s still helpful.
Look at Reviews
Looking at reviews that customers have left on your website, Yelp, or other review websites is a helpful way to measure customer satisfaction.
Most people only leave reviews if they’re over the moon or excessively upset about a company, but more and more online shoppers are leaving reviews that aren’t polarizing one way or another.
You’ll want to take each negative review with a grain of salt and read through all the reviews carefully to see what you’re doing well and where improvements could be made. For the most part, many of these reviews are personal opinions and not a real glimpse at your business, but there should be some helpful information in them that you can use to improve customer service.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s much to learn about providing good customer service as an online business. Here are some common questions other business owners are asking.
What are the five A’s of customer service?
The five A’s of customer service are to apologize for the error, acknowledge that you see their frustration, appreciate their business and honesty, act, and then audit. Following this protocol when dealing with demanding or upset customers will help you improve your customer retention and service.
Does my business need a dedicated eCommerce customer service team?
Depending on your eCommerce store’s size, you might need a dedicated customer service team. This way, each customer can get personalized support and feel seen. If you’re a minor operation, you might be able to get away without a specific customer service team. Still, you’ll want to train all employees on how to handle customer service situations.
How can excellent customer service affect your eCommerce company’s growth?
Having excellent customer service is one of the best ways to grow your online business. Happier customers lead to more loyalty, newer customers, and, eventually, higher conversion rates.
What is one of the key factors for customer service in eCommerce?
Customer satisfaction is one of the critical factors. You’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure that all your customers are satisfied with their service. It’s the best way to build customer loyalty and get more positive reviews.
What factors drive customer loyalty?
Factors that help drive customer loyalty are having consistently high-quality products, a great customer service team, a community, and when you listen to customer feedback and take it into consideration for further products.
What’s the most popular communication channel for online businesses?
Customer service representatives can use a variety of channels for online businesses, but the most common is live chat. This is because they can speak with more customers quicker than being on one phone call at a time, and many customers are more comfortable with this channel.
Grow Your Business Through Customer Service for eCommerce With These Tips
Providing excellent customer service in the eCommerce space is crucial for building a successful business and retaining loyal customers. One way to achieve this is by having a dedicated customer service team that handles all complaints and concerns, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
It’s also important to ensure that your return policies are clear and accessible to customers. Offering multiple communication channels, such as phone calls, emails, live chat, and social media platforms, allows customers to reach out to you through their preferred method.
When dealing with customer complaints and negative reviews, always approach them with grace and professionalism. Seek solutions that satisfy the customer and work towards resolving their issues effectively.
Measuring the effectiveness of your customer service efforts is essential for identifying areas of improvement. You can do this by tracking loyalty rates, monitoring customer satisfaction, asking customers for feedback, and creating customer satisfaction surveys. Analyzing reviews left by customers on your website or other review websites can also give you valuable insights into areas where improvements could be made.
By following these guidelines and continuously improving your customer service approach, you can enhance customer satisfaction, build lasting relationships with your customers, and ultimately, grow your eCommerce business.
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