Businesses selling across multiple platforms in 2022 have one thing in common: a universal understanding that delivering top-notch eCommerce customer service is key to generating positive customer reviews, earning customer loyalty, and boosting sales.
With eCommerce more popular than ever, it’s clear that eCommerce businesses across all verticals must prioritise customer service at the heart of their business strategy in 2022.
This guide aims to help businesses navigate through customer service best practices that will generate success in 2022 and beyond to start the year off right.
Defining eCommerce customer service
It is what it states on the tin: eCommerce customer service is the support an eCommerce business provides to its online shoppers. Part of an integrated customer service strategy, the tactics that businesses take to improve their customer service offerings can take many forms. Tactics can range from assisting a customer who has a problem with their order to providing in-depth answers to questions from a prospective buyer.
As an increasing number of shoppers move online, the importance of eCommerce customer support will continue to grow. A rise in volume naturally lends itself to a need for greater customer service support. Furthermore, as the eCommerce market matures, buyer expectations will rise accordingly.
Most customers expect to have access to speedy, polite and helpful eCommerce customer service through a range of channels, from social media to email. While there’s a baseline level of expectation of service, providing a better customer experience is also something customers are willing to pay for. According to a report from PwC, 73% of consumers said customer experience influences what they buy – and 42% are happy to pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. For businesses, this means that perfecting eCommerce customer service can translate into more conversions and a healthier bottom line.
Evaluate your eCommerce customer service
To start the year off on the right track, eCommerce businesses should ensure that providing excellent customer service is integral to their business strategy for the year ahead. To lay the proper foundation, a helpful methodology is to begin by evaluating how the business is currently performing with regard to customer service and satisfaction. Both quantitative and qualitative metrics play an essential role in this.
Numbers speak volumes, but they don’t tell the whole story; a qualitative approach is needed to unearth customers’ true feelings and opinions of their experiences with a business. To understand how they can perform better for their customers, a good place for businesses to start is by speaking to customers directly with the express purpose of identifying their feedback on past experiences and future needs and wants. This includes conducting interviews, surveys and looking at the customer service metrics already in place.
While this may sound daunting, it needn’t be. Businesses can gather feedback simply by using a service such as Survey Monkey, populated with strategically open-ended questions for customers. The survey can be promoted by featuring it in the customer newsletter or adding it to an email template.
For businesses already using eCommerce customer support software, factors to look at include:
- Ticket volumes
- Ticket types
- Response times
These factors will provide helpful insight into how the current customer service programme is progressing and the value it provides customers. For example, it’s understandable that sales around Christmas or Black Friday can cause a jump in messages, but identifying a constant influx of tickets can be a red flag that the eCommerce customer support strategy needs improvement.
Provide multichannel eCommerce customer service
Today, most eCommerce businesses sell across multiple online platforms. It is common for customers to submit their queries through those channels – or by email, or through social media. An evergreen stalwart, the phone is still a common channel through which customers contact businesses, even in today’s digital era of instant messaging.
Whether a business is solely focused on eCommerce or a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer with an online presence, modern customers expect an omnichannel experience. A recent study showed that most in-store shoppers prefer to consult reviews on their phone rather than talk to a clerk.
People generally prefer to help themselves when shopping online too. But if they do reach out, they often use social media. Why? Because it’s easy. For this reason, big names like Sony, Nike and Dollar Shave Club have social media accounts specifically for providing customer support for eCommerce buyers.
Luckily, eCommerce customer service software, such as eDesk, will help businesses take control of customer communication across all of their sales channels, including social media, Amazon, eBay and the brand’s own website.
Fast responses are a must
In the digital age, people expect instant responses. But so do eCommerce platforms like Amazon. Slow responses not only frustrate customers but also tarnish your reputation as an online seller too.
One recent survey showed that over 80% of consumers assume eCommerce customer support teams will respond to emails within 24 hours. Amazon shares this viewpoint; taking longer than a day to answer customer messages on its marketplace is against the eCommerce giant’s policy. Amazon sellers who violate this policy and take longer than a day to reply will be penalised with a ‘late response’ mark against their account, negatively impacting their eCommerce metrics.
When an online order goes wrong, customers can feel powerless. But, equally, so can eCommerce businesses. It’s not always possible to fully control a sophisticated chain of events such as supplier quality, warehouse mix-ups or delivery schedules. This is why it is more important than ever for businesses to take control of the things they can, namely their eCommerce customer support. Live chat tools and pre-filled response templates help businesses stay on top of incoming requests and have more control over even tricky situations.
Influence the whole customer journey
The customer journey is about every single touchpoint a customer has with a business – not just the support team. Ideally, eCommerce businesses aim to provide an excellent experience for customers every step of the way. Doing so increases satisfaction and decreases incoming requests for support.
For example, fashion brands like Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo make the returns process easy by providing convenient access to all the necessary details on their websites. Another leader in customer service for eCommerce is Zappos. As well as free returns, the online clothing retailer goes above and beyond to provide useful content at an even earlier stage of the customer journey.
Zappos provides customers with detailed images and videos showing their products from every angle imaginable. Unlike other sites, this promise ensures that customers know what the soles of their new shoes will look like before they arrive at the door. Zappos also offers extra information about whether its product sizes run small or large, so customers don’t have to ask. This cuts down on superfluous queries while demonstrating to the customer that the brand is always thinking one step ahead (pardon the pun.)
While some businesses might not have the resources to implement this level of eCommerce customer service, more straightforward measures can be just as effective, such as adding a size chart to product pages or including returns information at the bottom of each order confirmation. Such small changes can significantly improve a brand’s overall customer journey whilst reducing incoming queries.
Request feedback to bolster your brand
Businesses that provide excellent customer service reap the reward of having a satisfied customer base. Why not leverage that satisfaction to encourage customers to leave a review? Here are some reasons why encouraging reviews is a surefire tactic:
1. It builds trust in the brand
Many consumers check reviews and ratings before making a purchase, so the more reviews available, the better. When customers can see reviews from real, verified customers, it wins trust in the business and its brand. Knowing that others have had a positive experience will make potential customers more likely to take the plunge to make the purchase.
Reviews are also great for sharing on your website or social media to add third-party validation for a company’s product or service.
2. It boosts the brand’s standing on Amazon…and elsewhere
How many reviews a business has and how positive they are is one of the most important ranking factors for Amazon’s algorithm. This can even help Amazon sellers outrank competitors with lower pricing and help win the coveted Buy Box.
Outside of Amazon, positive reviews will also help sellers win the Best Match position on eBay, giving significantly better visibility to their products. Receiving positive Google Reviews can improve a business’s ranking in search results too.
3. It allows businesses to listen and make adjustments to their service
Even the most negative reviews have an upside. The information provided allows businesses to improve their service and future-proof the business. According to research, only 1 in 26 unhappy customers complain directly to a company. When a customer offers constructive feedback, it can be a valuable chance for the business to take the feedback on board, address the issue and make necessary improvements. Doing so can win those customers back and gain new ones.
Respond to both positive and negative feedback
Negative customer feedback is every eCommerce business’s woe. Yet, it’s important to be polite and positive when responding to it. Not only can negative feedback provide valuable insight into broken systems or unresolved details, but the response that a business gives will have an impact on brand perception. Staying professional and avoiding defensiveness will directly affect customers watching interactions online.
Responding to all types of customer feedback (both positive and negative) in a constructive, professional ‘brand voice’ will help develop the brand and positively affect how the public views it. This is an often overlooked aspect of eCommerce customer service that businesses must learn to excel at to maximise sales.
The bad: listen and learn
When people complain, it can hurt internal pride and morale, but it’s important to remember not to take bad feedback personally. An unsatisfied customer isn’t necessarily a lost customer; the business can win customers back to generate future sales simply by listening and apologising. According to the Nottingham School of Economics, an apology costs nothing, but research shows it is a preferred tactic, even over monetary compensation. Showing genuine concern and apology to customers can go a long way.
Even scathing reviews can be turned into a positive for an eCommerce business. Those that are seen to respond constructively and quickly are received well by existing and potential customers. Doing so showcases the brand’s reliability and honesty – factors that help win future customers.
The good: show appreciation
Positive reviews can highlight the quality of a brand and generate a positive brand perception. For these reasons, it’s important to show gratitude to positive reviewers for sharing their thoughts. A business can do so by implementing personalised thank-you emails or offering a friendly incentive, such as a voucher or discount code, to those who have left positive reviews. This may also encourage more people to follow suit in sharing their positive experiences.
On top of that, positive responses and interactions with customers in comments online can improve a brand’s ranking and visibility on the likes of Amazon and eBay – in the same way that receiving reviews helps.
In the past year, the pandemic drove many more people to shop online, and as we move into 2022, we’ll see the continued effect of new expectations on eCommerce brands and the standard of service they deliver.
eCommerce customer service is probably the most important differentiating factor online sellers can use to their advantage. Not only will a solid customer service strategy help to reduce returns and refunds, but it can also boost the visibility of your products on your website and the online marketplaces you sell on, building a healthier pipeline.
The brands that can appreciate the dramatic extent to which first-class customer service can boost online sales are those that will find themselves growing from strength to strength in 2022.
Book a demo to learn more about how eDesk can help your eCommerce business deliver extraordinary customer service every time.