It’s time for another entry about e-commerce. We’ve often advised you what can be improved on your website (and how to do it) to attract, rather than repel, users. In this article, we will focus on a slightly broader perspective of online stores functioning, and more specifically – on customer service. So grab a cup of hot tea (although any other beverage will be fine too) and discover the 6 elements you should really take care of in e-commerce customer service.
Online stores have their own rules. The difference between contacting an offline and online client is really significant, which is why it’s so important to blur the difference in communication. Distance, slow reaction time, arising doubts… these are just some of the factors that may prevent users from completing the transaction in your online store. Your main job is therefore to dispel all doubts and to simplify the shopping process as much as possible.
We have already mentioned on our blog how important for your business are repeat customers. We even advised how to get repeat customers in e-commerce — check out this entry! Why am I mentioning this? Efficient service can be the key to success in attracting loyal customers for your brand. Just think, if they’re satisfied, they’ll come back to you, and that’s exactly what you want to achieve, right?
What’s more, consistently good service = great customer relations. This, of course, can result in positive opinions, reviews, recommendations – all of which we want as many as possible. It’s worth mentioning the social proof, of course, but I will devote more attention to it later in the article.
What is the recipe for successful customer service? Stand in your customers’ shoes and make sure you serve them the way you would like to be served. I know, “easy to say, difficult to do.” We don’t want to leave you alone with this issue, which is why below we present a few important aspects that are worth your attention. Or maybe you’ll find something here that needs to be improved?
So let’s start!
6 Elements of E-commerce Customer Service
1. The E-commerce Website
Let’s start with the website. You’re wondering why? However strange it may sound, you are serving a potential customer even before you actually start doing it 😉. To avoid misunderstanding, let’s get straight to the point. The service doesn’t just involve direct contact with your customers who contact you to ask about delivery time or product features. The service starts when the user first interacts with your website and your brand. And it ends… well, it actually doesn’t end but I’ll come back to that. That’s why in this entry we will discuss the elements, not only the direct ones, which have an impact on the general perception of the service quality in the online store. And the website is one of them.
Here, the rule of “good first impression” really works. What is the main purpose of having an online store?
(A moment for reflection)
Conversion! Simply put, all roads should lead to sales. You have high website traffic, but lack of conversion? Read the entry on our blog, in which you will discover 12 reasons for the lack of conversion at your store. Let us help you and find out how to increase your sales!
But coming back to the topic… Start by choosing the right platform (you will find an entry on our blog indicating the most crucial factors you need to consider when choosing CMS), which will make the shopping process much easier for users. Then consider the design, structure, and intuitiveness of your store – this part seems pretty obvious. Just think: so you’re waiting for a phone call/e-mail/message ready to answer users’ questions, but if your store is poorly structured and the users don’t even know where to report particular problems, then your customer service is for nothing.
Remember: a website is a place that should gather and, in an easy and quick way, provide all the most important information about your business.
2. Direct contact with customers
Okay, so now we can move on to direct contact with customers. Let’s assume that your online store is perfectly built, meets all the expectations, users have found everything they needed and go to the shopping cart. However, something keeps them from buying… some doubts arise. They get to the contact form and decide to send an inquiry. Try to guess: how quickly should you respond to them? As quickly as possible.
There is no strictly specified response time. When it comes to phone contact, it would be ideal if you respond immediately; in the case of contact form – within the next few hours. In general, whether it is a chat, contact form, or Facebook fanpage, your response should be as quick as possible. After all, we want to dispel any doubts that may arise and to lead to the finalization of the transaction – you don’t want your potential customer to change their mind, or even worse, to discourage them permanently from shopping in your store.
Another issue is the way you answer questions. I’m addressing you, but, of course, this applies to all those who are responsible for direct contact with customers. Try to speak a language that is simple, comprehensible, and user-friendly – avoid excessive jargon. Respond adequately and give precise information, however, don’t forget the friendly tone. You don’t have to be overly nice, that’s not the point – people don’t like when someone acts unnaturally. Just remember, mutual frustration won’t help either you or your customers. You’re here for them and try to show it. Don’t forget that when customers contact you directly, you’re the one who represents the brand.
Friendly relations with customers can really do a lot of good. You fight not only for a regular customer of your brand but also for positive opinions, comments, recommendations, and so on. One of the best selling methods in an online store is social proof. Man is a social being – if something works for others, we are more likely to try it out on our own. So you should fight for customers who will recommend your brand to other people, increasing your sales.
3. Choice of the right employees
Since we are dealing with the issue of direct contact, let’s talk for a moment about people who are working with you for your mutual success. These are both your employees and people or companies you cooperate with. Let’s start with your employees, i.e. customer service center. Its work is focused on processes that require regular observation and improvement. As I have already mentioned above, it is the employees who contact customers that are your showcase – that’s why it’s worthwhile to constantly improve the way they work. However, I would like to point out that this is not just control for control’s sake. The goal is to improve the processes that bust your sales.
Okay, so now let’s focus on external collaborators. Let’s just say that the customer hasn’t met any problems on our website, has smoothly gone through the whole shopping process and is currently waiting for the order to be delivered. At that point, the delivery company that you choose to cooperate with plays a major role – it is important whether it delivers the order on time and how efficient the service is. It’s best to consider this matter carefully before choosing a particular company to start a cooperation.
Of course, let’s not get crazy. Unfortunately (or fortunately) you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, you can’t control everything. However, try to control and improve the processes that in some way represent your brand, and this will certainly bring you tangible benefits.
And I mean the entire process: from accepting the order to delivering it. Just remember, I’m not talking here about customer service in general, but about a specific order. Until the moment of “add to the shopping cart”, your website and the offer should be sufficient and provide relevant information – unless a customer asks you for help. In such a situation, you will enter the game.
Let’s say that the user has decided to become your customer and make an order. You should inform about delivery costs, various options (give a choice!), delivery time and current order status. From now on, the slogan of this paragraph is “transparency“, which is what you want to stand out from. Some of the information can be included at the product specification stage (learn how to write attractive product specifications), others later in the purchasing process.
A common (and great) solution adopted by many brands is sending information emails about the status of the order. But! Do it properly. Don’t send too many emails, because it will irritate the customer – that’s not the point. Make sure the emails you send are of real value. Inform that the order has been accepted – send a short summary and ensure that it has been completed. In the next message, you can notify that the order has been sent. In the last e-mail, in addition to the information about the order delivery, you can thank for shopping and encourage further visits to the store. Let your customers feel well-cared for and informed.
Yes, the product itself also represents the quality of your service. The way the order was packed as well as its look and quality really matter. Your product represents the quality of the store and the whole brand. So, taking into account the condition in which it will be delivered, you not only provide good quality service but also show respect for your customer.
As I said, you can’t control everything. In some situations, there’s nothing else you can do but apologize and fix an error. But if you get a complaint for the fifth time saying that a vase ordered in your store has arrived at the customer broken, it means that the current way of packing is not sufficient and requires improvements as the product is clearly not well protected.
So now let’s move smoothly to the last point, which is…
6. Returns and complaints
Well, what can I say? It would be perfect if every product you sell was never sent back… but, as you already know, the reality is far from perfect. My advice is this: simplify the return and complaint process as best as you can. This way, you and your customer don’t waste energy and time.
Of course, you are not obliged to consider every refund request (or complaint). However, if you don’t see any specific reasons which definitely stop you from doing so, try to resolve such situations for the customer’s benefit.
As I mentioned before, customer service doesn’t end with sales, in fact, it doesn’t end at all. Just because customers return products doesn’t mean they will never shop in your store again. Don’t burn bridges 😉 Besides, returns or complaints (as in the case of a broken vase) you can turn into something good — for example, in identifying the weak points of your service and then eliminating them.
That’s all for today. As you can see, customer service gives you a pretty wide range of possibilities. Did any of these elements surprise you? Or would you like to add something else to that list? Let us know in the comments, we’ll be happy to know your opinion!