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Tuesday 15th December 2020

Customer Service: Set Your eCommerce Business Up For Success In 2021

Emma Phillips

As you face more online competition than ever before, how can you stand out and really excel in meeting the changing expectations of your customers? In short, with excellent customer service.

86 percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for a positive experience with a brand. Flawless customer service has long been essential to keeping customers happy. No matter how impressive your eCommerce store is, don’t overlook the role of first-class customer service when it comes to standing out from the competition, earning customer loyalty and increasing conversions.

Why is great customer service key to eCommerce success?

In a year full of uncertainty and limited human interaction, customer service has become all the more important. From communication of product availability and delivery timescales, to answering queries from new online shoppers, the role of effective customer service has been magnified to not only keep customers happy, but to also keep them as customers.

The pandemic has seen more and more people turn online for their shopping needs, and for many, this has been their first eCommerce shopping experience. Used to direct communication in-store, the expectations of this new wave of online shoppers are very different. To earn their loyalty, providing comfort and familiarity through customer service is a must, and this means good old fashioned customer service needs to be translated into the digital space.

But this isn’t only about supporting new online shoppers. The world we now live in is also one of convenience. Today’s digital audience expect responses fast and through a multitude of channels. Customers want to communicate in a variety of ways and with 63 percent preferring email, 48 percent opting for phone, 42 percent choosing live chat and 36 percent turning to your ‘Contact Us’ form, it’s important to make your brand available where your customers need you.

Customer service and your team

20 percent of consumers expect to receive a response to their queries within one day, making setting up a dedicated customer service team as part of your eCommerce team structure crucial to ensure a positive shopping experience.

Your customer service team should be responsible for proactively meeting customer needs and promptly replying to questions such as product availability, product information, order and return enquiries, as well as resolving complaints – all which may be received from multiple channels.

Research by Zendesk found that 35 percent of customers expect to be able to contact the same customer service team through any communication channel. It’s therefore essential to create a streamlined internal process that supports your customer service team, ensuring all channels are easily accessible and closely monitored. This team will work closely alongside your fulfilment team to coordinate orders and returns efficiently so the same consideration should be given to creating internal processes.

Supplementing your eCommerce presence with much needed human interaction, your customer service team is a key voice for your brand. Speaking directly to your customers, this team are in a great position to gather valuable feedback that can be used to further improve your product offering and operations.

Customer service and loyalty

Did you know that 78 percent of shoppers claim to have backed out of a purchase due to poor customer experience? Customer service still plays the leading role when it comes to building and retaining customer loyalty.

With many brands adopting loyalty or rewards programmes to boost retention and stand out in a crowded market, it’s all too easy to forget that a customer’s first-hand experience with your brand holds the most weight. Whether they decide to purchase from you again and choose to recommend your brand to others is heavily influenced by the overall service they receive.

Ensuring consistent communication will support long term loyalty and much of this is intrinsically linked to your wider operations. From order confirmations to dispatch notifications and delivery updates, every touch point with your customers is an opportunity to demonstrate exemplary customer service.

Getting this right first, your business is then in the prime position to drive further engagement and build brand advocates through loyalty solutions such as LoyaltyLion and Smile.

Customer service and social media

Social media continues to open many doors for eCommerce brands, providing a platform to engage with your customers, promote your latest products, offer inspiration and even transact with emerging social commerce capabilities.

The great thing about social? It’s highly visible, allowing you to reach huge numbers of people. But the fact it’s highly visible can also be a downside, particularly when it comes to unhappy customers leaving negative comments and reviews.

We live in a world where our purchasing decisions are strongly led by what others think, with social media and reviews able to make or break a brand. It is human nature that we’re more likely to exert energy to ‘shout’ about a negative experience more so than we are a positive one. This makes the delicate handling of such comments and reviews with empathy and speed all the more important.

Customer service and your eCommerce store

As the digital face of your business, your eCommerce store should be leveraged to communicate everything your customers need to know such as delivery costs, returns processes, delivery timescales, product availability and cut off times and dates.

Clearly signposting customer service information at multiple touchpoints across their buying journey ensures users can quickly find the information they need when they need it. This could include your homepage, checkout, product pages or even a dedicated FAQ section too.

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to locate contact details when you already can’t find the information you want. Aim to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you from your website too. Your phone number, email address, social media channels and live chat should be clearly displayed in obvious places across your website and not hidden away.

Shopify Apps to support customer service

There are a number of third-party Shopify Apps available to support your customer service. The ones we most frequently implement for our clients include:

  • Gorgias: Designed specifically for Shopify and eCommerce, Gorgias centralises all customer communication channels in one place. Linking directly into your store, you can carry out tasks such as viewing historic orders and refunding purchases natively within the app.
  • Zendesk: Customer support platform, Zendesk, offer a range of functionality to provide customers with quick and easy communication through the channels of their choice. A popular choice among merchants, Zendesk has been used by well-known brands including John Lewis, All Saints and Tesco.
  • Yotpo: Powered by eCommerce marketing platform, Yotpo, merchants have the ability to answer customer questions directly. Increasing validation for online shoppers before they buy, this functionality helps to boost credibility and shows that your brand cares about what your customers have to say.

First-class customer service is key

It takes time and money to attract, convert and retain customers yet just one poor experience is enough to lose them.

Brands now have a very different relationship with their customers to what they did several years ago. While price and quality remain important, focus has shifted to offering the most intuitive, seamless and consumer-orientated experience. The additional value that great customer service can add beyond an initial purchase is a powerful differentiating factor that can be used to your advantage.

Many don’t recognise the impact first-class customer service can have, those who do will continue to go from strength to strength in 2021 and beyond. If you want to chat more with our eCommerce experts on this topic and what other factors you should be considering into next year, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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