by Baruch Kogan
The good news: The online fashion market is booming. Fashion is one of the most popular eCommerce business categories, and is forecast to continue growing over the next several years.
With simple, inexpensive and visually appealing platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and WooCommerce, it’s easier than ever to open an online fashion store. The bad news: everyone knows this.
That means that the market is dense, with everyone from massive bricks and mortar retailers like J. Crew to small one-man/woman shops competing for sales.
In this kind of environment, you have to really work hard to stand out.
The main area where smaller eCommerce businesses can compete with the giants without spending a ton of money is customer service.
Small size can even be an advantage here; customers in fashion tend to appreciate the kind of high touch, high quality service that is easier for a small business to provide. When the person on the line is a stakeholder in the business, they are perhaps more motivated to provide a quality customer service experience than a call centre agent, paid by the hour.
At Bontact, we’re privileged to serve the small and medium eCommerce businesses who are driving the eCommerce market. Many of our clients work in the fashion space. We came up with this list of tips and tools to help these businesses differentiate themselves with outstanding customer service.
Let customers choose how they want to be served.
Depending on where they are, how big and urgent their question or problem is, how much time they have on their hands and their personal preferences, customers strongly prefer some channels over others.
Think about the way you talk to your friends and family - you might write an email, send a text message, make a Skype call, chat with Messenger. Meanwhile, most businesses have a web contact form hidden behind a link in the footer, and maybe a phone number.
So by simply adding more channels, you can stand out in the customer’s eyes: ‘obviously, these guys want to make it convenient for me to talk to them!’
Remember, fashion customers often require more conversation, since many items are hard to judge by a picture alone. Giving them a multichannel contact experience means that they can start on live chat and then move to a phone call or perhaps email if they need more help.
Be available around the clock.
Even though this might be hard to do, it’s definitely worth it, especially if your customers and visitors come from around the world, and are surfing the web outside of your normal working hours.
If you have the contact request volume to justify hiring an overseas customer service rep during key hours, don’t hesitate.
The real key to availability, though, is a contact tool with a phone app that sends you a push notification when you have a contact request. Remember, the odds of turning a contact into a sale drop rapidly as response time goes up.
Get informed when you're talking to customers.
The more information you have on your customers, the better the service quality you can provide them. Make sure your contact tool gives you all of your contact’s history, across all channels.
If you are speaking by email, analytics tools like Rapportive can show you your contact’s picture and other details which are automatically pulled from LinkedIn.
Use social media to enhance customer service.
Not only are tools like Facebook and Google valuable support channels in themselves, but they also work brilliantly for disseminating customer feedback. This works both ways, so make sure your interactions on social media are as good as you can possibly make them.
Keep in mind that a customer whose service request gets lost in the shuffle often turns to social media, so use an alert tool like Mention for social media monitoring, setting up push notifications through their mobile phone app.
A quick reaction to a customer’s request or complaint on social media can turn negative publicity into a positive, and they’ll be far more likely to go on to promote your business to their friends and followers. Social media is especially powerful for fashion ecommerce, since most people share fashion tastes and trends with their online friends and followers.
All of the above can be overwhelming, especially for a small or medium business which already has its hands full with everyday operations.
Fortunately, messaging bots are emerging to help businesses deal with these interactions. Facebook has just announced an open API for bot developers for its Messenger platform. There are breathless predictions that customer service will soon entirely be run by bots.
The reality today is that bots are not very smart, but they are smart enough to handle the questions you get asked commonly, which, for a typical eCommerce business, is most of them.
Quality customer service is key.
In the crowded eCommerce fashion market, one of the most obvious way for a small or medium business to stand out is through providing quality customer service. We’ve discussed the top five ways we think you can do this without breaking the bank. What do you think?
This post is a guest blog by our friends over at Bontact and written by Baruch Kogan , Director of Marketing. Bontact is a company making multichannel e-commerce communications widgets. Bontact focuses on giving e-commerce business owners the tools they need to turn visitors into buyers.