Ecommerce is a competitive world. As an ecommerce brand or retailer, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Offering a new and innovative product is a great start, and a slick marketing campaign can generate some buzz, but that only gets you halfway there.
The challenge is not just obtaining new customers, but also keeping those you already have. Great products and strong marketing can bring them in, but that alone won’t hold them, not when there are so many other choices out there. If you want your customers in it for the long haul, you need to support them after the sale with superior customer service.
Here are five customer service tips to help you do just that:
Customer Service Tip #1:
Create a Knowledge Base
It’s more important than ever to maintain a comprehensive Knowledge Base on your website. Why? Because surveys show that customers actually prefer self-service when it comes to getting the answers they need. In fact, 73% of customers search for answers online before they even consider contacting customers service through email or phone.
Creating a decent knowledge base isn’t rocket science, but it does take some work. You’ll have to anticipate the kinds of questions you’re customers are likely to ask and provide answers in a clear, concise way. If the answers are too long, many customers won’t have the patience to read them; too short, and customers won’t have enough information. Make your knowledge base searchable with easy-to-find answers. Your customers will get frustrated if it takes too long to find what they’re looking for and will end up calling you anyway, or worse, abandon their search (and maybe your brand!) altogether.
A knowledge base is the fastest, least expensive way to provide answers. That’s great news for your company, because you’ll save time and money while giving your customers the answers they need in a way they actually prefer.
Customer Service Tip #2:
Offer Live Chat
For better or worse, we live in a world where people want (and are coming to expect) instant gratification. Consumers expect fast shipping on their orders. Thanks to streaming, they’ve become accustomed to listening to their favorite songs or watching their favorite shows at their convenience.
They want their customer service needs handled the same way. On average, it takes a company 10 hours to respond on social media, and 12 hours to respond to an email. In today’s customer-centric environment, that’s 10-12 hours too long! With live chat, a customer service agent can respond almost immediately. This immediate, personal contact is likely to greatly increase a customer’s or prospect’s satisfaction.
Satisfied customers buy more. When you engage someone in live chat, they are 35% more likely to make a purchase. What’s more, a customer service agent can make suggestions and upsell during the chat, so customers will often spend more than they originally intended.
Live chat is easier and less expensive than maintaining a traditional call center, it can increase your sales, and customers prefer it. That’s a win-win scenario.
Customer Service Tip #3:
Offer Multi-channel Support
Today’s consumers expect to be able to contact customer support through various channels: email, chat, phone, web portal, and especially social media. Failure to provide service through a customer’s preferred channel might lead to a lost sale, or worse, might lose the customer altogether.
Offering support through multiple channels is necessary, but it is not without challenges. For example, if a customer contacts customer service through Facebook, and then writes an email about the same issue several hours later, two agents might be working independently on the same problem. This is not only a waste of resources, but it appears unprofessional to the customer, who will get two separate answers to their inquiry!
To overcome these challenges, you’ll want to look for a helpdesk system that consolidates various channels into one platform. Customer service software (such as Freshdesk or Zendesk) is a viable solution. They connect to each channel and, as inquiries come in, generate tickets. These tickets keep things organized and can be handled easily by your customer service team.
Customer Service Tip #4:
Maintain a Social Media Presence
Although we mentioned it above in our discussion of multi-channel support, it bears repeating: offer customer service through social media! At the very least, you should have a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your brand, and—depending on the nature of your brand—consider Instagram and Pinterest as well.
Stay active on social media with frequent posts that are relevant and interesting to your customers. Keep them engaged and informed. Also, be present daily, especially during business hours, to answer their questions—42% of customers who send messages through Facebook or Twitter expect a response in an hour or less (with 32% wanting that response within 30 minutes).
Consumers like to share their experiences, both positive and negative, through social media. Stay on top of negative reviews posted to your social media, because 88% of customers are less likely to buy from brands who leave social media complaints unanswered. Respond sympathetically, offering to resolve the issue through private messages. You may find that doing so helps you retain a customer, as well as showing those who read the review that you are quick to engage with customers and positively resolve their issues.
Customer Service Tip #5:
Be Professional, Kind & Transparent
When a customer contacts you for support, they will often be upset or frustrated to some degree. Treat them with kindness, respect, and empathy. Whether the problem is your fault, their fault, or nobody’s fault, take responsibility and offer to solve it. Be as transparent and honest as you can. Whatever you do, don’t blame or insult the customer, don’t become defensive, and be upfront about any policies relevant to their issue.
In the end, you might just turn a bad situation into a good experience for the customer. Offering a refund or a replacement product along with a sympathetic ear goes a long way to re-establishing goodwill, and could change a potential negative review into a positive one.
Every customer is different, and so are their preferences. Keep that in mind as you set up your customer support strategy. Try to cover all your bases, with a solid knowledge base, a great website and social media presence, and traditional email and phone support. Giving the customer multiple ways to contact you for support, and being quick to answer their inquiries no matter what channel they come through, is the key to providing the WOW experience it takes to keep them coming back for more.