21 eCommerce Customer Service Practices to Compete in 2021
As of July 15, 2020, the Q2 Shopping Index shows a sudden peak of 71% in e-commerce movement, and spending of +34% that will totally change commerce standards, as the fall and holiday shopping time approaches.
The below figure shows the growing attraction towards e-commerce.
Still, the question is: Can you build on this growing movement and be more competitive too?
The simple answer is: assemble an effective customer service team.
The good news is that we, in this article, will give you 21 practices to achieve a successful e-commerce customer service, even with a very small team of +2.
- Establish a Seamless Internal Structure for eCommerce Customer Service
- I’m not Waiting Anymore!
- Welcome to the Realm of “Me-Commerce”
- Take Leverage in Multiple Channels Approach
- Recourse to a Firm for eCommerce Customer Service
- Chats to Compensate for the Physical Absence
- Utilize the Customer Feedback Assessment
- Improve Readiness of Your eCommerce Customer Service
- Abide by a Good AHT
- Examine, Adjust, and Reiterate
- Monitor Your Reputation on Social Media
- Escalate Customer Service into a Customer Relationship
- Train Your Agents on Remote Correspondence
- Respond within 24 Hours
- Never Argue with a Customer
- Better Lose a Bit of Money and Win a Happy Customer
- Offering Full Refund or Replacement
- Be Polite and Formal, Always
- Customer Service Templates
- Provide Tracking Number Whenever Possible, Whenever Available
- It Is Good to Offer Free Complement Whenever Possible
What Is eCommerce Customer Service?
E-commerce customer service is how your online business handles and provides support to consumers. This backing can be provided before, during, or after the purchase; to be precise, at different phases of the customer’s timeline.
The aim of e-commerce customer service is to build a smooth, multi-pronged customer experience at every stage of the customer’s journey. Customer service can exert a significant impact on:
- customer loyalty
- the conveyed experience
However, it is not enough to assemble an e-commerce support service. To assemble an incompetent customer relationship center is indeed worse than not offering one. Therefore, the endeavor is to satisfy your clients by actively and effectively responding to their requests.
Keep reading, because below are the 21 most effective practices of customer service for e-commerce businesses to compete in 2021.
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1. Establish a Seamless Internal Structure for eCommerce Customer Service
Make sure, before you contemplate on how to deal with your customers, that you have an effective customer service body within your business.
If your customer service is not organized in an flawless manner, the driving force of your teams will be of no value. So, weigh up the following points:
- Outline an exact customer hearing process.
- Collect, archive, and utilize feedback to enhance customer satisfaction.
- Furnish customer service with the best available digital tools, to accelerate customer relations and the internal collaboration as well.
- Persuade teams to exchange reviews during dedicated forums, to promote the continuous progress of your business.
2. I’m not Waiting Anymore!
Always offer a solution or an alternative to a customer, never deny your customer help; never say: sorry, I cannot help you.
Of course, there will be a horde of scammers and some people try to annoy you. Here, you can involve a bit of paper work or email, but never deny anything. This is rule number one, always add value to the customer. Help the customer, and never refuse if you know a solution or anything to mitigate the situation.
3. Welcome to the Realm of “Me-Commerce”
Each customer has its own shopping experience. Therefore, the task of your customer service is to customize each relationship with your consumers.
A remarkable approach is to shift from “e-commerce” to “me-commerce.” Sellers trade in an era where consumers are more and more demanding and individualistic. Whereas “e-commerce” places digital at the center of the business, “me-commerce” places the “me” (and hence the customer) at the center of all affairs and expectations.
Companies must therefore follow the latest manners that set the “me” at the center of the purchasing journey.
To adjust to “me-commerce,” customer service must adapt to the communication channels favorable to customers. Some will choose the phone; others prefer email or social networks.
The team must develop different points of contact, based on the uses and expectations of customers, which promotes the autonomous customer in solving their problems.
To provide an exclusive customer experience, in this “me-commerce” logic, the company’s goal must be also set to personalize exchanges. The idea is not simply to adjust the course of the after-sales service to the customer.
Your customer service can also support a customer, in person, during the pre-sales process, to make the right selection of a product, size or color.
By personalizing the support and online experience along the way, your e-commerce customer service helps achieving customer satisfaction.
4. Take Leverage in Multiple Channels Approach
In the world of e-commerce, in particular, it is essential to offer visitors several communication channels on your website, here are some main channels.
Be accessible by phone and by email
Do not hesitate to clearly specify on your website that you are available by phone and by email, in case of any requests and additional information. The reference of your contact details has a reassuring effect for the customer.
Use social webs to be in contact
You must be in attendance on social networks. In fact, they are an inherent part of our daily lives today. A Twitter account, a Facebook page, or even an Instagram account allows customers to get here and find data about your business, and, at the same time, to communicate with you. Emphasize your presence on social networks on your website with logos for example.
You can also reply to your customers’ questions without necessarily going through direct contact by proposing them a list of FAQs. Accordingly, customers will be able to find, easily and briefly, the answer to a supposed “common” question without the need to go through customer service. By doing this, your agents will have the time to concentrate on more complex subjects and focus on more tactful demands.
5. Recourse to a Firm for eCommerce Customer Service
Consumers, online and in-store, are getting more independent. To meet this expectation, one of the solutions is Trustpilot. It is a practice that allows customers to perform account management actions or to use support information independently.
By visiting your e-commerce site, the Internet user expects a simple and fluid digital experience. In case of questions, they will appreciate finding their answers online, easily and intuitively.
6. Chats to Compensate for the Physical Absence
Community chats can be of great help, in purpose to further individualize your customer service on your e-commerce website. Because of these chats, which appear as a widget on your website, you can correspond in real time with your customers and prospects from your site. Chat is a swift way to easily engage and interact with the customer on the site. There are several types of chats that you may use: live chat, click to chat, or even chat bot.
This type of chat gives an advisor the ability to directly enter into manual contact with an Internet user and offer them assistance. Similarly, the Internet user can talk to an advisor via this chat who can reply in real time to any inquiry about a product or further information.
It is another version to help your website visitors or users find what they need. In this rendering, the chat will be automated; owing to artificial intelligence and a suitable configuration, the website users will be encountered with a robot which can reply to their questions. It is constructed on a database of questions and answers that are actuated on specific keywords that appear in the chat, or the picking of an item among offered options. This chat will save you time, as it can keep a conversation going for a noticeable time without human intervention.
A website like Chatfuel will help you easily set up a chat bot on your website or social media pages, for a quicker response than ever before.
Small uniqueness for this chat, which is intended to convert the website users who are most able to make a purchase and thus improve your conversion rate. Click-to-chat only occurs on the website in certain cases. Credits go to behavioral analysis via a cookie that identifies Internet users who are close to ordering; advisers get in touch with these prospects or customers to help them and lead their way to the act of purchase.
Other than their own characteristics, these chats can also help increase customer satisfaction, as they know that they can easily make contact with you, when needed, and obtain a quick answer from you.
7. Utilize the Customer Feedback Assessment
According to Microsoft’s “State of Global Customer Service Survey”: “77% of customers prefer companies that encourage and collect customer feedback.”
However, the important thing is not only to collect: feedback should help your e-commerce customer service to act pro-actively and improve proximity to customers.
Positive or negative, customer reviews make it possible to improve customer knowledge, products and services, and its performance as well.
To make the most of this customer opinion process, your e-commerce customer service can set up a strategic Feedback Management approach.
According to Perseus Development, Enterprise Feedback Management (EMF) is defined as “formal tools for data collection and output analysis.”
Definitely motivate a new customer to leave feedback. You worked hard, you tried to please everybody, but then encourage customers to leave feedback, to see whether you’ve done a good job or not.
Also, feedback from your customers will let you know what you need to improve. It is extremely valuable. Obviously, neutral and negative feedback can affect your account badly.
You can set up an EMF account, such as Trustpilot account, to get reviews always out of five stars if you get four, why you didn’t get that last star? what was missing? Then, the customer will inform you.
They installed a job for you to tell you where you get it wrong in your business. Accordingly, you can always enhance to be better, in terms of customer service or any services that you sell.
In general, seek out for feedbacks from customers, so you know whatever you can improve, and find out errors in your business.
Do not take it as punishment; it’s not, on the contrary, it’s a great help. Feedbacks are very valuable, and they will be always valuable in helping you to grow your business and improve any services you’re offering.
More than being listened to, your customers want to be heard. Thanks to their feedback, you make decisions and take effective action against customer dissatisfaction: this is the key to good customer service!
8. Improve Readiness of Your eCommerce Customer Service
By choosing to shop online, the consumer expects a quick experience and responsive responses from the business when needed.
According to a study published by Journal of Service Theory and Practice, it is in fact the company’s reaction time that has the most impact on customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
It is not enough to leave the choice of channel to contact your customer service to the consumer. A balance between speed and the right channel must be found.
Effective e-commerce customer service is based on the ability to serve different customers who have different expectations, with the same level of quality, by combining responsiveness and adaptability through different customer relationship channels.
9. Abide by a Good AHT
One of the essential aspects to enhance your e-commerce customer service is to frequently measure your AHT (Average Handling Time) and try to shrink it to as minimum as possible.
When an online client contacts you, they actually need a quick reply. Keep in mind that, dependent on the communication channel in use, the response time is different. If you receive a query via social media, persons anticipate a faster response than if they were asking you via email. On same bases, the waiting time by phone should not be ignored – a customer should not stay online too long to have an agent on the phone; or else, he may cut his call short and end up without finding an answer to his inquiries. Other than distressing their satisfaction, you also expose your brand image for degrading, and that is not what we want.
10. Examine, Adjust, and Reiterate
Setting up an efficient e-commerce customer service cannot be improvised. In reality, there is no magic formula to achieve this: your company will have to test, measure, optimize, and then start over.
Your teams will need to be proactive in responding to customer needs while considering how to continuously improve customer service efficiency.
The feedback collected will be of invaluable help, as will the customer data obtained from your exchanges: what is the volume of contact per channel? What are the days or times when the requests are the most numerous? What are the most recurring requests?
11. Monitor Your Reputation on Social Media
You know that customers are using social networks in increasing pace, to give their views on a brand or a product. It is worthwhile for your customer service team to perform a systematic follow-up, in order to keep updated of customers’ reviews.
You might also like to know how to do e-commerce branding for your small business.
Even if some opinions from customers are negative, consider them as an opportunity to enhance your products or develop your website.
Following reviews on social networks can also give you deep vision into your product’s reputation and e-commerce website. It is vital to reply to all reviews about your product, be it positive or negative. Certainly, if you do not respond carefully to negative comments, this can shake your brand’s sales and put you in an unfavorable situation.
12. Escalate Customer Service into a Customer Relationship
Today, as you know, the foremost goal of customer service is to promote it into personalized customer relationship, both in e-commerce and in other fields. As customers, we all search for personalization: personalized offers, personalized exchanges with customer service, personalized products, etc.
To create a personalized customer relationship, you need an exact customer knowledge. In e-commerce, it is not difficult to gather customer data, through orders and registration forms, or by satisfaction surveys posted on your site or sent by email. Utilize this data as well as possible to personalize your exchanges with the consumer. For instance, call them by their first name and personalize your replies by recognizing their purchase history.
Personalization is also one of the 5 email copywriting techniques that really convert.
Some e-commerce brands use customer relations software, such as Zoho, to personalize their customer service. By this solution, agents can get direct access to all the significant data pertinent to their customers, gathered on a combined customer file: age, first name, last name, average basket, purchase history, etc. Therefore, they will have the ability to offer personalized solutions to their customers during a request.
13. Train Your Agents on Remote Correspondence
Unlike in the retail sector, your customers are not in physical contact with the sales team. Consequently, the customer will only “judge” you through online or over the phone correspondence. It is therefore very important that your agents undergo training for several reasons.
Firstly, they must have a thorough knowledge of the business. This includes a detailed knowledge of the offered services, products, and promotional offers, as well as technical aspects. They must also have training on how to operate on the tool used for customer relationship management, as well as on the several solutions in effect for solving customer issues.
Moreover, for your customers to keep an appropriate persona of you, this is also dependent on the excellence of the exchanges. How should your agents talk to clients? Should they take on a particular tone? If encountered with an unhappy customer, how should they respond? Does the use of scripts enhance exchanges or, to the opposite, you should restrain them to your business?
Along with the significance of regularly training them, it is a matter of deciding to agree on these subjects, in order to advocate the same level of speech throughout your customer service teams. It is imperative that all your teams adopt the same level of information and can properly communicate the company values.
If you have launched a small store, these tips can be useful for you, all based on my experience as a former e-commerce customer service official, and an online store owner for 8 years.
14. Respond within 24 Hours
Try to allocate 30 or 40 minutes every day, depending on the volume of orders you have, obviously. But, let us say you are going to allocate an hour a day for your customer service – it’s not that much.
If you do not have a full-time job, like mine, then you do not have much time. However, suppose you can assign 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the time you got available, that could do the trick, try to provide help every single day.
Nowadays, we have phones in our hands, so you can just answer on your phone, you don’t have to be in front of a laptop and stuff, so you can work from your phone, or a tablet anywhere in the world, literally. Therefore, there is no much excuse, if everybody can allocate just 20-30 minutes; but try to respond within 24 hours this is quite important.
15. Never Argue with a Customer
This is the worst thing you can do really. I know there are some annoying customers; I know there will be people giving you a hard time, and trying to take advantage of you. But never argue with the customer, just go straight to the point, this is the issue, offer a solution you know, don’t try to evade or say “I don’t know”, just go directly to the point and give a solution.
This way is much more efficient, and less time-consuming; as you will see, you will get better results.
16. Better Lose a Bit of Money and Win a Happy Customer
I see many people saying although this person is that no if you are selling something cheap, then giving one or two pounds, or giving 10% – 20% off. You see, if you want a long time turn sustainable business, you need to focus on the feedbacks and the customers.
Therefore, by giving perfect customer service, even people having complaints can leave positive feedback; at the end, you can just turn a bad situation that into a positive one, just by offering a simple solution. So, don’t be afraid of losing little money.
There is always solution for that. You can always ask your supplier or raise a complaint to him, and he can refund your part as well.
So, all the loss will not be on you. And better lose a couple of dollars, a couple of cents, and I’m a happy customer, rather than just be stingy and might stood on a ground argue with the customer, only to get a negative feedback, then you may get the customer shut down. The people will not trust you anymore, will not like you, and will not recommend you to the friends. So, do not forget customer service comes first.
Thus, if you have to lose a little bit of money, then let it be, that is my advice.
17. Offering Full Refund or Replacement
This is the best way I have handled my customer service issue, that works well 99% of the time.
If you have an issue with something, when it is cheap, you can simply offer a full refund or replacement. If it is a more expensive item, you can offer either a return for full refund or a warranty in general. If you offer a warranty within 12-24 months, you get the warranty covered, and then you can get the item fixed or send a new one.
Most of the time, offering a warranty is a good tool for keeping your customers satisfied. But, a full refund or replacement is how I’ve been handling all my customers for the past few years. As I told you, 99.6% out of over 2.3k reviews were satisfied.
So, you should go for refund or replacement when it is a cheap item, or a warranty solution, if it is too expensive.
18. Be Polite and Formal, Always
Don’t ever forget to say good afternoon, good morning, please, would you like this, etc. Put the formals when you’re right, you don’t need to be too abrupt or direct to straightforward.
I may sound basic, but some people just forget that. It is better to write/say: dear customer, or good evening, rather than just “Hi there” or “Hi, how can I help?” just be polite, and structured in a traditional way of talking to people.
That’s no too hard, and I can ensure you, people will appreciate you, and will like you more. Thereafter, this will translate into positive feedback(s).
19. Customer Service Templates
If you are not good with customer service writing, or not very good with correspondence, and these kinds of skills, you can resort to customer service templates.
As there are templates available for free on the internet, there is a customer service template for each situation.
For example, someone has got a broken item, or wants to return one that you have already sent.
Therefore, you should already have a recorded template, then you can just copy and paste, if you’re not very good with writing. I already trained myself to do so, because it’s quick, automatic, and I don’t struggle with that, because I know what I’m doing.
I’m good with responding to a customer. But, if you’re not comfortable with it, just reuse templates, there are thousands available on the internet.
20. Provide Tracking Number Whenever Possible, Whenever Available
As I know, for goods of price $20 and above, you have to get tracking numbers from your suppliers, even your cell phone, or your flight number.
Whenever you have to dropship, it’s better, always, to provide a tracking number.
Because, there are a lot of customers who will complain, I haven’t received my merchandise yet! Or where is my package?
So, if you provide tracking number, it enhances the billing system, and makes the customer experience more qualified. Besides, you would appreciate that the customer won’t ask so many questions, as they can simply go online and track their own item.
21. It Is Good to Offer Free Complement Whenever Possible
Postcards, for example… Try to be nice and put one, try to offer them a little gift when they order, when they purchase something, put in the envelope or the package a little present.
It could be any simple thing, give them a sticker, a keyring.
So, the customer would like it, and would appreciate you more.
In terms of postage, if someone is telling you “this is for my daughter’s birthday, is it?”
Is it possible to get it first class, instead of second class? or in two days instead of three, four or five days?
This not a problem, if it will cost you $20 or $30 more, don’t be afraid to lose a bit of money, but provide that free upgrade. That makes a difference, believe me I know what I’m talking about.
That builds your customer loyalty by offering what they want, obviously when possible, and reasonable.
These demands look childish, and they know it is. But, when it’s reasonable, to just send the package via first class instead of second class for a customer, to get it for a daughter’s birthday, it’s a little tender touch from you.
On the long term, you’ll see the effect and that generated me a lot of positive feedback.
A final word
You now have several practices to better manage your e-commerce customer service! Did you like them? So, here’s a recap:
- Establish an effective customer service body for your e-commerce business
- Do not keep you customers, specially the angry ones, waiting for too long, nor should you deny a problem or an issue you have. It will only make things worse.
- Remember that the customer is at the center of all affairs and expectations.
- Offer visitors several communication channels on your website, like phone number, email, and social channels.
- You can always seek help from a firm for e-commerce customer service.
- Compensate for the physical absence by tools like live chat and chatbots.
- Take feedbacks from your customers, whether positive or negative, assess them, and work on enhancing strengths and fixing weaknesses.
- Combine responsiveness and adaptability through different customer relationship channels.
- Measure your Average Handling Time (AHT) and try to shrink it.
- Consider how to continuously improve your customer service efficiency.
- Keep an eye on how you look on social media.
- Personalize your exchanges with the consumer and take your customer service into a customer relationship.
- Invest in your agents training.
- Do not argue with the customer – they are always right.
- Better lose money than lose an angry customer.
- Offer warranty on expensive items and full refund on cheaper ones.
- Resort to ready-made customer service templates if writing is not your best skill.
- Provide customers with the tracking number so that they can go online and track their own item.
- Do not hesitate to offer them a small gift in compensation or offer them discounts on a future order.
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