Article | 4 min read

Seven secrets to ecommerce customer service success

Last updated July 3, 2013

When overhauling their digital marketing strategy, businesses tend to concentrate on their website, focusing on functionally effective, visually beautiful pages. But the best companies know there’s much more to ecommerce than a successful website.

It’s easier than ever for consumers to switch brands, and many experts are debating whether brand loyalty still exists. The emphasis now, more than ever, should be the customer.

In our work building ecommerce sites for large British brands, we found that effective and personal online customer service is a key factor in growing a successful ecommerce company.

Here are the 7 key lessons every future-facing ecommerce business needs to learn.

1. Make an instant customer connection
Over and over, weve seen the importance of inviting customers as close to the product as possible. By incorporating interactive imagery into designs, you can bring your merchandise to life. However, there are some things a picture can’t do, which is where instant chat can help. Close the gap on distant online ecommerce customer service by offering your expertise in an instant.

2. Be personal
When interacting with your customers through online channels, it’s important to establish a relationship. Although consumers may be interfacing with a machine, you can remind them at every step that there’s a human on the other end.

  • In emails, use your customer’s name. In instant chats, agents should introduce themselves and give their location.
  • Correspondence via social media channels and text messages should also be personalised.
  • Across all channels, please and thank you are imperative.

3. Don’t forget FAQs
Help your customers avoid frustrating searches for answers to their questions by supporting your online channels with an abundance of exhaustive FAQs. Offer detailed solutions for every scenario, so there’s no need for a customer to use a different channel to get in touch with you. Additionally, determining what questions you can answer for your customers provides great SEO value and makes it easier for them to find you.

4. Mirror the standards of your telephone service
In many call centres, rules are put in place to lessen the frustration felt by customers attempting to get in touch, such as:

  • Answering calls within 20 seconds
  • Monitoring the time it takes to resolve a query
  • Limiting the number of transfers to other colleagues

However, when it comes to online customer service, few businesses have yet to put such efficient protocols in place.

It’s standard to be told, “We’ll get back to you within 24 hours” after emailing or sending a Facebook message to a company. This is a mammoth wait compared to calling. This leaves many consumers reluctant to use the digital interactive options, which are considerably cheaper for businesses to operate. Strive to make both services speedy and efficient.

5. Free should be just that
Many people who get in touch with you using your online channels will be doing so because it’s the most convenient way for them to reach you. But for many businesses, the traditional call centre is still an important function. Although many businesses ensure that the customer service numbers are free to call from landlines, calling from a mobile often comes at a much greater cost. So given that it’s more likely that your customers will be contacting you from a mobile, see if you can take their number and call them back rather than make them wait on hold. They’ll thank you for it.

6. Bring online to offline
The interactive experience doesn’t have to end in the virtual world. Satisfy more consumers by providing an omnichannel experience. Allow them to select the way they prefer to shop. Give them the option to browse ranges and make purchases on tablets and screens when they’re in the store, and provide a coherent and consistent experience across all channels.

7. Delivery and returns checklist
Great customer service doesn’t end once the consumer pays for the purchase. The process of delivering the goods, and returning them if necessary, can determine whether the consumer chooses to buy from your business in the future.

  • Online goods should be delivered in the same manner in which they can be purchased: with ease. And the returns process should be just as seamless.
  • Free delivery, a choice of delivery dates and times, and the option to re-direct packages are all huge buying incentives as well as good customer service.
  • An obstructive returns policy can be misinterpreted as you not believing in the quality of the goods you’re selling. If your product is excellent, fewer customers will be looking to return it. So make returns an easy option.
  • Finally, be up front about delivery times and return costs at the beginning of the sales journey.

In essence you should be looking to offer an online service that makes customers feel as confident in purchasing online as they would buying in person.

Today’s guest post was written by Peter Drakes, a Business Analyst for Zendesk partner Session Digital, the U.K. firm that has built Magento eCommerce sites for big British retailers.