Shopify Ecosystem

15 Ecommerce Customer Service Best Practices To Help You Level Up

15-ecommerce-customer-service-best-practices-to-help-you-level-up

Get advanced ecommerce customer service tips and learn how to speed up support with templates, variables, and self-service tools.

Ecommerce customer service can make or break your business. Rightfully so, a lot of attention is given to product development, marketing, and customer loyalty. But without great customer service, all of those efforts can crumble. 

Today, many ecommerce companies use helpdesk platforms to manage tickets and organize collaboration among support representatives. Because ecommerce companies are technical by nature, there’s a high adoption of software for managing customer service. And that’s good news. But there’s more to the story. 

Without templates and automation, ecommerce companies not only waste their time but their customers’ time too. 

In this guide, we show you advanced ecommerce customer service tips for founders and managers who are ready to take the next step and provide lightning fast, highly scalable service. 

What makes for great ecommerce customer service

According to research by PWC, consumers state that these factors are the most important when it comes to customer service:

  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Helpfulness
  • Friendliness

These elements make perfect sense. People want to receive effective help quickly and easily, and they want the online shopping experience to be pleasant overall, like on Amazon. 

At an in-person store, long lines can ruin a customer service experience. (In fact, long lines during the pandemic cost US retailers $100 billion.) 

As an ecommerce company, you’re at an advantage over traditional retailers. You can use technology to automate customer service responses and even close tickets—no waiting involved. 

Here’s how ecommerce companies can excel at all four of these critical elements:

  • Speed – automated responses
  • Convenience – quick access to support via live chat
  • Helpfulness – integrated customer and order data for accurate responses
  • Friendliness – templated, on-brand responses

In the ecommerce customer service best practices below, we’ll dive into these further.

The impact of amazing customer service on your ecommerce business

The impact of customer service on the success of an ecommerce business cannot be overstated. 95% of consumers say that customer service is important to earning their brand loyalty and retention.

Sadly, 32% of consumers will walk away from a brand they love (not just any brand, but one they already love) after a single bad experience. That means, even if they love your products, 32% will never buy them again after just one bad interaction or disappointment. 

On the bright side, 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience, meaning that if you get it right, this can result in more full-price transactions and higher cart order values, as consumers would rather buy from you than somewhere else. 

Customer service can have an immediate and direct impact on your sales. Pre-sales tickets are those that come before a purchase. They can be about product availability, sizing, style, shipping, etc. 

If you use Gorgias for your helpdesk, you’ll automatically track revenue statistics, including the tickets that converted to sales and the reps’ conversion rate.

Top support channels for ecommerce customer service

Every industry has it’s standards. In the ecommerce world, live chat reigns supreme as the top channel for customer support. Depending on the age range of your target customer, email, phone, or social media will come in second place. Older consumers expect to get support via phone, while younger ones expect help on your brand’s social media accounts. The main rule of support is to meet customers where they are.

Live chat

75% of consumers prefer live chat over phone support, and this number rises continually, as more and more Gen Z become buyers. But when initiating chats with a chatbots, only 40% of consumers expect to get the issue resolved in a reasonable amount of time. This gives you a great opportunity to delight your customers. 

Email

Even at many large and successful ecommerce companies, email is a preferred channel for managing customer support compared with live chat. That’s because email doesn’t offer the pretense of instant response. 

However, using email doesn’t mean your customer service team doesn’t need advanced technology. Integrations, automations, and templates can all come into play for a faster response time via email. 

Social media

Many online shoppers (especially Millennials and Gen Z consumers) expect to receive some form of support on social media, which is now considered one of the top customer service channels. There are plenty of downsides to incorporating social platforms into your customer service strategy, including difficult tracking and the inability to respond with sensitive data. However, when your team handles social media support well, it’s a chance to show off the great customer experience you provide to followers and potential customers. 

In this example, Wonderskin (a peel-away lip stain mask), helps address a customer issue that could have otherwise prevented other followers from purchasing.

Phone calls

Larger ecommerce websites will often offer phone support to keep up with customer demand. What’s more, phones are often a fast way to resolve issues. Ecommerce companies that use phone support have 34% faster average resolution times than those who don’t. 

No need a call center support customers by phone! With Gorgias, you have a unified view of the customer, so when a customer calls, they’ll get routed to the right support person. And if it’s a new customer interaction or a follow-up, the rep will be able to see all order details.

15 ecommerce customer service best practices you need to implement

You don’t want to provide average customer service. 

You want to streamline your responses, give real-time support whenever possible, and stand out from the sea of competitors. Here’s how. 

1. Use a multichannel helpdesk

It’s important to use a helpdesk that not only incorporates email and live chat into one platform, but also phone and social media too. An omnichannel platform will automatically pull tickets in from a variety of sources, like a shared inbox. This way, as your company grows, you’re already set up to manage and analyze your customer support in one place. 

2. Create response templates

Excellent customer service should be consistent. One of the best ways to provide consistent messaging is with templates. Now, your average online customer is pretty savvy. They will notice if you’re just replying with a crappy template.

That’s why you need to create dozens of different templates for different types of responses. They should fit the need so well that they sound as if customer service agents wrote them right then and there. 

You could create customer service scripts for these issues and more:

  • Late shipment
  • Initiate return
  • Gift card balance
  • Damaged products

Reps can send templates as is or edit them to fit the ticket better. 

3. Offer self-service options in your live chat

The point of live chat is to resolve issues quickly. Go the extra mile with self-service options. Here’s an example of a live chat from Birddogs, who uses Gorgias to speed up customer service with self-service options and templates that feature customer data variables.

Customers can track an order, return an order, or cancel an order without having to interact with a rep. The Gorgias customer service software offers live chat and help desk, and integrates with other popular apps that manage order tracking and returning. 

4. Add more common questions to your FAQ

Most online businesses need a killer FAQ (knowledge base). These can reduce the volume of tickets in online chat and other communication channels. Every 6 months, take a look at your customer support tickets and hunt for trends. Add more items to your FAQ, such as shipping options, sizing, and return policy questions. 

5. Integrate inventory data into helpdesk responses to convert more online shoppers

Shopping cart abandonment needs to be addressed from every angle, not just with exit intent pop-ups and display advertising. Support is also a critical part of the customer journey. Online shoppers will bounce if they can’t find help fast. By integrating your inventory and product details into your helpdesk, you can help reps load up accurate responses quickly.

6. Integrate order and shipping data into helpdesk responses for faster resolution times

One of the biggest challenges with helpdesk software is using an outdated platform that doesn’t integrate with your other tools. This means your customer service representatives have to go digging around in other systems in order to respond. For example, you might have to look at your email marketing system, inventory and order system, and shipping software in order to respond. 

“The tool is able to make those smart decisions for us and make those replies for us, and that saves so much time,” says Caiden Tuller, Customer Relations Manager at Death Wish Coffee, about using Gorgias to run their ecommerce customer support. Gorgias uses macro variables to pull data from your integrated sources, including your Shopify backend, into your responses. 

For example, a response macro template could be something like:

“Thanks for checking in with us! I noticed that your refund was processed on {{refund-date}} for {{refund-amount}}.”

When one of your support representatives wants to use this template, it will pre-load with the correct information for that customer:

“Thanks for checking in with us! I noticed that your refund was processed on July 2, 2021 for $56.71.”

Then, if they want to, the representative can quickly add some personalization to that response like:

“Thanks for checking in with us! I noticed that your refund was processed on July 2, 2021 for $56.71. Since that was yesterday, you should get the refund by next Friday. Let me know if you don’t see it within a week!”

7. Personalize responses with accurate customer data

Direct integrations with your inventory management, order management, ecommerce platform, and shipping software mean that you can quickly write accurate responses. 

Even if you don’t incorporate that data into your written response like the refund example above, this data can still help your team craft personalized responses.

For example, a rep could mention “the dress or the shoes” when asking a customer which part of their order they want to cancel. This level of detail really impresses customers. 

8. Rapidly respond to comments on your ads and social media posts

“Listening to your customers takes a lot of courage and being able to understand their needs has helped us a lot as a business,” says Rachel Lambo, co-founder of Sade Baron. Social media can serve as a great source of customer feedback for your online store. Make sure to use an omnichannel helpdesk software that lets you collect, handle, and track social media comments. You should also sort this feedback and deliver it to your product innovation team. 

9. Automate ticket response whenever possible

As Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) puts it, “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

Some of your templates and variables will be so accurate and useful, that you can just trigger them to be automatically sent. Questions about order delivery (if the order isn’t late) or pre-sales questions about your return policy are just a couple examples of responses that can be easily automated.

10. Provide reps with a unified view of each customer

An omnichannel support desk is really important for any e-commerce store. It can offer a birds’ eye view of each and every customer. Your reps should be able to see outstanding orders, all orders, all customer support tickets, and details on open tickets, including what the customer and other reps have said. 

11. Use customer service metrics to track benchmarks and trends

There are so many customer service metrics you can track to measure the success of your ecommerce customer service. Some of the top metrics include average response time, average resolution time, support quality level, converted tickets, negative social media comments, and tickets created by channel (shown below).

For these metrics, set monthly benchmarks so you can track any dips or peaks and resolve issues. 

12. Offer shipment tracking and notifications

83% of customers expect regular communication about their order, and shipment notifications are an essential part of this. Customers should receive notifications when an order is shipped, when it’s out for delivery, and when it is successfully delivered. This way, they can make sure that they actually receive the item. 

You should also create a branded order tracking page, so if a customer clicks on one of your email call to action buttons, they’re taken to a branded page. You could put a coupon on this page, or feature popular products. You can use an app like ShippyPro or AfterShip for both notifications and tracking pages. 

13. Improve your checkout experience and shipping cost accuracy

The actual checkout process is a critical component of the customer experience. Make sure that your reps notify your UX team if they get an influx of customers complaining about checkout errors. 

Also, shipping costs factor into your checkout process. You can reduce frustration and confusion by using a shipping software like ShippyPro or AfterShip to provide customers with highly accurate shipping estimates during checkout. 

14. Add a customer returns portal for printing return labels

Online shoppers expect to receive a return label with their purchase, or to be able to easily print one online. If you don’t want to add return labels to every package, then you need to offer a portal where customers can print the label. This way, they don’t have to contact support for help with initiating a return. 

You can create your own returns portal with Loop or ShippyPro. Here’s an example using ShippyPro to build the returns portal:

And here’s a funny, branded example of a returns portal built with Loop:

15. Collect email addresses if you don’t run support 24/7

Small teams are not able to run their live chat 24/7. And not all questions can be answered with a templated, automated response. 

You don’t want to give the wrong impression during your off hours by just leaving the live chat up with no response whatsoever. So be sure to set an automated response that collects email addresses. 

This way, you can respond to that person via email when your customer support team is working the next day. 

Key takeaways: create a strong foundation

To offer amazing ecommerce customer service, you need the right foundation. A clunky, old-school support software just won’t do. 

You need a system that…

  • Integrates with your other ecommerce tools 
  • Offers templates and variables for faster responses
  • Lets you manage tickets from different channels

The faster and more accurate your response times, the higher your customer satisfaction. Customers need support to help them finalize orders and know that they matter to your company. If they feel well taken care of, that only increases the chances that they will order from you again and again. 

Try our next-gen ecommerce customer service platform, Gorgias. 

Special thanks to our friends at Gorgias for their insights on this topic.
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