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7 Ecommerce Customer Service Best Practices


Ecommerce customer service can be thought of as a safety net for your shopping experience. You hope your shoppers won’t require it. You take plenty of preventative measures to minimize the need for it. But, if all else fails, you better have exceptional support to fall back on.

Helpful, accessible ecommerce customer service is integral to the overall shopping journey. Just because your customers are online, doesn’t mean they won’t occasionally require human assistance. Read on to find out how and why you should offer first-rate support on your ecommerce store. 

Why does customer service matter in ecommerce?

Poor customer service comes at a high cost for retailers. 90% of U.S. consumers say customer service is important in their choice of brand, and 58% will end their relationship with a brand because of dissatisfactory customer service. And, when you consider that it’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, you simply can’t afford to lose shoppers because of inferior customer support. 

The good news is, the reverse is also true. A whopping 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. Exceeding a shopper’s customer service expectations can generate a lifelong fan that recommends your brand to others and comes back time and again.

7 tips to deliver stellar ecommerce customer service

Whether you’re just getting started with ecommerce customer service, or you’re looking for a checklist to optimize your existing support, these seven best practices will serve you well.

1. Make customer service accessible

Shoppers should never be more than a click away from contacting your customer support. If a user runs into an issue and requires assistance, there’s a good chance they’re already feeling frustrated or confused. Making it difficult to reach out to your team will only exacerbate this sentiment. No matter what page the shopper is on, there should be a clearly visible link to contact support at all times. 

2. Display policies prominently

Often, shoppers’ customer service questions can be answered within the content of your website. Don’t bury information on return policies, shipping costs, or delivery timelines. Not only will this burden customer service resources with responding to needless queries, it’s also likely to frustrate shoppers and potentially get in the way of conversions. 

3. Automate where possible

Gone are the days of clunky, unhelpful chatbots. Modern ecommerce customer service solutions leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret shoppers’ problems and provide relevant responses. By directing customers to helpful resources or answering common questions via chat, you can reduce the time involved in resolving the issue, and alleviate the workload of call center staff. 

4. Empower shoppers with self-service resources

Other issues that lead shoppers to reach out to customer service can be rectified with a degree of self-service. Order tracking, for example, should be facilitated online through an external postal service or courier site where possible. In addition, FAQs, product knowledge bases, and help centers can all enable shoppers to resolve their own query, without contacting your team.  

5. Offer a human touch when needed

For the occasional issue where your website, chatbot, and other online resources don’t cut it, give your customers the ability to reach out to a human who can assist. Provide more than one channel of communication if possible, so customers can avail of the method that suits them best – whether it’s a simple phone call, a quick email, or a rapid social media interaction.

6. Set appropriate expectations 

With multiple customer service channels, comes the need to inform shoppers of expected response times. If your phones or social platforms are only staffed during business hours, make this clear from the beginning of the interaction. Likewise, if it’s going to take a day or two for your team to get back to an email query, set up an autoresponder to let customers know when they should anticipate a reply. As with every other aspect of ecommerce customer service, you should do everything in your power to minimize friction in the experience.

7. Avoid “no results found”

One issue that might prompt shoppers to reach out to your team is if they can’t find the product they’re looking for, particularly if they know you carry the item in question. Effortless product discovery through effective site search, navigation, and merchandising goes a long way toward reducing unnecessary calls to customer service. In the event that “no results found” is inevitable, don’t leave shoppers at a dead end. Provide links to similar alternatives, best selling products and categories, and customer service contact details to mitigate frustration and keep shoppers browsing.  

Ecommerce customer service should offer quick and easy assistance

Shoppers who have a negative customer service experience are unlikely to ever return to your store. Worse still, there is a high probability that they will also tell family and friends to steer clear of your brand. Investing in ecommerce customer service pays dividends in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and conversions. Don’t neglect this essential safety net when selling online.

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