As the eCommerce industry continues to evolve, smaller online businesses are struggling to keep up with rising expenses and limited financial resources.
However, innovative business managers have discovered unique ways to retain customers and drive sales without breaking the bank. Contrary to popular belief, providing excellent customer service only sometimes requires significant financial investments. Instead, smaller eCommerce companies can leverage targeted strategies to maximize the value of their efforts and resources.
The best place to start for a business manager to start is by looking over their marketing budget. More than 61% of consumers would agree to spend more on the products they buy if they knew they were getting better customer service because of it. Small improvements to customer service workflows could be considered marketing gains and counted against that budget.
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Diverting Resources the Logical Way
That's not to say that independent eCommerce operations should go and gut one budget in favor of another. All it means is that there's a good chance that fixing some glaring problem with their online shopping cart or their search mechanism could attract more customers back to a brand than a conventional marketing campaign would. If customers constantly make the same complaint about a site when they fill out surveys, then some resources should be diverted over to fix their issue.
That being said, many solutions are free. Companies that constantly have to field the same questions repeatedly should add answers to their FAQs page, which frees up customer support agents for more complicated queries. Customers often report feeling empowered when they can look up solutions themselves. However, communication is a two-way street, so customers should always have a way to contact someone when they can't solve problems.
Focus on Client Communication
Taking an integrated approach to customer support can help to dramatically improve sanctification rates without driving up costs. Offer users the ability to get in touch with your organization however they want. Chances are that your business already hosts pages on several social media sites. Responding to customer queries on these costs your business nothing extra. Some people might be more willing to discuss customer support issues on this kind of platform than they would almost anywhere else.
Connecting your hotlines together using dedicated telecommunications technology will help to route all calls into a single place. That reduces the chance of running into awkward situations where representatives are losing customers simply because they don't know where their calls went. It's also a good idea to offer a traditional email address on your landing page. While email has quickly become an afterthought for many startup companies built around purely mobile environments, it's still an extremely important communications medium for many people.
Set up a dedicated phone number to accept text messages at as well, and have them routed to the same omnichannel contact center that manages all of your other support requests. This costs much less than many other customer service-related improvements, especially for eCommerce companies that have already invested in a number of digital solutions. More than a few customers value the ability to lodge support requests right from their phones, so this small addition can have a much larger impact on a company than it might initially seem.
Forward-thinking businesses will also want to explore knowledge sharing opportunities that include their customers in the decision-making process.
Redefining the Customer Service Outlook
Hosting a community forum costs very little for eCommerce companies that have some existing server infrastructure in place. Assuming your company already pays for a web host, you can add messages boards and chat rooms to your site at almost no extra cost. Creating a branded online experience for customers may encourage them to help each other out and learn more about the products and services you provide.
Over time, these digital spaces can grow into full-fledged communities with their own ecosystems. That's happened to many of the world's largest tech companies, and there's no reason why something similar shouldn't spring up around smaller eCommerce operations. Customers who feel passionately about a brand will eventually want to share what they know about it with those who are newer to it.
Successful knowledge sharing communities will eventually start to manage most types of support requests without relying on anyone from an outside group. Many firms will position a few support agents in the forum to help things along, but they still let things grow organically.
Most customer service improvements will cost at least a little money, but by focusing on these techniques the overall impact to cash-strapped companies can be lessened quite a bit.