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The Complete Guide To Creating A Full-Proof E-Commerce Customer Support Strategy


Digital enthusiasts consider technology as an essential part of their lives. When they have a problem to solve, or need an answer, or want to buy something, they look to their devices for quick solutions. As a result of which, online shopping is growing at an exceptionally fast pace.

Over the last couple of years, e-commerce has become an integral part of the global retail framework. As more and more people turn to the internet, the number of online shoppers keeps increasing year after year. 2020 saw over 2 billion people buying goods and services online, and the e-retail sales during the year crossed 4.2 trillion USD worldwide. The figures are only expected to rise from here on.

Having said that, there isn’t a single product or category that you wouldn’t find online and e-commerce businesses are seeing a sharp rise in the number of people heading to their websites. It is said that a whopping 206 million people visit Amazon every month! 

All these numbers go to show that the tussle for customer attention has now shifted online. The big question here is what should businesses do when faced with tough competition from their rivals?

The simple answer to this is to provide top-notch e-commerce customer support.

Customer standards and expectations are at an all-time high, e-commerce businesses have to work extra hard at creating a more responsive online customer support center. Irrespective of the platform you choose to sell your products from or the audiences you choose to serve, customer service at its best is important to boost sales and improve brand loyalty. Plus, it won’t matter if you choose to use DelightChat or any other tool to handle your customer support unless you delight the customers every single time. 

In this detailed post, I’ll give you the lowdown on:

– What customer support is for e-commerce

– How it differs from other industries

– Its sheer importance at a time like this

– The metrics used to gauge its effectiveness 

– A few handy tips to improve customer support and much more.

The basics – What is customer support for e-commerce, and how is it different from other industries?

Undoubtedly, technology has redefined the way we shop. With high-speed internet and the use of smartphones, more and more consumers choose to shop for their favorite products online than head to a brick-and-mortar store.

E-commerce customer support encompasses all the assistance that online stores provide to these digitally savvy shoppers throughout their customer journey.

It covers everything from answering questions that customers may have before placing orders, to resolving issues that arise while orders are placed, to handling queries on social media, to post sale-support, payment issues, FAQs – you get the drill.

E-commerce businesses should strive at providing excellent customer service. Not to mention, creating a seamless customer experience for shoppers should be their top priority. Which simply requires the brand to have a unified voice across the channels.

Going by a PwC report – 73% of customers said their overall experience determines what they purchase and 42% of them are willing to pay more for an enriching experience. So delivering the best customer service at all touchpoints will ensure better conversions for your business.

When it comes to online shopping, the shopper’s customer journey unravels online. 

Brick and mortar stores have a huge advantage that way. Retailers can build a good rapport with clients and create a good loyal customer base. E-commerce brands on the other hand depend heavily on technology to connect with their customers.

Here are a few factors that set e-commerce customer service apart from other industries: 

  • Higher volume of customer inquiries
  • The need to respond quickly and ensure great customer service through multiple channels
  • Higher expectations on service delivery courtesy standards set by e-commerce giants like Amazon
  • Customers expect their issues to be attended to and resolved immediately
  • Their competitors are only a click away

Why bother with creating a customer support strategy at all? 

Customer support is as important to a business as sales and marketing are, maybe even more.

See the thing is, E-commerce businesses operate very differently from their traditional counterparts. There are no “business hours” as such. You are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Online businesses are global, which means you have to operate beyond the geographical, political, cultural, and language boundaries that exist.

You are expected to interact with customers at a time that’s convenient to them all while being understanding and sensitive to their needs.

When a customer shops online, a lot of issues could crop up in the process – the website could freeze, the product they came looking for may no longer be available in stock, the promo code /coupon used does not apply the desired discount, etc. 

Such issues leave your customers frustrated with a bad shopping experience. Next time around, they may think twice before returning to your store – which boils down to the need for a stellar customer support strategy in place.

According to the Microsoft State of Global Customer Service report for 2016, 97% of customers say customer service is significant to them. Today, customer service has taken over price and product as the key brand differentiator. Ever wondered why? Because positive customer experiences foster an emotional bond with a brand, which creates loyalty and increases retention.

Let’s now dive into some key aspects of customer service

Build trust with customers

Trust forms the basis of all customer engagements. Customers choose to work with businesses they can trust. While it takes time to build this trust, it can be broken or destroyed overnight. 

Focusing on individual customers and going the extra mile for them can go a long way in building a loyal customer base. Providing contact information and physical address of your business is the biggest proof that you exist and can be reached, should there be any problem. 

Zappos is a well-known brand for customer service. Notice how the brand implies that they are reliable and trustworthy by just putting out their contact info. 

Increase customer retention by creating loyal customers

82% of companies say that retaining existing customers are cheaper than acquiring new ones and that a 5% increase in customer retention boosts profitability by 25-95%. Great customer service builds loyalty. Loyal customers are happy customers who are more likely to recommend your products to other people.

Get direct feedback from customers and improve your products

Feedback is a powerful source of insight into your company and the quality of your products and services. It’s important to know what customers think of your offering. Get feedback through live chats, customer feedback forms, or via email surveys and work on improving your product or services. 

In 2008, Starbucks launched ‘My Starbucks idea’ where customers were asked to share ideas that the company could use to improve its products and services and corporate responsibility. The initiative was a huge success. The company values customer feedback and has earned a loyal customer following over the years.

Know which products are in demand by analyzing customer queries

Find out which products are popular among your customers by analyzing customer queries. Airbnb is a brand whose social media strategy is built mainly on customer preferences and experiences.

Airbnb introduced the #GoNear Campaign, an initiative to bring out economic growth through local travel. They analyzed their booking data and customer surveys to find a growing demand for nearby trips within 300 miles of people’s homes or a day’s drive. The brand then capitalized on the insights gained and shared social content reflecting these insights. 

Increase AOV

86% of customers will pay up to 25% more when they have an excellent customer service experience. AOV or average order value is the total revenue made from a single transaction. To increase Average Order Value, engage your customers with personalized offers that complement the products in their cart. 

Take a look at how Target implemented this tactic. 

What metrics measure and gauge the effectiveness of your customer service strategy?

Metrics can help you gauge where you are at the moment and where you are headed. Based on the insights gained, you can make effective decisions on a day-to-day basis to improve your customer support.

Key metrics that e-commerce businesses need to stay on top of:

1. CSAT: CSAT is short for customer satisfaction. This is a great way to find out how well your team is performing and how satisfied your customers are. A survey can be conducted to understand your customers’ level of satisfaction with an individual agent or your team as a whole.

2. AOV: AOV is an important metric that online businesses should track. It measures the average amount spent each time a customer places an order. It gives you inputs into customer buying behavior and patterns. The information gathered can be used to improve your pricing, marketing efforts, and customer service.

3. Retention rate: Retention Rate is an indication of the number of customers a business retains over some time. Great ecommerce customer service increases customer retention and creates repeat purchases. Satisfied and happy customers are more likely to buy from you again and spread the good word on their experience with your brand.

4. Average Resolution Time: This metric tells you the average time taken by your customer support executives to resolve issues. If your ART is high, then there is an underlying problem that needs to be looked into. 

5. Average Reply Time: It is the average time that a customer waits to get a response. Customers usually end up waiting longer on queries sent via email than through live chats. A longer ART leads to decreasing customer satisfaction.

6. Average First Response Time: It is the average amount of time that a customer service executive takes to provide the initial response to a customer query or complaint. This is an indication of your commitment towards customer care and the efficiency of your customer support center.

7. First Contact Resolution Rate: This metric not only tells you if you can resolve a customer’s problem in a single interaction but also how well you can meet the direct needs of your customers.

The sure-shot ways to improve your customer service

The customer support team is at the forefront and plays a key role in building relationships and trust. So, an excellent customer service strategy is what you need to get your business soaring.

Let’s take a look at how you can step up the e-commerce customer service game.

Develop a multichannel strategy

There is tremendous competition in the world of e-commerce today. Brands suffer when they find it hard to identify the best channels to use for customer service. If you want to offer excellent customer service, you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single channel. Build a strategy that will help you be where your customers are whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, email, or live chats.

The idea here is to take your service to where your customers are and not have them come asking for it.

Implement proactive customer service

A proactive approach to customer service can help your business go a long way. Identify potential issues before they arise and address them. Create an FAQ giving answers to frequently asked questions. This way you are seen as a partner and not as an aloof entity.

Prepare for busy times (like BFCM)

BFCM or the Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a 4-day shopping extravaganza that begins soon after the American Thanksgiving and ends the following Monday. E-commerce businesses have a huge opportunity with such events. They must prepare for early customer registrations and be well equipped to handle increased demand.

Automate repetitive questions with chatbots

Use chatbots to take care of standard, commonly asked questions. By automating repetitive questions you can focus on your business. Companies like Shopify, Sephora, AirAsia, Airbnb, and the likes use chatbots to help with customer support.

Make sure your responses are on point 

Clearly outline the steps that you intend to take to resolve customer issues. Let your responses be polite and easy to comprehend.

As customer expectations for the perfect shopping experience rise,  customer service is what will help businesses not just survive but thrive in a highly competitive e-commerce market. The perfect customer service strategy doesn’t exist but you can come pretty close if you focus on how the customer would ‘feel’ when they purchase your product.

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