As your online retail business grows, there are many high-priority projects that come to mind when allocating funds. Sales, marketing, and advertising, for example, can help move your products or services from the idea phase to production, and into the hands of customers.
Your customer service team is just as important, if not more important, than your other teams. After all, customers are more likely to invest in a brand that meets their needs and provides value beyond their initial purchase. According to HubSpot Research, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.
We asked Nicole Baqai, Partner Manager at Gorgias to share how online retailers can develop an effective customer service strategy. Gorgias is an ecommerce helpdesk that instantly connects to Shopify to have customer and order history at your agents’ fingertips. It uses features such as automated replies to cut down on the response time for your help desk, saving the customer time, and allowing your reps to work more efficiently.
Read on to learn how Shopify merchants can develop a standout customer service strategy that will increase brand trust and loyalty, repeat business, referrals, and average order value (AOV).
Why is having a customer service strategy in place so important?
We live in a world where we’re aiming to constantly acquire new customers. But really, they’re at the fingertips of your customer service team. Focusing on retention and getting customers to buy more from you is just as important, if not more important, as acquiring new customers.
As more and more consumers opt for online shopping, one way to differentiate your business model is through your customer support strategy. You can turn a really bad experience into a good one, whether that’s on Instagram, Facebook chat, SMS or phone. Being where your customers are is where you’ll get additional revenue, and where you’re going to find opportunities to upsell.
If you’re running ads on Instagram or Facebook to drive them to your website, you might get conversions. But if you can drive customers into a funnel to speak to someone, you’re going to be able to influence the process of what customers feel and what they buy. This is what will set yourself apart from other competitors.
What causes bad customer experiences?
1. Not getting questions answered right away – If someone comes to your website because they have a question, getting that question answered in a timely manner is very important for customer satisfaction. And if you don’t get their question answered right away, it often results in a bad customer experience, and potentially a lost customer.
2. Making it hard to get in touch with support – You have a couple seconds to grab a shopper’s attention when they visit your site. An automated response with the right tools (Gorgias) can help elicit a quick response. By not solely relying on your employees for support, this will result in a better customer experience.
3. Not responding to your customer needs – Just saying “Sorry about that” is a lost opportunity to go above and beyond. During an interaction, you can try to upsell and convert. Training your customer support team to upsell and turn bad experiences into good ones will help reduce bad customer experiences.
How do you choose the right customer service channels?
It’s important to understand your customer. For example, if your customers are female, between the ages of 45 to 60, phone calls and emails might be your primary customer service channels.
But with Generation Z, phones are their primary communication channel, with a 90% click through rate. In addition to email, younger generations expect support by phone, Instagram direct messages and Facebook Messenger too.
By understanding who your customer is, you can better understand what channels they use. It also comes down to trial and error. The more channels the merrier, since you might not know your customers like certain channels before you use them. By being on more sites and offering an omnichannel experience, your company will reach and connect with more new customers.
What are skills that help merchants deliver a better customer service experience?
1. Train your customer support team to communicate in your brand voice. For example, if you’re signing all our communications off with, “With love, from Diff Agency,” then that warm language and tone is representing your brand voice.
2. Use macros to deliver pre-canned responses to drive up efficiency. For example, a question asked often by customers is, “Where is my order?” Your customer representative doesn’t need to respond to that question every time individually and in a different way. Instead, a macro can be used to give a customer a great response and sign off with a name.
One click of a button can save time by generating a pre-canned response for you, rather than having to copy and paste information from different tabs. Having the right tools in place – like automation, machine learning and macros – will ensure your customer service team isn’t wasting time on repetitive inquiries, and instead, spending time on more urgent ones.
3. Prioritize urgent inquiries to support a good customer experience. A more urgent inquiry might be, “It’s broken.” In this case, you’ll want to process a return, or send out a new shipment right away. It’s imperative to prioritize different channels, inquiries, and types of requests in terms of urgency.
How does good customer service foster positive brand experiences and customer loyalty?
If you had a bad experience with a server at a restaurant, you probably wouldn’t go back. If the server was friendly and delivered your food fast however, you would be more likely to return. Just like a restaurant, customer service for your online store is all about how shoppers engage with your brand. If your user experience is too complicated, visitors won’t come back to your store no matter what value you’re offering.
This is why prioritizing the needs of your customers is pivotal for increasing repeat customers. If you have notes in front of you about your customer history, that will help too.
- Your notes say the customer you are talking with has purchased Harry Potter themed merchandise 4 different times and spent over $1,000 on your store.
- This provides insight that you are speaking with a VIP customer based on the classification you have set.
- With insights on your shopper’s past purchase history and interests, you let them know you just released another Harry Potter tshirt they might like.
The example above follows the principle of conversational commerce. This means having a conversation with customers that encourage them to feel a personal connection with you and your brand, ultimately driving retention and increasing brand loyalty.
Another way to increase repeat purchases and encourage good customer experiences is through an affiliate program. Brands like Uber and Postmates train their customers to do sales for them through word of mouth. For example, “Send $5, get $5” is an example of an affiliate promotion that encourages customers to make money by signing up their family and friends. This is an effective way to build brand loyalty with existing customers.
With a tool like Gorgias, you can see customer history and how many times a promotion code is used by a support agent for a specific customer. This way, you can share a relevant promotion code with a customer that they can share with their network. This means you don’t have to train an entire sales team – you can train your customers to do sales for you!
What kind of unexpected insights can customer service provide?
There are many unexpected insights that customer service can provide, including:
- Product demand – With Gorgias, you can tag specific types of products like tshirts or jeans. In your help desk, you can then see how many customer tickets were created for each item, for example, 30 tickets about tshirts and 70 about jeans. This can indicate which items are most in demand, helping you better forecast inventory.
- Fulfillment and operations – The frequency of responses, such as “Where is my order?” and “The order is damaged” can indicate that there may be issues that need to be resolved in your fulfillment process, supply chain or logistics.
- Tracking trends – Customer service agents need to understand shoppers’ needs, and help serve them. Customer-brand interactions provide a constant feed of data such as what wording is most effective in selling, why one agent is selling more than another, and what upselling strategy is most effective.
What are the main reasons a customer will be upset, and how do you resolve these issues?
Some reasons a customer will be upset include damaged items, lost items and items not fitting the way they wanted. But these criteria depend on the brand’s definition of what is a successful vs. not a successful purchase. If a customer is returning the product, then it’s obviously not a successful purchase, and this is where mitigation comes into play.
For example, if a lot of shoe returns are caused by ordering the wrong shoe size, you could launch a chat on your shoe collections page that suggests to order a size up. You could also create a macro (a pre-canned response) that consistently responds to questions about sizing. This can save your customer time from having to search your FAQ section to find an answer. And by understanding and answering your customer needs, you can reduce return rates.
Especially during the holidays, there are many opportunities for quick wins. And making sure offers are apparent and relevant is easy. For example, you can offer a discount code on your welcome page such as “10% off your next order”. You can also share reviews with customers that are related to their inquiries, like shoe sizing for example.
What differentiates a low value interaction from a high value customer service interaction?
If someone says their item has arrived damaged, here are 2 potential responses:
Low-value: “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear.”
High-value: “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear. I’ve sent a replacement. Because of that, here’s 30% off your next purchase. If you want to select a new item, I’ll add it to your order.”
In the low-value example, the customer’s needs are not being met or exceeded. In the high-value example, you are solving the customer’s needs by replacing their original order, as well as upselling them with something else that they may want to purchase. Now you can sell 2 products that increase the customer’s order value.
Can social media be used as part of your customer service strategy?
You can turn social interactions into something bigger by selling to more than just one person. For example, if 2 customers comment “We love this backpack!” and tag each other on a photo you post, you could have a customer service agent respond, “We’re so glad you love it, here’s 10% for both of you!” You can also encourage visitors to come back to your ecommerce store by leaving a link in your response.
How does automation/bots/autoresponders play a role in helping serve customers better?
Automation enables you to reply to the customer efficiently without having to toggle between tabs, or go into Shopify to grab data. This allows for a faster response, saving both you and your customers time.
If a customer knows you’re working to resolve their inquiry quickly, they’re going to want to keep purchasing from you. If purchasing and returning is discovered to be easy, this will also set your customer’s brand expectations. If it’s a complicated and bad customer experience, they will be less likely to purchase from your company again.
What are strategies for reducing customer service response time?
The lower your customer response time, the more conversions you will get. Imagine going to an ecommerce website and waiting 20 minutes to have your question answered. In this case, the customer is probably not going to convert. But if you’re able to respond to your customer quickly, they’re going to be more satisfied with your customer service, and more likely to purchase from you.
That doesn’t mean you need to have 10 people on your team responding at once. You can use a customer tool like Gorgias.
With Gorgias, when someone asks “Where’s my order?”, you can personalize the answer by pulling in variables such as the customer’s tracking number and shipping address. When someone asks to cancel an order before it’s fulfilled, you can have an autoresponse ready to go.
These automated answers will save your customer time and allow you as a merchant to focus on more urgent items, like customer complaints about damaged products, for example.
Why is understanding your customer order history important, and how does Gorgias support a holistic view of your customers?
What’s nice about Gorgias’ platform is that you have every customer’s order history in front of you. This way your customer service agent can see every ticket that your customer has submitted, and every order that they’ve made. If the customer emails you from different email addresses, you can merge that customer’s information into a single view.
If this customer has shopped from your store many times, this may indicate you want to give special attention to them. By having all their order history information in front of you, you can answer their inquiry as quickly as possible. A fast turnaround will create a positive experience, and will encourage the customer to consider returning to your store for future purchases.
How does Gorgias help you manage different support channels for your ecommerce customer service strategy on Shopify?
It’s all about that omnichannel experience. Rather than individually monitoring all your different workflows (ie. Instagram, email, and SMS), your customer support team can manage all this information in one view. If someone is writing to your company on Instagram with an email they used before, your customer service team will be able to understand it’s one customer.
By making sure your team is managing workflows related to support in one place, they can work more efficiently and faster without having to toggle between different communication channels.
How does personalization play a role in customer service?
Pulling variables into your customer responses can add personalization.
Example: In your message, there would be a little field that says the customer’s name or agent’s name, but when you click to populate, it will pull in information including who’s working on the ticket (the agent’s name), as well as the customer’s name. You can sign it off “with love from the team” and even add a heart emoji, or a branded emoji.
There’s a lot of different ways to personalize a message, and this doesn’t always mean you need to type it out. You can have a pre-canned macro response and use that. And if you want to switch between 2 different macros, you can create 2 and decide which one you want to use.
Why is it important to always reevaluate and improve your customer service strategy?
Customers’ tastes are always changing. In order to reevaluate your customer service strategy, make sure you are aligned with what your customers want to build trust. If your customer support team is seeing a lot of tickets but doesn’t know why, then you’re going to have a disconnect between yourself and the customer.
You should also reevaluate the metrics you’re using with customer support. Ask yourself questions like how your team could be better, and how you can respond to the customer to drive retention. You can market as much as you want, but if you can’t sell products and your customer team can’t help, that’s where you have to reevaluate your strategy.
When’s the best time to reach out with a customer support message?
With Gorgias, you can understand what day and hour of the week you’re getting the most inquiries in your support view. If you’re getting the most inquiries Monday nights at 8pm, you should try to adjust your business hours to be online then. It’s also always great to do a satisfaction survey after a purchase to upsell.
Getting customer-brand interactions are important, but you don’t want to be doing outbound marketing with your customer service support team. Your customers trust your support team right now, and they don’t want to look to you as a new sales stream.
While there are outbound capabilities such as launching a chat, this doesn’t always mean the customer will respond. And if you want to check on a purchase a couple days later, you have to make sure you’re being more inbound focused than outbound. While there are outbound capabilities, you don’t want to lose customers because of it.
Are there any takeaway tips that will help merchants on Shopify develop a standout customer service strategy?
1. Check your competitors’ ecommerce sites – See how quickly they respond to you when you ask a question. If they have a higher response rate than your own, use it as a benchmark against your team.
2. Don’t shy away from automation and tools– They’re going to be your best friends and will save you money in the long run by helping your team work faster and more efficiently.
3. You shouldn’t be sitting in support queues – Trying to manage customer inquiries in your ecommerce platform shouldn’t be a struggle. Instead, implement the right technology that does the work for you. This will allow you to focus on more urgent business needs
Get in touch with Diff to learn how we work with technology partners like Gorgias to grow commerce businesses online, enhance customer experiences, increase referrals and conversions, and boost ROI.