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How to Improve Online Customer Service Without Increasing Costs

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Businesses that invest in online customer service will see greater loyalty and repeat purchases. Here are six ways to enhance ecommerce customer service without sacrificing profits. Just one bad experience with a company's customer support is all it takes for customers to start telling others.  

You know that providing helpful and responsive ecommerce customer service benefits the company. Happier customers stick around and buy again. They’ll tell others about the good experience. Of course, they’ll also tell people about their experience if it’s a bad one. In fact, more share the bad experience than the good.

“Customer Service and Business Results” from Zendesk has found that 95 percent of customers share bad experiences with others, compared to 87 percent who share good experiences. So providing quality online customer service is a valuable marketing tool.

Customers demand more from business online. More contact options. More delivery options. More usable mobile websites. They don’t compare your customer service to your competitors’. They compare it to customer service from Amazon and other powerhouse retailers, regardless of country or industry. That’s a high bar to hit.

Get an ecommerce checklist of questions to help pick the right ecommerce solution provider to boost customer service and business online.

What does it take to build a strong culture of delivering top-notch customer service in an end-to-end ecommerce process? Here are six strategies you can implement to enhance your customer service without sacrificing profits.

1. Make customer service available on as many channels as possible

Customers have a variety of preferences in how they want to communicate with companies. They’ll use live chat, social media, email, phone, and more. This has spurred the growth of the omnichannel. For any company that wants to stay competitive, many of the channels are no longer a luxury.

The good news is that many of these channels are less expensive than phone support. It takes less time to respond to someone in other channels than by phone, which cuts labor costs. And the more you automate, the more you save. Still you need the right software and systems to support an integrated approach that combines all the channels.

2. Do mobile right

eWeek quotes a study that found 63 percent of U.S. adults use a mobile device several times a month for customer support. eMarketer has found that 42 percent of the global population (almost 2 billion users) owned a smartphone by the end of 2015. Unfortunately, the majority of experiences are poor. Pages don’t display correctly, search results aren’t useful, and navigating is difficult.

Mobile websites are not mini versions of a company’s website optimized for the small screen. People often use a mobile device to accomplish different tasks than they do on a desktop or laptop. They also use it to communicate with a brand, as many smartphones come with video chat, voice, email, SMS, and social media capabilities. Successful retailers ensure that support is mobile-friendly and that mobile experiences minimize customer effort.

3. Provide self-service tools

Customers want answers fast. And they’re happy to get it without contacting the company. Self-service tools like knowledge bases, FAQ, videos, and how-to articles save time and let customers solve problems themselves.

Providing these tools can lower your support costs substantially and shorten the time-to-resolution. Creating them can be as simple as collecting answers to common questions and putting them in an FAQ or customer portal.

Another way to make it easy for customers to serve themselves is by adding help within a product like an app or device. This allows customers to get answers without looking elsewhere.

4. Use data to personalize experiences

A Facebook ad for something you need shows up at the right time – it’s not a coincidence. Facebook ads contain a lot of targeting tools to help companies reach their prospects when they’re likely to buy.

Data can help you send the right emails and coupons at the right time. For example, a restaurant could use weather data to send coupons for soup instead of cold desserts on a rainy day.  If someone has bought two mystery books, then the website can serve up suggestions from the same genre the next time the customer visits.

Software to upsell, cross-sell, and target follow-on sales is now affordable. It’s easy to document the ROI.

5. Supplement content with videos

One of the first places people do searches is on YouTube. Even if customers don’t start there, Google puts videos on the first page of search results.

How-to videos don’t have to be expensive. The point is to provide a visual aid on how to do something where instructions alone may not be enough.

To make the most of your video, ensure that sharing videos is effortless. Also add subtitles or written instructions. This not only helps people who may not be able to listen to the video, but also it aids search engine optimization.

6. Tap into the wisdom of the crowds with reviews

You’re looking for a pair of running shoes and narrow your choices to two. All things being equal, how do you decide which pair to buy? One pair may have hundreds of reviews with an average of four out of five stars. The other pair may have four stars too, but only 25 reviews. Does that compel you to choose the one with more reviews over the other?

Several studies have found that more than 70 percent of customers look at product reviews before making a purchase. In a survey of 800 Americans, PowerReviews reports that 95 percent of shoppers consult customer reviews, with more than 86 percent saying it influences their purchase decisions. This is why you’ll want to add a customer review component to an ecommerce website and automatically send emails at a set time to ask for feedback on a product.

The price of investing in customer service

In “Customers 2020,” Walker Information says that by 2020, customer services will overtake price as a brand differentiator.

“If you build your business around being the lowest-cost provider, that's all you've got,” writes Seth Godin in The tyranny of low price. “Everything you do has to be a race in that direction, because if you veer toward anything else (service, workforce, impact, design, etc.) then a competitor with a more single-minded focus will sell your commodity cheaper than you.”

Data shows that companies are spending more on customer service, but many solutions cost less than you expect. Every employee contributes to a company’s online customer service culture. Businesses that make ecommerce customer service a high priority for an ecommerce website will see their profits grow faster than those that don’t.


For more insight on end to end eCommerce strategy visit this resources page

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Image credit: Phil Dowsing Creative

Topics: ecommerce customer service online customer service ecommerce customer service customer support