To run a successful eCommerce brand, you need to stand out from your competitors online. Competition is tough, but the best way to hold your own is to focus on what’s been at the core of successful brands for decades – great customer service.
However, without being able to see your customers face-to-face, how do you provide them with a seamless experience?
Essentially, creating great eCommerce customer service comes down to being able to build trust and rapport with your customers. This may seem hard when you’re unable to connect with your customers in-person, but with the right tools and tactics, it can be done.
To help get you started, we’ve broken down exactly what eCommerce customer service is, why it’s important and some key tips to help ensure you’re nailing your experience for your customers.
What is eCommerce customer service?
In short, the eCommerce customer experience is the experience your customers have when they’re buying from your store. It’s the sum of every touchpoint, engagement, thought or feeling that occurs between a customer and your brand - as experienced from their perspective.
No matter the industry, your customer experience will generally follow a similar pattern – your customers will learn about your brand, visit your store, ask questions about your product and then (hopefully) make a purchase.
The approach to eCommerce customer service differs slightly from brick-and-mortar settings. Part of what makes face-to-face service so effective is how personal it is, but that advantage is lost in eCommerce. That is why so many customers are delighted when they find an eCommerce site with real people who take the time and care necessary for a personalized experience. In fact, over 75% of consumers, after all, want a more personalized shopping experience.
Since you can’t speak with your customers face-to-face, you need to anticipate roadblocks that your customers may experience during the buying process. This could be as simple as thinking about the questions specific customers might have when they’re buying, and how you’ll answer them. However, it can also include how customers experience your website, how they interact with you and how they give you feedback on their purchase.
Why is eCommerce customer service important?
Put simply, great eCommerce customer service creates customer loyalty with your customers.
In eCommerce, loyal customers matter. Why? Because success in eCommerce comes down to a few important numbers – two of them being average order value (AOV) and customer life time value (LTV). These numbers are measures of how much your customers spend, on average, when they make a purchase, and how much they spend during their relationship with your brand.
When you create a fantastic customer experience, customers are going to be motivated to buy more and buy more regularly, boosting both your AOV and LTV. When customers are spending more over a long period of time, that can have a significant impact on your bottom-line (and your all-important growth goals!).
Not only that, but loyal customers are more likely to talk about your brand to friends, family and co-workers, bringing new customers to your store. If these customers also have great experiences, it can create a long-term positive impact on your brands revenue.
Creating a great eCommerce customer experience
So, we know what eCommerce customer experience is and why it matters, but what are some tangible ways you can create a memorable customer experience?
Automate everything you can, without losing the personal touch
Automation can be the secret sauce of good customer support. Done right, it allows your team to engage on a more personal level with more customers.
You probably already automate a host of email messages, such as purchase receipts and delivery notifications. However, don’t overlook the simple wins that can enhance your customer experience.
During a recent study of 1000 companies across the globe, 90% didn’t let customers know an email had been received. Small elements such as acknowledging to customers that you’ve got their email and will respond within a certain time frame can make all the difference.
In fact, there’s a host of ways that your eCommerce business can use automation to improve your customer service including:
- Responding to order or refund/return requests with auto-reply.
- Tracking and rewarding your most engaged customers.
- Creating automated email flows for cart abandonment, upselling, and post-purchase.
- Reaching out to negative reviews
Use live chat to your advantage
73% of customers say that a company valuing their time is the most important part of great customer service.
Offering live chat support is the most effective way to respect your customers’ time. It can assist with everything from sales inquiries, proactive selling and even post-sales support.
Importantly, customers can get answers without leaving their shopping experience. Instead of sending an email and waiting until someone can respond, customers can get the answers they need, when they need them.
Having a chat function on your site again allows you to use automation to your advantage. If you get certain questions frequently, it makes sense to automate answers and develop canned responses. Additionally, you can program your chatbot to personalize conversations and greetings in a way that builds trust with customers.
However, for more detailed questions, offering a live chat with members is vital for a great customer experience. It can mimic the conversations that would happen in a brick-and-mortar setting, helping to develop trust and loyalty.
Utilize the power of self service
Another way to help customers help themselves is utilizing the power of self service.
Of course, chatbots can work fantastically for frequently asked questions. But if you find customers often have in depth questions, developing a knowledge base can also be a great idea. Knowledge bases can be set up for internal or external use and are proven to be valuable, scalable customer service tools. They're also an SEO goldmine, providing the opportunity to target some long-tail keywords on your own channel.
If you can’t justify a knowledge base, a dedicated page to your FAQs can also work. This saves you a lot of time answering the easy questions. And customers will appreciate being able to quickly find the answers.
Don’t talk like a robot
Everyone has had a customer response where you could almost ‘feel’ the script the customer service rep was using. It comes down to one simple fact: people like to talk to people. But the people we talk to need to be engaged in the conversation.
Scripted responses have their place in chat support sessions, and there’s no denying that a bit of automation can go a long way. However, consider adding a bit of humor and tone into them to sound a bit more human. You’ll also want to make sure your chatbot is well-trained when it should hand off responses to a real human.
But, it’s not just robots that can sound robotic. We’ve all received a lifeless message from a company where minimum effort has been taken to helpfully answer a question. To combat against this,
make sure your team have a clear tone of voice they use with customers and, they’re trained to inject a bit of humor and life into the conversation to make your brand memorable.
Reduce wait times as much as possible
Obviously, nobody likes to wait. Long waiting time can cause sale loss and other losses. Of course, chatbots and automation can go a long way to cut down wait times, but it doesn’t stop there.
Website speed can be a big factor in reducing customer wait times for eCommerce businesses. For example, optimizing images in the right format files, as well as in the standard sizes, helps your webpage work smoother.
An easily searchable website, filterable product pages and a user-friendly checkout page also helps purchasers find their product and check out faster and reduces cart abandonment rates.
Surprise and delight
‘Surprise and delight’ is a strategy that gives customers unanticipated perks to renew interest in their products and services and to amplify messaging.
Why is the element of surprise so important? Because it’s addictive.
Surprise changes behavior, it’s cheap, it turbocharges emotions, and fuels more passionate relationships between customers and brands, according to the Harvard Business Review.
One company infamous for doing this is Zappos, an American online shoe and clothing retailer. Zappos takes surprise and delight to the next level. For example, when one of their reps found out that because of a death in the family, a loyal customer had forgotten to mail back a pair of shoes she’d planned to return, a Zappos rep sent her flowers, creating a customer for life.
Of course, you might not be able to send flowers to every single one of your customers. However, small free gifts with purchases, discount codes and shipping upgrades are all tools that can turn the average customer into a raving fan.
Use numbers to your advantage
Naturally, you need to have some clear hard messages of customer experience. In any business, eCommerce or not, what gets measured gets managed and without numbers you’re just guessing.
A great way to measure your overall levels of customer loyalty (which impacts your AOV and LTV) is with a Net Promoter Score, more commonly known as an NPS survey. The NPS is a measure of customer loyalty and how likely your customers are to promote your business. Customers are asked a single question:
"How likely is it that you would recommend [Organization/Product/Service] to a friend or colleague?”
Customers then generally rate their likeliness on a scale of 1-10, however stars, smiley faces and thumbs up measures are also often used.
Scheduling an NPS email to go out soon after a customer has made a purchase can be a great way to gauge their experience with you. It also gives them an opportunity to give feedback, allowing you to understand if there’s anything about your customer experience you could improve.
The Take Home
One of the most important aspects to eCommerce success is providing great customer service. Not only does great customer service help you stand out as a brand, but it can help boost customer loyalty, which is all important for boosting average order value, customer lifetime value, as well as your bottom line.
Socialike has helped many companies perfect their eCommerce customer experience by implementing best practices like live chat or email support that create interactive conversations between brands and shoppers. If you’d like help improving how well people are supported on your site, get in touch! We’re happy to help turn your one-time customers into happy loyal shoppers.