How to Create a Great Customer Service in an eCommerce?

Let’s be honest: the customer service process in most eCommerce stores is done badly – that is, if it exists at all. This is why the shopping experience is usually at a dramatically low level. Sometimes this is due to ignorance, and sometimes it’s a consequence of a lack of time. This is understandable to some extent: there are so many more pressing issues to deal with when getting started with a new business!

Regardless of the reason, however, the low quality of customer service negatively affects the reputation of your brand and your revenue. And yet, to impress customers with service, you don’t need much – as you will learn from this article. Read on!

Why Is Customer Service the Future of eCommerce?

In case you’re not convinced that this topic is worthy of a longer reflection, here are some numbers for you to consider. According to the Microsoft State of Global Service report, as many as 60% of customers stop buying from a given store if they’ve experienced poor customer service (for people aged 18-34, this rate is as high as 68%). At the same time, 61% of customers indicate customer service as very important – it is estimated that this year in the US it will be a more important factor than the price of the product itself. How is this possible? Poor customer service makes an affordable pruchase less affordable, because it makes you pay extra for the lower price. How come? You spend extra time submitting and tracking your complaint, you get frustrated etc. As a result, you don’t really save on a cheaper purchase.

This emphasis on high-quality customer service will certainly not descrease, quite the contrary – especially since there are more and more eCommerce stores competing for customers. So, if you don’t want to wrap up your business in the near future, you should invest in both technology-based and human-based customer service processes. While the former need to be developed and implemented once, the latter are more of a challenge. Maintaining them at a high level requires a lot of effort.

What Is the Customer Service Process?

Why are we talking about the customer service process and not just customer service? Isn’t that just some fancy distinction to make it sound impressive? Well no. Customer service is a process because it has its own specific, distinguishable stages that can be planned and managed using pre-prepared, tested scenarios. Of course, you can simply handle incoming emails from customers, but this cannot be measured in any way, and each of your employees will work in their own way, as they see fit, without reference to an established standard. Moreover, with no process – not even a bad one – you will never know what to fix! So, the process is your friend, do not hesitate to implement, maintain and improve it.

Still not convinced? Then let me take the example of McDonald’s. A sandwich bought in a bar of this chain in New York, Warsaw or Amsterdam tastes more or less the same. As a customer, you know what to expect as far as the product and customer service are concerned. Why? Because Thomas, Gosia and Almar who prepare sandwiches in these different bars don’t rely on their own whim, but on a detailed and perfectly implemented process that ensures the same quality regardless of the employee who makes the sandwich for you. And it should be the same with customer service in your eCommerce store.

The Key Improvements in the Customer Service Process

The key factor in customer service in an online store is not the customer himself/herself, but time. Customer service in eCommerce is a race against time – the customer expects an immediate response. If (s)he has to wait, (s)he gets frustrated and takes his/her business elsewhere. These are common situations where reaction time is critical – you need to anticipate and plan for them in your customer service process:

Where is my parcel?

The current location of the parcel with the customer’s purchase is not a secret knowledge, but you must have a ready process for it to quickly provide precise information. Or even provide it before the customer asks for it – e.g., by adding a link for tracking the parcel in the confirmation message.

How much would that cost?

Or the age-old problem with the quotation for a non-standard order. If it depends on the data that your suppliers have, create a system that will ensure you always have this data at hand, without the need of a time-consuming communication. Providing quote quickly – faster than your competition – will make it easier for you to secure orders, even if your competition is using the same source!

How come you don’t know it?!

For you, a given client is one of many, but for the client you are the only one. The customer expects that since (s)he buys from you, you know everything related to his/her order. So if (s)he has to provide you with information about the order and take care of its tracking, it frustrates him/her. You should have all information about a given client and his orders at your fingertips, with the entire history of communication, so that you can answer every question.

I have three more questions…

If the customer has additional questions after the purchase, your purchasing process is not informative enough. You need to anticipate the questions that the client might ask and answer them before he or she asks them. Anticipate their needs and they will love your eStore.

Perform customer tasks

The purchasing process has several critical moments where the customer wonders: will this product suit me? Can’t it be cheaper? And how do I configure it after the purchase? You need to understand these types of dilemmas and be able to solve them at the purchase stage. If you don’t, the customer will get frustrated and abandon the purchase.

Practice interactions with the so-called difficult client

The curse of all customer service departments is the so-called difficult client, i.e. one who is always convinced of being right, is very demanding, and sometimes even rude. Whether you like it or not, you have to be ready for it. Anticipate such situations and practice dealing with them. Have your customer service team regularly practice role playing – including talking to a difficult customer. If chefs, doctors and tennis players practice their profession, why shouldn’t customer service employees do it?

But What About Sales Processes?

In the sales process itself, preceding – and sometimes also follwing the customer service process – you can also improve certain elements that influence your financial results and increase customer satisfaction:

Pick out promising customers.

Based on the sales data, select customers who may be promising from a sales point of view. You should be informed about their existence by the marketing automation tool you’re using. And when you identify them, devote a separate purchasing process to them, followed by a dedicated salesperson who will make sure your eStore makes as much business with this customer as possible, while ensuring his or her satisfaction.

Forecast large purchases.

Some purchases prelude other, larger purchases, and you should be able to spot them and give that customer enough attention. For example, if someone buys date center racks, (s)he will most likely be buying the servers themselves. So, anticipate their movement and offer them the servers as well. Easy!

Invest in your sales team skills.

This one is still not obvious, so let’s say it again: your sales team is your army that you send to the frontline in the fight for a customer. Train this army, provide it with everything it can use in action. Take care of their training in sales, the art of negotiation, customer service and – last but not least – stress management.

Display your sales team performance in a visual manner.

Your salespeople have set goals that you can remind them of in a subtle, yet motivating way. Display the current performance of each team member in a visual, easy to grasp manner. Mark the numbers indicating above-average performance in green, and the numbers that are below expected performance in red. This way, your salespeople will see how they are doing and, believe me, they will try harder without you pushing them.

Manage recurring purchases.

You must observe your clients and immediately react to any repeating patterns in their behavior. A marketing automation tool is very helpful in this, as it notices certain patterns and helps you react to them automatically. But the human factor has to step in here – the salesperson must reach out to such a customer in a timely manner and translate this information into sale.

Prepare comprehensive offers.

Make your offer clear to the customer. Remember that any doubt or ambiguity delays his/her decision. So, anticipate what they may want to ask about and have it up your sleeve – be it your product visualizations or quotes for different quantitative variants, etc.

Start Today!

If the sales and customer service processes in your online store suck, don’t despair. This is normal, especially at the beginning, when there are more important things to take care of that determine the be or not to be of your eStore. But since you’re aware that something is not right and you’ve just read this article, all you have to do is get started. It’s not too late for that – just don’t wait any longer. There are more and more eCommerce stores and only those for which customer service becomes the top priority will survive.

Good luck!

This article was written in cooperation with Szymon Negacz, CEO at Sellwise.

Written by
Jarek Wasielewski
Digital Content Specialist at ExpertSender
After work: local historian. Double bass enthusiast.
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