6 Ways in which Ecommerce Customer Service is Different

March 03, 2021 at 04:20 pm

1. Digital engagement is different from engagement in a retail environment

Since you find yourself selling to customers through a digital environment, it is important to take into consideration the various stages of your customer's buying journey in order to assess where they might need support. Many beginners in ecommerce simply establish a Customer Service touchpoint once the purchase has been completed. This can be detrimental for sales and reputation management. Your customer might want to interact with you while they are navigating your website to inquire about product specifics, and the lack of assistance during that process might translate into an abandoned cart. Or your customer might have already purchased the product and your post-purchase customer service process lacked efficiency in resolving support issues, which resulted in a refund request.

For example, let's say that you are selling socks on a subscription basis. Let's say that you send your customers a pair of socks of their choice every month for $19.99. Your customer might have questions both before and after purchasing.

Before purchasing:

  • What day of the month are products shipped?
  • Can I change my sock choice on a monthly basis?
  • If I commit for a longer subscription do I get a discount every month?

In this scenario, you should have set up various channels for your customer to get an answer to these questions. A Frequently Asked Questions page, and a Live Chat Support Box could probably resolve 99% of the inquiries while your customer is on the site. If you want to put the cherry on top of the cake we suggest you also create a support system through Social Media, given that your customers might have become aware of you through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

After purchasing:

  • My product didn't arrive, where do I request a refund?
  • How do I cancel my subscription?
  • I received the same sock design and I had changed it, how do I receive what I ordered?

Post-purchase is extremely important because it is more related to retention than acquisition, and this is where you secure a customer for higher lifetime value, especially within a subscription model. Support should be accessible through phone, chat, email, and social media and it should be easy for customers to find those channels for your product.

2. Support can be personalized to the customer in more ways than usual

This is where a lot of big companies fail. They become very attached to optimizing the Customer Service process for faster resolution, which is great for KPIs, but ends up distancing the company from the customer. Nobody likes a Customer Service call where the agent speaks in a dry tone and is reciting a script verbatim.

Whatever your offer is, take time to consider how your customer will engage with the product and why they would buy it. Then imagine why you would buy your product (which you should if you are selling it!), and then consider yourself as a friend of the customer with the same inclinations, instead of a detached entity. If you can embed the warmth and care with which you would advise a friend of yours who is buying a product you also like into the Customer Support process then you have officially won. Why? Because the customer feels the experience as personal instead of purely transactional.

3. Your customers must be able to reach you through multiple channels

Within the different customers you acquire there will be different preferences set for the platforms they use. Some customers navigate the web only on their mobile devices as opposed to desktops. This means that phone interactions or social media interactions will be more relevant to them than live chat.

You should have set up a seamless experience across these multiple channels in order to allow the customer to navigate your offer´s environment in whatever way they find most comfortable and accessible. Lacking any of these channels on the other hand can hurt retention, acquisition, and reputation. The last thing you want is a customer attempting to make a post-purchase claim and not be able to reach you. This results in churn, bad reviews, refund requests, and other considerable issues.

4. Self-service can adequately answer the majority of your customers questions

According to Ameyo, 85% of Customer Service interactions will be automated in 2020, and according to Microsoft, 77% of customers report having used a self-service customer support portal.

More profoundly, the reason why self-service can indeed answer a large portion of your customer's inquiries, is due to something called the Pareto Efficiency. What this means is that 20% of your support categories will generate 80% of the inquiries. In E-commerce, this 20% of inquiries are related to Billing, Fulfillment and Order Inquiries. This is awesome as far as the process goes, because it means you can prioritize your FAQs or Chatbot according to the areas of Customer Service which generate the highest amount of tickets.

If you create the proper self-service tools and distribute your information effectively through various channels then you can save yourself from a lot of unnecessary support tickets, which means driving down costs, and you can aid customers directly without having to interact with them for easily answered questions.

5. Your First Contact Resolution Rate Matters (FCR). A lot.

According to AE, one-third of customers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service. And guess what! According to Ameyo, 67% of customer churn is preventable if firms resolve issues the first time they occur. As you can see, Customer Satisfaction is closely tied to FCR.

This is really an instance where process does matter a lot. Your agents or AI chatbot need proper training to be able to assess your customer's inquiries and resolve them quickly and effectively. This means that your agents need: a great script if there is an inbound call, a refined database of common support inquiries and the ways to resolve them, proper Quality Assurance with KPIs and Benchmarks attached so that performance is reviewed continuously, and sufficient Customer Service staff to deal with an overflow of requests. There are of course many more factors that relate to your resolution process, like a great CRM with proper functionality and streamlining capabilities to increase the efficiency of your agents, but we laid out just a few for your awareness. Take it from here and go create an amazing resolution process!

6. Your Brand's Reputation is more tangible. Manage it diligently!

In the world of retail and brick-and-mortar stores, word-of-mouth is the way in which customers communicate what they feel about your brand to their friends and family, AKA potential new customers. However, in the digital world customers are more prone to comment on social media about your brand, or provide reviews on various settings. Reviews can be provided in your website, through third party marketplaces like Amazon, Yelp, or Trustpilot. And reviews matter. More than you imagine.

According to Dimensional Research, 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews when buying a product. This means that the grand majority of customers online will be inclined to navigate through the vast amount of reviews that exist for any given company or product. Through every stage of your company's growth, you should have your support agents going through third-party review sites and social media to respond to reviews on your product, both positive and negative. It is important to thank those who review you positively and to provide feedback and emotional resolutions to customers who provide negative reviews. You don't want negative reviews sitting there for months for other customers to see without hearing your side of the story!

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