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If you’ve read any popular business and digital marketing blogs recently, you may have noticed a pattern. They’re all saying the same thing when it comes to ecommerce customer service. It matters — a lot.
Although more and more of us are trading the luxury of in-person sales assistants for the online shopping experience, it doesn’t mean customers still don’t crave, better yet — demand, high-quality customer service.
Here are just a few of the several stats that highlight what we’re talking about:
- 95% of shoppers will tell others about their negative customer service experiences.
- 52% of consumers say positive customer service interaction(s) moved them to make more purchases. Interestingly, 58% of that 52% recommend companies that provide excellent customer care.
- Companies with a robust and seamless omnichannel approach to customer service retain 89% of their customers. This is strikingly higher compared to those with weak omnichannel strategies — they only keep 33%!
So, with that in mind, let’s explore the topic of ecommerce customer service in a little more detail.
Successful ecommerce shops rely on great customer service
Of course, customer service is essential in every business and industry. But, when you’re running an online brand, communication is even more crucial. As the stats above demonstrate, a great customer service experience is vital in order to retain high-value customers and convert new ones.
Take lifestyle brand Marine Layer as a prime example. When the brand committed to enhancing its customer service strategy, it decreased the time it took to get back to customer queries by a whopping 68%. Simultaneously, they also saw a 75% boost in online orders! You can read the full case study here.
The key takeaway: Companies that take customer service seriously = profitability. Period.
5 popular channels for ecommerce customer service
With as many as 9 out of 10 shoppers wanting a consistent omnichannel experience, omnichannel customer service is undoubtedly on the rise.
As such, it’s imperative to provide consumers an array of communication channels to choose from. Here we outline the most common channels.
1. Live chat
You can add a live chat widget to your ecommerce store that enables customer service reps to talk with prospects in real-time. Some live chat software is pretty sophisticated, allowing you to send automated live chat campaigns based on the web page the visitor’s on, or integrate with other solutions, e.g. withVoIP. Needless to say, this works wonders for engaging shoppers in conversation and boosting overall conversion rates.
2. Online forms
Most likely you’ve used an online form to get in touch with a brand. Having a contact form on your online store offers customers a reliable and straightforward way of contacting your brand. The design of these forms varies depending on your business’s unique needs. However, standard fields include name, subject, email address, and, of course, and their custom message.
3. Direct messages via social media
You can also integrate your ecommerce store with social media to not only improve your social media presence, but also create a platform for customers to get in touch easily.
For instance, Facebook Messenger is a great tool for customer service, which has the option to either respond right away or send a custom auto-response with a list of FAQs or important links. This offers shoppers an instant and valuable response when a customer support agent or social media manager isn’t available to handle their query in real-time.
62% of customers want to contact brands via email when they have a customer service issue. Having a shared inbox with a simple email address for customer support (e.g. [email protected][yourbrand].com) is one of the best ways to provide timely, personalized, and useful responses to customer queries. Bonus if your email address auto-generates a customer service ticket.
5. Knowledge bases
An online knowledge base is a library of self-help resources that customers can use to find their own solutions. A typical knowledge base may include FAQs, how-to guides, troubleshooting guides, etc. Interestingly, 51% of customers prefer seeking technical support through an online knowledge base — especially for those who like to problem solve on their own.
Tools to help you provide better ecommerce customer service
Of course, there are only so many hours you and your customer service team have in a day. This is why using the right ecommerce customer service software to automate and manage customer inquiries is imperative.
Below are some of the most common customer service tools.
Intercom is a chatbot tool that can answer your customers day or night, even when a customer service agent isn’t available. With Intercom, you can establish and nurture fruitful customer relationships by sending personalized messages to enhance their overall customer experience and better engage with them.
If you’re unsure how to create a high-quality knowledge base, then HubSpot could be the solution. Using this platform, it’s easy to transform your customer’s frequently asked questions into a fully optimized knowledge base indexed in search engines.
Gorgias is an intuitive customer helpdesk specifically optimized to meet the needs of growing online stores. Amongst other things, their software centralizes all your communication channels, making omnichannel customer service more straightforward to manage than ever before.
When customers contact you, Gorgias also pulls data from their previous sales and communication history. It compiles this info into rich customer profiles, so that customer service agents have all the context they need to provide high-quality, customized support.
What is one of the biggest reasons customers reach out? Shipping
The first step to enhancing your ecommerce customer service campaign is to familiarize yourself with why people are contacting your brand in the first place. Depending on your brand (what you sell and how you operate), the reasons customers reach out to support can vary.
However, for many ecommerce brands, a massive chunk of customer service requests are related to shipping with questions such as:
- When will my delivery arrive?
- Where and how can I track my outstanding orders?
- Why is it taking so long for my item to ship?
This is where installing and optimizing a sophisticated live chat widget on your ecommerce website is worth its weight in gold. Not only does this enable you to help customers in real-time, but by utilizing software like Gorgias and integrating your online store with ShipBob, you can proactively answer customer questions about shipping quickly to have seamless customer support and shipping data in one place to streamline any post-purchase order inquiries and actions.
By ‘proactive,’ we mean initiating conversations with website visitors without waiting for customers to contact you. A well-timed message that pops out of your live chat box can be exactly what most customers need to get the info they’re desperately searching for.
For example, Gorgias detects when someone is on your FAQ page (or any page for that matter). And after a pre-set time threshold, a message from the live chat box will appear, and a customer service agent is notified. Your customer support team can see the content the prospect’s looking at, so they already have the background they need to provide helpful advice.
Bad customer service will kill your business
You’ve probably already inferred this from the tone of this article. Still, poor customer service will be the death of your business. This isn’t hyperbole.
Take United Airlines as an example. Yes, we realize they’re not an ecommerce brand. Still, the moral of this story applies to all businesses.
Here’s what happened.
Musician Dave Carroll flew with United Airlines, and his guitar worth $3,500 arrived in pieces. Naturally, he brought this to the attention of United Airlines staff who “showed complete indifference.”
When he went to claim compensation, he was informed he was ineligible because he hadn’t filed a claim within 24 hours. Nine months later, the company still hadn’t (adequately) acknowledged his grievance.
So, he wrote a protest song: ‘United Breaks Guitars’ and shot an accompanying music video, which went viral. Consequently, United’s stock rapidly declined.
Although United Airlines managed to survive this debacle (it just goes to show the power disgruntled customers have over your brand’s reputation and profitability), we can’t help but think this whole drama could have been avoided by providing Carroll the level of customer service any paying customer deserves.
The key takeaway: Provide excellent customer service from the get-go to further avoid larger scandals down the line.
A real-life example of an ecommerce brand nailing customer service
We briefly mentioned the brand Marine Layer already before, and there’s a lot to learn from them when it comes to perfecting a customer service strategy.
The San Francisco lifestyle brand owns an immensely lucrative Shopify store and over 40 brick-and-mortar stores dotted around the United States!
Along with offering high-quality products, they attribute a lot of their success to their seamless customer experience and excellent customer care strategies.
A couple of years ago, Marine Layer integrated a live chat box on their Shopify store. Alongside utilizing basic live chat features, they decided to launch ‘icebreaker’ campaigns. These campaigns utilize live chat software that analyzes:
- The URL of the web page your website visitor’s browsing
- Any previous communication the prospect’s had with your brand
- The length of time the customer’s spent on your website
Using the above factors, a pre-created message pops out of the chat box, predicting the customer’s needs and invites the shopper to undertake a specific action.
On top of that, Marine Layer also uses macros to their advantage, which consists of merging their omnichannel communications, and ultimately significantly decreasing their response times. They even use these macros to trigger and send relevant live chat messages to keep shoppers in the loop. They provide answers to FAQs when reps aren’t available to handle customer requests in real-time.
As previously stated, these customer service enhancements resulted in a 68% decrease in response time and a 75% increase in online orders.
Free up valuable time to focus on what matters most
The key to a successful customer service strategy is automation; this allows you to free up valuable time and to focus on money-making activities.
This is why ShipBob and Gorgias, when integrated together, make the perfect recipe. As we’ve already said, Gorgias is a high-quality helpdesk which empowers you to handle all customer support queries from the convenience of one place. Online brands rely so heavily on Gorgias to strengthen their customer service strategy that Shopify merchants rank Gorgias as the #1 helpdesk.
And since ‘shipping’ is one of the biggest reasons customers reach out to online brands, you can’t forget about ecommerce fulfillment. ShipBob is a tech-enabled third-party logistics (3PL) company that provides everything direct-to-consumer brands need to outsource fulfillment, automate the shipping process, and free up time, including:
- A reliable order fulfillment service with the technology, infrastructure, and support needed to fulfill orders on-time, accurately, and affordably
- A growing international fulfillment network (allowing you to split inventory and enable quicker shipping times)
- The ability to reduce shipping costs and scale faster than ever
When you combine ShipBob’s high-quality fulfillment services and Gorgias’s cutting-edge helpdesk, you’re able to automate both fulfillment and customer service to keep customers happy as you grow your business.
With a better shipping strategy, you’ll receive fewer shipping-related customer service tickets, and with improved all-around customer communication and support, you’ll increase customer satisfaction. Needless to say, like Marine Layer, this should lead to a boost in sales and customer retention in the long haul.
Ready to improve your ecommerce customer service strategy?
Having read this quick guide, we hope you have a better idea about how to improve your customer service for your ecommerce brand.
Hint: It starts by purchasing and utilizing the right tools and expertise. So, if you haven’t already, make this the first step in your action plan!
To learn more on how ShipBob and Gorgias work together to provide a better customer experience, request a quote below.