5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Ecommerce Customer Service

5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Ecommerce Customer Service

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Nowadays, every online shopper is extremely aware of the reach of their voice.  Be it positive or negative - one tweet, status update, or blog post can reach hundreds of thousands of people in an extremely short amount of time if it's picked up by the right outlets.

Providing exceptional customer service is an essential part of every ecommerce business.  

It can be used as a marketing strategy, customer retention technique, as well as a way to raise awareness for your brand.

In this post, we’ll go over the tools and techniques you can use to provide an outstanding customer service experience, and how to really “wow” your customers.

Let’s answer the call!

The Importance of Multi Channel Customer Service

It’s important to understand that providing an exceptional service experience in a timely, professional manner is critical to the success of your business long term.  It’s just as important as defining your brand.  

Multi channel customer service is a strategic way to manage all customer related questions about your business.  You can take advantage of email, social media, phones and many other platforms to do this.

By taking advantage of different tools, you can make sure that you’re able to cover all of your bases through multi channel customer service.

In this post we’ll go over a few different channels interact with your customers.  Not all are necessary when just starting out as a small ecommerce store, but it’s important to know which ones are available should you look to expand your support channels with your business.

Here’s what we’ll take a look at today:

  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Live Chat
  • Helpdesk
  • Phone Support

Our main goal with using these different channels is to be able to deliver a “WOW” experience to our customers in hopes that they’ll return as a repeat buyer, or share their experiences with friends, family and social networks.

What is a WOW Experience?

Have you ever had an unbelievable customer service experience that completely exceeded your expectations?  That’s a wow experience.

In today’s extremely competitive online market, consistently exceeding customer expectations is a fantastic way to separate yourself from the competition, get repeat customers, as well as get unexpected press around your business.

An article from Gregory Ciotti has a few fantastic examples of this.  Take a look at what Sainsbury’s did after a young girl sent them a note about the name of one of their breads.

What is a WOW Experience?

Lily’s mom posted Sainsbury’s response on her blog, and the letters instantly went viral.  Nothing but good press for Sainsbury.

Let’s take a look at how you can do the same using multi channel customer service.

1. Use E-Mail Support as a Simple Form of Contact

1. Use E-Mail Support as a Simple Form of Contact

Providing an email contact for your customers is the easiest way to get started.

Simply publish either a contact form on your storefront, or a public email address and you can wait for questions to start coming in.

Often if you’re dealing with a few requests per day, it can be tough to work with threaded conversations, and you may forget to respond to a customer’s question.  

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss out on any important emails, is to separate your personal email from your ecommerce store inbox.  This makes it easier to organize what emails you need to respond to.

You’ll also need to be careful to “close” certain emails after dealing with them, otherwise your inbox will turn into a chaotic mess.

There’s a few services, some paid and others free, that will let you have a custom email address for your store.

For example, you could open up an email account for yourname@yourstore.com, support@yourstore.com and more.

Here are some inbox services to get you started:

Alternatively, you can take advantage of Shopify’s email forwarding feature.

Delivering a WOW experience via email: make it easy for your customers to contact you by adding a contact page to your store.  Be sure to have a separate email account for support related requests.

Tip: If you find yourself answering the same questions frequently, consider adding the answer to this question to your Frequently Asked Questions page on your storefront.  Another option is to get setup with a program called TextExpander, which will let you type more with less effort by using keyboard shortcuts.

2. Communicate With Customers on Social Media

2. Communicate With Customers on Social Media

If you haven't been paying attention to your social accounts, now is the time.  In fact, large companies are more responsive over social media than other channels simply because of the immediacy of it.

It offers a form of interaction with customers who are either asking about your product or business.

Of all of the different forms of social media, one of the most effective forms of providing social media support is through Twitter.  However, it’s important to note that because Twitter is such a straight and to the point platform, if you aren’t answering quickly you might be in trouble.

A study by the team at Simply Measured showed that 99% of brands are on Twitter, 30% of which have a dedicated customer service account.  They found that the average response time was 5.1 hours with 10% of companies answering within an hour.

32% of customers voicing their concerns on Twitter expect a response within thirty minutes, and 42% expect a response within the hour.  Those are tough numbers to hit if you’re a small team.

Another study found that people share their experiences using social media.  30% of customers share positive experiences on social media, and a total of 45% shared negative experiences.

So, with all of that in mind,  what’s the best way to manage your social media support efforts?  Ideally being able to manage everything from one platform would be your best bet.

Here are some social media management tools to get you started.  Keep in mind, some of these will even integrate with other channels to make managing your support even easier.

Delivering a WOW experience on Twitter: be as active and responsive as you can across all of your social media accounts.  Make an effort to answer any questions in under an hour.

3. Instantly Communicate With Customers Using Live Chat Services

3. Instantly Communicate With Customers Using Live Chat Services

Adding live chat functionality to your ecommerce store is a great way to let your customers get in touch with your team.  If you can, always have someone available to answer any immediate questions by being online during regular office hours.  

Live chat is a fantastic tool to speak with your customers for a few reasons.  Just think about it - they can use it while they’re at work, they don’t have to make a long distance phone call, and they certainly don’t have to listen to hold music.

A recent study by econsultancy shows that live chat has the highest level of customer satisfaction as well.  24% of customers polled said they have used live chat, and 73% of them said they were happy with their live chat experience.

Those who completed the survey said that they prefer live chat over any other method because they got their answers quickly, and 46% agreed it was the most efficient communication method.

Here are some tools that you can use to add a live chat feature to your store:

Delivering a WOW experience on live chat: try and find a service that lets you be mobile and still answer live questions.  If that’s not an option, get started with a live chat platform that doubles as a contact form on your storefront so no requests are missed.

4. Use a Helpdesk Center as a Community FAQ

4. Use a Helpdesk Center as a Community FAQ

Having an online helpdesk where your customers can go to see commonly asked questions can be extremely helpful to you as a ecommerce store owner.  Not only will it answer the customers question(s) quickly, but it will also help to mitigate support debt.

That means less time answering questions, and more time focusing on sales and marketing.

There are quite a few different helpdesks available nowadays, so it’s a matter of finding which one suits your needs.  I recommend trying out a few of them to see if they have a trial period in which you can test out the functionalities.

Here are some popular ones to get you started:

It’s good to have an interactive helpdesk that doubles as a contact area.  For instance, some helpdesks have a feature where a customer can submit a public question and you can answer it publicly, or have a customer answer the question - effectively creating crowdsourced customer support.  This also helps mitigate support debt.

Delivering a WOW experience with a Helpdesk: build up an online portal that acts as a forum, contact area, and frequently asked questions page to help mitigate support debt.

5. Take Customer Calls with Inbound Phone Support

5. Take Customer Calls with Inbound Phone Support

For most ecommerce stores, having a phone number that your customers can reach you at is tremendously important.  

It can, however, be daunting to provide your own personal phone number if you’re dealing with a large customer base.  If you’ve never done any sort of call centre related work, it can be nerve-wracking to pick up the phone as well.

That being said, it is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and your customers.  In Andrew Youderian’s “Should You Have a Phone Number for Your Online Store” he weighs some of the benefits of having a phone number for your ecommerce store.

There are a lot of great advantages to offering quality, personal phone support:

It’s a great way to learn:  Especially early on in a new business, there’s no better way to understand your customers than by talking to them directly.  You’ll learn all sorts of things about them through casual conversation that would never come up in an email.

Faster service:  Few things resolve an issue or get a question answered faster than a phone call.  It’s a great customer experience.

Easier to build rapport:  Talking directly with a person allows you to build a rapport and then turn a potential lead into a life-long customer.

Builds trust for high-priced items:  Selling $4,000 diamond-studded fingernail clippers?  You’d better have a phone number! The more expensive the items, the more likely your customers will want to talk to you before pulling the trigger.  (Plus, wouldn’t you want to find out who was spending $4K on nail trimmers?)

There’s quite a few ways for you to get a number specific to your store if you don’t want to give out your personal number.  Here are some of the services that we’ve found to be useful for this:

Delivering a WOW experience over the phone: set designated office hours that customers can reach you for a phone call.  If you can, try finding a service provider that acts as a call forwarding and voicemail provider as well.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of multi channel support, it’s time for you to take these tools and apply them to your store.

Let us know in the comments below if there are any other important tools you can think of!

Conclusion

About The Author

Tucker Schreiber is an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Marketer at Shopify. Get more from Tucker on Twitter.

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