For any business, customer service is important – great experiences bring in repeat business; bad ones can slow sales and damage your reputation. In e-commerce, service matters even more. You aren’t face-to-face with your customer. Thus, it’s critical that every part of their interaction with your brand, from homepage to checkout to delivery, is seamless and exceeds expectations.
Great service accomplishes several things at once:
Additionally, strong customer service can even impact your bottom line with higher customer retention rates. Data shows that 90% of customers who have bad experiences will simply leave without giving feedback or trying to rectify the situation. With great service, you give them a reason to stay. You’ll see higher conversion rates, higher average transactions, and you might even be justified in raising prices, as customers are often willing to pay more for products if the service is excellent.
But saying you need to deliver exceptional customer service and actually doing it are two different things.
In e-commerce, great service requires a combination of strong interpersonal skills and technological prowess. There are several strategies you can employ to keep your customers coming back, but the following are some of the most effective.
It’s important to ensure your brand is everywhere, and not just for the sake of saturation or advertising. You need to interface with your customers regardless of where they are. This could be your website, your mailing list, a mobile device, or social media. There’s no shortage of ways for a customer to contact you or access your product. You need to tailor your business to each channel, and you need to have a plan to respond quickly and efficiently regardless of the communication method. For example, if you answer customer messages on social media, you can boost your sales by 20-40%. Ignoring them could cost you a customer.
It isn’t realistic to expect you or your team to personally answer every message. But with live chat and preprogrammed bots, you can ensure someone acknowledges every customer on every channel at every hour.
Your customer is likely modern and tech-savvy and thus, they don’t need to be handheld as they navigate your storefront. But they do need access to pertinent information. Be sure to load your FAQs section with valuable, relevant, detailed information, and make it easy to find. Also, keep your return policies simple. Convoluted policies can turn people off from your brand. It’s important to find the right balance between protecting your bottom line and doing what’s right for your customers.
In e-commerce, one size doesn’t fit all. In fact, most online shoppers expect some element of personalization. On your site, this could be saving their shipping addresses and credit card info or tailoring the homepage to reflect their most recent purchases. The same goes for your emails. “Dear Abigail” is much warmer than “Dear Valued Customer”.
Automation is key. Make every part of the shopping experience turnkey easy. When a customer makes a purchase, everything from shipping info to SKU numbers should be compiled automatically. This makes your backend process smoother, and it helps you deliver product faster. One great way to do this is through top-level CRM software.
The modern shopper wants to connect with your brand – to understand your story and your mission. People are more interested in how your products are made and what values you stand for. Don’t be afraid to use storytelling to both sell your products and show your personality. Think of makeup brand Glossier – the team has built a sturdy, popular brand by turning their blog into a destination. Posts often read as though they’re written by a knowledgeable, chic friend. What’s your brand’s voice?
Nearly 40% of online purchases are made via mobile. If your shop isn’t optimized for it, you could lose out on valuable business.
When a product page goes offline at 2 a.m., customers need help. Ensure someone is there to guide them, regardless of time zone.
Don’t assume that what you’re doing is working. As mentioned earlier, if a customer has a bad experience, they’re more likely to slip away silently. You have to actively solicit feedback from customers via surveys and learn about their needs. Hear it directly from them.
This doesn’t mean posting every detail of your production process online. But it does mean sharing an overview of how your products are made. It means making your customers’ billing and order history readily available. Transparency breeds trust, and trust translates to sales.
It’s important to produce a beautiful, durable, high-quality product, to market it effectively, and to really differentiate yourself from your competitors. But if you don’t deliver on customer service, none of that matters. The best way to build brand evangelists and continuously boost sales is to deliver, and exceed, expectations every single time.