9 Best Practices for Ecommerce Customer Service

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We live in a time when customers have no problem moving from your brand to another. The difference is often customer service. You need a set of standards to ensure your interactions put the customer first. We’re throwing you a life preserver, so you don’t find your ecommerce store fighting for its life because you’re caught unprepared when customers need your help. 

1. Easy-to-Spot Website Portals

Spending time on a website simply looking for a way to contact support causes frustration and anxiety for your customers. When your site hides or fails to prominently display the ways for a visitor to contact your company, your customers’ faith in you is about as stable as a three-legged table. 

There’s only one key point here: provide the fastest way to contact you where they expect to find that information on your site. That could be a floating live chat widget (more on this in a bit), putting your email or phone number prominently at the top of your homepage, or simply having a tried-and-true page labeled “Support.” 

Take a look at Intuit’s homepage for QuickBooks. You’ll see three different areas for a visitor to get to a support page:

Screenshot of Quickbooks home page.

All that matters is that this is easy to find. Else, customers will assume your company is unwilling to help them when they need it. 

2. Lean Hard on Live Chat

To piggyback off the last section, if there is one support tactic that makes an instant impact, it’s live chat software. Consumers today prefer chatting through your website over navigating phone trees or waiting for an email reply.

And the benefits are practically immediate. For starters, you give instant gratification to your customers. And you can deliver faster response times using fewer employees than you’d need if you were taking calls. 

Live chat software may also be more robust than you’d think. Many of the best options offer a means of handling social media interactions and reputation management features alongside a widget you can place on your website. 

3. Employ an Omnichannel Strategy 

Your website shouldn’t be the only venue on which customer service happens. Nowadays, you’re expected to engage with customers across multiple channels. That means social media channels, SMS and MMS messaging, review sites, online communities, and more, in addition to your website, email, and phone. 

The gist here is to be available and communicative wherever your customers are. Doing this well without overextending your staff is tough, but it is helped by unifying all your customer touchpoints under one software platform. That way, it’s easy for your team to connect with everyone everywhere that they’re talking about you from within one dashboard. Looking into the best options for help desk software is a good starting point.

4. Empower Your Team with Better Service Tools

If you’re noticing a theme, you’re not wrong. To foster better customer service, you will need software to help make your team’s service and support interactions more effective and efficient. 

We’ve mentioned tools like live chat and help desk software, which can help field customer inquiries and requests and create and organize support tickets. But don’t overlook the importance of your phone system. The best business phone systems give you a full suite of tools for having voice, video, and even text message-based conversations with your customers. 

You’ll get a boatload of useful features, especially if your phone system’s been stuck in the past. That includes nifty things like automated call routing to make sure the right person is talking to every customer and call pop for giving your reps a customer’s information before the phone conversation even starts. Some phone system providers even offer robust call center solutions that sync perfectly with their phone and video calling platforms. 

Phone systems are just one example of upgrading or adding to your tech stack that can unlock better ecommerce customer service from your employees. No matter what aspect of your support channels you’re looking to upgrade your management of, look for automation features to help your team do more without spending more time. 

Customer service isn’t just inbound calls about problems. It also entails properly handling billing, shipping, email reminders, customer reviews, and more. If you’re looking to handle all of this while saving time, find platforms that let you build customer service workflows that always alert the right members of your team and keep things moving along by automating repetitive tasks. 

For example, you know email is a core pillar in any online business. Simply setting up an email sequence that automatically sends order confirmation, shipping notifications, and a request for the customer to leave a review can help increase your customers’ feelings about your level of service and attentiveness.

5. Segment Your Support Departments

Have you ever called a company and waited on hold for what feels like an eternity, only to be transferred to another department and have do it all over again? Talk about swearing under your breath. It happens all the time, too. So, if you don’t do this to your customers, you already stand out as better than much of your competition. 

This builds upon the last point we brought up. It’s important to be able to segment incoming customer calls quickly and easily, so they go to the people on your team that you want those calls to go to. This is greatly appreciated by your customers. Good business phone systems and other customer service software platforms have features specific to directing calls and messages in the way you want. That makes it easy for calls about billing to go to one person or department and sales inquiries to go to your selling aces.

To take advantage of this, though, you’ll need to make sure your organizational chart reflects this level of specialization. Ecommerce has a lot of moving parts, and you’ll need to make sure to segment certain parts of your team so they can focus on giving the best service in the areas and topics that are right in their wheelhouse. 

6. Create Proactive Support Content

Proactive customer support is a fancy way to say self-service, in a way.  This concept entails anticipating common customer issues and questions and providing answers for them that don’t require a support interaction. 

The form of this you’re most familiar with is a web page for frequently asked questions. An extra-mile form of this is creating a knowledge base with tutorials, guides, and more valuable information on how to use and troubleshoot your products or services. Both are great options to help your customers help themselves and empower them to be more confident in your offerings.

And, when you listen to your customers, your FAQs and knowledge base content will change over time. Keeping these up-to-date and relevant lessens the strain on your support agents and other employees who might otherwise field repetitive questions from customers.  

7. Manage Customer Reviews

Have you ever felt like no one is listening to you? No one likes that feeling, but that’s exactly how your customer feels when they leave reviews and get ignored. Or, worse, get a response with the promise of a resolution that never happens. 

The crazy thing is when you focus on managing your customers’ reviews by thanking them for positive instances and empathetically addressing negative ones, these reviews become free marketing for you. And better still, customers will share with others how you helped them and took them seriously when they had issues or concerns. 

This will directly impact your customer retention. The better you are at treating your customers like real people, the faster you become known as a brand that wants the best for your customers.

8. Dissect Your Customer Experience

In order to get a handle on all the various ways your customers need prompt, effective service from you, you’ll need to examine your customers’ experience in its entirety. That means mapping out the various touch points in their journey when they’ll possibly reach out to you, using those moments as opportunities where you can improve. 

Grasping what areas of your customers’ experience are smooth and which ones cause speed bumps or obstacles for them helps you with several of the points above, from creating content for proactive customer service to improving or automating aspects of order processing and fulfillment. Identify pain points for your customers and solve them. It’s simple, clear, and something you can start today. 

9. Simplify the Buying Process

On that note, one key area to examine in your customer’s experience is the basic act of purchasing one of your products or services. Several websites glaze over this like cart abandonment isn’t a thing. It’s not that having a pretty website with plenty of transitions and options for your products and services is a bad thing, per se. It’s just that people don’t want to hit a bunch of obstacles when they’re ready to buy something from you already. 

We research a lot of websites in our day-to-day work. Would you believe there are ecommerce sites asking for birthdays and surveys before collecting payment information? Life gets crazy, there’s always something to do, and sometimes your customers have restrictions on their available time. Don’t make it harder to buy from you than it has to be. 

If you have six steps to get from the shopping cart through the entire checkout process because you’re asking for customers to create an account before checkout, upselling, or making the experience more complicated than it has to be, you’ve got an opportunity to simplify the buying process. Try winnowing the steps down to just three or giving shoppers a quick checkout option through a payment method like PayPal. And, if you still want to ask customers for surveys or reviews, deploy them after the sale is completed instead of making them a hurdle to jump on the way to purchase. 

Rockey Simmons is a content marketing strategist and professional direct response copywriter for SaaS B2B and B2C. He keeps readers in mind, helping them find solutions through clearly written analysis of business problems and technology. Rockey is endorsed by the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors as a writer who boosts conversions while still providing clarity and empathy.

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