There has been an increasing demand among consumers across sectors for fast, efficient, thorough, and personalized customer service. Customer service plays such a monumental role in business growth and overall customer satisfaction that the customer experience market has grown by about 16.9% from 2019 to 2020. The customer experience management market worldwide was found to be worth as much as $7.6 billion in 2020.
For eCommerce businesses, in particular, customer support and customer experience are vital to success. Without a physical space to offer ambiance and friendly in-person interactions, excellent customer support is the best tool an eCommerce business has to build strong customer relationships.
What is Ecommerce Customer Service?
Ecommerce customer service refers to any assistance that is given to eCommerce customers. This includes helping customers complete their purchases online, resolving post-purchase issues, handling billing or shipping concerns, addressing customer reviews, and more.
Ecommerce customer service is not much different from regular customer service except for the fact that there is no physical customer service desk and all of the orders being dealt with were made online.
More and more consumers are transitioning to online shopping for all or most of their purchases. Global retail eCommerce sales rose 27.6% during 2020 thanks to worldwide stay-at-home orders, but eCommerce sales have been rising steadily since 2011 and according to projections this trend will continue.
The convenience and availability of online shopping is a big draw, and as consumers have come to expect immediacy and user-friendly design in their online shopping, their expectations for customer service have risen to match.
As customer service has become a determining factor in setting a business apart from the competition, many companies have doubled down on eCommerce customer support. Forrester predicts that customer service interactions will increase by 40% in 2021. And already in 2020, we have seen an $8 billion increase in company spending on customer service agents.
How to Improve Ecommerce Customer Service
- Provide Omnichannel Customer Service
Modern consumers want to be able to reach companies 24/7 on whatever platform they are most comfortable with. Having to call a customer service line during business hours to get an issue resolved is a thing of the past.
Omnichannel customer service is about more than simply offering support on multiple channels like text, live chat, and social media. The greatest strength of omnichannel support is that it connects multiple channels so that when consumers reach out on any platform, there is a record of the interaction that will be seen by the next agent even if the consumer uses a different channel.
According to Forrester, 31% of consumers have used Twitter to contact a company with an issue. Facebook has been used by 33% of consumers for support, and 45% of customers have used online chat to reach a company rep. Additionally, 66% of consumers have used at least three different communication channels to contact customer service.
Omnichannel is all about providing a unified, seamless customer experience regardless of what channel is being used. It puts the customer in control of when and how they communicate with the company without causing confusion. This results in faster and better resolutions and higher customer retention.
Omnichannel solutions that integrate with a company’s CRM, communications system, and other internal tools, are vital for excellent customer service. If there is one thing that will frustrate customers quickly, it’s having to repeat themselves.
- Hire Enough Agents
With all of the automation solutions out there and the advancements in technology for things like chatbots and IVR, as well as rising salaries, it can be tempting to substitute live agents with AI solutions. However, the importance of having a sizable, trained, live customer service team cannot be ignored.
According to one study, 75 percent of customers prefer to talk to a real person even as artificial intelligence and automated solutions improve. It is easy to see why. As sophisticated as AI is becoming, there still aren’t bots available that can handle complex customer issues. And as eCommerce becomes more complex, customer issues are becoming more complex as well.
Not having enough agents can cause customer service to plummet quickly. Not having enough agents means longer wait times, which means more frustrated customers. More frustrated customers will lead to faster burnout amongst agents, who likely are already overworked because there are too few of them.
Not to mention agents that are overwhelmed will be unable to offer customers empathy, actively listen and engage other soft skills that are vital for customer service. They will also be unable to train newer agents properly and so the bad customer service cycle will become self-sustaining.
Studies have shown that providing bad customer service can be viewed by customers as worse than no customer service at all. According to NewVoiceMedia, approximately $62 billion is lost each year following bad customer experiences in the U.S.
Staffing your customer service department with enough agents is necessary to provide even adequate customer service. If there are seasons when your business experiences more customer service calls, you should hire temps as opposed to having your team work overtime.
AdditAdditionally, make sure your agents are equipped with the training and the customer service tools they need to succeed. Providing adequate pay, PTO and medical care will protect the mental and physical health of your team. Happy, healthy, well-equipped agents will offer your customers the best service and provide more value to the company than an understaffed team ever could.
- Leverage Tracking and Analytics
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all customer service solution. Not only is every business unique in its customer service needs, but every customer is unique. Not only that but the needs of even one customer change over time. A customer service solution must be dynamic, adaptable, and flexible to meet the demands of modern consumers. This requires tracking and consistent, long-term analysis of various KPIs.
Some important call tracking metrics for customer service teams are things like average call duration (ACD) which will tell you how efficient your agents are when they are on the phone with customers. The first call resolution rate (FCR) will let you know how many issues get resolved on the first call/interaction with customer service. Average time in the queue, which will let you know how long customers are waiting on hold.
Tracking shouldn’t end with calls either. For omnichannel customer service departments, you will also want to track things like first response time (FRT) which is the average length of time it takes to respond to a customer query on any channel. Average ticket resolution is also helpful to see how long it is taking for customer issues to be completely resolved.
As the saying goes, whatever is tracked will be improved, so keeping a close eye on these numbers will help your company to get wait times down and resolve issues faster and more efficiently. This will help to keep both your customers and employees happy.
- Update Self-Service Options
According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers attempt to help themselves using self-service before contacting an agent. Today’s consumers are used to relying on Google and eCommerce customers especially are going to be at least be “tech-savvy” if not “tech native”.
Make sure that your company has a self-service solution such as a knowledge base and update it regularly. Going back to the segment on tracking and analytics, make sure you keep track of repeated issues. When the same customer issue is brought up a few times, you can add it to your self-service knowledge base so that others can find a solution quickly.
You can also use social media monitoring tools, Google alerts and other tools that monitor review sites to see what your customers are saying about your company before they even reach out to customer service.
Having a robust and relevant self-service option will not only make your customers happy but it will relieve the pressure on your agents and allow them to focus more energy on the most difficult issues.
- Offer A Personalized Customer Experience
Personalization is arguably the single most important upgrade for eCommerce businesses that want to stand out, increase customer retention and generate business. According to Bloomreach, 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides personalized experiences.
Ecommerce businesses are already personalizing the customer experience using marketing tools for product recommendations, cart abandonment emails, onboarding quizzes, and more. Personalization should extend to customer service as well.
There are many ways to add a personal touch to your customer service strategy. For example, you could implement customer portals and give your customers access to their history. You could also add additional channels to your omnichannel solution so that your customers can reach out on their own preferred channel. Additionally, you could implement predictive behavioral routing to match customers with agents.
The more personalized the customer experience is, the more your customers will feel that you care about them and the more satisfied they will be.
Final Thoughts on Ecommerce Customer Service
Customer service has always been important to success in business, but customer service is more important than ever right now. Customers are used to immediate gratification and a high level of customization. Customer service is also especially important for eCommerce businesses, which don’t have the friendly, local touch of brick and mortar stores. Fortunately, the tools to track and improve customer service are advancing all the time. With a little effort, you can really take your customer service to the next level and your entire business along with it.