The prevalence of ecommerce businesses is spreading wider and wider, as consumers are finding it more convenient to shop online. Regardless of whether your business has a brick and mortar location or is strictly online, it’s imperative to have a robust customer service system in place, whether it’s in the form of a chatbot or a 1-800 help line.
Various issues can take place when your customers are shopping online–the website freezes, the item they’re looking for is no longer in stock, the promo code they’re using isn’t applying their discount, etc. In an effort to ensure you always have online support available for your clientele, follow suit of the many successful online businesses that attract and keep customers with a world-class approach to customer service.
Online customer service–a game changer
Many ecommerce companies are improving communication with their customers via email, installing online chat software, and engaging on social media as well as review sites.
It’s also important for small businesses that operate exclusively online to clearly display their email address and phone number on their homepage to make it easily accessible for customers to reach out to a representative to discuss their questions or issues.
Not having a brick and mortar store they can visit if they can’t get a hold of someone over the phone eliminates the convenience and security on which customers once used to rely. Do your best to mitigate those fears by ensuring someone on your staff will always be available whenever something comes up. Not doing so creates a larger risk in losing a conversion on your site.
If the phone rings, always answer it. Try not to let it ring more than twice. If you have to place someone on hold, try not to make it for more than three minutes. If you know it might take longer, politely ask them to call back or offer to call them back. They’ll appreciate the honesty rather than being stuck on hold, feeling less and less like a priority. The majority of consumers rely on communicating over the phone, as it’s the most convenient and fastest way to describe a problem and get it resolved as soon as possible.
If your small business can’t afford to have someone on staff to address issues 24/7 via online chat or over the phone, be sure to properly display your business hours on your website, reducing the risk of someone getting frustrated over the fact that no one is available.
Make customer service a customer experience
Think beyond customer service–going above and beyond to “wow” your customers will not only create longevity among your clientele, but it may make for an incredible user review that will go viral.
Work closely with your marketing team to map the customer’s journey and identify opportunities at each phase on how your company can over deliver on customer service. From there, you can have systems and processes in place that provide an extraordinary customer service experience.
For example, the company Zappos set a world record with a 10-hour, 29-minute customer service call that caught the attention of Jimmy Fallon, who discussed it on his late night talk show. The company also received a delivery of valuable jewelry that was sent to them by mistake. A company representative went out of their way to fly to the customer’s home and return the jewelry to them to ensure it wouldn’t get lost in the mail.
Zappos definitely took the concept of “delight and surprise” to the next level, but you get the idea.
Another example of going above and beyond for customers was demonstrated by JetBlue when one of its passengers tweeted that they were disappointed that they didn’t have time to grab a coffee before they boarded their flight. Acting quickly, a flight attendant from JetBlue delivered a Starbucks coffee to the passenger after they boarded the plane, resulting in another sensational tweet that spoke very highly of the company.
With the ubiquity of social media and consumers constantly posting about their experiences, whether good or bad, you want to make every effort to ensure that your customers have the most positive experience as possible that may result in a raving review that you can proudly display on your website or social media channels, creating a built-in PR tool.
Building consumers’ trust in your brand has the potential to yield an organic referral system, as having your customers recommend your business to others is much more powerful than any amount of promotional content that’s generated. Word-of-mouth and referral business is always the easiest way to accumulate leads and is the most cost effective.
Damage control–when customer service is lacking
We’ve all experienced an unsatisfactory customer service interaction, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you encounter an angry consumer who is venting frustrations over your company’s shortcomings. Most customers’ disappointments stem from the misconception that businesses don’t empathize or care about what they’re going through. Be better than that, be the company that lets the customer fully vent their situation while maintaining composure and offering a solution that will not only resolve the customer’s current grievance, but give them the confidence that if they return to your business, they will be treated with the utmost respect.
It’s up to you as the business owner to skillfully create an environment in which your staff knows exactly how to handle dissatisfied customers every time. Having such processes in place will ensure your clients feel motivated to return and give positive feedback.
If you feel your customer service system is not up to par, you’ll need to do some damage control from the inside out. Poor customer service is often a reflection of low employee morale and high turnover. Dealing with customers is often not the most desirable role in a company, but changing the perspective on how it’s approached and making it a fun experience for the staff and the customers will yield more positivity had by all.
Help your employees feel more motivated and emphasize how important customer service is to the organization by rewarding them for exceeding customers’ expectations. Depending on what your small business can afford, have spot bonuses or gift cards prepared to incentivize your customer service representatives for keeping up the good work and creating an unrivaled company culture.
Ecommerce companies have the advantage on setting the standard for customer service by approaching it from an analytics standpoint. It’s easier to monitor customer experience metrics in an effort to constantly deliver improved and updated solutions that make for a smooth customer experience.
Ultimately, your customers are your bread and butter. Invest time and effort in crafting the most wonderful customer experience to set your company apart from those that don’t understand the true value of customer service.