How your e-commerce store handles customer service is what could make or break your success. 90% of US customers believe a brand’s customer service determines whether they want to do business with them.
The modern online shopper has high expectations. If your service isn’t top-notch, you’ll risk losing them forever to your competition.
Just take a look at how fast a customer expects a response, for example. A recent study found that 88% of customers expect a response to their emails within one hour. 30% of people expected a response in just 15 minutes!
In other words, time is not on your side. The longer they wait, the more likely they’ll move on to a business with faster service than you.
While delivering excellent customer service may seem like a no-brainer, brands are still failing to satisfy their buyers. Businesses lose more than $75 billion each year to poor customer service.
To give you some inspiration for your e-commerce brand, we’re going to run through 9 tactics that you can use to meet the needs of the modern customer:
1. Adopt a Multi-Channel Approach
2. Add an 800 Toll-Free Number on Your Website
3. Have a Number on Your Website That People Can Text
4. Give Customers the Option to Call Back Versus Waiting on Hold
5. Install an Email Autoresponder
6. Text Customers Who Have Abandoned Their Cart
7. Respond Quickly on Social Media
8. Implement a Triage System
9. Invest in Self-Service Return Software
Let’s dive in.
1. Adopt a Multi-Channel Approach to Customer Service
Your customers are everywhere. They’re tech-savvy and use different channels such as social media, email, and different devices to reach out to brands. To deliver the best customer service experience, your business can’t rely on one channel only. That’s where adopting a multi-channel strategy for communication comes in. Whether your customer uses social media, email, or text messaging to ask their questions, a multi-channel approach ensures you meet their expectations and needs. Here are examples of different channels you can include as part of your customer service strategy:
2. Add an 800 Toll-free Number on Your Website
Many customers prefer calling a business number instead of reaching out by email. An 800 toll-free number gives you credibility and makes your business look more professional. It also makes it possible for customers to get answers from a real person, not a chatbot. Here’s a great example from Allbirds, the sustainability-focused footwear brand that’s everywhere these days. When you scroll down Allbirds’ website, you can easily find their number under the “help section”:
The good news is that getting an 800 number is quite easy and affordable in 2020. There are many service providers to choose from that help you receive one at a reasonable price, and flexible pricing options if you need
3. Add a number to your website for people to text
Having a toll-free 800 number that customers can call is great for your business. To step up, you can also add a number on your website that visitors can use to text your brand.
It’s no secret that people love texting. Not only is the barrier to entry low, but SMS is an effective way to engage customers. Check out what the numbers have to say:
- Open rates for SMS are around 90%, compared to email at 20%
- 78% of customers agree that SMS is the quickest way to reach them
- People typically respond to text messages within 90 seconds
What’s also great about text messaging is that it’s personal. Customers who opt-in as SMS subscribers expect to hear from you, making them the perfect leads to target.
Thirdlove, a leading women’s underwear and bra company, includes a number on their website that customers can text. Humble brag incoming…to make this possible, they use our Tone SMS platform.
4. Give customers the option to call back vs. waiting on hold
No one enjoys being put on hold during a call. Even waiting for 5 minutes on the phone can feel like hours to the customer.
You could hire more customer service agents, but more agents will always come at a price. A better solution is to offer call-back, which helps customers get assistance without waiting too long on the phone.
With call-back, customers can leave a message explaining their problem, with a phone number that you can use to reach them once you’re free.
As a result, it takes up as little of the customer’s time and lets them go about their day. You’ll also stop paying money for all time spent on the phone, saving you extra cash.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone !
5. Install an email autoresponder
Top-notch customer service must set clear expectations and be transparent. When customers reach out to you with their requests or questions, they need to know when to anticipate a response.
A good tactic is to use an email autoresponder that lets customers know when they’ll hear back from you. Your email should also include information on what your customer service process consists of.
Check out this great example from Away. In their email, they let the customer know how long they have to wait for a response (in this case, one business day):
They also include a link to their FAQ page that the customer can use in the meantime to answer their own questions.
6. Text with people who abandon their cart
Cart abandonment can be a major source of headaches for eCommerce brands. US customers only buy around 69.57% of items they add to their shopping cart .
While cart abandonment is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be the end of the customer’s journey. It’s a great opportunity to follow up with the customer via text and see what questions they have.
Reaching out to prospects instills trust and shows that you will support them as a customer. It’s a tactic that another Tone customer, hair extension company INH Hair, uses effectively as part of their strategy.
How does it work? Shopify brands just need to add a Phone field to their checkout, along with proper opt-in language. When the customer abandons, our Tone agents reach out via text and offer to help answer the customer’s questions.
7. Respond quickly on social media
Social media is more than just a tool that helps you publish content. Done correctly, it can be a powerful way to boost your customer service and connect with shoppers.
The key is to be active and reply fast. 47% of US customers have a better opinion of brands that respond quickly to requests or complaints on social media. A good response time to aim for is 24 hours or less.
Nike is a company well-known for its brilliant customer service on Twitter. They always make sure to reply fast and meet the needs of their customers:
8. Implement a triage system
Your store needs to implement a triage system to sort out the most urgent requests. It will help you sort questions from customers based on:
- Their current priority
- Which need to be dealt with right away
- Which can wait a bit longer
Here’s how it works:
A ticket agent reassigns each customer request ticket to the appropriate team. It helps maximize productivity and makes sure that your team resolves the issue as fast as possible.
Triage also identifies customer support trends, making it easier to handle the problem when it arises again. Your business will save sales and help out the most vulnerable customers.
9. Invest in self-service return software
Lastly, as you run your eCommerce store, you’re going to have to think about managing returns. Returns are an inevitable part of the eCommerce process, with 30% of online items sent back each year.
A great tool that we recommend for dealing with returns is Returnly:
The platform lets customers handle returns themselves with total convenience. It offers them the upfront refund amount so they can buy the right item before returning the wrong one.
As a result, you won’t have to invest customer service time on returns. You’ll be able to focus on your business and get customers to purchase more.
Wrapping things up
Customer service is a vital part of running a successful eCommerce business. By applying these nine tactics, you’ll be able to take your customer service to the next level and better meet the prospect’s needs. Now it’s up to you to experiment and see what works best for you !