Customer service is hard. But providing excellent support is absolutely essential – especially for eCommerce companies. In a previous post, we discussed the importance of implementing a customer service strategy and provided you with a few tips on how to build a customer service strategy for your eCommerce business.
But what if you already have a customer service strategy? What steps can you take to provide a better experience, meet (and exceed) customer expectations, and improve the reputation of your eCommerce business?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at a few common eCommerce customer service mistakes. If you can identify, address, and overcome these issues, you’ll be on the right track toward eCommerce customer service success.
While a positive attitude, willingness to help, and dedication to customer satisfaction are valuable, they’re not enough to provide a stellar customer service experience. You need training, too.
An inexperienced, untrained customer support staff – even with the best intentions – will offer a sub-par experience. Your team won’t know how to answer common questions, handle situations on their own, or how to give consistent answers about your policies.
Your customer support agents need to be trained on your policies, how to interact with customers, how to represent your brand, and how to handle customer questions with care and attention to detail.
This means investing in training. New customer support agents should be educated on your company’s policies, and should work with experienced team members to get the hands-on experience they need as they learn the basics.
We get it. Your website content evolves over time – especially FAQs, support pages, and other types of legal documentation. However, you need to make sure that you’re presenting consistent information to your customers – and failing to do so can lead to major frustrations and complications.
For example, if your FAQs page says that customers have 30 days from the date of shipping to return their items, but a different support page says customers have 30 days from the date of purchase to return their items, this can lead to frustration as customers try to determine which policy is the “real” one.
To avoid this, it’s a good idea to conduct a periodic content audit of your website. This involves taking a look at all of the content written on your website, and checking it for accuracy and consistency. This allows you to eliminate redundancy, conflicting information, and other content that may frustrate your customers and your customer service representatives.
You already know this, of course, but fast responses to customer support requests are absolutely essential for customer satisfaction.
Nobody wants to feel ignored, and if your customer service representatives leave customers on hold, ignore chat messages, don’t respond to social media messages, or fail to check emails regularly, that’s exactly how they will feel.
Of course, this does differ based on the contact method used. 96% of people expect a response to an email within 24 hours. In contrast, most people are only willing to wait 2-3 minutes on hold during a phone call before getting frustrated.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with support requests, the best solution is usually to hire more customer service team members. Investing in more team members isn’t cheap – but providing an excellent customer service experience will pay off in the long run.
68% of people are irritated when their call is transferred between employees or departments – combine that with long hold times, and you’ve got a “double whammy” that is sure to irritate customers.
Sometimes, passing a customer between employees is unavoidable. For example, if they call the wrong phone number, you’ll have to transfer them to customer service. Or, if they have a complex issue that requires escalation, a manager or supervisor will need to be contacted.
However, lots of transfers happen just because customer service representatives don’t know the answer to a particular question, or are unfamiliar with some aspect of your business. Investing in more training and focusing on a holistic approach to customer service can be very beneficial, and will help reduce the need to transfer customers.
At a minimum, customers should be able to check their order status, payment information, shipping details, and other basic information about their purchase on their own. Using the right eCommerce platform, such as Adobe Commerce, is a great way to provide them with the tools they need to view the basic information about their purchases. This helps reduce the burden on your customer service staff, and leads to happier, more satisfied customers.
Beyond this, you may also want to create a “knowledge base” with answers to common FAQs, information about shipping and purchasing, corporate policy information, and other things that customers may want to know before or after making a purchase.
Again, this helps reduce the burden on your team. 67% of customers prefer using a self-service tool instead of contacting customer support, when possible, so creating a useful, easy-to-use, intuitive knowledge base will help boost customer satisfaction.
In most cases, it’s best to see return and refund policies as guidelines – not ironclad, unbreakable rules – and your customer support team should be trained accordingly.
For example, if you have a 30-day refund policy, but a customer wants to return an item after 35 days, that’s not unreasonable – and by allowing the refund, you’ll ensure the customer is happy with their experience, and they will continue to shop with you.
In contrast, denying this refund and return may cause them to be upset, lose trust in your business, and even lead to poor word-of-mouth and a bad reputation for your eCommerce business.
There are limits, of course. If you have a 30-day return policy, it’s not unreasonable to deny someone who tries to make a return after 90 days. But make sure that your team understands that they can bend the rules when needed – especially if this will provide a customer with an excellent customer service experience, and turn them into a loyal brand advocate.
We highly recommend using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool like ZenDesk or Salesforce to manage your customer interactions. These powerful databases allow you to track all of the communications with individual customers.
Not only does this put all of the information about specific customers at the fingertips of your customer service representatives, but it also allows you to collect valuable data that you can use to improve your customer service experience and set long-term goals.
For example, you can collect information about the channels customers use to contact you, like emails, online forms, phone calls, and social media – and analyze the percentage of customers that use each contact method.
Then, you could use this information to make improvements – for example, if you’re seeing an uptick in social media inquiries, you can make sure that your customer service team is aware of this, and is ready to respond accordingly.
We always recommend sending follow-ups after a customer support request. This ensures that the customer feels heard, and it also confirms that you’re working on their request – for example, sending an email confirming a return to your eCommerce store gives your customers peace of mind.
In addition to this, follow-ups are a valuable way to see how well your customer service team is doing. You can send out surveys and questionnaires to customers after their issue has been resolved, and ask questions like:
These questions may vary depending on your exact line of business and your customer service strategy – but they’re always extremely valuable. The answers your customers give you can be used to assess your current performance, and find new ways to improve.
For example, if a customer has a great experience but reports that they had a long hold time, this could indicate that your team members are doing a good job – but simply are understaffed and can’t get to callers in a timely manner.
As the old saying goes, “You can’t please everyone all the time.” There will always be tough customers, complex situations, and difficult problems facing your customer support team.
But if you avoid these common mistakes and adjust your customer service strategy, you can provide a consistent, smooth, and excellent customer experience for the vast majority of your eCommerce customers.
That leads to a better brand reputation, more sales, lower customer churn, and a huge variety of other benefits. So don’t underestimate the power of customer service. Make sure you keep these common mistakes in mind, take steps to avoid them, and set yourself up for success.
And if you need more tips, advice, or suggestions about how to improve the customer experience at your eCommerce store, 121eCommerce is here to help. Take a look at our blog, where we regularly publish helpful resources and guides about eCommerce best practices, website design, customer service, and much more.