eCommerce customers may seem fickle. Hard to please. Difficult.
But if you’re having trouble providing excellent customer service to your customers, the problem might not be your customers at all.
It might be your approach to customer service.
Every company is different. But at eCommerce businesses, particularly newer businesses led by entrepreneurs or employing only a few workers, customer service is often an afterthought.
Do you have a team member – or several – who can focus exclusively on customer service, rather than jumping between tasks?
And, perhaps most importantly – do you have a customer service strategy? In this blog from 121eCommerce, we’ll discuss why it’s a good idea to develop a strategy and how you can implement one that will turn your customers into loyal, passionate brand advocates.
→ Related: What eCommerce Shoppers Really Want From Customer Service ←
Simply put, a customer service strategy is a comprehensive, thorough plan about how to handle customer interactions throughout the entire journey – from their initial call or email to the final resolution and follow-up of their case.
With a great customer service strategy, you can meet the expectations outlined above. That helps you minimize friction when customers have an issue with your products, and helps you build a more loyal customer base.
How does this help your bottom line? First, remember that it costs about 5x to 25x more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers. In addition, customers who are thrilled with their customer service experience are more likely to spread the word, leave positive reviews, and buy more products.
78% of customers will do business with a company once again if they resolve their mistake, 93% of customers will make repeat purchases from companies with excellent customer service, and 95% of customers say that customer service is “important” for brand loyalty.
Those are seriously impressive numbers, and they speak to the importance of building a customer service strategy. But how do you go about doing this?
The right customer service strategy will differ for every company, of course. But in general, there are a few key steps that you must take to nail down the basics, and give your team a good baseline from which your customer service strategy can change, evolve, and grow.
Hiring and training the necessary team members
To begin with, make sure that you have the necessary staff to handle your customer service needs. Overworked team members don’t make good customer service representatives, particularly if customer service is not their full-time role.
Hire a full-time customer service representative. Hire two. Hire a manager or supervisor – whatever you need based on your customer service volume. It doesn’t pay to skimp. Great customer service builds great companies. Poor customer service can sink them.
You also need to make sure they’re properly trained. Coming up with an in-house curriculum about your brand, its policies, and other important information will help them start out on the right foot.
Identifying customer touchpoints
Next, it’s important to identify customer touchpoints. Ask yourself the following questions:
Understanding how, why, and when your customers contact you helps you gain deeper insights into frequent problems. In turn, this helps you predict customer needs, improve your products and/or service to address common issues, and reduce customer churn and turnover.
Establishing communication methods
It’s very important to establish the different communication methods that will be used at your company.
How can customers get in touch with you? How long will they have to wait to talk to a real person? Do they have the option for live interactions like live chat and phone calls, as well as “asynchronous” support via email and/or social media?
Use the touchpoints you discovered in the previous step to determine how your customers prefer to contact your company. At a minimum, you should make sure your team is reachable by email, on your website, and by phone.
Adding live chat to your website is also a great way to improve customer satisfaction. And if you have any kind of social media presence at all, your customer service reps should also keep an eye on your social media pages to look for customers who may need support.
Investing in CRM software & other related tools
If you handle more than the occasional customer service query, it’s in your best interest to use a CRM like Salesforce, Hubspot, or Zendesk to keep customer interactions organized.
Using a CRM lets you put every customer interaction in one place, and allows your customer service representatives to get a unified view of queries, questions, complaints, returns, and more.
It’s hard to overstate how useful this is. With the right CRM, your team can answer emails, web queries, phone calls, social media inquiries, live chat, and more – all from the same easy-to-use interface. This makes their lives much easier, and allows them to focus on serving customers, rather than struggling with complex, hard-to-use software systems.
Setting KPIs and goals
It’s important to use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and to set goals based on these KPIs. Without KPIs and realistic, reachable goals, you won’t have the roadmap you need to improve the performance of your customer service team.
For example, if you want to improve your phone support, you can set KPIs for hold times, total customer call times, the number of rings before a call is answered, and much more – and based on the performance of your team, you can understand if you’re meeting your goals, or if you need to step things up.
Implementing proactive steps
Taking proactive steps to avoid common customer service queries can be very helpful. Consider adding a knowledge base or FAQ section that allows customers to get the answers they need on their own. 70% of customers would prefer to get answers from a company’s website, rather than via email or a phone call.
You can also be proactive after a sale by sending a follow-up email to check on a customer and see if they got their product, and if they’re having any issues or need further assistance. As mentioned earlier in this guide, following up after a customer complaint is resolved is also a great idea. It makes customers feel important and valued, and will increase overall customer loyalty.
We hope this guide has been helpful and informative, and has provided you with a little more information about what a customer service strategy can do for you and how you can take the first steps toward building a unified, modern, and effective customer service strategy.
Thanks for reading, and remember – if you want more helpful guides, tips, and information about eCommerce, the 121eCommerce blog is a great resource! Take a look at a few of our other posts now, and get all the information you need to build a better eCommerce business.