No Department Is An Island – The Importance & Benefits Of A Holistic Approach To Customer Service

Is your customer service department alone? Stranded? Stuck on a deserted island, with no company but a palm tree, a coconut, and a broken boat?

Okay, that analogy may be a bit much. But it’s a good question. Is your customer service team alone? Or are they tightly integrated into the rest of your team? Are you taking steps to not just address customer issues – but to prevent them? 

If you aren’t, that means you’ve got room to improve. Taking a holistic view of customer service is one of the best ways to reduce customer service issues, enhance the customer experience, and drive brand loyalty.

What is a holistic approach to customer service? We’re glad you asked. In this blog from 121eCommerce, we’re going to be looking at this subject in detail, provide you with a few examples, and discuss how you can adopt a more holistic approach to customer care at your eCommerce store.

→ Related: How To Implement A Customer Service Strategy & Why You Should

What Is A Holistic Approach To Customer Service?

Ideally, you want to minimize the number of customer service requests you have to handle. If your customer has a problem, this means that something has already gone wrong. While the problem – and now it’s up to your customer service team to solve it.

And while that’s an important and necessary role, this responsibility should not be only on your customer service team. That’s where a holistic approach to customer service comes in.

In a holistic approach, you look at all of the “touchpoints” that customers have with a company or a brand throughout their buying journey. To name just a few, this could include things like:

  • Face-to-face interactions
  • Interactions on social media
  • Visiting your website
  • Email and phone conversations
  • Doing online research
  • Reading reviews of products 
  • Making a purchase
  • Checking the status of their order
  • Requesting refunds

Then, after mapping out the customer journey, you think about how each department and area of your eCommerce store contributes to their overall customer experience. 

After all, the actual process of contacting your customer service team really is just a small part of the customer experience. In the vast majority of cases, a shopper won’t have to contact your customer service team at all! Their purchase will go smoothly, and there won’t be any issues. 

This is where another important concept comes in. With holistic customer service, you will also think more about why a customer is having an issue with their order, and how you can do better and avoid similar issues in the future by making cross-departmental improvements. 

→ Related: What eCommerce Shoppers Really Want From Customer Service 

Why Is A Holistic Customer Service Approach Important?

Holistic customer service is important because it allows your customer service team to work in tandem with other internal departments – and it allows you to uncover insights and take steps to provide a better shopping experience for your customers. 

A good analogy is the importance of preventive medicine. Preventing a health problem is always better than treating it after it occurs. That’s why you shouldn’t skip your checkups.

In the same way, preventing a customer service issue is better than solving a customer service issue – even if your customer service team does a great job, and the customer is satisfied by their resolution. 

Holistic Customer Service In Action – Explaining How It Works

Need an example of holistic customer service, and how different departments can work together to prevent and solve customer service problems before they happen? Let’s get into it. 

Let’s say a customer wants to buy a new case for their cell phone, and you run an eCommerce store that sells cell phone cases. 

Your customer does some research on your website, finds a case they like, and orders it.  It’s shipped to their door, but the case doesn’t fit their phone properly. They’re unsatisfied with the product – for obvious reasons – and contact your customer service team to get help. 

Your customer service rep listens to the issue, and immediately ships a new product to their door. Your customer gets the right phone case, and they like it. They’re happy – or at least satisfied. But could this issue have been avoided? And if so, how? 

  • eCommerce administration – The phone case the customer ordered didn’t fit their phone. Why? If it was because the item was listed improperly in the eCommerce store’s backend, this is a problem that could have been addressed by the administrative team. By ensuring items are accurately entered and described, it will be possible to avoid this issue in the future.
  • Order fulfillment – Maybe your customer actually did order the right case, and it should have been the correct item for their phone. But whether you fulfill orders yourself, dropship orders, or use a 3PL service, the wrong item was packed up and sent to them. Taking steps to improve accuracy and minimize mistakes will prevent this kind of problem from happening again.
  • Web design – Maybe the customer thought they were getting the right case, but the interface for choosing the model of their phone was confusing, and they didn’t notice that it was the wrong product. In this case, a better design could have prevented the issue from occurring.

Let’s look at the same situation, but instead of the phone case being incorrect, the customer doesn’t like the color of the phone case once it arrives. It doesn’t look like it did in the pictures, so they return it for a refund. What departments could have done more to avoid this issue? 

  • Marketing and advertising – It’s possible that this issue could have been completely avoided by taking high-quality product photos and entering an accurate description of the product into your eCommerce storefront. This prevents mismatches between customer expectations and reality.
  • Retail buying – Maybe you’ve been ordering wholesale products from a supplier that has started to provide shoddy merchandise, and that’s why the print quality and color of the phone case were unsatisfactory. In this case, your retail team should find a new supplier, and avoid buying from that supplier again to prevent further issues.

We could go on. But you get the idea. Customer service is the last resort for customers. In an ideal world, they would never have to get assistance at all – because all of the other aspects of your business would be functioning perfectly, and ensure they always get the right items, that orders are shipped on time, that products are advertised and listed correctly, and so on. 

Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. And mistakes happen. But by identifying the causes of customer service issues, taking a holistic approach, and making improvements in other departments, you can move past customer service – and begin creating a holistic customer experience. 

See The Benefits Of A Holistic Approach To Customer Service For Yourself

Using a holistic approach doesn’t just make it easier for your customer service team to resolve existing customer issues – it also helps prevent them from recurring in the future. This reduces the burden on your team, and also leads to more satisfied customers, as well as a better overall customer experience.

But don’t just take our word for it. Start thinking about how you can take a holistic approach to customer service at your eCommerce store – and see how holistic customer service can transform your team and enhance the customer experience at your storefront. 

And remember, if you need more guides, tips, and information about how to run a successful eCommerce store, 121eCommerce is here for you. Take a look at our blog now, and you can find a wide variety of articles that are sure to be helpful and informative.