Top Tips for eCommerce Customer Service
So, you are building up your sales volume, and are acquiring new customers at a break-neck pace; congratulations!
Now, make sure you have developed and instilled processes for your customer service team to respond, interact, and help close the sale on customer inquiries. Keep reading to learn a few top customer service tips to help increase sales, customer retention, and repeat purchases.
Whether by email, phone, or live chat, your CS team should be well acquainted with the sales cycle and your company service methodology. In every customer question, comment, praise, or disappointment, you have the ability to turn it into a positive experience.
If you haven’t already, establish the culture for how your staff interacts with your customers. For example, let’s look to a leader in customer service culture online: Zappos.com.
In a study commissioned by StellaService, Zappos received a customer service rating score of 88 out of 100, which was the highest score in the study. This study benchmarked over 300 customer service features, metrics, and policies for each site. To see more details on this study visit: http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/03/22/zappos-customer-service-draws-raves-in-a-new-report
Although the study was of a very small segment of consumers (304) Zappos demonstrates its customer service values, quite effectively, in their career center: http://about.zappos.com/jobs/why-work-zappos/core-values
“…Zappos executives have always emphasized that they tried to win customers’ loyalty through great customer service, and not by trying to sell shoes at the lowest prices on the web.” - http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/03/31/get-back
This great customer service is what propelled them to a $1 billion dollar year company in 2008, then a $847 million buyout by Amazon in 2009.
Will this emphasis on customer service take you to a billion dollars? Not sure, but take a few minutes to review their values, and start developing your own-it will help with every interaction you have with a customer.
Once you’ve establish a set of guidelines and values for your employees to work by, incorporate these into the following customer service areas:
1) Email correspondence How many online retailers have you bought from and received great “personalized” email responses from? Typically, the sentences are short, impersonal, grammatically atrocious, and non-sales inspiring. Every opportunity to communicate with a customer is an opportunity to make a positive impression, another sale, or right a wrong.
Make sure your staff are crafting emails that are grammatically correct, sales orientated, and connect to the customer. To help enforce this practice; on a daily basis randomly pick a sent email from one of your staff, and send it out to the entire office. This will keep people on their toes!
2) Out of stock notifications I recently made an online order, and even though at the time I ordered the product was “in stock”, I received emails from the customer service team telling me otherwise.
Hello and thanks for your order,
Unfortunately the items you ordered is currently back ordered from the distributor.
If you do not want to wait, we can cancel the order.
Thanks again and let us know. We appreciate your understanding.
That’s it! No phone number or name-most importantly, not even a recommendation to try a different product.
When you have to send an email to a customer, and notify them the product they ordered is out of stock, try these different tactics:
Introduce or recommend a different/similar product than the one ordered. As experts in what you are selling, you should be able to make this recommendation.
Offer a gift certificate, or a promotion code for the customer’s next order for their inconvenience (this was your mistake, not theirs!)
Post your customer service representatives name, email, and phone number within the reply.
Let them know when it will be back in stock and if they want to wait.
3) About Us Page Unless you are Amazon.com, most first-time visitors aren’t going to know who you are. For many ecommerce websites, the About Us page is one of the top visited destinations. Include the following items in your About Us page to leave a good impression!
A brief background on your company, staff, and business values. Explain how it was started, some of your key staffers, and the practices your business lives by. The goal is to instill credibility and trust with the customer.
Pictures, and/or videos of your retail location, storefront, or premises. This helps to establish a true business from a fly-by-night operation/home office operation. Let’s face it-if you have a storefront, you are probably paying a pretty penny for it; why not show it?
Map-if you accept retail customers at your store, place a Google Map on your About Us page with directions to get there. You can also configure the map to show a “pinpoint” with your company information on it from Google.
Customer service hours, address, phone, and email. Make it easy for people to contact you, and you will build better credibility than those that hide their contact information.
Have any other great customer service tips (I am sure you do!)? Please post them in the comments section below!
Matt Winn says:
Great insight, Louis!
I especially like the idea of establishing a culture throughout a customer service team. A service culture is a much better investment than a mere policy - it penetrates every customer touch point and is the foundation for earning a reputation for superior customer service.
Another opportunity to make a positive impact on customers is the "thank you" page on your site. Whether a shopper purchases something or signs up for a newsletter, you can incorporate several branding elements here and include your contact information for reference. You can also provide an exclusive download or coupon on this page to take things to the next level.
Regarding order confirmation emails, why not include a link to a survey about your customer's experience? This is a great way to 1) receive vital feedback to improve your operations and 2) make customers feel valued by reaching out for their opinion.
In this age of comparison shopping and price wars, customer service truly makes a difference, so set yourself apart! Thanks again for this sound advice.
Louis Camassa says:
Matt-excellent tips, thanks!
Your right. Include a newsletter sign up link, as well as your social media links in each email.
The survey of the customer experience is critical as well. I recommend Bizrate, as it is freely available to all online retailers. You can show a link to the survey after the order has been processed.
This will help to increase your website reviews, which can boost your rankings in Google Shopping, and display on your Adwords campaigns.
Steve @Erraticblog says:
Great article Louis. #1 is especially important in my opinion. There are so many times when I've ordered things and email responses to questions are completely inadequate. It's so easy to add a hello to a beginning of an email and a thank you with a real name at the end. If more companies would make simple changes as you described their sales would soar.
Rachel Miller says:
Nice article. These tips are great reminders to always add value to a customer interaction by not only serving but educating.
Eduardo L. N. Gomes says:
Excellent article Louis!
I've worked with ecommerce for some months and It's clear that customers want customized service. Some very simple things I've been doing and that really help winning loyal clients:
Besides the transactional emails, I sometimes send customized emails asking if they have received their products and wheter they have any questions/comments. They feel they are not just another client.
I also added in the postage stamps a thank you sentence with the client's first name, e.g "Thank you for your preference, Louis"
Therefore, I believe customers want a more 'humanized' customer service, everybody wants to be really listened.