VIP Customer Service
Exceptional service across multiple channels is critical to success in eCommerce.
It allows you to nip misconceptions in the bud, address the needs of varying customers in a professional manner, and deliver something that’s amiss in a lot of businesses - a personal and interactive “human” touch.
The type of touch that catapults you above the competition, reinforces your brand image and inspires undying customer loyalty.
And while the tools used to deliver customer service matter, the philosophy behind that service - which transmits the attitude of your business to customers - is what keeps people coming back. So it’s best to carve a clear, refined customer support philosophy that successfully steers customer relations towards satisfaction and loyalty.
Customer Service Philosophy: Wowing Customers Isn’t The Only Key To Loyalty
“Wowing the customer at every contact point!”
A typical response that springs to mind when talking about customer service, right?
According to HBR author Matthew Dixon, phrases like the above are unquestioned, flawed platitudes that might temporarily satisfy or “wow” a customer, but fail to ultimately inspire measurable loyalty. So if going “above and beyond” isn’t the only secret to fierce customer loyalty, what is?
Scrutinizing the links between customer service and loyalty, the Customer Contact Council conducted a study of more than 75,000 people who interacted over the phone through contact-center reps or self-service channels like the web, chat, and email.
Two surprisingly contrary findings came to light:
- Over the top service doesn’t inspire customer loyalty; “reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.”
- Simplifying the problem-solving process can “improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn”.
Out of the 75,000 people studied, 50% complained about:
- Repeatedly having to contact a company
- Being forced to repeat information
- Switching from one service channel to another (switching from email to call)
Weave these insights into your customer service philosophy by prioritizing simplicity. Reduce the time and simplify the effort taken for your customer to reach a solution.
And when reviewing your customer service, don’t isolate satisfaction ratings alone - measure how much effort your customer exerts to resolve a problem. This means considering and making service reps aware of:
- What percentage of customers are switching from one service channel to another?
- How to prevent the team from forcing customers to repeat information they’ve provided?
- How can you keep customer service smooth and streamlined into one channel?
- How long does it take to a resolve a common issue?
Your Tools For Providing Awesome Customer Service
There’s a plethora of tools and channels you can use to deliver great multi-channel customer service. And the size/type of store you run, often determines which channels and tools will yield better returns.
As a larger store, with a high volume of queries, tackling multiple channels and deploying multiple tools is important. Smaller stores however, might sail smoothly with fewer options. As an eCommerce store, these essential tools/channels will be your backbone:
A public email address or contact form is the default method for letting customers contact you. It’s also the easiest/cheapest way to digitally interact with them.
Whether you publish a contact form on your storefront or use a public email address, the choice is yours. But remember - the less work a customer has to do, the happier they’ll be. Nobody wants to wade through a ton of form fields just to change their item color to “anything but pink”.
Email is also great for reducing customer support debt and gathering data on customers. Frequent questions and problems pouring in? Stick them on an FAQ page.
Customers describing certain items or issues in a specific manner? Their language reveals how they view your product and business and provides insight for product descriptions and copy.
It’s also wise to develop a tracking system for “close” and “open” emails that you’re actively dealing with. Otherwise, your team will spend days digging through an avalanche of emails (and days digging back out).
More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook to connect with their customers.
Social media's ability to openly address customer queries with a human touch, in a timely, succinct fashion has created a breeding ground for crafting a brand image that both - oozes personality and delivers superb customer service.
In fact, 54% of users surveyed by Twitter report taking action after seeing a brand mentioned in Tweets (actions like visiting their website, searching for the brand, or retweeting content).
Social interaction between consumers and businesses is rising. Customers are no longer shying away from tweeting, poking, and replying to brands - big or small.
But how do you win over customers on social media?
Twitter surveyed over 14,000 users in a six month period to see customer satisfaction levels with brand interactions. The survey garnered 4 key findings applicable to customer service on all social media platforms:
1. Use a Friendly Tone
Even over a few short sentences, something as simple as tone can go along way. Twitter found that “Consumers are 25% more likely to be satisfied with a brand after a friendly customer service interaction.”
2. Personalize When Possible
When consumers have personalized customer service interactions — when a brand includes both the Twitter user’s name, as well as its brand rep’s name — they are 77% more likely to recommend said brand.
3. Respond Rapidly
Timing plays a huge role in how customers gauge an interaction with your brand. On average, 60% of consumers expect brands to respond to their requests within an hour.
In reality, brand response times vary from 4 seconds to 221 hours.
Let’s face it, not all problems can be resolved within a couple of interactions, but you can still make customers feel heard. The minimum you can do is reply with a personalized response within 24 hours.
4. Follow Up and Solve Problems
On average, there are five interactions per inquiry between brands and consumers on Twitter. Of those consumers who received a brand response to an inquiry, nearly 30% failed to reach a solution.
Drawing from your customer service philosophy, think about how - from your first point of contact- you’ll deliver a solution to your customer. Will you offer a refund? Next day delivery? Throw in some bonus items?
Endeavour to resolve your customers’ issues from the get-go and you’ll win them over.
Recommended Social Media Monitoring Tools:
Mention: Social listening and media monitoring tool that lets you monitor your brand, protect your reputation, and find influencers on social media
Brandwatch: Listen to customers and understand consumer trends
Hootsuite: Manage all of your social media marketing efforts from a single dashboard
Sendible: Social media management tool for agencies
Sprout Social: Enterprise social customer support platform to resolve issues, connect with customers and brand advocates
Reply by Buffer: Social customer service software for support teams
The higher the price of a sale, the more resistance there is to buying. In retail stores, staff is at hand to help overcome objections and make the sale. But you don’t have that luxury with eCommerce.
Live chat is the closest thing to having staff members provide live customer support. Its sales boosting potential is irrefutable:
- 62% of customers were more inclined to purchase products online if live customer support is available.
- 38% of customers have said that they have made a purchase due to a good live chat session itself.
- The availability of live chat assistance has been found to decrease sales cart abandonment by up to 30%, which resulted in an increase in sales.
Follow these 3 steps to hit the ground running with live chat:
1. Carefully Time Your Pop Ups
If your chat window pops up too late, you risk losing a customer; forever. If it’s too early, you risk looking “pushy” and repelling visitors.
When marketing company Logic fine-tuned their live chat popup timing, their sales soared by 30%.
Scheduling your message/pop up at the appropriate times maintains customer interest in your store. For your initial pop-up, this will require testing. But for future pop ups, you can use triggered messages that appear when customers are having specific problems on your storefront.
2. Integrate The Chat Window With Your Design
Making your chat window consistent with your website design makes it less alarming and intrusive; it also helps evoke trust in visitors. Resulting in less friction, and higher conversions.
3. Use Fewer Chats Per Agent
Live chat is a powerful customer service tool; if the agents behind the tool are tired or overworked, the quality of your customer service will plummet. This is what Zendesk discovered in their benchmark report:
(Customer satisfaction per chat agent | Image source)
As you can see, more chats per agent resulted in lower levels of customer satisfaction.
Zendesk worded this best:
“If you can’t get back to a customer in 30 seconds, you’re probably handling too many chats. That takes a new agent from four chats down to one, and experienced agents from six or seven down to two or three, and a super agent from ten or twelve down to four.”
Recommended Live Chat Tools:
Drift: Conversation-driven marketing platform
Live Chat by Sumo: Instantly communicate with customers, prospects & visitors
Intercom: Manage conversations with leads and customers at scale
Chaport: Simple live chat for websites
Crisp: All-in-one solution to communicate with your customers
HappyFox Chat: Live chat software for websites
Messengerify: A chat widget powered by Facebook Messenger
Olark: Live chat for sales, marketing, and customer support
You know what will kill your team’s productivity? Answering scores of quick-fix questions repeatedly. That’s why online helpdesks are pivotal for providing support.
They provide 3 huge benefits you can’t afford to be without:
1. Customers Can Self-Serve By Browsing Through Common Questions
If they are experiencing a recurring issue, they don't have to be placed on hold - resenting the cheery waiting music on the other end. Instead, they’re given control to resolve issues quicker.
2. With Common Questions And Issues Addressed, Customer Support Debt is Mitigated.
Which means your team can invest more time and energy towards bigger issues.
3. When Implemented Correctly, Helpdesks Can Become Your Storefront Go-To Forum and Contact Area
Acting as buzzing self-serving hubs for questions and solutions where experienced customers can aid newer ones.
Recommended Help Desk Tools:
Groove: Simple help desk software
Zendesk: Cloud-based help desk solution
Freshdesk: Cloud-based customer service software with automation
Desk by Salesforce: Online customer service software and support ticket help desk application for small business and fast-growing companies
Help Scout: Collaborative help desk where you can sync your CRM
Helpy: Simple, open-source helpdesk
Have you ever left a voicemail for an eCommerce store?
If you answered “never” or “rarely”, then you’re not alone. That being said, this might be changing. Customer service solutions now offer voice products that will take voicemails when you’re offline.
Alternately, you can use a 24-hour live answering service so that customers are always talking to a live human, leaving you free to call back during office hours.
For the best phone service, set designated office hours that customers can call you. If you can, try finding a service provider that acts as a call forwarding and voicemail provider as well. It enables you to learn from your customers (especially early on in a new business), resolves issues faster, builds better rapport, and earn trust for high-priced items.
Recommended Virtual Phone System Tools:
Grasshopper: Virtual phone system to manage your calls
Twilio: Programmatically make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages using API
Nexmo: APIs for SMS, voice and phone verifications