When you’re starting your online business, a common advice is: make sure to set up the best possible service and customer support. Why is the customer’s experience of your online store so important? How do you set up your customer support?
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- What is customer support?
- Reasons to have good customer support
- Which tools are helpful?
- Common complaints in customer support
- Outsourcing your customer support
What is customer support?
Within ecommerce, service and customer support is how online businesses provide assistance to customers with everything.
This includes the customer’s experience while making online purchase decisions and resolving issues that come up later.
Reasons to aim for the best customer support
With the ongoing rapid growth of ecommerce, it’s becoming harder to compete with larger players. Starting online businesses often can’t keep up with the low prices and fast shipments that large platforms offer. One thing they can use to their advantage, though, is customer support. While platforms might offer decent terms on returns, delivery options or other service, they are hardly personal and often hard to find.
Starting online stores can use great customer support to their advantage.
Having great customer service will set you apart from competitors. It simultaneously increases brand loyalty. At the first sign of a bad experience, customers switch to a different option. Keeping customers and increasing their lifetime value to your store is a key ingredient in becoming a successful company. If your customer has a great experience shopping at your online store, they’re likely to place a second order.
How do online stores evaluate customer support?
People like a logical customer journey. Having questions is already annoying, and customers don’t want to wait. A support agent that is available right away, and thas the right answers, can tackle this. But to achieve this, you risk getting too many customer support agents. Therefore, avoiding any questions or offering a mix with self service during a customer journey might be a first step in delivering the right amount of support.
Investing in your customer’s experience has a direct and positive impact on growth.
Still, you always have to offer a decent amount of service to make sure you do not lose customers just for having some simple support questions. It is surprising, however, that many ecommerce companies aren’t making a lot of effort on customer support while customers have higher expectations than ever. Research by HubSpot in 2020 showed that 31% of customer support teams think their company considers service and customer support agents as an expense, and not as an opportunity for growth.
Improve your customer support with software
Support is not just a factor of having enough customer service agents. The same research also showed that online stores that are growing quickly were more likely to have adopted customer support tools. Low growth companies were less likely to use these tools.
Using support tools alone won’t lead to high growth, but it’s no coincidence that high growth companies are also investing more in customer experience tools or in educating their support team. When you’re growing fast the customer experience and the tools you need to deliver it are more important. Investing in the customer experience has a direct and positive impact on growth.
According to the same research, most customer service teams have still not adopted the core software tools needed to create a great customer experience. No tool that was taken into account during the research scored over 42% in adoption. However, the support teams that do use these tools all strongly believe that these tools help them achieve better results.
Which support tools are helpful?
There are several types of customer support tools that you can implement in your online store to improve your customer support:
A help desk is a technology system that allows customer support teams to manage and organize customer questions and issues. A traditional help desk system includes a support ticketing service for logging new service requests, serving as a collection box for customer inquiries, issues, and requests. It’s a system to track, organize and address customer service interactions from various channels including phone, chat widget, email, and social media.
Shared Email Alias
A shared email alias for your support team is usually a “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com” email address into which customers send support inquiries. When used correctly, a shared support email alias centralizes all customer communications in one place, creating a streamlined approach to issue triage that reduces the chance that customer inquiries will slip through the cracks.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is software to manage customer data. A CRM can act as the central system of record for your service team (and your whole company). It ensures everyone at your company, across sales, service, and marketing are all plugged into the same technical system. Everyone gets a complete view of the customer, the emails they’ve received, the deals they’ve been part of, and the issues that are still open.
Live chat is increasingly popular among customers as a means for asking questions due to its convenience and efficiency. Customers don’t have to drop everything and put what they’re doing on hold to call a busy phone line. Instead, they can start a live chat with a human, from a company website or inside a company’s app, and get their issues resolved immediately.
People prefer this more conversational approach to service. It allows them to get help on their timeline, and there is very little friction in a quick chat from your computer or mobile phone.
A knowledge base is a collection of information that helps customers help themselves. This could mean technical documentation, how-to guides, instructional videos, frequently asked questions, and much more.
Each article in a knowledge base should be geared at answering a specific question from your customers. When your knowledge base is optimized for search, your customers will also find those articles when they turn to Google for help. This will help them answer their questions themselves.
Investing in a knowledge base may seem like something that can wait until you have more resources and business improves. But helping customers help themselves saves costs. It contributes to less phone calls or chat lines answering questions, and improves the customer experience.
Most consumers interact with brands on multiple channels such as your website, social media and mobile apps. To ensure good customer support, your company should be able to meet its customer’s needs on every channel.
Having a mobile-friendly website is one way to improve your customer’s experience, but it’s also helpful when your service teams can communicate with your customer through all channels. There are tools that help companies continue their conversations with customers across channels. This way, a customer can start live chat on website and then switch to a mobile application, without having to repeat their questions.
Common complaints in customer support
Having helpful software or tools and a website that’s easy to use will improve your customer’s experience. There are common issues within ecommerce. If you know about those issues beforehand and prepare your online store, you can be sure of a great customer experience.
A customer journey through your website should be simple and easy. If your checkout process is complicated, the customer will most likely give up and find another store to place their order. With the large number of competitors, they can find a store with similar products within minutes. Broken links and error messages also increase the chance of a customer giving up.
Though most customers don’t mind the fact that your online business collects data so that their experience becomes more personalized, the fact that there are frequent data leaks or security breaches is a big issue. This is something many customers complain about, so make sure that your website is secured.
Difficulties in getting through to customer service
Another common issue is the fact that customers expect a quick and problem solving reaction. When they contact a business for support, they don’t want to have to wait a day or longer for a response. Make sure that customers can always reach you and that they get a quick response when they contact your business about an issue. Having a live chat or knowledge base can also help.
Problems surrounding the product that was delivered
If you’re selling products through your online business, make sure that your product information is extensive and accurate. This way, customers won’t be surprised once their order finally arrives. A common complaint is the fact that products are different from what was expected.
Sometimes customers receive a wrong product or don’t even receive anything at all. Having to wait longer than expected for a delivery is also a common annoyance for customers. Be open about expected shipping delays. Mistakes can happen, and preparing yourself and your customer support team for these events will improve your customer’s experience.
Outsourcing your customer support
Like many other processes of your online business, you can outsource customer support. There are many types of call centers that handle customer support for you. However, it seems that most online businesses prefer doing it themselves.
Most entrepreneurs fear that outsourcing their customer support will decrease its quality. An external party will have to work hard to know everything about your products, your online store and the culture within your company.
However, call centers that have a very specific focus on ecommerce do noticly better at this point. If companies outsource their customer support it is often in cooperation with a fullfilment company that knows everything about the stock, packing or delivery of orders.
Frequently asked questions
Some frequently asked questions about customer support are:
Why should my store aim for the best customer support?
If you want to set your company apart from your competitors, having good customer support is a helpful step to do so. It also means that customers are more likely to place a second order after a positive experience during their first time ordering. Increasing brand loyalty will add value to your store.
Which tools should I implement for the best customer support?
There are several tools you can implement to give your customers the best support. There’s a lot of software with different types of functions that can be useful, depending on what your online store needs. Popular tools are live chat, a knowledge base and helpdesk software.