Successful online retailers waste no expense developing a compelling brand strategy to get new customers browsing their virtual storefront. But while clever messaging, appealing ad creative, and a good product/market fit can effectively bring in new sales, the customer care provided to each shopper cannot go overlooked. With 58% of shoppers stating that experiencing excellent customer service influences them to purchase from a brand again, ecommerce brands must have strategies in place to deliver top-tier customer support that keeps buyers coming back.
Here are five key tips for providing customer support to online shoppers.
#1: Offer Self-Service Support
When faced with an issue or question, customers don’t always feel the need to contact a customer support representative. Shoppers are increasingly developing a preference for finding the answers to their own questions, with 4 out of 5 customers opting to try and solve their own problems first before contacting a live agent.
Basic queries or frequently asked questions, such as those about shipping or payments, should be easily searchable in an online self-service portal such as a knowledge base. Additionally, customers should be able to access information about their specific transaction via self-service methods like a chatbot. Deploying a chatbot to help customers through returns and/or exchanges as well as other processes helps take some of the work off of your staff, while helping customers get the service they need faster and around the clock.
#2: Take an Omnichannel Approach
All shoppers have differing preferences—including how they want to contact a brand’s customer service department. Even when different customers have the same goal, such as to get in contact with a live agent, the way they choose to do so may vary depending on their preferred communication channel. This is why having an omnichannel approach in place is an important aspect of successful customer support.
While knowing your target market’s preferences can inform which communication channels to emphasize, such as having more agents dedicated to email and phone support for an older demographic, there will always be outliers, especially as technology advances. Because overall consumer preferences for real-time communication are fairly spread out across different channels—41% prefer live chat, 32% prefer over-the-phone communication, and 23% want to contact organizations via email—brands should invest in a dedicated presence across these various platforms.
#3: Personalization is Key
Once a customer self-identifies, the representative should be able to immediately call up their order history and other relevant information that fills in the gaps. Customers don’t want to spend extra time providing details they’ve already shared with your brand, regardless of how long ago it was or who on the team they might have shared it with.
Considering that 3 in 4 shoppers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes their name and makes suggestions based on their purchase history, ecommerce brands must have the tools in place to easily store and access relevant information about customers. Using this data to foster meaningful communication sets the stage for a memorable customer experience that makes shoppers want to buy from you again.
#4: Give Reps the Tools They Need to Succeed
Even the most personable, empathetic, and effective agents will struggle if the processes to which they must adhere are inefficient or disjointed. When introducing new technology to make the customer experience better, don’t allow the agent experience to be sacrificed in the process.
Example: If you’re bringing on a tool to better personalize live chat support, that technology shouldn’t require agents to leave their existing CRM window or otherwise in order to take advantage of its insights or benefits, as this will likely lead to lower adoption of the technology and more frustration on behalf of your agents. Considering customer service representative turnover is already higher than in other industries, losing your best reps to technology that makes their jobs harder isn’t an option.
#5: Make All Support Channels Multilingual
One of the beautiful things about ecommerce is that it enables retailers to sell products to anyone, anywhere. Because of this, shoppers from all over the world are likely to visit your website and browse—but they are far less likely to like what they see if content isn’t provided in their native language.
The aptly named “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” series from CSA Research reports that nearly two-thirds (65%) of global consumers prefer website content to be in their language, even if the language quality is poor. 76% of consumers, meanwhile, prefer products to have information available in their own language, and a stunning 40% of consumers will simply not purchase from a website that does not have content in their language.
For ecommerce brands, for whom their website is everything, these preferences must be addressed if the retailer seeks to go global or expand into any region where the language spoken is not the same as the one used by the brand. This preference for multilingual content also extends to customer support—the same study found that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand again if customer service is provided in their language. For any retailer, but especially those who rely on repeat purchases to achieve a profitable ROI, adhering to all of the previously mentioned best practices on a multilingual scale is a must.
That means providing self-service support, such as FAQ articles and chatbots, in the customers’ native language, as well as having a means of delivering multilingual support in real-time over chat, email, and other live communication channels.