In the world of e-commerce, customer service can seem like an anachronism.
A modern, fully-equipped ERP-integrated e-commerce platform is built to help customers help themselves. Customer self-service is an integral part of an optimized customer experience; your clients want to be able to place orders, reorder products, return them, and update their account information without having to get on the phone with your support team to do it.
The freedom to manage one’s own purchases and payment methods twenty-four hours a day from anywhere on the planet is one of the defining features—and biggest selling points—of an e-commerce channel. And for business owners, this independence translates major savings on operational costs, as their staff no longer spend significant amounts of time checking order status updates over the phone.
But don’t downsize your customer support team yet. E-commerce customer service remains a critical element of doing business online. Here are 4 ways that excellent customer service can take your e-commerce venture to the next level.
E-commerce customer service solves problems self-service can’t
Customer experience will always make the sale. Responsive, intuitive navigation, a dynamic product catalog, and a streamlined checkout funnel form the building blocks of a self-service web store. Factor in accessible account options, and your e-commerce platform practically sells on autopilot.
But even a fully-configured self-service platform can’t do everything.
Most e-commerce solutions empower customers to make return requests. But sometimes the customer needs to make a return that falls outside your company’s policy and requires approval. The same applies to purchase rules (especially for B2B businesses).
Other times, there could be technical problems with a product. Maybe it’s difficult to install or assemble. Perhaps there’s a glitch, and the customer isn’t sure if the product is malfunctioning or simply needs reconfiguring. Or there could be a billing issue more complex than cancelling an order or changing a card.
There are innumerable issues like this which even the most sophisticated e-commerce platform is simply unable to handle because they require human intervention.
E-commerce customer service makes your business stand out
It’s an all-too-common story in the age of e-commerce. A shopper encounters one of the issues above, and is unable to get someone on the phone to help.
When you can’t get help with an online purchase, it’s like an expensive sack of chips getting stuck in a giant vending machine. But the unfortunate fact that so many online business owners treat their e-commerce channels this way gives your business an incredible opportunity to stand out.
Beyond simply addressing your clients’ needs, e-commerce customer service provides a crucial point of contact. People like to know that they can pick up the phone and get another human being on the line. In fact, as much as 47% of shoppers say that they will look elsewhere if they can’t contact a company directly.
This means that just by offering your customers that phone line, you already position your business ahead of all the other online stores that don’t.
E-commerce customer service promotes your brand
Naturally, if offering e-commerce customer service makes your web store stand out all by itself, then offering excellent service will actively promote your brand like few other things can.
With the advent of social media, word-of-mouth marketing is arguably more powerful than it has ever been. The phenomenon of viral sharing allows news to spread across the globe in a matter of hours, or even minutes.
So when a customer has a positive experience with your service team and leaves a glowing review (ideally on your own e-commerce site), the word gets around very quickly. People you’ve never encountered will read these reviews and bring their business to you because of them.
And even offline, word-of-mouth remains is one of your most powerful sales tools. Fancy, high-tech marketing campaigns aside, 92% of consumers will still take recommendations from friends and family before any other source of advertising.
E-commerce customer service keeps clients coming back
Anyone can offer lookalike products. Anyone can compete on price. In a saturated market, building customer loyalty is absolutely essential to growing your business.
It’s easier (and less expensive) to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Among other things, existing customers are more likely to buy than new customers. Naturally, your web store’s self-service options and overall customer experience will go a long way toward fostering the loyalty your brand needs. But e-commerce customer service will often make the difference, for all the reasons we’ve discussed.
There is another factor to consider, as well. According to Ameritas, good customer service not only helps your company retain customers—it helps your company retain employees. Businesses that are committed to providing great customer service require employees to be more engaged. They have to work to improve customer relationships and the company image. This in turn solidifies the employee’s feeling of being a loyal member of the company they represent.
So while self-service is a critical component of success in e-commerce, customer service plays an equally important, complementary role. Your online business needs both in order to provide a winning customer experience.