eCommerce customer service

eCommerce customer service: the ultimate guide

Whichever platform you sell on, whatever sector you serve, great eCommerce customer service is key to boosting sales, driving loyalty and encouraging positive reviews.

Put simply, customer service for eCommerce can make or break an online business.

What is eCommerce customer service?

In a nutshell, eCommerce customer service is the support an eCommerce business provides to its online shoppers.

Sometimes, it will require assisting a customer who has a problem with their order. But other times, you’ll be answering questions for someone who wants to make a purchase.

As more shoppers move online, the importance of eCommerce customer support grows. Think about it, if you need help with something you bought online and the seller doesn’t respond, you’re in trouble. There’s nowhere else to turn; nobody else to contact.

The rise of eCommerce has increased buyer expectations. Most customers anticipate access to speedy, polite and helpful eCommerce customer service through a range of channels, from social media to email. But this is also something they are willing to pay for.

According to a report from PwC, 73% of consumers said customer experience influences what they buy – and 42% are happy to pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. So perfecting your eCommerce customer service can translate into more conversions for your business.

eCommerce customer service
Customer experience influences the purchasing decisions of almost a quarter of shoppers.

Evaluate your eCommerce customer service

Online businesses should do everything they possibly can to provide outstanding eCommerce customer service. A good place to start is with an evaluation of how you’re currently doing in this area.

To understand your customers’ needs and wants, you should speak to begin by speaking with them. We’re talking about doing interviews, surveys and looking at the customer service metrics you already have.

Yes, this sounds daunting. But in reality you can keep it simple. Log into Survey Monkey and take an hour to figure out some key open-ended questions you want to ask your customers. Then, feature it in your next newsletter or add it to one of your email templates.

If you already use eCommerce customer support software, look at:

  • Ticket volumes
  • Ticket types
  • Response times

Understandably, increased sales around Christmas or Black Friday can cause a jump in messages. But if you’re constantly dealing with an influx of tickets, something about your eCommerce customer support needs to change.

Provide multichannel eCommerce customer service

Today, most online merchants sell their wares across multiple online platforms. Customers may submit their queries through those channels – or by email or through social media. The list goes on.

Whether you’re an online seller or a traditional retailer, people expect an omnichannel experience. A recent study showed that most in-store shoppers prefer to consult reviews on their phone, rather than talk to a clerk.

People generally prefer to help themselves when shopping online too. But if they do reach out, they often use social media. Why? Because it’s easy.

For this reason, big names like Sony, Nike and Dollar Shave Club have social media accounts specifically for providing customer support for eCommerce buyers.

Luckily, eCommerce customer service software, such as eDesk, will help you to take control of customer communication across all your sales channels, including social media, Amazon, eBay and your website.

Multichannel eCommerce customer service
A multichannel customer service experience is expected by the majority of online shoppers.

Fast responses are a must

In the digital age, people expect instant responses. But so do eCommerce platforms like Amazon. Slow responses not only frustrate customers, they tarnish your reputation as an online seller too.

One recent survey showed that over 80% of consumers assume eCommerce customer support teams will respond to an email within 24 hours. Amazon thinks the same way; taking longer than a day to answer customer messages on its marketplace is against policy. This results in a ‘late response’ mark against your account and negatively impacts your eCommerce metrics.

Related article: How US Auto Parts Slashed Customer Support Response Time

When an online order goes wrong, customers can feel powerless. But so can eCommerce businesses. You can’t always control supplier quality, warehouse mix-ups or delivery schedules. But you can take control of your eCommerce customer support by using live chat tools and pre-filled response templates to stay on top of incoming requests.

Fast eCommerce customer responses
Make sure your responses to customer queries are as fast as possible!

Influence the whole customer journey

The customer journey is about every single touchpoint a customer has with your business – not just your support team.

Ideally, you want to provide a great experience for customers every step of the way. This should increase satisfaction and decrease incoming requests for support.

For example, fashion brands like Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo make the returns process easy by providing convenient access to all the necessary details on their websites.

Another leader in customer service for eCommerce is Zappos. As well as free returns, the online clothing retailer goes above and beyond to provide useful content at an even earlier stage of the customer journey.

They provide customers with detailed images and videos showing their products from every angle imaginable. Unlike other sites, you’ll know what the soles of your new shoes will look like before they arrive at your door. They also offer extra information around whether product sizes run small or large, so customers don’t have to ask.

While you might not have the resources to implement this level of eCommerce customer service, you could add a size chart to your product pages or include returns information at the bottom of each order confirmation. These small changes can significantly improve your customer journey and reduce incoming queries.

Request feedback to bolster your brand

Most of your customers have a happy ending, so why not encourage them to leave a review? Here are some reasons why you should:

1. It builds trust in your brand

Many consumers check reviews and ratings before making a purchase, so the more reviews available to them the better. Reviews are also great for sharing on your website or social media.

2. It boosts your standing on the Amazon

How many reviews you have and how positive they are is one of the most important ranking factors for Amazon’s algorithm. This can even help you outrank competitors with lower pricing.

Reviews will also help you win the Best Match position on eBay, giving significantly better visibility to your products. Receiving positive Google Reviews can improve your ranking in search results too.

3. It allows you to listen and make adjustments to your service

Even the most negative reviews have an upside. The information provided allows you to improve your service and future proof your business. According to research, only 1 in 26 unhappy customers complain directly to a company. When someone tells you something is wrong, be glad they’ve given you a chance to address the issue and take their feedback on-board.

Requesting feedback
Requesting feedback from your customers is a great way to translate customer service excellence into positive reviews.

Respond to both positive and negative feedback

No matter what customers say, you need to be polite and positive in your response. This is an often overlooked aspect of eCommerce customer service that you need to excel at if you’re going to maximize your sales.

The bad: listen and learn

When people complain, it can hurt your pride. But it’s nothing personal. Besides, you could still win them over once again to prevent the loss of future sales. How? According to the Nottingham School of Economics, the best thing you can do is apologize. It costs nothing, but their research shows this is preferred – even over compensation.

Even scathing reviews can be turned into a positive for your online store. If you’re seen to quickly respond in a constructive manner, this will showcase your store’s reliability and honesty.

Related article: How to Remove Negative Feedback on eBay

The good: show appreciation

Positive reviews can highlight the quality of your brand. So you’ll want to thank positive reviewers for sharing their thoughts. This may encourage more people to follow suit.

On top of that, positive responses and interactions with customers can improve your ranking and visibility on the likes of Amazon and eBay – in the same way that receiving reviews helps.

Final words

eCommerce customer service is probably the most important differentiating factor online sellers can use to their advantage. Not only can it help you to reduce returns and refunds, it can also boost the visibility of your products on your website and the online marketplaces you sell on.

Some sellers don’t appreciate the dramatic extent to which first-class customer service can boost online sales, but those that do are growing from strength to strength.

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