United States

Customer Service: The Key to E-Commerce Excellence

Vice President Customer Services DHL Express U.S.
6 min read
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The convenience of online shopping is a huge selling point (pun intended), but the lack of human interaction can make it challenging for e-commerce companies to create a compelling customer experience. The good news is, a little goes a long way when it comes to making your business shine bright in a bustling online marketplace.

Communication is Key

You don’t need brick and mortar to build a strong foundation, but you do need a solid communication strategy. The only surprises customers want are the kind that inspire delight, so make sure important information about shipping rates, sizing charts, return policies, etc. is clearly, concisely, and prominently displayed on your website. The first step to meeting (or even better, exceeding) expectations is setting them.

In addition to transparency, accessibility is important. Whether it’s to provide a glowing testimonial or resolve a complaint, your customers need a way to connect with you. Ideally, they need multiple ways to connect with you, which is why we suggest five primary platforms for customer engagement and interactive support.


Providing a clear and comprehensive list of frequently asked questions on your website is a great way to preemptively address customer needs. Taking the time to create and maintain your FAQs, as well as providing instructional and/or informational videos, can help increase productivity and efficiency for your company by significantly minimizing the number of calls, emails, direct messages, and social media comments your team will need to field. It also allows customers to find the answers they’re looking for with minimal effort on their part, so it’s really a win/win!

Live Chat

live chat platform is essential for e-commerce companies. Live chat is typically the first point of contact for everything from sales inquiries to returns and exchanges to product troubleshooting, and when done right, it’s a great opportunity to create satisfied customers.

Because it balances the efficiency of automation with the reassurance of personal interaction, using a live chat system to manage the bulk of customer service is a practical, cost-effective solution for most online retailers.

At DHL, we use live chat and digital assistant functionality to make it easy for our customers to access tracking information, book pickups, identify drop-off locations, obtain rates, and transit quotes, etc.

Social Media

Regardless of the industry you occupy, social media is a powerful tool, not just for building brand awareness, but also for engaging with and assisting your customers. It’s increasingly common for consumers to turn to social media when they have questions or complaints about a product. At DHL U.S., we maintain a separate Twitter account (@DHLUSHelp) committed solely to providing real-time customer support. While this approach might not be necessary for your business, it’s still important to have a response plan in place for anything that shows up on your social accounts.

Depending on volume, you may want to consider hiring one or more dedicated community managers to ensure that customer concerns are addressed promptly and professionally. In addition to reviewing policies and protocols with your community management team, take the time to develop a consistent communication style and a tone of voice that feels authentic to your brand.

Phone Support

While most people who shop online prefer to also access customer service online, it’s still important to provide great assistance over the phone when the situation calls for it. (See what we did there?)

If 24-hour phone support isn’t practical for your business, be sure the hours are consistent and clearly communicated and that you’re adequately staffed to keep up with the volume of calls during those windows. Most of the time, the customer on the other end of the line is already frustrated, so avoiding unanswered calls and long hold times is key to achieving your goal of resolution.

Be Delightfully Surprising

Customer service isn’t just about navigating complaints…it’s also about making happy customers even happier! An element of surprise and delight, even a simple one, can elevate an unboxing experience from satisfactory to memorable.

Many Etsy sellers include a handwritten thank you note on the back of a business card or an eye-catching insert offering a small discount for repeat customers. Some companies, like clean cosmetic company Mob Beauty, include free samples in every order (bonus points if your free samples look like cute miniature versions of the full size product). If your products don’t lend themselves to sample sizing, choose something that complements them instead. For example, Brighton Cutters tucks a tiny packet of sprinkles into each shipment of cookie cutters.

Keep in mind that delivering delight doesn’t have to be costly or complicated…it’s more about creating a curated experience that makes your customers feel special.

Deliver On Your Commitment

No matter what you’re selling, the success of any online business is directly tied to shipping and the much anticipated delivery. The most amazing products in the world won’t sell if you can’t get them to your customers quickly, safely, and cost-effectively. That’s why choosing a reputable reliable and international shipping company is so important. Plus, give them tracking and flexible delivery options using On Demand Delivery. We’re proud of the role DHL plays in helping online retailers thrive!