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Take Your E-Commerce Customer Service to the Next Level
Vice President Customer Services DHL Express U.S.
7 min read
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Consider this: according to research by Zendesk, as many as 88% of people said an online customer service review had influenced their decision to buy. For your business, that can mean only one thing – it’s time to make customer service and engagement a top priority, especially if your operations are e-commerce-only, meaning you don’t actually meet your customers face-to-face.

Once you’ve managed to get potential customers to visit your site, how do you convert them into buyers and keep them coming back for more? Now is an especially relevant time to revisit your strategies, because Customer Service Week starts October 1st.   It’s an excellent opportunity to remind your employees of the value of great customer interactions, to infuse your business with customer-centric practices, and to take new steps to distinguish yourself from the competition.

In fact, for e-commerce companies, customer service can be the one true distinguishing factor in the race for success and growth.  How responsive is your team when customers present concerns? What tools have you put in place to communicate with your customers and to allow them to ask questions and get quick answers? What kind of returns policy have you established, and is it clearly communicated?  These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself and your teams this October and into the future.

To help get you started on the path to great customer service, here are some key areas to consider:

Make Your Website Engaging and Global

It’s not just an assemblage of code and clicks.  Your website is your store, and a representation of your brand for your customers to enjoy and look around.  It should be inviting, and it should engage and interest shoppers.  Of course, it also must be well-managed, which means close attention to make sure all links work, photos are up, and language is clear and concise.  Finally, if you’re reaching out to global markets, make sure your site can connect you seamlessly to international shoppers.

Use Social Media to its Fullest

It’s critical to have multiple channels in place for your customers to ask questions and seek help, and social media is one of the most important avenues for engagement and assistance. In fact, social media customer service is generally expected among today’s customers, most of whom view it as the easiest way to solve product-related problems – and to conduct real conversations.

If you have not done so already, you should consider putting a customer service program in place for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and anywhere you have a significant presence and customer following. Your social media customer service strategy may involve hiring or training dedicated social media community managers or expanding the responsibilities of other customer service representatives in your organization.

The fact is, your customers will likely ask questions and post their problems with your products on social media, and if you are not answering, you are not delivering for them or sending a positive message about your customer support.

It Pays to Keep Things Easy

Well over a third of shopping cart abandonments occur when a potential customer is asked to sign up or register at the website before buying. So why put up a barrier that blocks purchases? Let new customers complete their transaction seamlessly as a guest, and they’ll be extra likely to come back for more. You can apply lead nurturing rules in your post-sale contact in order to encourage further sales and capture useful data for targeting later.

Use Live Chat for a Human Touch

Live chat is a must-have service for e-tailers. By handling everything from sales inquiries to issues with returns and specific product questions, live chat can systematically help you meet and exceed customer expectations.

One-to-one customer interaction generates trust and reassurance in your business or product, removing any uncertainties that could be jeopardizing potential sales. Econsultancy reports that adding a live chat feature to a website can lead to 92% satisfaction with the service received.

Integrate Videos and FAQs

Your business can solve customer problems before they happen by posting informative videos and extensive, clearly-written Frequently Asked Questions. This can also minimize the number of calls to customer service.

A proactive, comprehensive online support center, like the DHL Shipping Support Center, with thoughtful and well-developed FAQs and guides can help remove some of the frustrations that customers feel when they have issues with your products, your deliveries or the returns process.

Get Phone Support Going Strong

When questions or concerns cannot be handled online, your customers will call, and you need to be ready to answer at any time of the day. Consider implementing extended hours based on customer needs or seasonal peak-season traffic. No one likes long wait times, so your ability to meet demand is one more building block for customer loyalty.

Broadcast a Clear Shipping and Returns Policy

If you are in the business of e-commerce, you are by extension also in the business of shipping. Working with the right shipping partner, you have a goal of getting your goods to your customers quickly, cost-efficiently and safely.

But for your shipping to work, you need to ensure that your customers have the right expectations from the very beginning. Your policy should be clearly written and prominently displayed on your site, along with your returns policy. Confusing policies can actually deter sales, while the right approach will keep your customers coming back.

Add Value to Build Engagement

To show customers you are willing to go above and beyond the expected, you need to do something different.  Consider simple steps like special discounts if a customer provides an email address, a unique promotion for their next order, or making the returns process easier.

Great customer service should not be an afterthought – it should be your first thought, every day.