Every year, more customers shop e-commerce for their products, gifts, homewares and clothing. More and more customers discover great deals online, the convenience of drop-shipping, and the ability to get shopping done without a big trip to overpacked stores. Due to COVID, overpacked stores aren't an ideal option for many. Last-minute runs to the shopping mall or outlet market aren't happening this year because of social distancing and closed stores.
Some of your customers may be online shopping pros who can handle their shipping addresses, dates, and even their returns smoothly through any system provided. Most, however, are not. Most customers are shopping as best they can and when they hit a bump, they call, text, or email customer service.
Is your customer service ready? This is a complete guide for any e-commerce website wanting to boost customer service to help your shoppers.
3 Ecommerce Customer Service Tactics for your Website
1. Install New Communication Channels
The first step is to make sure your customers can reach you when they have trouble. Many customers have one preferred way to get in touch, and will favour sites that offer this method. Some customers prefer live chat and will jump into chat to quickly gain the answers they need to complete or satisfy an order. Some only use email, while others only trust phone calls.
Cover your bases. The good news is that WordPress makes it easy to add every type of communication channel that your customers might need. Let's take a look at the types of communication you can add via plugin.
A) Live Chat
The first and most important customer support channel today is live chat. Live chat tops email because it can happen immediately, in a friendlier and faster way than even a fast exchange of emails. Live chat tops phone calls because it dodges phone trees and many people today are awkward on the phone. Live chat allows for the transmission of files, links, and photos of defective products. Live chat can also be handled by an informed chatbot or by friendly chat representatives from your company.
Customers with a pre-purchase question can get the answer quickly, helping them along the funnel with great satisfaction. Customers with a complaint can seek remedy immediately instead of waiting for reply.
B) Internal Messaging
Internal messaging reflect social sites that allow users to message each other. You can use it this way, but you can also prioritise internal messages solely for customer service. In other words, give each account-holding customer their own inbox so that they receive messages directly from you. Mirror this with an email letting customers know that they have received a message. Depending on the privacy you need to maintain, emails can alert customers to the message contents or not. Many sites now use internal messaging to, for example, help customers hide their gift shopping from family who share the same computer and often see each others emails.
C) Email Reporting
Email customer service is stock standard, and every customer will expect you to have this feature as a fallback if live chat, phone, SMS, or internal messaging are not available. Every 'Contact Us' page and business website footer should feature a way to send emails requesting support. Email allows customers to send a message when there is no one to talk on chat, and to create a longer-term ticket for problems that are more challenging to solve.
D) SMS Text Messaging
SMS is a less-used but sometimes essential channel for customer service. SMS serves best for urgent and timely messages, especially in industries where urgency is more common. For example, if you sell medications, it might be more appropriate to offer SMS alerts letting customers know on the day or even hour to expect their packages. SMS is almost always used outgoing rather than incoming.
E) Internet Phone
If you plan to offer phone support, as many older customers prefer, consider upgrading to internet phones. You don't need a commercial phone line installation or even a call bank to provide phone support. Just a good VOIP platform membership for your company and enough friendly well-trained people who can answer the phone and customer questions.
F) Video Consultations
Finally, video calls are all the rage. Because this is the way that almost all modern professionals are transitioning to work and communication, it's time for e-commerce websites to meet the public in this channel. Customers are becoming rapidly more comfortable with online phone and video conferencing. This is good news for any company offering in-depth customer service.
Video calls allow you to consult with clients on everything from handling returns to deciphering assembly instructions.
2. Increase Your Support Team
The next step is to increase the number of people available to provide customer support. It's very common for retail and e-commerce brands to temporarily increase the support team and immediately after to tackle the drastic increase in customer service calls. First, you will receive calls for assistance in ordering, shipping, and resolving order problems before purchased items become gifts. Then you will face the usual wave of returns and defective product reports after the products are opened as gifts.
Here are the two ways to increase your live support team:
A) Hire Temporary Support Staff
The first option is to temporarily expand your staff directly. Hiring from a temp firm or opening temporary positions to the job market has never been easier, considering that phone or chat jobs today are expected to be remote. You don't need to open up more office space or rent computers. Hiring temporary customer support staff today will be all about the right employment contracts (temp agencies make this easier) and the right online-available training to prepare your phone or chat techs to help customers.
B) Outsource to Call and Chat Response Centres
Your next option is to outsource. Outsourcing means contracting with a customer support service that already has a team of agents on-staff. Unlike a temp agency, an outsourced response centre (now mostly remote as well) would become your temporary business partners. Their team would learn your products, website, and policies and they would represent your brand to clients calling in with questions or complaints.
3. Add Automation and Self-Service Options
Your final tactic is to install automation into your WordPress website's customer service features. Automation reduces your need for increased staff while also increasing customer satisfaction when self-service methods are helpful. Most modern customers would actually prefer to solve their own problems quickly and automatically, if methods are available. For example, most customers will search "how to fix ..." before calling customer service for help. Most will research your return policies before asking to call. Give them these options, and self-directed customers will enjoy your site more while taxing your customer service resources less.
Consider the following self-service features to improve your WordPress experience for your shoppers.
A) Build Your Information Centre
An information centre is the first and best resource for self-directed customers. From finding out shipping fees to return policies, a customer who seeks their own answers will ask your website first. Have a help section that is easy to find and to navigate where customers can seek their own answers. Stock it with short, descriptive, and helpful articles that cover everything a customer might ask or want to pursue. Start by expanding your FAQ into the basis for you information centre, then build it out with common customer service calls, and detailed service and product information that your clients might want to find in their own.
There are several great WordPress plugins that can help you build a comprehensive and easy to navigate information centre for self-directed clients.
B) Provide a Returns and Dispute Platform
Returns and product disputes will happen. They are a natural part of doing business. In fact, if you handle returns and disputes correctly, you can earn satisfied and loyal customers from the once-dissatisfied. Customers like to be taken care of, so make it easy for customer to take care of themselves through your website. Provide an easy and inviting process to file for returns, get shipping labels, and file disputes when returns are not possible.
Make sure the process is simple and bug-free, or some customers will translate their difficulty as discouragement from asking for help. But when returns are easy and self-service, customers see this as a brand being open and helpful, even in the face of company mistakes.
C) Improve Your Internal Search Engine
Next, make sure your internal search engine is powerful and intuitive. It's worth a real upgrade to your WordPress search feature because customers notice. They notice when a search for "boots with red laces" turns up a page of red lace garments instead. They notice when their search for "return policies" comes back with products with the word "return" in the description.
Make sure your search engine knows a query for service instead of a query for products, as well as a more intuitive product sorting option.
D) Provide a Chatbot with All the Answers
Finally, install a chatbot. There are three very good reasons to provide a chatbot through your live chat feature. The first is that chatbots can answer during off-hours when your service team is not available. A chatbot means that you don't need 24/7 support, because the bot can greet customers, answer simple questions, and take messages to be answered in the morning.
The second reason is that a chatbot can answer questions without calling on the time of a support agent. Chatbots can answer simple questions, often equating to self-help automation. For example, you can program a chatbot to recite shipping times and costs, or to check a logged-in customers' package status, or even walk customers through tackling the return process.
The third reason to install a chatbot is because customers like them. A friendly bot that is clearly a bot gives customers someone fun to talk to, without feeling like they are wasting someone's time. From silly questions can come real questions and a growing relationship between customer and brand.
Is your online brand ready for the rush of customer service demand? We can help you get there. From installing a live-chat features to preparing your site for automated self-help, contact us to upgrade your WordPress site today.