Customer service is one of the essential elements of any successful business, including eCommerce stores. As more and more people shop online, great customer support can help you differentiate your brand from your competitors’. It can also add the human element to an otherwise digital experience. In this post, we will cover 8 customer service tips to help you enhance your customer support and experience.

85% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer service On top of creating a good customer experience, great customer service can increase your sales as well. According to a RightNow report, 85% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer service, and to switch to a business that has a reputation of good customer service.

1. Customer service tips: Offer multiple communication channels

Although customers will primarily contact you via email, offering other communication channels can help customers get in touch with you in a way they are most comfortable. You can offer live chat, social media pages, phone support, and Q&A resources.

Different demographics prefer different channels, and each of these channels presents different challenges and opportunities. For example, even though live chat has the highest satisfaction rate amongst support channels, if your target audience is not as familiar with a live chat interface, or if you can only provide live chat for very limited hours, then the satisfaction for that channel may be low for your store.

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If you are using social plugins like WooCommerce Social Login, you can determine whether a significant number of your customers login using a specific social platform. Chances are that these customers are active on these platforms and are comfortable in using them. You can set up a company page on the most-used platform(s) to allow your customers to give feedback and get in touch with you directly on that platform.

For each channel, make sure you have a strategy in mind, and figure out how to build up individual channels. It is better to have one really good channel for support, rather than multiple ones which are not thoroughly planned. Learn more in our post about offering multiple communication channels.

2. Customer service tips: Always follow up

All customer complaints or issues are worthy of a response. Customers provide feedback or take out frustration in different ways. It is important to follow up with every single customer so that they don’t feel that they were ignored. The customer made an effort to write to you about their issue. Reward the effort by sending a reply, even if you may not have a solution.

For example, you will have times when customers message with nothing specific — a simple note that your products are “OK”, or a customer venting about how horrible the product is without asking for any resolution, or a customer asking about something that is clearly stated on your homepage. In such instances, it may feel like a waste of time to respond, but a response can help you create the conversation that you want – one with a specific goal in mind. This can be simply hearing the customers out, or finding ways to improve your products, or adding to an FAQ section so that you template commonly asked questions.

In addition, you can reach out to your customers proactively, especially if your store is new, to get their feedback and opinion about your brand. This can not only signal that you care about what your customers think, but also provide valuable feedback you can use to improve your store. There have been many studies that suggest that users can help provide a lot of ideas for innovation of products.

3. Customer service tips: Empathize with your customers

Sometimes there are things that just go wrong – whether it’s your fault, the customer’s fault, or nobody’s fault at all. If it is your fault, own up to it and fix the situation. If it is the customer’s fault, or nobody’s fault, don’t put blame on the customer or anyone else. Take ownership of the issue and focus on how to remedy it.

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Photo Credit: David Drexler, CC BY 2.0 license

Monetary reward is the best way to reassure an angry or unhappy customer. Offer a complete refund to the customer, and provide an additional gift card or coupon (see coupons for WooCommerce) to your store. Remember that they are frustrated because something in their customer journey didn’t meet their expectations. Your product is only one of many they will consume, but your products are the sole focus of your business.

According to an Eptica study, more than 80% of customers are likely to switch away from a brand based on a poor customer service experience. You will have customers who have a bad experience with your store or products, but the more important part is how you deal with it and how an unhappy customer’s last interaction is with your brand. It is that last interaction that can help influence them to come back to your store, or at least, not speak poorly of your brand to their friends.

4. Customer service tips: Respond to customers in a timely manner

Customers shouldn’t be waiting for a week before you respond to their query. You don’t have to immediately reply to customer queries, but customers shouldn’t be kept waiting too long. The longer they wait, the more frustrated they will get, and start to look at your competitors.

Easy Digital Downloads sell bookings

You can be up front about average response time. This helps set an expectation with customers for when they will hear back. Set something that you think is doable, but also reasonable. “Within 48 hours” is typically a good expectation that allows you some leeway if you are a small shop. It allows you time to think about all aspects of the request before you respond. According to a Gallup study, a “thorough” response is much better than a fast response when it comes to customer service.

Display your operating hours clearly if you are providing live chats or phone support. This will reduce the number of times a customer tries to contact you without getting through.

5. Customer service tips: Don’t try to hide policies or extra charges

If your products typically require add-ons or special processes that cost extra, be clear about them on your store before the customer reaches checkout and certainly before they purchase the items. This can be shipping costs or handling fees, shipping policies with select couriers, or return policies and warranties that are atypical.

Good customer experience is about setting expectations. A recent personal example was when I booked a car rental that required a specific type of insurance, and a credit hold. But I wasn’t informed of either at any point during the booking process, and was only told about them the day before the rental. This had me scrambling at the last minute to make sure I could provide both those things.

Good customer experience is about setting expectations. If customers know about additional fees or charges, they can factor those into making their purchasing decisions on your store. More than 70% of customers abandon their carts at checkout due to hidden charges or high delivery fees. By making those charges clear earlier in the process, you may deter some customers, but you will avoid unhappy or angry customers.

6. Customer service tips: Don’t forget to include business details

Contact information is one of the most important ways to build trust among new customers. Detailed information about your business, including team photos, and contact information that includes a physical address and a phone number, can significantly increase the trust potential customers place in your store.

This information helps customers differentiate “shady” stores from legitimate ones, and also reassures them that they can get in touch if with you if something goes wrong. In addition, since online customers can’t physically visit your store location or see your products, knowing a bit about your company helps them connect with your brand, and humanizes your store.

7. Customer service tips: Avoid being defensive about criticism

communicationCriticism from your customers isn’t about you. It is about the process that they took to purchase your products. Instead of defensively trying to justify why things are the way they are, use the criticism as a platform for dialogue with your customers on how you can improve things.

Use criticism as an opportunity to improve your process or products. Thank customers for pointing out something that you hadn’t considered or something that you didn’t realize was a pain point. Remember, a lot of customers may have had the same issue but they didn’t care to point it out.

8. Customer service tips: Never insult customers

Service is the make-or-break facet of your business when acquiring new customers. According to the RightNow survey, 55% of respondents became customers of a company because of the company’s reputation for good customer service, and 40% had switched to a competitor because the competitor provided better customer service.

Insulting customers or being rude during interactions will lose you customers, and potential word-of-mouth leads. Of the respondents in the survey, 82% had stopped doing business with a company after a poor customer experience, and 79% told others about the experience.

As you try to build a positive brand, make sure your interactions with customers remain positive and constructive.

Customer service tips: Summary

Customer service and support is one of the key ways you can differentiate your brand from others in the same space. Great customer service is much more than simply making sure things run smoothly and customers get answers.

Great customer service is about treating each customer as if they are the most valuable customer you have had, regardless of the amount of their purchase. By making your customers feel like they are unique, and not just another ticket or support number, you will gain more brand loyalty and value.

In this post, we list a number of things that you can do, and that you can avoid to enhance the customer service experience for your eCommerce store. Keep the customer at the center of any interaction – empathize with them and respond in a timely manner. Each interaction is an opportunity to gain insights about your store and products, and how you can improve them.

Think about and share your most significant customer service win or story so far. What was your focus when addressing the issue? Tell us in the comments below.


Cover Photo Credit: Dennis Skley (CC BY-ND 2.0 license)

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Posted by Jai Sangha

Jai is a regular contributor to Sell with WP, and helps merchants improve their WordPress eCommerce businesses with plugin reviews, marketing or customer service tips, and tutorials.

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