by Justin Goldschneider
Few things matter more to ecommerce businesses than customer service. In the age of instant communication, a single unhappy customer can do monstrous damage to your reputation. He or she could smear your name on social media, give you negative feedback and bad ratings, or even report you as a scam artist. A handful of angry individuals can ruin a website’s business this way.
The Cost of Poor Customer Service
2013 estimates put the annual loss created by negative customer service experiences to $41 billion. That’s just counting customers who switch to other companies as a result. What’s perhaps even more damaging is that 95% of customers who have a bad experience will tell others about it.
The Rewards of a Job Well Done
Good support can turn these situations on their head. Over two-thirds of consumers say they are significantly more loyal to companies with which they’ve had positive customer service experiences. Over 40% use social media to share such experiences, spreading the good news far faster than traditional word of mouth.
So, what can an ecommerce business do to provide great support?
Train Your Team Well
Half of all interactions with customer service agents leave the customer’s question unanswered. Undoubtedly, a many of those customers chalk this up as a bad experience and proceed to tell others how useless the company’s support is.
All agents should have a thorough understanding of the products and/or services they support. If they can’t answer a question, they are useless to the customer. Agents also need the power to assist customers immediately. If they can’t provide a refund without getting permission from a manager, they’ll force the customer to wait for answers with mounting anxiety. Having a well-trained and empowered customer service team means your customers will get answers the first time. That will dramatically improve your satisfaction ratings. It will also reduce costs, as your team will need less time for each request.
Improve Support Reach Just Like Business Reach
Channel coverage—selling on multiple marketplaces and platforms—is critical for growing your business. The same thing goes for helping your existing customers.
There are numerous ecommerce customer service channels, such as email, phone, live chat, and the impossible-to-overestimate social media. Many companies seem to think one channel is plenty. However, different customers prefer different methods of contact. The more support channels you offer, the more likely you’ll give customers the option they’re looking for. You’ll therefore have higher odds of creating the good experiences that improve loyalty and inspire positive reviews.
Be careful that you don’t let extending your reach turn into higher support costs. Just as you should integrate your sales channels to handle them all from one place, you should integrate your customer service so your team can help everyone from a single interface. CRM software like Zendesk can accomplish this for just about every channel. If you sell on eBay and/or Amazon in addition to your own site, adding a marketplace message manager like ChannelReply will take care of the rest.
Put Your Customers First
Everyone says they put their customers first. But really, most companies put profits first.
Before turning down a refund request or limiting your agents’ time for answering questions, consider these facts:
- You are 3 to 14 times more likely to sell to a returning customer than someone who’s just discovered your offerings.
- It can cost up to 7 times more to get a new customer than to keep a current one.
- The above costs stack with the damage the customer will do if they share their bad experience online.
In the end, making your customers happy is putting your profits first. Always go the extra mile and provide the best customer service you can. Your bottom line will thank you for it.
About the Author
As ChannelReply’s VP of Marketing, Justin manages the company’s SEO and social media and advises on product development and UI/UX. He holds a degree in English: Journalism and Writing and lives in Vermont.