Let’s face it: When customers think of online merchants, customer service is usually the last thing that comes to mind. Most e-commerce websites, even large well known sites, seem impersonal with mediocre customer service.
Many online merchants don't realize that their customers are a powerful marketing tool -- word of mouth marketing -- and if you treat them right, they will become your best source of advertisement. However, if you treat your customers poorly, they can become a PR nightmare.
Not only will good customer service result in a strong base of loyal customers, which can result in a more profitable company, it can help reduce chargebacks. Many unsatisfied, frustrated customers dispute charges when they feel they have no other recourse. Common sense says that fewer chargebacks will also equal more profit.
Below are 13 tips I have found incredibly helpful, and now I'm sharing them with you so you can help your team provide better customer service for your e-commerce business.
- Assign a Personal Customer Service Representative: Along with the online transaction receipt that you send to your customers, also automatically assign each customer a personal representative who will answer any and all of their questions. Email the online transaction receipt from signed by the personal representative’s name.
- Human Touch: Many online shoppers struggle with trusting an e-commerce merchant due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Some ways to help build trust with your online shoppers are to show pictures of your customer service representatives, and add a picture of the Customer Service Manager on your website's Help page as well. Little things like this can go a long way to build trust in your company.
- Call Customers Who Abandon Orders: When a customer starts an order but doesn’t finish it, follow up with a phone call to find out if there were any problems. Customers appreciate the gesture, and you will likely save many sales in the process.
- Same Day Shipping: Most websites have a policy of shipping orders one or two business days after customers place them. If possible, selectively ship some orders the same day. Your customers will appreciate the speedy delivery and find it a delightful surprise.
- Hand-Written Thank You Notes on Packing Slips: Most packing slips are dull, impersonal, and only useful if you need to return the merchandise. On rare occasions, I’ve received orders where the packing slip had a hand-written, personalized thank you from one of the merchant's employees. While this may not be practical for every order, it's a great way to impress select customers.
- Extensive FAQ Page: Surprisingly, one of the easiest ways to improve your customer satisfaction is by preventing needless customer interactions in the first place. No matter how friendly your customer service representative, customers will be unhappy if they have to call you in order to answer a simple question like “how do I return a product?” Prevent situations like this by maintaining a searchable FAQ page on your website that answers all reasonable questions.
- Live Chat: Many customers hate the thought of sitting on hold, even if it's just for a few minutes. Offering a live chat option can be an inexpensive way of answering questions for your visitors, and reducing the call volume in your call center.
- Improve Your After-Hour Customer Service Department: If your e-commerce business employs a third-party customer service department for after office hours, make sure you frequently monitor the quality of care they are providing. Make sure they are knowledgeable enough to serve your customers as effectively as possible.
- Prominent Customer Testimonials: Display your customer testimonials all over your e-commerce website. They're a great way to help build trust with your customers you'll never meet face-to-face. Include testimonials in printed catalogs, newsletters, and even emails. You can even encourage your customers to submit their own with the incentive to have them featured on your site.
- Detailed Product Pages: Answer questions before your customers have a chance to ask by a having thoroughly detailed product page for each item you sell. Include all of the relevant information that a customer would want and need to know, and be sure to write it in a unique way that will persuade your customer to purchase from you.
- Thank You Emails: Send emails to customers thanking them for their business, and include a personalized touch to let them know the email isn't generic or automated. This will make your customers feel special, like they're your friend and not just a source of income.
- Go Above and Beyond to Fix Your Mistakes: When your e-commerce business makes a mistake, be sure that you exceed your customer’s expectations to fix it. If you accidentally left out an item when shipping the package, do more than apologize -- offer the forgotten item for free. Many businesses find their most loyal customers result from a highly satisfying resolution to a problem.
- Fix Other’s Mistakes: If there's a delay with a shipment, or it gets lost in the mail, don't just blame the shipping carrier. Offer a solution. Re-ship the item or offer to resolve the issue with the carrier so that your customer doesn't have to handle it.
As an e-commerce business owner, what do you do to keep your customers happy? How do you handle lost packages? What do you do when a customer complains about the quality of a product? How do you train your customer service representatives?