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Providing an exceptional user experience lets many ecommerce companies overcome competitors and become market leaders. According to a PwC study, 73% of consumers say that support service experiences are more critical to their purchasing decisions than price or product features.
From order to delivery, ecommerce clients expect convenience and speed across all their interactions with your company. However, issues will arise sooner or later, and your customer support team must be well-prepared to handle any problems your customers might face.
The desire to achieve and maintain a new customer experience drives several trends in support best practices. Ecommerce brands already following these trends in their day-to-day operations are getting a head start on their competition.
Check out the seven most crucial ecommerce customer service trends and how these can help your company provide the most excellent support experience.
What is customer support, and why does it matter?
Generally speaking, support seeks to help customers make the most of your product or service and, ultimately, solve the issues they were trying to solve when they came to your business.
Although the terms “ecommerce customer support” and “ecommerce customer service” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not identical. While the latter designates all interactions that seek to enhance customer experience, the former is one such interaction that aims to solve a particular issue.
The quality of ecommerce support can make or break a company's competitiveness. Ecommerce customers expect quick and easy solutions to their problems. Online clients will gladly look elsewhere if your company's customer support isn't up to par.
Having great customer support can help you attract new business ans build lasting relationships with your existing customers, boosting retention and increasing online sales. Satisfied customers will likely purchase from you again and recommend your company to friends, family, and strangers on the internet.
Here are a few statistics that prove why proper support is a crucial part of every business and how it can give you that competitive edge:
- 76% of users will most likely move to the competitor after more than one unpleasant experience with a company.
- 90% of users will spend more time with companies that offer personalized ecommerce customer service.
- 68% of users think the companies need to invest more in customer service agents' training.
- 40% of users don’t care whether a real person or a chatbot interacts with them as long as their issue resolution meets customer expectations.
Far from being only a drain on the company's resources, an efficient, speedy, and emphatic support team is one of the cornerstones of any successful ecommerce business.
Ecommerce customer service trends in 2022 and beyond
1. Speed and convenience are crucial.
The fact that everyone hates to wait makes a fast response one of the most crucial aspects of a quality customer experience. Whether it's a damaged product, a delayed delivery, a wrong order, or any other issue users might face, they’ll want their problem swiftly solved.
As more and more ecommerce businesses utilizeAI to automate their customer service, customers expect quick responses to their inquiries. For example, many customers will expect an answer to their email within four hours, while others want it much sooner.
To stay ahead of the curve in the competitive ecommerce marketplace, ensure your company's customer support is quick and efficient.
For instance, you can use a customer service platform to offer support through a live chat ecommerce solution, and greet visitors with a chatbot. If a customer asks to talk to a real person, you can transfer them to a trained support agent in a couple of seconds.
2. Business automation has become indispensable.
Ecommerce businesses are increasingly automating their processes, including customer support, and this trend is likely to accelerate. Software solutions can take the load off your agents and allow them to use their time more efficiently, putting their skills to work where it matters.
When an ecommerce business grows, support requests and cases can quickly get out of hand. This is why multichannel customer support platforms have become the gold standard for ecommerce businesses since they provide the customer service team with a centralized place to manage workflow, prioritize tickets, and assign agents.
Ideally, the platform should be integrated with other systems such as inventory management, CRM, or marketing automation software - so allowing for a high degree of optimization, personalization, and better customer engagement using the data collected via chatbots.
An excellent example of automation is integrated into a chatbot’s feature. For instance, the user can share their needs with a chatbot, such as what kind of product they are looking for, and the chatbot can return a few relevant products available on the ecommerce store.
3. Chatbots are becoming more common.
AI-powered chatbots are rapidly becoming an indispensable part of ecommerce websites. Since they do not need food, coffee breaks, or sleep, they represent the pinnacle of speed and efficiency. Although the technology is still in its infancy, chatbots are proving themselves helpful to many online shoppers.
Using chatbots to provide readily available information, such as pointing customers to a knowledge bank or the FAQ section, will make the customer feel prioritized and important.
However, your agents might not even be aware that interaction is happening at the moment.
Chatbots can significantly speed up response times and independently solve many customer issues. They can also be integrated with CRM systems to handle inquiries efficiently.
If a chatbot cannot solve the case by itself, it can be used to diagnose the problem and route the information to an agent equipped to handle the specific issue. When the next agent is available, they can pick up where the chatbot left off.
4. Omnichannel support is mandatory.
Customer support available via multiple channels, such as email, call center, live chat, and social media, has become the industry standard in ecommerce.
Customers want to contact companies through their preferred channel from their preferred device - most commonly a mobile smartphone - at their preferred time. When customers can choose how they reach out to a company, they will feel more in control, connected, and more satisfied with their customer experience.
To fully optimize the effectiveness of your support team, you should integrate these different channels into one system where information can be shared. Several software solutions integrate CRM platforms, allowing for real-time information sharing across other communication channels.
Shopify implements omnichannel support pretty well, offering their users multiple options for support, including live chat, email, or asking the community if they experienced the same issue.
5. Personalized ecommerce experience is the norm.
The importance of a personalized experience has been steadily growing along with the growth of ecommerce.
Generally speaking, consumers are used to a personalized shopping experience and increasingly expect a customized support experience. They want to feel important and feel like your company is doing everything possible to solve their issue.
For example, by implementing omnichannel 24/7 support, you are allowing your customers to contact you on their terms.
Furthermore, suppose a customer orders an item that is currently out of stock. In that case, the company can send them a personalized email and estimate when the item will be available.
Since 66% of customers expect you to understand their needs, your support team should be prepared to handle unexpected situations. If an ecommerce customer has a request you don't often hear, you should be prepared to adapt and meet their needs.
Finally, when reaching out to customers, use their local phone number. This will facilitate trust since people are more familiar with their local phone numbers and will eliminate the fear of being charged with a foreign rate.
6. Proactive support strategy
Research by CEB Consulting showed that 81% of customers across industries would attempt to solve problems themselves before reaching out the support services. You can leverage this fact to save time and effort for you and your clients.
Sitting around and waiting for your customers to reach out with their problems is an inefficient way of managing support operations. Develop a proactive strategy and allow your customers to resolve issues independently.
Therefore, make sure your website includes:
- a FAQ section.
- a knowledge base with information on your products and services.
- how-to articles that will help customers solve the most common issues.
Since your customers are already engaging with your brand on social media, it’s essential not to neglect this customer support channel.
So, for example, an issue that multiple customers have repeated can be addressed on your social media account. You can also use social media to monitor conversations in your industry and respond when appropriate.
Hunter offers a nice example of a detailed Q&A section and resource center on their website that goes through the main features of their products, teaching users how to use them effectively. Most users' questions arise because they are unaware of a particular product or service. Therefore, a resource center that goes through the main features and most common Q&A saves a lot of time for your customer service team while simultaneously enhancing the user experience.
7. Agent experience is growing in importance.
Last comes the question of how your support agents feel about their job and how trained and experienced they are.
The fact is that your support agents are the face of your business. They are the point of contact between your company and its customers.
Tired, overworked, disinterested, and underpaid customer support teams will lead to an underwhelming customer experience. This will hurt your brand's image and, ultimately, negatively affect your bottom line.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep your agents engaged and effective. Make them feel valued and give them a sense of ownership and pride in their work. Most importantly, ensure you provide your agents with adequate training and tools for the job.
A team of happy, engaged, and effective customer support agents will provide every ecommerce customer with a pristine experience, ultimately positively impacting your revenue.
Excellent customer service is an indispensable part of a pristine user experience as it builds customer loyalty. As you have read in this article, speed and convenience take the cake in terms of importance, with personalization coming in a close second.
Make sure to include automation in your customer service strategy to optimize your support process and make it as speedy and efficient as possible. Proactively offer tutorials and Q&A sections, and allow your customers to seek answers independently.
Finally, don't forget your customer service representatives. They are the face of your company and intermediaries between the company and the customers. Keeping them happy and engaged ensures they do everything possible to make your customers feel influential and respected.