Most of us have at least one great customer service experience that sticks out in our minds.
Maybe it was a kind and empathetic employee who went the extra mile to cut through red tape on our behalf, solve our problem, or when all else failed, do what they could to make things right.
But most of us have also had customer service experiences that resulted in hours on hold, a frustrating one-sided conversation yelling at an automated telephone system that did not have the word “human” in its vocabulary, or an employee who was rude or apathetic.
Excellent customer service experiences can dramatically change how customers feel about your eCommerce business. A good experience can build loyalty, turn your customers into evangelists for your brand, and have a significant impact on your revenue.
Let’s explore how good customer service makes your brand stand out.
What is Good Customer Service?
Excellent customer service means meeting your customers’ expectations and providing them with:
- Quick problem resolution
- Friendly and empathetic customer service agents
- 24/7 customer service availability
Customer service is one of the most crucial parts of any business but is often overlooked or put on the back burner. Many eCommerce businesses spend most of their time and effort focusing on customer acquisition, product costs, marketing outreach, and other priorities, ignoring one of the most critical aspects of any business: customer service.
Consumers take note when customer service is not a priority. 54% feel that organizations still treat customer service as an afterthought. And, when customers feel a brand doesn’t care about them or their business, they are more than willing to take their business somewhere that does.
According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, 77 percent of customers report feeling more loyal to a company that offers a good customer service experience when they have an issue.
Why is Customer Service Important?62 percent of customers say they’ve stopped doing business with a company or brand due to a poor customer service experience.
According to the 2021 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, when asked how important customer service was in their choice of or loyalty to a brand, 97 percent of consumers surveyed said it was somewhat or very important.
eCommerce businesses can not simply maintain their current customer service efforts, however. More than 60 percent of buyers said they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had a year ago.
What are the Benefits of Providing Good Customer Service?
Providing excellent customer service has significant benefits, especially for your bottom line.
If you can increase your customer retention, you can improve your profits by 25%.
In addition, providing lackluster customer service costs you money. Converting a new customer is 6 to 7 times costlier than bringing back a previous customer.
Customers care deeply about good customer service. And they have no qualms about letting you know with their wallets.
How Customer Service Impacts the Public Image of Your Brand
Great customer service builds brand loyalty, not only with the customer you’ve provided the service to but with everyone they tell as well. And in this age of social media and internet connectivity, exceptional customer service stories often go viral.
Airline travel isn’t always a delightful experience, but the Twitter team at Jet Blue took the opportunity to delight their customer Alexa Burrows.
This act of extraordinary service did not cost Jet Blue much, other than a few office supplies and a few moments of staff members’ time. But you can be certain that Alexa (and everyone else who saw it online) will remember it for a very long time.
Consider this: According to an American Express study, Americans are willing to pay up to 17% more to do business with a company that has great customer service.
What airline do you think Alexa will choose the next time she needs to fly? The cheapest airline? Or the one that threw her a “welcome home” parade?
Is putting in the extra effort for excellent customer service really worth it? The research says yes, without a doubt.
Superior customer service impacts your brand’s public image, from how people talk about your eCommerce business to your online reviews, and even media coverage.
Your public image matters.
How can I Improve my Customer Service?
Good customer service isn’t enough. You need to provide excellent customer service if you want your brand to stand out from your competitors.
Customer expectations continue to rise. Unless you’re absolutely sure that every one of your competitors delivers bad customer service and will continue to do so, you will need to up your customer service game to differentiate your business from all the others.
How can you improve your customer service? First, make customer service a priority in your organization. Second, make customer service a job one for every person in your eCommerce business.
Here are some ways to improve your customer service:
Serve Your Customers in the Channels of their Choice
Your customers choose the channel they want to engage with you based on the same channels they use to communicate with friends and family.
When your business provides your customers with help on their preferred channel, you’re building a relationship with them in a place they’re already comfortable.
This is one of the most effective ways of providing an excellent experience for your customer. Companies that utilize omnichannel support also resolve customer issues faster, which increases customer happiness.
Another important fact to consider: high-performing companies are more likely to utilize omnichannel customer support.
Provide Quick Customer ServiceYour customers both want and expect fast and efficient customer service with a human touch, which is why they’ll often reach out over channels with an expectation of quick interaction, such as social media and online chat. Older generations still prefer more traditional methods of communication, including phone and email.
But no matter which channel you’re providing service through, all of your customers expect fast service. And that expectation of how much time they’ll tolerate while solving an issue with your company continues to get shorter.
More than half expect a response in less than five minutes over the phone, and more than a quarter expect the same via live chat.To speed up your customer service response time and improve their happiness and satisfaction, you’ll want to invest in both technology and great personnel.
Put Customers at the Center of Your Orbit
According to a study from Deloitte, companies that put customers first are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t.
To take advantage of the profit-boosting power of extraordinary customer service, ensure that every person at your company is devoted to providing it.
eCommerce giant Zappos’ first core value is “Deliver WOW through service,” which filters down through every facet of the business.
All new hires spend two weeks answering calls in customer service, and Zappos empowers their agents to take as much time with customers as they need to make them happy. (Fun fact: the hall of fame company record is 10 hours and 51 minutes.)
Putting your customer at the center of your eCommerce business means collecting feedback at every opportunity and constantly improving your processes with the customer in mind. View them as the hero, not just a revenue source or problem to solve.
Equip Agents With Tools to Work More Efficientlyo provide satisfaction to your customers in the fastest time, you’ll want to invest in a customer service training program that gives them the best opportunity for success. This includes:
- In-depth product knowledge
- Clear expectations for customer interactions
- Rewards for extraordinary customer service
- Problem-solving skills
- Empowering customer service representatives to solve customer issues on their own
Giving your customer service representatives tools to help them work more efficiently enables them to provide better customer service. For example, frequently asked questions or repetitive requests can be passed off to a bot so that agents can focus on more challenging interactions.
Automatically routing customers to an appropriate agent save time and customer frustration.
Finally, if your employees are happy, they’ll work harder to make your customers happy. According to a recent report, companies with highly engaged employees have customer satisfaction rates that are 81% higher than companies that do not.
Use Your Analytics to Improve Your BusinessIt’s critical to empower your customer service team with analytics software that provides them with customer insights all in one place, no matter what channel the customer makes contact through.
This allows your agents to be responsive and agile for your customers because instead of focusing on capturing data, they can spend their energy understanding your customer’s issue and resolving it for them.
This allows your customer service team to improve the customer’s overall experience.
Personalize the ExperienceConnect with your customer and build your relationship with them by creating a highly-personalized experience.
Customers love personalization. They want and expect eCommerce companies to know their names, how long they’ve been a customer, what they’ve purchased from your company before, and what their general preferences are.
When you provide this personalized experience to your customers, it sends the message that you know them, and care about them.
Invest in Human and Automated Service Channels
Your customers want to feel like they’re dealing with humans, but they also want speed. It’s critical to invest in both human and automated service channels.
Key Customer Service Skills
In order to provide the best possible service for your customers, you’ll need to hire staff members with skills in these critical areas:
- Empathy and emotional intelligence
- Listening skills
- Ability to understand and anticipate customer needs
- Ability to use positive language
- Creativity and resourcefulness
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to read customers
- Product knowledge
- Clear communication skills
- Writing skills
- Time management skills
- Customer appreciation
Having the right people on your customer service staff can make all the difference when it comes to delighting your customers.
7 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service
1. Know Your Customers
It’s important to know your customers to create an emotional connection. Using the customer’s first name is only the first step.
Let your customers know that you know and care about what is important to them.
Take the time to notice additional details such as an item the customer has purchased previously, or that they live in an area that has been recently affected by inclement weather, such as a hurricane.
2. Respond as Quickly as You Can
When your customers contact you with an issue, they want to solve their problems immediately.
Reducing the time it takes for you to respond and resolve the customer’s issue dramatically increases their satisfaction.While 24/7 customer service is ideal, if your eCommerce business is not equipped to offer round-the-clock customer service, it’s important to acknowledge the issue at least.
Using bots and autoresponders to reply to the customer when your chat or customer service is offline is a great way to alert the customer that you have received their message.
To assist them further, you might want to include links to your FAQs as well as helpful articles addressing the most common issues.
This lets the customer know that even though you can’t respond immediately, you are aware they’ve contacted your company, you care about helping them, and you will respond right away.
3. Listen to Your Customers
One of the greatest frustrations for customers is having to repeat themselves over and over again to resolve their issues.
Another key frustration for customers is when agents simply parrot back everything they say without actually listening or taking the time to understand why the customer is unhappy.
These problems can be easily rectified when customer service representatives actively listen to customers, respond with empathy, and treat them fairly.Customers also want to feel like they have some control over the situation that is making them unhappy, so giving them a variety of options is key.
4. Fix Your Mistakes
This should go without saying, but the reason your customers are calling you for support is generally because a mistake has been made.
In fact, 65% of mistakes are made by the retailer.
Extraordinary customer service means not only fixing your own mistakes but others’ mistakes along the chain from the moment the order is placed to when the customer receives it.
5. Show Some Personality
Your customers value their interactions with the real people of your company.
To help your customer service representative shine, don’t require them to sound like clones reading off a script.Allow them to be friendly, funny, helpful, and show exactly who they are. You’ll also want to make certain they know how to communicate within your brand voice. Your customers will thank you for it.
6. Make it Easy for Customers to Help Themselves
Often, customers don’t want to ask someone for help. Excellent customer service isn’t just about a person on the other end of the phone or Twitter account.69% of customers prefer to resolve their problems on their own, beginning with a search on your company’s website.
Other tools that allow your eCommerce business’s customers to help themselves include:
- Help center
- Social media messaging
Making it simple for customers to help themselves speeds up their resolution time and satisfies them.
7. Think Long-term
Taking care of your regular customers is good business, and when your business takes an opportunity to “wow” them, it nearly always pays off.
Christina McMenemy was a regular at the Gaylord Opryland hotel where she stayed every year for an annual conference.
During her stay each year, Christina was delighted by an alarm clock in her hotel room that played light spa-like music. She said she’d never slept better than when she used the spa sounds alarm clock and had for several years tried to find the exact model on her own.
She was about to give up when she messaged the hotel’s Twitter account during a stay at the hotel, raving about the clock.
The Gaylord Opryland let Christina know that the hotel’s clock was not available to the public, but when she returned to her room, she discovered a second clock along with a letter addressed to her, thanking her for following them on Twitter and for staying at the hotel.
The Gaylord Opryland recognized the opportunity to delight a long-term customer and acted upon it. That action not only thrilled Christina, but many other conference-goers and others who heard what the hotel had done to delight one of their regular customers.
No amount of advertising can buy that sort of goodwill, and the story has spread far and wide.
Christina told the hotel, “You reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service, and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.“
The quality of your customer service can make or break your eCommerce business.
Every time a customer calls you for help, they compare you to the best customer service they’ve ever experienced or read about.
If you treat your customers poorly, they will not only share their dissatisfaction but take their business to your competitors.
Treat your customers with empathy and kindness, and empower your representatives to do everything they can to make your customer happy. You’ll see a positive ROI on not only your brand image but also your bottom line.
Give your customers excellent service every time they contact you and they will reward you with a lifetime of loyalty.