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eCommerce Customer Service Guide

By
Tamia Tutson
Table of Contents

As an eCommerce business you have the unique benefit of being able to function like a real brick-and-mortar store from the comfort of your home. However, this does mean that your customer service response needs to be ten times better than that of traditional retail stores. Understandably, customer expectations will be much higher too. Although, there is no need to worry. You can still exceed customer expectations with an online presence too.

In this guide you will learn the basics of eCommerce customer service as well as proven methods and strategies that will ensure you're always keeping your customers happy. We’ll also include some of the best tools and technology that can help you succeed.

What is eCommerce customer service?

eCommerce customer service is a detailed combination of strategies, people, tolls, and technology used together in order to provide services to online customers. Because it is naturally harder to know and even understand what a customer needs without them physically being in your presence, it’s important to have the right tools and people at your side.

Why is good customer service important?

Even though your business operates online it doesn’t mean you can neglect providing your customers with an exceptional online shopping experience. Providing great customer service not only keeps your customers happy, but it also helps grow your business. Customer service has five main goals:

  • Increase sales
  • Retaining customers
  • Finding diverse selling opportunities
  • Improving the quality and functionality of the products and services you sell
  • Help you make better business decisions

All it takes is one minor mis-step for your customers to go online and write a bad review, or simply never shop with you again. How you respond to customer concerns online is pivotal in keeping your business in a good light.

The customer service model does not just exist between agent and customer. It also extends to your agents and the business. Ensuring that your agents have everything they need in order to provide customers with a great experience is just as important. Without the proper tools, customer emails can easily become lost in a queue, and agents will become frustrated.

Your agents will need to learn online retail etiquette, which differs from traditional retail etiquette. Moreover, they’ll need to know how to handle customer complaints and issues in the right way.

How is eCommerce Customer Service Different from Retail Customer Service?

Another way to ensure that customers’ needs are met is understanding the ways that eCommerce customer service differs from the in-person retail experience.

In order to know the difference you need to understand the factors that contribute to this difference, including:

  • Mobile: Over 70% of Americans shop online today. This number has seen tremendous growth since COVID-19 struck just over a year ago. Therefore, it is vital that your business makes mobile customer support the number one priority. You’ll need to implement quick and unique strategies to keep your customers happy.
  • Response Time: Traditionally, when a customer has a concern in a physical store, they get a response immediately. An available sales person will walk up to the customer and address their concerns then and there. So, you need to be able to mimic this response online too. Because of how easy it is to use the internet, if your customer cannot get their concern addressed in a timely fashion they’ll simply visit another site–increasing your cart abandonment rate and customer retention. Agents absolutely have to respond to customer concerts immediately through an omnichannel customer service software. Generally, your customer will want a response in under a minute.
  • High Expectations: As previously mentioned, when you bring your business online you do so knowing that customer expectations are ten times higher than that of a physical store. Although unnatural, many customers even expect their emails to receive a response in under 3 hours; which can be hard for many small businesses to do. Everything from the shopping cart to shipping is rated by the customer. So, personalization is the number one way to make sure that your customers get what they want.
  • Resolve time: Finally, there is the overall goal of customer satisfaction. The one way to achieve this is by putting customer issue resolve time at the top of your priority list. We can guarantee that this is at the forefront of your customers' minds as well. Overall online response time is becoming much faster, so make sure that your business is keeping up too.

Best Practices for eCommerce Customer Service

When beginning to build your business, start to focus on your customer support team. With response time increasing and customer expectations being that much higher, if you are not providing a superior experience your sales will show it. You’ll want to begin seeking out tools that can help make meeting customer needs that much easier. This can include software that features live chat (very popular), email, SMS messaging, and conversation history.

Another thing to consider is that your business always needs to treat your customers like real people, not just another number. Keeping this in mind during interactions can make your customers experience better overall, regardless of their concern. Studies show that customers who are made to feel important even when there’s an issue are more likely to continue shopping with the company.

Once you’ve chosen your hosting platform, it is then time to consider what qualities you want in your customer service team. Then hire according to those factors. How big your customer service team is will depend on your business size and the overall request queue. You’ll need to have enough live representatives to match the amount of requests that come in on a daily basis.

Also, keep in mind your agent's work capacity too. You don't want to overwhelm them with 100+ requests on a daily basis. Realistically, for most businesses, a customer service agent can handle 20-50 calls a day. Some calls will require more work than others. Once you look at these factors you’ll know how many agents you need to have on staff to answer customer concerns.

With companies like Amazon offering convenient 2-day, and now even same-day shipping, shipping policies are more important than ever. Most customers will understand that 2-day shipping is not feasible for every business. However, they will expect that you have a clear shipping and delivery policy. Communicate these policies to them during their shopping experience to avoid losing their business in the future.

The Do’s and Don’ts of an eCommerce Call Center

Finally, keep in mind some call center activities you’ll want to avoid. Make sure your call center agents are aware of these as well. We recommend that they be taught during onboarding and training.

  • DO NOT only provide phone support. Offer live chat features that can answer simple questions quickly and on-the-spot.
  • DO train your call center agents to be empathetic when addressing customer concerns and questions
  • DO NOT treat your customers as if they are just another number for your business.
  • DO provide personalized experiences for your customers
  • DO NOT force your customers to wait on hold for ridiculous amounts of time listening to annoying music
  • DO communicate with your customers if there are ever any site-wide issues
  • DO communicate when you are experiencing a higher than normal call volume, and express the expected average wait time.
  • DO NOT limit the software that you use

Happy Customers Await

Overall, learning the best customer service practices comes with time. However, this does not mean that there are no immediate resources and tools you can use to leverage customer experience. Having a modernized and personalized platform available to your customers is non-negotiable.

BlueCart provides the food distribution industry with just that and so much more. With constant customer support, customized ordering processes, and the ability to digitize and streamline your business, we’re known for being one of the best all-in-one eCommerce wholesale solutions. Request a demo today to learn more about what BlueCart has to offer.