eCommerce Customer Service

Doing business on the Internet has lots of benefits, both for the merchant and for the consumer. But despite its advantages, ecommerce still faces a few challenges, one of which involves customer service.

Without the benefit of face-to-face contact, feedback forms and email are the most common methods of providing customer support. However, many consumers find this impersonal and unfriendly. In 2009, a market research firm conducted a poll on the factors responsible for a significant drop in online sales during the first half of that year. The results revealed that the lack of human assistance was one of the major factors attributed to sales decrease during that period.

It goes without saying that good customer service plays an important role in engaging customers. By good customer service, I mean customer support from a real person. According to the poll, shoppers who weren’t able to get assistance from a real person said it affected their decision to not make a purchase. That data may be almost two years old, yet it’s still relevant today. Online stores are trying to overcome the problem by improving their website usability, by applying uncomplicated navigation and simplifying the checkout procedures. The goal is make it easier for customers to complete their purchase without requiring additional assistance. Still, a well-planned customer service strategy can be the difference between increasing sales or losing them to a competitor.

Without implementing effective customer service, your visitors are sure to turn their attention to other stores that can offer the type of customer service they want. Customers whose issues remain unresolved today are more likely to spread word about their negative experience through blogs and on social networks, which can quickly blow up and tarnish your brand. You don’t need a survey to tell you how bad that could be for your business.

There’s no getting around customer service. So, what’s the best solution? This may sound counter intuitive to reducing customer support calls – a practice many ecommerce businesses mistakenly adopt – but, try to give customers more ways to contact you or your team.

Aside from the standard email, you can provide a live chat solution on your site. Since your online store is open 24 hours (7 days a week), people are expecting round the clock, real-time assistance. Live chat is one of the best ways to do that. The other way is through telephone support. Both can be outsourced to different time zones, to cover times outside normal business hours. Training and the use of call flow scripts are both recommended.

Although your customers purchase online, many still feel like picking up the phone and calling for assistance or inquiries whenever the need arises. In providing contact information outside the Web, you’ll inspire customer confidence.

By: Shirley Tan


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