online customer service

The customer experience is the next competitive battleground. ~ Jerry Gregoire

If you aren’t offering excellent customer service to your online shoppers, you’re behind the eight-ball. Online retailers must work harder and smarter to compete with in-store customer service, one of the main reasons consumers still go to bricks and mortar.

There is a high-value placed on great customer service – it makes you want to buy more and feel confident in your purchase. One of the main challenges of online shopping for retailers is that shoppers now have a lot more choice at their fingertips, and can go elsewhere very quickly. This is how offering more to your customer will make sure they choose you over the competition.

Online retailing is now becoming less about selling products and more about selling an experience.

But what exactly do shoppers want when they come to your site? And how can you give it to them right now and increase conversion? Here are 7 simple ways to improve online customer service:

1. Make it personal

Do you want your customers to feel like they’re just another sale or that they’re valued? One way to show that you care about your customers is by personalizing the e-retail experience such as using cookies to remember their login details, offering a wish list option, showing recently viewed items, and sending emails on their birthday.

59% of marketers experience good ROI after personalizing their online stores, meaning personalization is essential if you want to convert them into lifetime shoppers.

2. Offer more contact options

If you only offer email customer support, you could be losing more shoppers than you realize. Online shoppers are getting more and more savvy, and expect 100% support whenever they enter a shopping website. According to Desk.com:

  • 9 in 10 customers expect multiple contact channels
  • 46% expect brands to provide support on Facebook
  • 88% of shoppers are less likely to buy if their questions are unanswered
  • 77% of consumers agree that online chat positively influenced their attitude about retailer

As you can see, customers have set the bar high for online retailers and want a quick, personal response. You can do this a number of ways:

  • You could put a chatbot on your site that pops up automatically
  • Highly-responsive email inbox – under 24 hours for a response
  • Social media – Facebook and Twitter with inbox messaging enabled and/or wall posts/tweets
  • Phone line

You might be thinking, who calls an eCommerce website? Actually, it’s one of the fastest ways for your customers to contact you and speak to a real human, and nowadays customer service platforms offer voice products. This means customers can leave voicemails when you aren’t online, and can expect a response ASAP when you open again.

3. Include as much product information as possible + better photos

You might know what weather a Tog 24 jacket is suitable for, but your customer might not. Codes like these can confuse your customer, so it’s better to be safe than sorry – tell the customer exactly what they’re buying and give as much useful information as you can. This includes measurements and fit, what size the model wears, a description of the item, and washing instructions. The more the better!

Also, don’t underestimate the power of high quality photographs to display your items. Multiple angles, colors and even models wearing the product will increase the likelihood of purchase. Some websites also do 360-degree views (with the ability to zoom in) or videos of items.

4. Give ‘em what they want…Product reviews

Hands up how many of us have looked at a review of a product before we bought it? If you’ve got your hand up, you’re just like the other 88% of online shoppers that factor reviews in to their purchase decision.

Research from Vendasta found:

  • A whopping 92% of consumers now read online reviews
  • 40% of customers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews
  • 63% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews
  • 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 48% will visit a website after reading positive reviews

It’s really a no brainer… you need reviews on your site and quick!

Customer reviews help inform potential customers about what to expect and the quality of an item. It’s sort of like the traditional word of mouth – if someone told you something was amazing, you’d go and buy it. But just having product reviews is no good if the shoppers can’t see them, so make sure that these reviews are obvious on the product page that they are viewing.

“Brands can significantly improve the customer experience by [showcasing] product reviews not only on their site but also on their mobile apps and in-store displays,” says Theresa O'Neil, senior vice president of Marketing at PowerReviews.

If you don’t have reviews yet on your site, ask for them. Customers are usually forthcoming with reviews, especially if there is a discount or a competition involved. Also consider setting up profiles on review sites such as Trustpilot, which will give an overall rating of your company, and this is where your (hopefully!) excellent customer service will be shown off. Make sure you respond promptly to any reviews on here as well, particularly negative ones regarding misinformation, products not at described, shipping delays and returns.

5. Follow-up immediately

After a shopper has successfully completed their purchase and received an item, send a follow-up email to see how they’re liking the item. This is where you can give them a discount for next time, or offer incentives for referrals. With that said, try and steer away from a very ‘salesy’ type of email and instead try a more personal message, even with a staff member’s name and contact details at the bottom.

6. Make your checkout awesome

Customer service doesn’t always mean you should be there the whole time – it can be an overall feeling of support. When it comes to your checkout, it should be optimized and intuitive to your customer so they don’t get frustrated or complain.

How can you simplify the checkout process and improve your eCommerce customer’s experience?

  • Make the shopping cart viewable and buyable on every page
  • Include localized payment options – i.e. Alipay in China or Sofort in Germany
  • Avoid shocking shoppers with duties and taxes – include them in the final price
  • Offer different types of shipping – and clearly state cost and estimated arrival
  • Display discount codes and allow them to be entered easily
  • Give inventory and/or store stock on an item, and allow updates for out-of-stock items
  • Offer account sign-up plus guest checkout

Basically, the less clicks your shopper has to make, the better.

7. Make your search more intuitive

According to a SUMO Heavy survey, 63% of online shoppers saying they frequently use eCommerce search functionalities. Of these online shoppers, most fall into 3 categories: they know what they’re looking for, they sort of know what they’re looking for, or they don’t know what they want.

You need to have options for all of these customers and enable them to sort by size, color, type (i.e. heels, boots, sandals), occasion, gender, category (and sub category), price (low-to-high, high-to-low, range), sale items, brand and length.

At the end of the day, your customer comes first, and the shopper journey is so important to your success. Think like a customer and you won’t ever lose.

eShopWorld Insight:

One of the main things a shopper looks for in an online retail site is trustworthiness and familiarity. They want to get value for money, receive the product as described, and to know what their order will cost them in their local currency, without having to do the calculations themselves. eShopWorld's solution supports in-country pricing, which provides the very best customer experience, consistent across the online and offline channels, and maximizes conversion. Find out more here.

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