Today’s average consumer is more empowered than ever before. In the physical marketplaces of yesteryear, an organization could conveniently sidestep problematic customers or downplay the relevance of their issues.
In the past, this situation led to large corporations abusing their power over consumers. The robber barons of early 20th century America are a relevant example – they were eventually displaced by the Bull Moose trust-buster President Theodore Roosevelt. Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection arose out of this series of events.
But today, the rights, needs, and merest whims of the customer are of utmost importance. Sociologists dedicate extraordinary sums and resources to understand consumers and create academic theories to understand them. In short, the power is in their hands.
The Customer is Always Right
As the old adage suggests, customers’ power ultimately comes from their decision to choose you over the competition. Overwhelmingly, customers will choose companies and organizations that make them feel good. Customer service is one of the most powerful tools for turning skeptics into brand loyalists – indifferent to your position in the market.
To adapt the adage to the era of online shopping, it should read, “The customer’s expectations are always right.” Your industry dictates certain norms that your customers expect, and you must follow them or risk losing business.
What Do Customers Expect?
The customer service experience gains its power through the interpretation and management of customer expectations. In order to truly position yourself as a customer service leader, you need to familiarize yourself with these expectations and find ways to meet them in an intuitive and satisfying manner.
Since user experience is more important now than ever before, customers increasingly rely on instinct and communication to gain familiarity with new products. If someone doesn’t immediately figure out how to use a product, you can expect them to call you out on it – taking up customer service resources with requests you could have planned for.
To make the most efficient use of your resources, you need to make sure your site gives customers everything they need. Implementing the following steps is an effective beginning strategy:
1. An Online Knowledgebase
To sell products, your e-commerce website should offer a great deal of information, from product specifications to tutorials and – especially in the tech sector – compatibility guidelines. Putting all of this information onto a single product page will make it appear clunky and oversaturated with text. To truly deliver a valuable customer service experience, you need to establish a portal where customers can learn anything they wish to know about your products.
As an added benefit, your knowledge base is extraordinarily valuable in terms of SEO. In-depth documentation means visitors will stay on pages with high-value keywords longer. An FAQ section achieves the same result, and the two are highly complementary.
2. Offer Live Chat
No matter how carefully you plan your knowledgebase, you can’t cover everything. Customers with unusual requests or special circumstances, however, still expect on-demand customer service. Live chat creates the opportunity for you to catch potential customers at the critical moment when they are deciding whether (or not) to purchase your goods or services.
Helpful, on-call live chat can mean the difference between making a sale and losing one – all because of a single question that a customer could not immediately determine the answer to.
ZenDesk sets the standard for live chat services in the e-commerce industry. ZenDesk’s team can field questions about your products and services, filtering out the simplest queries and sending only complex issues to your team.
3. Track Customer Interactions
Use a customer relationship management application like Salesforce to keep track of the details concerning your customer interactions. By managing customer interactions in an organized manner and collecting data about those experiences, you set the foundation to consistently improve customer service.
This data will identify weak points in your customer service processes. You may find that your customers expect faster support, or greater consistency over multiple channels of support – the possibilities are as endless as the broadness and depth of the customer experience itself.
Using Customer Service to Boost E-Commerce Sales
If there is one specific way you can use customer service to drive brand loyalty and, consequently, boost sales, it is by building customer relationships.
A customer can contact you for any number of reasons – some want information on products, others want to return products they are unhappy with. All of these situations represent an opportunity to generate customer fidelity and build a lasting relationship with that individual.
- Instead of seeing a customer who is unhappy with their purchase as a time- and energy-consuming cost, look at the situation as an opportunity for your company to excel. The more difficult the challenge is, the better your e-commerce company will look upon completing it to the customers’ satisfaction – and customers will notice.
- Customers asking tough questions about products are often power users. These are the people who know exactly what they want and whose plans rely on using products that can achieve those goals. Since power users can be influential, giving them ample access to information can make you stand out in your niche. Don’t be afraid to pass a customer on to one of your company’s technical specialists if necessary.
In the age of social media, any single customer can influence the choices that scores of others make. Through reviews, comments, and simple word-of-mouth, you identify and define your brand through the experiences you create for your customers. With a complete set of customer service solutions in place, you can generate experiences that set you apart from the competition by far.