Well-working customer service is exceptionally important for businesses today and that importance is only going to increase over time. 90% of customers consider the level of customer service when deciding to do business with a company, and just last year, 49% of consumers decided to turn to competition because of poor service. Retaining customers is extremely important and profitable, and it’s only going to become both harder and more important in the future.
The COVID pandemic has greatly accelerated the move to online, and while that has presented numerous business opportunities in the eCommerce world, it has also forced us to face a peculiar barrier of sorts – the barrier of communication. In retail, hiring store help, or the so-called “greeters”, is cheap, efficient, and solves most issues of customer service. Online, this is not the case, things are in some respects easier and in others much harder. Due to the increased volume of customers, direct and personal communication between the company and users is more difficult, all the meanwhile companies are trying to find ways to automate as much of the communication as possible. It can be done, but it has to be done cleverly. So here, we’ll talk about how the approach to customer service needs to keep up with the changes in customer behavior, and how you can deal with it all with marketing automation.
The new consumer will require online shopping-specific tools and help
The changes in the way we conduct our daily activities mean that we approach shopping differently than we used to. Since the bulk of our shopping is happening online, the onus is now on things like being able to pick the product going purely on pictures in the gallery, choosing the appropriate payment methods, costs, and time of the product delivery. But more important is what happens after that. It’s a reality of doing business that some customers will want to return the product, or they’ll require additional explanations for using it, oftentimes they’ll need it before they make a purchase, and that’s where a lot of modern eCommerce companies fall behind.
Previously, it would have been possible to go to the store and brute-force your way into finding a manager to talk to about your gripes. That’s not a possibility anymore, since they’re buying online, but the gripes remain. This makes customers wary and cautious, which in turn makes it harder for you to reach them. Whereas previously a customer could have easily assumed that if something went wrong, they would have been able to go back to the store and figure it out, they’re not so sure about that anymore. But here’s the conundrum: being able to ease the mind of your customer about this is hugely beneficial in the long run. Research shows that customers spend more if they’re engaged and surveys show that, on average, they’re willing to pay 17% more to companies with good customer service.
Customers will require their needs to be taken care of and these needs will depend on your service. Nobody can possibly know better than you how to do it and it will be on you to communicate that to your customer.
Use marketing automation to help you reach the customer with answers to problems before they reach out to you
It is going to be virtually impossible to take the old-school approach and treat all of your customers individually. This is where automation comes into play. Starting off, you can definitely roughly estimate the potential problems your customer might have, based on the problems other customers had in the past, and put forward solutions before the problems even arise. You don’t have to drown your customer with messages, and in fact, you definitely shouldn’t, but you should consider trying to reach them after some time has passed after the purchase to establish if everything is fine by asking for opinions or filling surveys.
But much more important than that, you have to be responsive to communication attempts from the user. People are willing to communicate via automated channels, as 48% of customers first try to engage via email before picking up a phone to call you, but 48% is not 100%. There’s a not-insignificant portion of the customers who will demand contact with actual people, so provide them with an opportunity to leave their data so they can be contacted, you can even use automated popups for that. People don’t usually spend a lot of time on the stores’ websites, if they’re staying in your service for much longer than is required to make a purchase, they’re clearly looking for something. This is a good moment to present them with an opportunity to leave their data so that they can be contacted (for instance by using a personalized popup, or by automatically displaying them a chat window with an invitation to start asking questions about the product).
All this may sound obvious, but it’s really not and is too often neglected by companies. A lot of time, thinking, and effort should go into your customer service strategy, because successful service keeps them informed, calm, and happy, and that’s the kind of customer that spends money.
Create and maintain a good knowledge base
If you can’t serve them on time, you have to give them an appropriate tool to serve themselves. Studies show that QA-style knowledge bases are the most popular kind of self-service that users opt for when they can’t get a hold of a company representative and you should keep one too.
Don’t neglect its design, it has to be easy to navigate and informative. It should actually help your users address the challenges they might be facing, and it has to be constantly updated. You can gauge its effectiveness by how much time your users spend there and remember that you can always ask for an opinion about using the service at the end. People are actually very likely to leave a positive opinion if they’re successful because it’s genuinely something of a nice surprise these days. The hallmark of a good customer service strategy is not waiting for your customer to have a problem, it’s giving them a wealth of solutions before it arises (part of which can be achieved with a solid new customer onboarding strategy, and you can find about how to make it better in this article).
Due to how important keeping a happy and loyal customer is and how much of our activities have moved online, maintaining good customer service is paramount and you’re going to have to start using more and more technologically advanced means of achieving it. The future of eCommerce is clearly delineated as technologically-savvy brands that are able to maintain a loyal following of a concrete customer base