The Secret To Success: Why You Should Always Invest In Your Customer Service.

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Interview multiple candidates

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Search for the right experience

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Ask for past work examples & results

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Vet candidates & ask for past references before hiring

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Once you hire them, give them access for all tools & resources for success

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Customer service. Love it or hate it, these two short words will exist in your e-commerce vocabulary forever. And what comes to mind when you hear them?

“Good morning, Vicky speaking. How can I help?”

“Hi there. May I speak to the manager?”

Perhaps customer service sits in the back cupboard of your business only rearing its head when a customer complaint arises. But it’s important to remember that absolutely everywhere that a customer exists, customer service does too - whether good or bad; whether it takes up half of your time or none of it. And, whether you realise it or not, good customer service can hold the key to your success online.

Think back, if you will, to not too long ago when our brick and mortar stores, coffee shops and cafes, were bustling with potential buyers. When you headed to a coffee shop, what did you expect? That initial welcoming atmosphere, clear menus and service with a smile?

E-commerce is no different. When you’re not actually face to face with your customers, giving them this same experience is twice as important, if not more.

But what’s actually involved in providing great customer service online?

Before you get into the nitty gritty of actually talking and interacting with your customers, you need to look at their overall experience with your brand, right from the very moment they stumble across your store. This will lay the foundations for a great customer experience.

Below, we’ll take look at exactly how to get it right.

  1. Making a great first impression
  2. Defining your brand’s persona
  3. When and how to respond
  4. The importance of building trust

1. First impressions count.

Ever had the frustration of being in a restaurant and not knowing where the toilet is? You can walk in circles trying to find the facilities, but it’s only a matter of time before you’ll ask a member of staff for help. If the essentials aren’t well signposted, you’re quickly left unsure of where to turn.

Your website’s navigation is very similar. If a potential customer can’t find their way around, it’s much easier for them to simply leave and go somewhere else.

Don't leave your site visitors running round your pages like headless chickens trying to find the information they need. Shout about your USPs from the rooftops and give those potential customers clear signposts of who you are, and why they should choose to shop with you. Free shipping? Mention it in your announcement bar. Handmade stock? Talk about it in your About Us page. Get that initial customer experience right and you’ve already given yourself a solid foundation for selling your products.

Of course, customer service is much more than just having a beautiful website. But you can start by making your website easy to navigate, and then making it even clearer that your customers can reach out for help if they need it. Contact pages, social media links, phone numbers and email addresses all play a part in assuring your customer that you’re on hand to help with any query they might have.

Remember: This isn’t a remake of Labyrinth. You’re not David Bowie. Make your important information as clear as possible, and you’ll already be ahead of the competition when getting those all-important sales.

2. Spread a bit of positivity.

You’ve got a beautiful website, and your customers are loving their journey so far. But what happens when they start to buy from you? From the order confirmation emails to the way you interact on your social channels, these touch points all plays a part in a consumer’s journey. When they reach out to you with a question or query? It’s the communication here that will pave the way for them to either return to your company in the future, or run a mile in the other direction.

Be personable, and efficient. Think back to that restaurant - if you had an issue with your food that needed rectifying, you wouldn’t want to bring it up with a robot who wouldn’t understand. Your customers expect this too.

Think about which characteristics define your brand and how these can play a part in your responses to customers.

If you’re a quirky brand, keep your communication lighthearted and fun - add in the odd emoji to keep it relatable. ✌️ If you want to take a more refined, sophisticated approach, make sure your communication matches this. Your company values will frame the basis of your responses so always remember to play to your business’s strengths.

When selling online, your customers are always going to have dozens of questions about your stock. And much like a curious toddler in a shopping centre, they won't stop until they've got the answers they need.

“Does your navy jumper also come in pink?”

“Will this 3-seater sofa fit in a box room?”

Your job, as the store owner, is to be the patient parent to these toddlers.

Even when your entire store splashes a 20% off discount code on every page and it pops up at the checkout, you can guarantee that there'll still be one or two who miss the memo and come asking you how to apply a discount after they've checked out.

Keep your cool, smile and reply like your life depends on it.

On average, 95% of customers will usually tell at least one other person about a bad experience, while 54% tell at least five others. Ten customers with a bad experience? That’s 50 potential buyers who have already been put off your brand, without even stepping foot inside your virtual store.

On the flip side, 60% of customers are willing to try a new brand if they offer better customer service. Word of mouth recommendations are a powerful force and more and more consumers are on the lookout for brands that not only have a strong ethos, but that treat their customers with respect too.

3. Don’t leave them on ‘read’.

Our golden rule? ALWAYS respond, no matter what.

Prevention is better than cure - answering questions on social media, Live Chat or email early, before they escalate, will always save you more hassle in the long run.

If it’s something you need to look into, let them know you’re looking into it. If they’re simply saying thank you, acknowledge the interaction. You can never go wrong with a well worded reply and it will leave your customer feeling valued and heard - even if they’re unhappy.

When it comes to reviews, acknowledge every one. The good, the bad and the ugly.

“We’re so glad you’re happy with your new coffee maker and hope you’d consider shopping with us again. Keep an eye out for our January sales!”

“Thank you for taking the time to alert us to the issues you’ve had. I can only apologise for your recent experience and assure you that this is highly unusual for our team.”

Simple, personal acknowledgements like these will show that you genuinely care about their journey with your brand and that you’re committed to always learning and always striving to be the best.

Don’t forget - complaints can prove to be invaluable customer feedback. It’s how you deal with them that will determine how they affect your reputation. Gradually, you will entice a whole new audience as your brand starts to get recognised for being friendly and efficient.

All of this sound like too much to handle? Without the right time and resources, it might be. Consider which communication methods are manageable for you and your team.

If nobody is around to answer a Live Chat widget, then it’s best to avoid having one altogether. Only have a phone number accessible if somebody will be around to answer. Consider also how quickly you or your team is able to respond to a review, email or message. If it’s not straight away, make this clear before a customer reaches out.

The same goes for things like delivery information. You might need extra processing time for handmade products meaning your delivery times are longer than usual - let your customers know beforehand so they know what to expect. Setting clear and realistic expectations will keep you from disappointing your customers later down the line.

4. Build trust.

Running a business is no easy feat. It’s important to take moments to stop, remember how far you’ve come, and be proud of what you’ve achieved.

Make the most of reviews that you receive from happy customers. Show them off on your site, share them on social media and you'll build trust with new people landing on your store.

Consumers want to see reviews. 90% of online shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 72% will be prompted to actually take action after reading a positive rating. Having product specific reviews visible throughout your product pages will prove to be instrumental in securing further sales.

Not sure how to provide your customers with unbeatable customer service? Talk to our team! We have many tips, tricks and support platforms under our belts for e-commerce entrepreneurs.

Our team are always up for a cup of tea and a chat - even when it’s virtual. ☕️

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