5 Ways to Increase Your Online Sales Through Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is far more important for online retailers than brick-and-mortar stores.

5 Ways to Increase Your Online Sales Through Customer Service

How's your customer service game?

Exceptional customer service is far more important for online retailers than brick-and-mortar stores. With e-commerce, your only point of contact with your customers is usually when something hasn't gone right. Whereas with brick-and-mortar stores, contact initiates long before a purchase is even made. Since online retailers get so few opportunities to offer great service, their service needs to be exceptional and on point each and every time.

American Express found 33% of customers will consider switching companies after just one instance of poor customer service.
And since cultivating a new customer costs 5 times as much as retaining a current one, in the world of online sales, it's more imperative now than ever before to retain the customers you already have. This can be done by providing excellent customer service.

In e-commerce, you live and die by what your customers and prospective customers believe to be true about you.
The perceptions they have about your company and the experiences they have with your products and your team is everything.
In the online world of reviews and feedback, prospective customers are easily able to see how happy (or unhappy) current customers are with your brand.

To succeed in using customer service as a tool for growing your business and driving more sales, you not only need to be proactive and strategic—you also have to be consistent across every sales channel you use to engage and interact with your prospective and returning customers.

So, how do you make this happen?  

Here are actionable tips for providing amazing e-commerce customer service across all of your channels:

1) Understand the power of great customer service

Online consumers today are armed with a powerful weapon to use against companies fighting for their attention and wallets: feedback and reviews. As a result, e-commerce companies now have to work harder than ever to both prove their value to consumers and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Consider the following statistics from Help Scout on the impact that good or bad customer service experiences have on online consumers and online purchasing behavior today:

  • News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
  • 59% of Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.
  • 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.
  • Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences and tell 16 (nearly twice as many) people about     poor experiences.

These statistics alone should be enough to understand the magnitude of offering great customer service. Now that you understand how important customer service is to online brands, let's continue on to learn some steps you can take to improve your customer service game.  

2) Create a uniform multi-channel system by using tools

In the "olden days", when I was first starting out selling online, 17 years ago, I had to visit each and every one of my sales channels every day in order to reply to customer inquiries. And not only that, but I had to visit each and every account within each sales channel. At any given moment I might have had 3 or 4 accounts on 3 or 4 different sales channels. I kid you not, it could easily take me 4 or 5 hours to simply reply to customer inquiries which left me very little time for growing my business. My customer service suffered significantly because I wasn't always able to spare 5 hours a day for customer inquires alone. Suffice it to say, those days are over!

In this "day and age" there are tools created specifically for you to be able to streamline all of your channels into one pretty little inbox. What used to take me 5 hours of logging in, logging out, replying to messages, looking up customer orders, finding their names, order dates, products ordered, tracking numbers, delivery status, etc..... now takes me less than 30 minutes a day. Some days even less because I also get ahead of many issues now with preemptive communication. (more on that later)  

Just imagine opening one single inbox, clicking on a message and before replying you're able to see that customer's entire profile:

  • Selling Platform and Seller ID
  • Buyer ID
  • Buyer Phone, Email and Address
  • # Of Buyer orders
  • Order Price
  • Order Number
  • Item Ordered, Title, Sku and Image
  • Order and Shipping Dates
  • Tracking Number and More

This will be a game-changer for you. So find yourself an online tool that allows you to see all your sales channel inquires in one place. Or, instead of searching for months like I did, you can use the tool I use which is EasyChannel .

3) Improve your response time

Ecommerce is all about speed and convenience. Customers who choose to shop online are expecting a fast reaction and prompt answers. According to Statista, 12% of Americans rate their number one frustration with customer service as “lack of speed.”

Allowing customers to reach your customer service team using different channels is not enough. The key to a well-performing team is the balance between speed and convenience. When you’re able to serve customers with a consistent level of quality in a short period of time across different channels, you’re on the path to providing a fully functional, multichannel customer service strategy.

Fortunately, if you've already followed the above tip, "use a uniform multi-channel tool", you are likely well on your way to increasing your response time. Since I was able to use my multi-channel customer service tool to significantly decrease the amount of time it took me to reply to customer inquiries, I am actually able to respond to my customers two or even three times per day thus decreasing their wait time.

Another way to improve customer response time is to set up automatic messages to let a customer know that you've received their inquiry and you will get back to them as soon as possible.  

Along the same lines, you likely receive many similar inquiries such as "has my order shipped", "what is my tracking number", or "how do you recommend I use this product". In this case, to address similar customer concerns, you can create easy templates that you select from a drop-down menu. Not only will you not have to take the time to write each response from scratch, saving 3 to 5 minutes per message, but you can also create more personable detailed replies that make your customer feel you went the extra mile and gave them a meaningful amount of your time.

Here is an example of a message you might send before and after using a template you've premade:

Before:

Buyer: Has My orders hipped?

Seller: (frustrated, because you are super busy with "real" issues and it clearly shows in the buyer's account that it shipped) "yes, it shipped".

 

After Using a Template Tool:

Buyer: Has My order shipped?

Seller:

{first_name},

Thank you for reaching out to me with your shipping question. I am happy to help! It looks as though your item was shipped on {dispatch_date} to this address:{shipping_address}.

The estimated delivery date is {estimated_delivery_date}.

If you would like to track the order yourself you can. I shipped using {courier} and your tracking number is {tracking_number}. If you prefer, you can simply click here,{tracking_link} to track your package.

If there is an issue with your order, we ask that you contact us directly so we can make things right.

I hope this information helps.

Have a great day!

{signature} 

So tell me, as a customer, which message would you prefer to receive? The three-word answer or the detailed reply? With message templates, you can send a detailed and personal reply like this one, faster than it takes you to type that three-word answer. And this sample is just the beginning. Create templates for all your common replies to save yourself time and to make your customers jump at the opportunity to tell all their friends what wonderful service they receive from your company.

4. Get ahead of issues with exceptional preemptive communication

Reducing your customer's need for interaction with your team can solve numerous problems. If they never need to reach out to your customer service team in the first place ,they cannot be frustrated with the length of time it took to receive a response nor can they be disappointed with the quality of your response or agitated with the fact they have to reach out to your team in the first place.  

Communicating effectively with your customers from the very beginning will help to cut down on the volume of your customer service inquires. You'll want to ask your self questions such as, "are your return policies conspicuously posted on all of your sales channels" and "Do you clearly outline your ordering process"? For example:

"All orders are shipped within 48 business hours. Once shipped, you will receive a detailed email with the carrier and tracking details so you can closely monitor your order. Once you receive your package, if you have any issues, you can reach us at _________________ or by ___________________. You will have 30 days from the date of receipt to initiate a return or exchange and you can do that by___________________________."

Hopefully, you already have this information easily accessible to the customer, but if not, now is a great time to set this up. Besides having these details posted on each of your sales channels, you can also communicate this information again by sending automatic messages to your customers after they place their order. Make sure you are using a multi-channel tool that enables you to create message templates and have those messages sent out to your customers when an event is triggered, such as "Item Sold", "Item Shipped" or "Tracking Number Shows Delayed". If you plan to use the multi-channel customer service tool I use, _____________________________, you will already have this feature available to you. Don't allow all of these dynamic multi-channel customer service features to just sit there unused. Go ahead and set them up and put them to work for you. You know how the saying goes," work smarter, not harder". 

5.  Make sure customers know how to reach you

As a one-man show myself, I cannot possibly check Twitter, Facebook personal and business pages, Instagram, Snap Chat, Shopify, voicemail, text, email, a second email and inboxes on all of my accounts on all of my sales channels every single day for customer inquiries. Even for larger companies with dedicated customer service teams, this can be a challenge.  

If you want to excel in serving your customers and using customer service as a tool to fuel growth, you need to do two things:

  • First, you need to understand where your customers are already trying to reach you online. Are they emailing you?     Tweeting you? Sending you Facebook DM’s? Sending you a message through     your live chat platform? Asking a question on Amazon?
  • Second, you need to decide if you can cover  all those bases, or if you’d rather direct your customers to a few select     channels for customer service. For example, if you're like me and you don’t have the resources to be everywhere, consider trying to direct people towards just one or two channels, like a help center or an email     address, where they can reach you when they need you.  

A big part of winning the customer service game comes down to your ability and willingness to be proactive and helpful when engaging with your customers. To do that, you need to help the people who land on your website understand where they can go to reach you. Make it crystal clear on your website and in your order confirmation emails where it is that customers can go or what they can do to reach you—visit a help section, send an email, call a phone number, send a tweet, etc.

You can even use the same tool I've mentioned throughout this article to help you. Aside from making sure all of your sales channels have contact directions clearly posted, setting up automatic emails to reiterate this information using EasyChannel is a breeze. This way, as soon as your customer makes a purchase, they will receive an email outlining the best way to contact you should the need arise.  

Actionable Takeaway:

Take some time to evaluation your entire customer service game. Pay close attention to the various channels your customers can find you on and, using the steps outlined above, create a uniform game plan to provide the best customer service possible. There are plenty of tools available to you to help you automate much of these customer service tasks like the one I use EasyChannel. 

You should now have several valuable ideas that you can implement in your business to improve your e-commerce multi-channel customer service. Time to get to work!

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