A step-by-step guide to setting up your eCommerce customer service

Ninety-eight percent of customers say that customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand, meaning that customer service isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity.

If you’re launching or refreshing your online retail business this year, you can follow this step-by-step guide to setting up your eCommerce customer service and analyze what’s right for your company.

Why is customer service so important?

If you’ve ever had a problem purchasing an item online or in-store, you’ll know the obvious benefits of great customer service. It turns a problem into a solution, which can result in positive feedback, repeat customers, and recommendations of your products to family and friends.

However, those aren’t the only benefits. A well-executed eCommerce customer service strategy (like the one below) can bring other benefits.

  • Reduced cart abandonment by answering questions that result in conversions
  • Increased efficiency by reducing the time involved in handling customer complaints
  • Marketplace compliance by avoiding automatic refunds, selling restrictions, or seller suspension caused by non-compliance with marketplace customer service policies

Step-by-step guide to setting up your customer service

For your customer service strategy to be well-executed, it must cover all bases to achieve maximum customer happiness without impacting your efficiency or capacity. This is achieved through the following steps.

1. Develop an omnichannel strategy

We already know about the value of multi-channel selling. Multi-channel customer service is just as powerful. By unifying your customer service methods with your customer touchpoints, you provide a consistent level of support throughout the purchasing journey.

There are a variety of customer communication methods and service channels to choose from. Some are mandated by online marketplaces, such as telephone and email; others are just good practice, such as Facebook Messenger, Shopify live chat, and SMS.

What’s important is that you provide the channels that make it easy for customers to contact you.

2. Advertise your methods

It’s no use having a customer service hotline if no one can find your telephone number. Ensure that your communication methods are clearly and accurately displayed on your website and marketplace stores.

Add your customer service channels to:

  • Email signatures, including marketing newsletters
  • Business cards
  • One pagers and other marketing materials you hand out at events
  • Your website, ideally in multiple locations (ie. a contact page, as well as in your header or footer)
  • At the end of your presentations/webinars

3. Reduce the need for contact

The best customer service strategy is one that doesn’t need to be used by customers. This is achieved through:

Eliminating customer problems

Sourcing high-quality products, writing accurate product descriptions, and delivering items on time are good seller practices that reduce the need for customers to contact you.

Allowing self-help

We’re not talking about mindfulness here (although we recommend that too), we’re talking about customer-resolved problems. Over half of customers prefer resolving issues themselves – make this possible by writing informative policies, giving accurate delivery date estimates, and creating a user-friendly FAQ.

4. Create standard operating procedures

When a customer does need to contact you, it’s important to respond quickly and promptly to avoid aggravating an unhappy customer further. Create a standard operation procedure (SOP) document that outlines how quickly you will respond to customers, how quickly you will resolve their queries, and how long until you automatically issue a refund or replacement.

The deadlines you impose are up to you. However, note that some marketplaces, such as Walmart, require a human response within 24-hours, so that’s a good place to start. To avoid customers unnecessarily chasing a response, it’s a good idea to include your typical response times alongside the contact methods on your website.

5. Implement automation

Speaking of speed, a third of customers expect support immediately, and 40% expect to wait only five minutes. To meet these expectations 24/7, consider using a live chatbot on your website or Facebook Messenger to answer common questions immediately and refer advanced questions to a human.

Other ways to automate your eCommerce customer service includes automatically updating orders with tracking information, emailing order confirmations, and sending follow-up support messages.

6. Be open about hours

Unless you have a 24/7 customer service team spread across the globe, providing a quick human response to customer queries isn’t always possible. Lunch, sleep, and other customers naturally get in the way, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your customers hanging.

Set up a clear voicemail mail on your telephone and out of office on your email and marketplace accounts that let customers know that they’ve come through to the right place, and you’ll be back in contact following your SLA (you should then state your SLA and opening hours).

Tip: Don’t forget to schedule inbox and voicemail checks throughout the day to ensure you don’t miss any messages.

7. Implement proactive support

Knowing about a problem, but waiting for the customer to realize it is never a good idea. Implement proactive support into your customer service strategy by automating responses to certain situations. For example, if you fail to deliver an item within the advertised 2-days, automatically refund the customer with a credit note and apology.

8. Monitor social media

Indirect complaints can arise on social media, where someone publicly posts a complaint about your products or service without getting in touch. Schedule a daily social media check that ensures any negative comments are quickly addressed by contacting the customer, solving the issue, and preventing any public brand damage.

9. Create feedback loops

Customer feedback is essential for effective customer service; it tells you what you’re doing right and wrong.

Create a proactive customer service function by recording customer feedback, analyzing problems, and creating an action plan to resolve them. Depending on the volume of complaints, you may want to perform this daily, weekly, or monthly.

10. Build a outstanding customer service team

Finally, the best eCommerce customer service is delivered by an outstanding person. Whether you’re handling issues yourself or you have a whole customer service team, how your brand interacts with a customer can be the difference between a complaint and a five-star rating.

What’s essential is that your customer service team has:

  • Training on customer service, your products, and marketplace rules
  • Tools to handle an omnichannel customer service function efficiently and effectively
  • Autonomy to solve problems, rather than being inhibited by rules and procedures

Great eCommerce customer service can result in a significant impact for your store, customers, and profits. We hope that these 10-steps help you to become a store known for making its customers the happiest they’ve ever been.

Next: Learn how to scale your eCommerce customer service with these 9 tools.

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