Customer Service in E-commerce & Dropshipping: Best Practices and Tips

The e-commerce market is constantly evolving. So do the customer expectations for the ideal online shopping experience. How can you meet them and close more sales? Check out our tips on how to deliver top-notch customer service.

In 2020, e-commerce was one of the few industries that were positively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statista, worldwide "buy online" keyword search volume increased from 18,100 monthly online searches in October 2019 to 22,200 in June 2020. As the same resource says, retail websites saw unprecedented online traffic across the world - 22 billion monthly visits in June 2020! This figure surpassed even traditional holiday season peaks. 

However, this increase in traffic (and sales) hasn’t been as rosy as it may seem. Customer expectations have increased as well. As the recent survey from PwC states, speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are what nearly 80% of US customers value the most when interacting with your brand. In the US, 59 % of respondents said they will walk away after several bad experiences with a company, even if it would be the brand they like. In Latin America, customer expectations turned out to be even higher: 49 % of respondents said they’d leave the brand even after one bad experience.

All these figures imply that it is the quality of service that can help you to stand out from the competition in this market. That’s when your customer service department comes in handy. Employees of your eCommerce customer service call center are those who can gather valuable insights on how to expand and develop your assortment of goods as well as define the features that persuade clients to choose your company and your products. 

What Is Ecommerce Customer Service?

Ecommerce customer service includes all the activities that the customer service department does to support your online shoppers both before and after purchase:

  • Customer care. Customer care describes the treatment consumers receive when dealing with your brand before, during, and after a purchase. It helps you to build a trustworthy, emotional connection with your customer base by understanding their emotional needs.
  • Inbound call processing. Agents handle all the incoming calls from your e-commerce customers that require their assistance. Simple requests and repetitive questions can be handled through self-service options we will describe below. 
  • Outbound sales. In outbound sales, your employees initiate conversations with potential buyers who filled out forms, sent you emails, or called previously. Sometimes, outbound sales involve cold calling leads but, in most cases, it means contact with those customers or prospects who have already interacted with your ecommerce business.
  • Proactive communication. In customer service, proactive communication means identifying and solving customer issues before they become problems. It also means initiating live chat conversations with your website visitors. Your agents can do that if they see that a visitor browses a checkout or FAQ page longer than average. It doesn't seem intrusive and can reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate.

Ecommerce Customer Service Best Practices

Now let’s take a look at the best practices you should implement in your e-commerce contact center and how Voiptime Contact Center software can help you in doing that.

  • Thought-out business processes. You have to think out all the interactions customers have with your e-commerce business via contact center: from taking calls to confirming orders and processing complaints and returns. Our versatile call center solution for e-commerce can help you in different situations. For example, using a call script and client card from your CRM with purchase details, your agent can check the delivery address and make an upsell. Complaint processing can be automated as well. Your agent can fill in the questionnaire and this data will be automatically sent to the email of the corresponding department right after the conversation.
  • Personalized process. Customers like personalized service. They appreciate it when you greet them by name and don’t ask about details they’ve informed you during previous calls. When you save the complete history of customer interactions with your company it allows you to solve their queries as quickly as possible. Our Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) identifies clients using their information from CRM and routes them to the qualified agent who is more likely to solve the problem. It allows you to reduce the number of call transfers and improve customer satisfaction.
  • 24/7 answering service. Your customers won’t wait till some of your agents become available. Moreover, their expedient questions about purchase delivery status or date can be solved after business hours without your employees’ involvement. Our IVR can become an answering service that works 24/7. All that your callers need is to choose a relevant option from the voice menu and enter the order’s number.
  • Multichannel customer service. Phone calls remain relevant, especially when handling complex issues but you need to take into account preferred channels of different generations. Give them an opportunity to contact your company through many digital channels: webchat, email, messengers, social media, etc. Voiptime Contact Center allows your company to make your agents multiskilled - they will be able to handle emails, live chats, and calls in a single interface without having to switch between different systems. 
  • Automated self-service options. IVR system isn’t a single self-service tool you can use to give more information to your customers. Chatbot in a webchat widget on your website is a good option as well. It allows you to quickly gather information on the topic of your customer’s request and gives them answers to standard questions. Our cloud contact center solution also has a chatbot that performs these tasks.
  • Regular customer loyalty surveys. Your existing customers spend much more money than new ones. Moreover, it’s cheaper to retain those who have already bought from you than those who have just seen your advertising. That’s why customer loyalty is important to survey. Voiptime Contact Center can help you in two ways. The first is agentless campaigns via IVR. A customer answers an automated call from you and hears a message that asks them to evaluate their experience with your company by pressing some digits on their phone. The second is a call scripting feature that allows you to create call scripts with question blocks. You can ask customers about their experience with your brand and then upload answers to external tools as a .xlsx file. Thus you can get the information about your customers’ preferences that can be used in some marketing campaigns or other activities.
  • Reducing the average speed of answer. Customers don’t like listening to beeping instead of your agent’s voice. Too much on-hold music may also drive them up the wall. So their calls have to be answered as quickly as possible. The golden standard is 80/20 - 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds. Our Automatic Call Distribution system can help you to reach this goal by intelligently distributing your calls between specific groups of agents.
  • Constant analysis and improvement of metrics you track. These may include Cost Of Customer Acquisition, Average Handling Time, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, First Call (Contact) Resolution as well as call center metrics. To learn more, read our guide on call center KPIs.

How to Achieve Success in Ecommerce and Dropshipping Customer Service as a Small Business

Use Every Chance to Surprise Your Customers

Let’s take a look at Zappos. They have made exceptional customer service a crucial part of their culture and it is what sets them apart from their competitors. Some of their rules may really surprise you. For example:

  • Unlimited call times
  • 365-day return policy
  • Free shipping and returns

In his book Delivering Happiness. A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, the CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh wrote that their customer service representatives tried to help customers even when they’re finding items the company was out of stock: “In those instances, every rep is trained to research at least three competitors’ Web sites, and if the shoe is found in stock to direct the customer to the competitor. Obviously, in those situations, we lose the sale. But we’re not trying to maximize each and every transaction. Instead, we’re trying to build a lifelong relationship with each customer, one phone call at a time”. Helping the competitors may seem a preposterous idea so not every company is ready to train its employees that way. But it’s also a chance to stand out from the competition and attract new customers simply by word of mouth.

Automate Everything You Can

Business process automation saves you time and money. There is a wide range of tools that can help you to do that - from chatbots on your website to IVR and ACD systems in your call center software. 

Think Out Order Confirmation Process

An order confirmation is very important as it reassures e-commerce customers that you will deliver a product or service. That’s why this process has to be clearly organized. For example, when your customer orders something in your online shop, an agent contacts them via phone to confirm the order details (delivery date and address). Also, the customer receives a confirmation SMS or an email after the call. When creating a confirmation message, inform customers about how to add new products to their order, change the delivery address, make a complaint or return. All these are signs of top-notch e-commerce customer service. 

Reduce the Time to First Contact

As a rule, your customers browse several websites at once when looking for what they need. They request callbacks on these resources to specify the details of goods and continue their search. Your task is to call them back as early as possible that is no more than 10 minutes after the request. Otherwise, they may simply forget about their request or lose interest in buying your product. That’s when technology can be a great helper. Voiptime Contact Center solution has a Web Callback feature that helps you to contact your website visitors almost immediately after leaving a request or filling out a form. You can set a time when our software will automatically dial a prospect or client's number and connect them with an available agent. When? It’s up to you - even 30 seconds after leaving a request! 

Upsell 

Upselling is a sales technique where you can invite a buyer to purchase more expensive items than they are currently looking for. It can be done via a website (using features like “Customers who viewed this item were also interested in these...:”) or during calls or live chats. The product you upsell should have additional features that make it more valuable for a customer. Upselling allows you not only to increase your revenue but also shows that your company cares about customers by offering them what they really need. 

Increase Customer Retention by Delivering Excellent Ecommerce Customer Service

Existing customers cost you cheaper than new ones. It’s especially true for e-commerce businesses with its fierce competition. So companies go to great lengths to retain and re-engage their customers. You can use the following strategies to increase your customer retention:

  • Customer accounts. It’s a comfortable way to give your customers easy access to their history of purchases and pre-filled shipping information. It can be created automatically, after making the first order that saves the shoppers’ time.
  • Improved customer support. Use multiple channels for interaction with online shoppers and deliver excellent training to your agents, especially on how to deal with angry customers
  • Loyalty programs and discounts. Give customers opportunities to save extra money with your brand. Small rewards for their loyalty and discount on the next purchase will attract them to your website again.

Conclusion

Back in 2010, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh wrote: “Looking back, I attribute most of our growth over the past few years to the fact that we invested time, money, and resources in three key areas: customer service, company culture, and employee training and development”. If it’s true for one of the key players on the e-commerce market, why wouldn't it be true for you?

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