The COVID-19 pandemic has forced individuals and businesses to rapidly transform how they live, shop, interact and work. Several elements of business and life are being challenged; in some cases, the next normal may look very different as new ways of working are carried over into the future. Businesses across every domain, especially e-commerce, are doing their best to manage this pandemic by ensuring effective customer support, managing supply-chain disruptions, and safeguarding the well-being of their employees.
Customer experience takes on new meaning against this backdrop as leading organizations reorient their customer-experience efforts to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as satisfaction, safety, security, and convenience.
Websites that can connect with their customers have a better chance of improving revenue compared to competitors and quickly ranking on search engines. Positive reviews, ratings, click-through rates (CTR), higher time on page, and lesser bounce rates are all critical factors that the Google algorithm considers when ranking a website on the SERPs. And all these factors depend on how your online customers interact with your website. Therefore, every e-commerce website owner must ensure that they connect with their customers efficiently and provide them with a seamless online experience on your website.
Nowadays, with the advancements in technologies and better UI/UX, customers expect nothing but the best when they visit your website and make a purchase. If your website can meet these expectations, half of your work in connecting with customers is already done; all you have to focus on is that you effectively communicate with them and make them feel that you care about your customers.
What Is E-Commerce Customer Service?
Like all customer services, e-commerce customer service also revolves around addressing your customers’ inquiries, product clarifications, requirements, dissatisfaction, and concerns before, during, and even after online sales. E-commerce website owners must ensure that they have put everything in place to assist new or existing online customers on any platform according to the customers’ preferences. It not only has to be your online website but can also be social media platforms, emails, online review sites, directories, local yellow pages, and much more. Whichever platforms your customer leverages to ask questions or talk about the challenges that they might have experienced throughout the customer journey, an e-commerce customer service team’s goal is to provide quick responses at least within 24 hours on all those platforms.
Therefore, e-commerce website owners must hire customer service agents to make sure that every customer query is properly addressed and significant attention is paid to customer communications across multiple channels.
This connection between the customers and businesses will only improve the online customer journey, hence improving customer retention, word of mouth and seamlessly attracting new customers. Suppose your e-commerce site does not have enough resources to respond to customer inquiries. In that case, you can always invest in improving customer service by hiring the services of a call center, integrating live chat in websites or other channels such as social media, and providing toll-free services that have automated voice chat options. Moreover, choosing the best eCommerce hosting provider that is reliable would be advantageous.
This investment will only reward an e-commerce business owner with more loyal customers, better conversion rates, and an advantage over their competitors. Also, make sure that no matter what type of services that you leverage to support customer service, it should be fast, positive, responsive, and provide updates on whether the interaction was successfully addressed or not.
How Can Ecommerce Businesses Effectively Connect With Their Customers
Over the last couple of years, the explosive growth of e-commerce and digital channels has confirmed its role as a critical asset for companies as they adapt to an increasingly online world. COVID-19 has reinforced the need for digitization as e-commerce platforms were imperative in surviving the challenges of the pandemic, and will continue to remain essential in the “new normal”.
Given the limitations of in-store shopping, several customers that were initially hesitant to shop online were compelled to try it in 2020, and haven’t looked back. But to keep customers interested in your business, decision-makers must not only focus on high-quality products and services but also ensure that exceptional customer management is implemented. Here are a few ways in which e-commerce businesses can effectively connect with their customers.
Direct Engagement on Social Media
There is no doubt that social media is a wonderful platform for people to interact with family, friends, and loved ones. But it is also a great channel for businesses to publicize product offerings, advertise the company, share news about the industry, and most importantly, connect with customers. Making time for your customers on social media can be tough and challenging for most businesses because you have to respond to comments, create appealing poster designs, come up with attractive content, and much more. But these are all significant opportunities for businesses to connect with customers on a more personal level. By responding to customer comments, feedback and suggestions, your business is building an effective bond of trust that will retain customers as well as build a new consumer base.
When a customer has interacted with your e-commerce platform to make a purchase, it is essential that proper follow-up strategies are implemented to ensure that the customer has the best experience. This will definitely increase customer retention and word of mouth through reviews and feedback. For this, businesses can send personalized emails or even leverage automatic messaging platforms and emailing strategies to customize messages and make them more personalized.
Most brands focus on sending offers and product updates to their previous customers, and this is a good strategy, but asking them whether they were happy with the earlier purchase will mean much more to them. It will also help your business gain valuable feedback from existing customers so that you may improve the experience of future customers.
Texting your customer or sending automated SMS every day can be quite annoying for the customers and they might have the urge to spam you. Therefore, it is always better for businesses to have an email list to keep in touch with customers and updates or offers must be sent only when required. And, make sure that you send emails only about the products or services they prefer and not flood their inbox with sales-y emails. Your emails are supposed to improve the online relationship with clients and not ruin it, hence, ensure that every mail is relevant and has the right CTA buttons for customers to take action.
Also, businesses can use the email communication strategy to send out survey forms asking for customer feedback on everything from product review, website experience, customer support, and much more. This is one of the easiest ways in which businesses can evaluate their customer journey and improve their experience.
If your e-commerce platform has a physical business store, you can utilize it by inviting customers to make purchases and attend events or programs. Even if you do not have a physical store, you can always rent out spaces in the locality and conduct exciting events at least once in a while.
Such events are extremely popular among youths and it can tremendously increase revenue and brand awareness, especially if your products or services are meant for millennials. There is also the fact that every business owner sends out emails to customers asking them to make purchases from their physical stores. But your business can stand out among the usual stores by not always trying to sell your products rather by focusing on socializing. This tremendously improves your relationships and will eventually increase sales in the long run.
Excellent Customer Support
Unlike physical stores, e-commerce customers cannot directly walk-in based on their convenience to communicate about the products or services they purchased. And this is one of the major disadvantages of online shopping. Therefore, business owners must always make sure that customers can easily get in touch with customer support anytime from anywhere. The best option for this is to hire website developers in Toronto and incorporate a Chatbot or actual human chat interface on your website.
Most businesses employ email communication but this could also be inconvenient as instant replies or personal interaction cannot be established through an email. Suppose you provide customers with the opportunity to directly communicate with the support team and rectify the issue. In that case, there is a better chance customers will shop from your platform even if their earlier product experience was not up to the mark. This is because the customers know that even if there are issues with the product or services, they can easily get in touch with customer support to solve their problems.
Hidden fees and extra charges will always negatively influence the customers’ online shopping journey. Suppose you truly want your customers to connect with your business. In that case, it is imperative that you offer them complete access to their billing history and include every amount that has been deducted. Also make sure that your e-commerce website or mobile application accurately shows the status of the customer’s order and provide the exact day/time on which the order will arrive.
Another area that requires transparency is product shipping, handling costs and labor costs, especially for large products. These charges must be visibly provided on the website and shown before the customer purchases the products and not just in the final receipt alone. This will help the customers to make the right choice initially itself and they will not have to abandon their carts when they find how much they are being charged. It could significantly eliminate the negative shopping experience that most customers have because of the lack of transparency.
Identify and Fix Bottlenecks
From simplifying the checkout process to identifying why carts are being abandoned, there are a lot of things e-commerce business owners can do to make the shopping experience simple for their customers. The customer journey does not begin with the checkout process nor end with it. Everything from the initial product search to the journey from comparing products and checkout involves many steps for the customer.
As an e-commerce business owner, you can ensure that the customer experience through this journey is flawless without interruption. For that, you can provide several options for your customers on your website itself, such as product discovery, research, comparison, and seamless checkout.
The more you solve such common issues on your website, the more you free up the burden for customer service teams so that they can handle other complex challenges faced by customers. You can identify the bottlenecks on your e-commerce business website by applying heat maps, sending out surveys to previous customers, engaging in CRO, keeping track of reviews and conducting social media polls for your customer to identify how their browsing experience was on your website.
In the current digital-first world, customer service is the pivot on which a business’s reputation and credibility turn. Substandard customer service interactions can significantly taint a brand and drag it to the bottom of the competitor list. Especially in the product and services domain, it can be extremely difficult to bring up a website that has negative customer feedback and reviews. Therefore, even if your eCommerce platform has negative feedback, make sure that you go above and beyond to address and correct those issues.
Also, it is imperative that necessary precautions are taken to avoid such negative feedback from occurring again in the future. Every business has a unique method of engaging with consumers and the key is to put customers first. Even if you don’t send regular product updates or offers, ensure that their feedback and dissatisfaction are regularly addressed. Your business goal should be about building a unique customer experience that supports the brand’s promise. After all, a brand credibility is a must to consider. Also, to gain the competitive edge, you need to put your best efforts and give your customers the best service.