The holiday season is fast approaching. You can expect a sizable increase in traffic to your online store. More traffic will bring more sales, and, more importantly, more incoming customer support tickets. If you haven't been preparing for the increase in volume this holiday season, you run the risk of being drowned in customer support queries.
We outlined why customer service is so essential to successful ecommerce and how you can manage it in a scalable way, including 5 tips to get started right now.
Why is customer service essential to successful ecommerce?
The meteoric rise of ecommerce over the past few years has changed the way we interact with businesses online. Consumers have become more used to ordering online, sped up by the consequences of a global pandemic, and ecommerce technology has come a long way.
But this doesn't mean ecommerce has completely replaced in-store shopping in brick and mortar stores. In stores, customers get to hold products in their hands and try them on before making a purchase. Your online store still heavily relies on customer trust.
Which is why outstanding customer service is so important, as it:
- Increases the number of sales
- Builds customer loyalty and trust
- Benefits customer retention and CLV
- Helps with brand awareness and recognition
- Decreases the number of returns, complaints, and negative reviews
Excellent customer support can make or break your online store, and is key to growing your business successfully. Ecommerce managers would do well to invest the necessary means in setting up a good customer service department.
But seasonal traffic can put a lot of strain on your customer service reps. The end of the year, especially, can be quite the challenge for ecommerce customer support departments.
How do you maintain an excellent customer experience during the holidays?
First consider the following: during the holiday season competition with other online stores is exceptionally fierce. Ads become more expensive, discounts more extreme, and consumers are pickier than ever.
But the rewards of offering all these potential new clients an excellent customer experience are definitely worth optimizing your current workflows. Turning these new customers into loyal brand ambassadors will help you grow a sustainable ecommerce business.
One way to maintain a first-class customer experience is to make sure you own every possible customer touchpoint. Make sure customers you're available for contact:
- During the purchase process
By clearly being available for customer communication, you build trust and proactively shape the customer experience, like you would in a physical store. Remember that customers want to be able to reach you on the channels of their choice, too. These could include:
- Live Chat
- Messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.)
Get prepared for the holiday season by making sure you have processes in place for each of these channels. Your customer service team should be able to handle incoming calls and queries on each and every one of them.
As for some actionable advice, here are 5 tips to setting up scalable customer service this holiday season.
5 tips for scalable customer service this holiday season:
1. Manage all your customer communication channels in one view
Not being able to track all your customer communication channels makes you run the risk of missing out on crucial customer inquiries. Especially if you run a high volume store and your customer success team consists of multiple agents, you will want to manage channels in one view.
Being able to see all your Messenger and WhatsApp chat messages, emails, and SMS messages in one place allows you to achieve several things:
- Collaborate with fellow customer service representatives on solving tickets
- Decrease the average ticket handling time
- Deliver a seamless experience, no matter which channel is being used
If you already know exactly what's going on based on prior conversations in a different channel, you're bound to exceed your customers expectations. You can use Trengo's customer service platform to centralize these channels in one single view.
2. Automate manual tasks with quick replies, auto-replies, rules and chatbots
Some customer support tickets get asked more frequently than others. Some of the most common customer queries include:
- What is my order number?
- Where is my order?
- I have been waiting for my order forever
- The product was broken when it arrived
- Where is my refund?
These are just a few of the most common customer support questions ecommerce businesses have to deal with. The more frequent the question, the more useful it will be to automate the answers.
Trengo lets you use quick and auto-replies and set up rules to minimize the workload of frequently asked questions that only require a simple answer.
Additionally, using chatbots as a first line of contact before forwarding customers to a live agent can dramatically reduce customer service time as well. These chatbots can even solve customer support queries on autopilot, in some instances.
Not bad, considering chatbots are available 24/7, 365 days a year, with almost no additional costs.
3. Offer self-service with an extensive Help Center
One way to pre-empt a high workload of support tickets is to catch and answer questions before a live agent is needed. Chatbots are just one way to do this. Making it easy to find answers to FAQs is another.
A great way to facilitate self-service customer support is to build an extensive Help Center. This should be like a knowledge base where customers can go to find answers to their questions all by themselves. This means adding a proper search function is important, too.
Here are a few things to bear in mind when setting up your own Help Center:
- Use insights from your customer support department to come up with content ideas for your Help Center
- Analyze your competitors: do they have a Help Center? What kind of questions are being answered?
- Consider setting up a multi-language Help Center if you cater to an international customer base
Your online store doesn't offer a Help Center or knowledge base yet? Trengo lets you set one up and publish articles in an intuitive and easy-to-use text editor in a matter of minutes.
4. Optimize and automate the returns process to relieve customer support
Some customer support queries can be easily avoided when you have the right processes in place. Especially questions that are asked very frequently. There are two common questions your ecommerce business will want to avoid at all costs:
- How can I return an item?
- Where is my refund?
The increased sales volume of the holiday season also means a massive increase in returns. Traditionally, January 2nd is considered National Returns Day, with a peak in returns taking place. Last year, UPS even changed this seasonal day of peak returns to National Returns Week.
Returns are often linked to incoming customer support queries. Customers are dissatisfied with their purchases, after all, so they're more inclined to get in touch.
Automating the returns process lets you prevent a lot of incoming questions about returns, refunds or exchanges. There's a lot to be gained from optimizing this process.
Returnista's returns platform lets you incentivize exchanges during the returns process, for instance. This leads to a 3x increase in the number of exchanges. Which also means a 3x decrease in questions about refunds.
This allows your customer success teams to focus on what matters most: informing potential customers about the best items to purchase.
5. Show proactive tracking updates to minimize incoming support tickets
When it comes to returns, exchanges and refunds, customers tend to get impatient in case they haven't heard from your business. It makes sense - customers trusted your business with their money, but as long as their return or exchange is still in transit, there's not much they can do.
These situations can lead to a lot of incoming support queries as customers don't know the status of their shipped return or exchange. The solution to this problem is this:
Keep customers informed proactively so your customer success team doesn't need to reactively deal with unnecessary tickets.
Doing this means you're keeping the customer experience front of mind, as well. This is exactly how you build customer loyalty. Because dealing with returns is the most insecure part of a customer's buying journey.
Returnista lets you proactively send tracking updates and show customers you're in control, giving them that extra peace of mind to keep them coming back to your store. Meaning more recurring purchases and a higher CLV. Exactly the type of metrics you want to see increase after the high CAC of the holiday season.
Get ready for then holidays with Returnista
With our software, you can keep your customers informed proactively and in real time with status updates on their returns and exchanges. So you always stay one step ahead of your customers, even during the peak moments of this holiday season.
Ready to scale your customer service with Returnista's returns software? Request a demo on our website.