8 Customer Service Strategies that will Grow Your Ecommerce Business
In our experience, the average ecommerce or direct to consumer company sees customer service as a necessary evil, or a nice to have, for their business. The majority of companies don’t see it as a growth lever. But the best brands use customer service as a way to unlock massive growth for their brand by turning existing customers into raving fans. And if you are looking to create a monster brand, then creating raving fans is really the only way to make that happen.
Here’s an important question: Is your mindset to get the sale and be done, or is it to turn that customer into a raving fan? If you’re wondering what the value of a raving fan is, we discuss that in detail here. A base of raving fans is the common factor in any successful, influential brand. But creating these fans takes intentionality and a commitment to exceeding the expectations of your customers at every touchpoint.
Great margins, for example, is a huge part of the equation to support the creation of raving fans. However, the front line of raving fan creation is your customer service team and philosophy. In this article we are going to discuss the 7 key elements in a killer customer service strategy set up to produce raving fans rather than just customers.
8 Essential Elements for Your Customer Service Strategy
1. Problems = Opportunities
Keep in mind, when interacting with customers, every problem is its own opportunity— an opportunity to surprise someone in a marketplace where customer service is typically not done very well. Customers expect that they won’t be taken care of and that they’ll have to fight for their resolution. Want to flip that to your advantage? Exceed their wildest dreams. If you can treat your customers differently and address their issues in an unexpected way, you will create fans. These fans will grow passionate about your brand, because who doesn’t love feeling heard and taken care of? They will be compelled to share about their experience with everyone they meet, which will propel your business to greatness and create a viral brand!
2. Response Time
We live in an age of immediate satisfaction, especially when we have a problem on our hands. So it should go without saying that your customer service team should be as quick as possible to answer questions. If a delayed response is a possibility, be sure to manage their expectations with transparency!
A great example of this occurred with one of our clients over Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, they launched their Black Friday sale early but were upfront with their customers about their office hours. In the launch email they articulated, “We’re with our families for Thanksgiving, including our customer service team, so if you have any issues, not to worry… we’ll be able to help you first thing tomorrow!” Managing expectations in this way does wonders for minimizing frustration on the customer side.
3. No Fine Print
It’s inevitable for your promos or products to have some exclusions or conditions, but it’s really best to be as transparent as possible. Your offer should be genuine and not a disguise for you to weasel into their lives. For the customer, a paragraph of microscopic exceptions will immediately take your offer from exciting to irritating in a matter of seconds. Manage their expectations by being upfront, with as little fine print as possible.
Here’s an example from a retail store that could easily be seen online as well. A promotion instantly becomes less exciting once a customer notices the fine print at the top that requires them to open a credit card to get the discount. Not cool.
4. Make every situation a win-win
We know the customer isn’t always right. But you can make them feel “right” no matter what they’re requesting. Again, the more valued a customer feels walking away, the bigger a fan you’ve created. However there’s an additional component you need in order to come out on top with this, which leads to…
5. Margins, margins, margins
We’ve discussed this in other articles. In fact it’s the most important element to a successful ecommerce brand, and it’s critical that your margins are large enough to allow space for additional costs, including amazing customer service. Wondering how you exceed your customer’s expectations AND make a profit? Answer: great margins. We recommend your margins be at least 5x cost of goods, but the wider the better, depending on your product. These margins aren’t to support your Bentley fund, they’re to provide means of investing in your customers. This may seem like a huge profit, but it truly ends up being divided among many aspects of your business. And a lot of it goes to helping keep your customers completely satisfied.
6. Cultural relevance. Brand relevance. And training.
Outsourcing your customer service team is okay, as long as you make sure the staff is well-versed in your business’ products, language, and culture. Your customers will not be at ease if they’re speaking to someone who knows nothing about your product and doesn’t seem to be a part of your team.
If you want to take your customer service to the next level, make sure your customer service strategy exhibits brand relevance as well. Many business owners wonder what style of customer service to offer, and quite simply, the best way to go is to use your brand voice.
Whether your customer service members are located in-house or you outsource them, take the time to train your team. In order for processes to be smooth, your team should have the proper responses down, know the guidelines of how to please customers, and be up to speed on what your brand is or is not willing to do.
7. Utilize great tools to automate procedures
There are several tools out there to help automate customer service procedures. From routing emailing requests, to processing returns, to live chats, we’ve put together a handy list of apps to look into below.
8. Create a thorough FAQs page
Building a fantastic FAQs page is a lost art. If you want to alleviate some of the most common questions asked of your customer service team, this is a great place to start. Go through all possible objections or issues you could possibly think of for your brand or product and comment on them. Remember, this will also take your SEO game to the next level; if people are asking these questions of your site, they’re usually Googling it as well.
How to Build Team Structure & Efficiency
So you may have all of these elements in place, but how do you start building an efficient team?
First, team structure is important. Begin with your customer service lead, who will be responsible for maintaining the vision and passion for the team. This lead will help manage your core team, which is made of your in-house customer service representatives. If you need to expand beyond in-house, you can move toward an outsourced team as well.
As you hire your customer service reps, keep in mind that you’re looking for a particular personality. Make sure these individuals love to serve others and solve problems, because they’ll be doing it all day long. That being said, be prepared to pour back into these employees! This is a tough job, and showing your appreciation can go a long way.
Customer Service Tools Your Company Needs
Shopify Flow: Workflow app that can be used to automate customer service tasks such as routing email requests, shutting off out-stock-items, and tracking customer order activity.
Return Logic or Returnly: These highly efficient apps allow the customer to complete the return or exchange process online instead of through a customer service rep.
Zendesk or Intercom or our favorite for Shopify stores Gorgias: Looking to gather all of your customer service inquiries in one place? Zendesk, Intercom, or Gorgias are awesome apps to collect questions and make sure nothing gets lost.
ManyChat: This is a Facebook Messenger bot that allows for instant, interactive communication with your customers on their Messenger app. It’s a great marketing tool, but it also includes a live chat feature for customer service inquiries.