5 most important principles of e-commerce customer communication
The dynamic growth of online sales segment results in a growing awareness of buyers who expect e-stores to provide services at the level offered by the largest players in this segment. How to organize the customer service process to stand out in this increasingly competitive market?
1. Freedom of choice
Today, buyers smoothly switch between different sales channels. They also like to have the opportunity to choose a communication channel that is the most convenient for them at the given moment. According to the Gemius report called “E-commerce in Poland 2017” 15 percent of people who shop online, would buy products online more often if there was a higher standard or more customer service options.
Most large e-commerce companies offer several communication channels. Some of them diversify the communication channel due to the category of the case - relevant data set (e.g. phone number, form or e-mail address) appears only after entering the topic, e.g. checking the status of the order, returns or information on the product. Following the expectations of customers, e-stores, in addition to standard channels, also increasingly look for solutions that enable real time online communication. Hence the growing popularity of social media channels and chats (dedicated chat and Messenger solutions), and, more and more often, video conversations. The chatbots are also growing dynamically; they have a chance to play a significant role in the process of customer service in the coming years.
Should every e-commerce business offer all available contact channels? Not necessarily. Their selection should be matched to the e-store's operational capabilities. The sole implementation of individual solutions is not enough, an efficient service and integration is the key issue. Real-time support (phone, live chat) requires providing the consultant with complete data on the offer, current promotions, inventory and order statuses. It is also important to have people that are competent to handle a given contact channel. A person who works great in e-mail communication, may not handle
a phone call or a video chat.
Messaging tailored to the needs and expectations of the recipients is one of the latest trends in
e-commerce. It is one of the most effective tool for increasing number of conversions. Personalization applies to every stage of the customer service process - from acquisition of a customer, through the execution of the purchasing process up to securing customer loyalty. An individual approach in contacting customers creates positive customer experience, which translates into purchasing decisions.
In the customer service process, it is worth not only to use a personalized form of addressing the recipient, but above all to base on all data on a specific user that are available for the e-store i.e.: how many times a customer contacted the customer service office, when the last contact took place, what is the preferred communication channel and time, which products were bought by the customer and which products interest him/her, when is the customer’s birthday. Thanks to the appropriate use of such information, the customer feels important and appreciated, which in turn affects his/her evaluation of the e-store.
3. Data integration
When providing customers with many different contact channels pay attention to the consistency of provided information, regardless of the customer’s method of contact with the e-store. The same information should be obtained when calling the hotline, writing an e-mail or communicating via chat. It is also important to redeem the promises. If the given e-commerce website promotes ease of purchase (friendly UX) and instant shipping as its market distinguishing marks, then the customer service should follow the same pattern. Not only the purchasing process, but also handling of inquiries, complaints and returns should be carried out according to this principle. This, in turn, involves matching resources to support different levels of traffic in the e-store.
Providing e-stores clients with consistent, complete and personalized information requires integration of data from various sources. Big Data solutions, ERP and CRM systems, as well as data warehouses providing real-time access to information will be useful for this purpose. E-commerce websites that do not use the above mentioned technologies should focus on streamlining the information flow process, providing employees of the customer service office a complete set of up-to-date data from different departments. Only then the customer will receive a comprehensive support in one place and will appreciate the service standard of the given e-store.
The e-store customer expects efficient service. He/she doesn’t want to wait 15 minutes for a phone call or 4 days for a return e-mail. When launching individual contact channels, it is necessary to ensure their availability, also during sales peak periods. The ongoing adjustment of resources to the number of requests/orders may require a significant growth off a team responsible for customer service. This in turn results in not only in additional costs, but also in the need to recruit competent consultants, often within a short period of time and for a short period of time. E-stores may use external, outsourced contact centers, which will help to flexibly match resources to the current sales scale.
It is also important to match the working hours of the customer service department to the expectations of customers. If large volumes of orders are finalized during the weekend, then it may be worth to invest in provision of services also during Saturday and Sunday. Particularly in the context of the ban on Sunday trade that is to be implemented; part of the commerce traffic will switch to the e-commerce channel.
5. Comprehensive service
More and more demanding e-stores customers appreciate the opportunity to solve their issue during one contact with the customer service office. They do not want their calls to be redirected to other people who are responsible for handling only a specific processes, e.g. returns. A solution that deserves attention is multitasking, within which one consultant is able to provide the customer with the comprehensive service. Within this model, every employee of the customer service department is able to carry out activities that go beyond the standard scope, e.g. issuing and sending an invoice, actively participating in the creation of product descriptions based on customer comments submitted to customer service department or perform a customer satisfaction survey.
Ewa Czarnecka, member of the board of Voice Contact Center, OEX Group