While a poor customer service experience can put a buyer off for life, an outstanding one could turn them into one of your brand’s most loyal supporters.
Today, we want to teach you how to make the most out of this opportunity to impress and retain your customers; delivering them a service so good they’ll want their friends to meet you.
Why is customer service important?
In a recent blog post, we explored the importance of the customer service in terms of the three Rs: retention, referrals and reputation. Let’s have a quick recap:
Providing the best service possible for your customers means you’ll keep them engaged not only in the short term (as you successfully guide them to the checkout page), but hopefully for life.
This increased customer retention and loyalty keeps everyone happy, as it means a consistently positive shopping experience for your users – and more sales for you.
The more customers you can impress with your first-rate service, the more likely they are to tell their friends and family about you. And whether it be by word of mouth recommendations or glowing written reviews, positive customer referrals are the key to attracting new buyers.
In fact, studies show that 68% of customers would tell their friends and family about a bad experience they’d had online – while 93% of people surveyed said others’ reviews and recommendations heavily influence their decision to buy from a brand.
Lastly, good customer service is a crucial part of building a strong reputation among your customers.
If you want to become widely admired and recognised in today’s increasingly saturated ecommerce world, you’ve got to provide a service that’s a cut above the rest.
Essentially, when you invest time into keeping your customers happy, you’re investing in the long-term success of your brand.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can start delivering your customers a five-star shopping experience:
8 characteristics of good customer service
#1 Fast, real-time service
Responding quickly to your customers’ questions and concerns is one of the surest ways to keep your reputation intact.
In fact, 66% of buyers say that the most important thing to them in any online shopping experience is feeling that their time is valued.
Still, recent studies have found that the average email response time for the top 100 retail companies is a pretty lengthy 12 hours.
To get ahead of the competition, try using a customer service tool like Gorgias to integrate a live support chat window into your store, so you can be there for your customers from the moment an issue arises. Ideally, you should be able to perform actions like refunds and edits immediately from your chat window.
Need a little extra incentive to offer real-time support to your customers? Recent studies have found that visitors who engage in a live chat conversation with a business are nearly three times more likely to buy from their store!
Image source: bigcommerce.com.au
Even if you don’t opt into live chat support, you should always make sure your contact or help form is super easy to find on your webpages – and that you’re not making your customers wait more than a day to hear back from you.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should speed through all your shoppers’ complaints without resolving them properly. Whenever you get a request that’s a little more time-consuming, set up an automated – and ideally, personalised – email response to acknowledge that your customer’s message has been received and will be sorted as quickly as possible.
#2 A personalised experience
Customers want to be treated like individuals, not ticket numbers. In fact, 84% of buyers say that being treated like a person is a vital part of winning their business.
This means in order to win your customers over, you need to show them how much you care.
Here are just a few examples of how you could do this on your store:
- Using a personalisation tool like Dynamic Yield, get to know your customer’s name and use it wherever you can on your site (as well as across your email and social channels).
- Another popular – and very effective – ecommerce technique is to find out your customer’s birthday, then surprise them with a birthday message or special gift. Salesforce recently found that customers were twice as likely to see personalised offers like this as important and worth acting on.
International women’s clothing brand Topshop send their customers personalised emails on their birthdays – complete with a generous 20% discount to make the buyer’s day.
Image source: blog.mailup.com
- You can also make your site more ‘human’ by using humour on your pages, creating an ‘About Us’ page with a personal feel and making sure the tone of your copy is always warm and friendly. Be sure to greet customers as they arrive on your collection pages and thank them after every purchase.
Health and wellness store Stewart & Claire don’t stop at thanking their customers warmly for their purchases. They also offer them a thank you gift, ensuring that customers who have already trusted the store enough to purchase from it are encouraged to come back for more.
#3 Omnichannel service
Whether your customers are shopping on their desktops or via their smartphones (as most now will be!), you need to make sure that accessing your customer support page is always quick, simple and intuitive.
With so many different social platforms now integrated into your customers’ shopping experience, you also need to be quick to respond to customers on social media.
For example, keep an eye out for your customers tweeting you their questions or complaints – and don’t forget to respond to the comments they leave on your Facebook page!
This customer service agent from Zappos was quick to respond to a customer’s tweet about their item’s delayed delivery.
Image source: socialmediaexaminer.com
#4 Listening and responding to all feedback
Now, it’s time for one of the golden rules of good customer service: Never ignore any of your customers’ attempts to reach out to you.
If you see a happy customer taking the time to leave you a positive review, don’t just smile and leave it be.
Acknowledge the positive reviews to continue building rapport with your already-satisfied buyers. After all, they’ll likely be the ones who’ll be recommending you to their friends!
This Hotel Manager took a positive TripAdvisor review as an opportunity to compliment one of her customers right back; building on their existing rapport and strengthening the hotel’s friendly reputation.
Image source: unsplash.com
It only takes a second to write a line of sincere appreciation back to your valued customers – and your response will likely mean a lot to them.
Image source: socialmediaexaminer.com
As for negative reviews and complaints, take the time to listen and respond apologetically, empathetically and quickly to those as well.
If you can turn a customer’s frown upside down by making them feel heard – and fixing their issue as quickly as possible – you may still win them over in the end!
This Amazon customer service agent responded so apologetically and helpfully to this unhappy review that the buyer amended her previous one-star rating to four stars.
Image source: tinuiti.com
#5 Collecting and analysing customer feedback
By collecting and analysing your customer feedback, you’ll be able to fix recurring issues much more easily. This means less time tackling complaints for you and a more user-friendly experience for your future and returning customers.
For example, using a review analysis tool like Yotpo or Okendo, you can quickly compile and categorise any recurring praise or complaints in your customer reviews to find out exactly what’s working for your buyers – and what isn’t.
An example of a review left by an Okendo user on The Pulse Boutique store, demonstrating customers’ ability to rate different aspects of a product or service.
You can also use a customer service solution like Gorgias to ‘listen’ to your customers common complaints on your social channels, or to turn your customer service tickets and complaints into an opportunity to improve by categorising and analysing them as well.
For more information on how to collect valuable feedback from your buyers, check our recent article on creative ways to collect UX feedback from your customers.
#6 Allowing your customers to help themselves
As much as you may want to wow them, research has shown that more than half of all customers would actually prefer to solve their problems on their own.
With this in mind, help your buyers out by setting up a comprehensive FAQ page on your store, as well as providing links to specific customer support articles to address common issues and questions.
Not only will self-service features like this increase your customers’ happiness – and the usability of your store – they’ll also save you time on having to answer the same questions over and over again.
International fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing categorise their FAQs on this page and lay them out in a format that is fun, informal and easy for their customers to navigate.
Image source: searchenginejournal.com
#7 Knowing your products inside and out
To deliver an outstanding ecommerce experience, you really do need to know the ins and outs of the products you’re selling – as well as the logistics of how you’re selling them.
That way, when you’re chatting with your customers, you’ll be able to help them out with everything they need to know; providing a thorough and helpful service that demonstrates your team’s genuine enthusiasm about the products you sell.
Leading cosmetics brand Glossier’s customer service team – the ‘gTEAM’ – go out of their way to follow up with customers via personalised email chats; showcasing their genuine knowledge of – and passion for – their products.
Image source: blog.hubspot.com
#8 Going the extra mile
You may already have a good idea of the basic rules of good customer service; listening actively, responding quickly, apologising for mistakes and always delivering on your promises.
But if you really want to get rave reviews from your customers – even after there’s been problems with their orders – show them you’re willing to pull out all the stops to make things right again.
Even if this means spending a little more time and money on fixing your customer’s problem, keep a long-term mindset and remember that the more you do to help your customers, the more likely they are to return – and to bring their friends and family with them.
Sometimes, going the extra mile may not be in response to a customer complaint at all, but simply involve your team being nicer than necessary. This could mean anything from packing sweets inside your customers’ delivery boxes to bigger, more ‘shareable’ acts of kindness.
For example, here’s one example of a message sent by a young boy, Luka, to Lego after he accidentally lost one of his figures:
Image source: www.helpscout.com
And here’s the response he got from Lego’s customer service agent:
Image source: www.helpscout.com
Shortly afterwards, this touching story went viral on the internet, meaning that Lego’s seemingly small freebie giveaway helped build their reputation on a national level – likely raking in a lot more sales for the brand. A win-win situation for everyone!
Customer service solutions for Shopify – Swanky’s recommendation
Of course, to keep on top of your customers’ questions across multiple channels, you’ll need a reliable tool to help you out.
As Shopify Plus Experts, our team at Swanky have spent years looking for the perfect solution to help us boost our clients’ customer retention and conversion rates.
Of all the tools we’ve tested, our favourite by far has been Gorgias; an integrated customer support helpdesk which allows you to manage your customers’ comments across multiple channels (including email, phone, live chat and social platforms).
With Gorgias, you can respond automatically to your customers’ common questions, integrate an instant live customer support chat into your store – from which you can instantly perform actions like refunds and edits – and create rich customer profiles for your returning buyers.
Here’s Gorgias’ Head of Partnerships, Phil Roireau, on what he believes makes truly great customer service:
For more information and a full list of features, check out our recent blog post on how Gorgias could transform your store’s customer service game.
Over to you!
Don’t think of customer service as an add-on to your business. Instead, build your business around your good customer service.
This means that – at the bare minimum – your customer service should be speedy, human-centric and easily accessible.
At your best, it will also see you going the extra mile to make your customers feel heard, appreciated and special.
Get in touch
Interested in finding out more about how Swanky design and optimise stunning ecommerce stores that are built to convert?
Get in touch with our team of friendly ecommerce experts today. We’d love to hear from you!