What if we told you the chasm between that which you and your customers perceive to be “above average” customer service is as wide as the Grand Canyon?
According to recent research, 80 percent of companies believe they offer superior customer service, but only 8 percent of customers agree. Something is obviously going on here! Researchers call this phenomenon “the customer service gap.” While the reasons for such disparity are still unclear, the stats on what bad customer service actually costs your business are quite startling.
So, what does all this mean? Thanks to an increasing prevalence of options afforded by modern technology, today’s customers aren’t used to waiting too long for answers. A reported 84 percent of customers would like their problems resolved in ONE service conversation. Put simply, they want to do business with companies who respect and value their time.
At IgnitionDeck, our primary methods of communication with customers are our support forums and email, but we only arrived there after experimenting with multiple forms of communication. Here are five we have used, or considered using, at one point in time.
For most e-commerce businesses, email will be your number one support channel, which is why it’s so important to systematize it early-on. Installing a contact form or publishing an email address simply isn’t enough. Once you get to the point where you’re handling several requests per day, it’s easy for messages to slip through the cracks.
Above all, make sure you have a clear ticketing system in place and that you are always responding to customers within the allotted time frame you said you would.
Another part of your system, may involve setting up an auto-response that immediately gets emailed to all inquiries. This is a great way to ensure customers that their message was received. Let them know when they can expect to hear from you and point them toward any resources that may be helpful in the meantime.
If you frequently find yourself answering the same questions, you may also want to add a FAQ page to your storefront. Do this and you could just end up freeing an extra hour a week for marketing, accounting or other important tasks. Above all, make sure you have a clear ticketing system in place and that you are always responding to customers within the allotted time frame you said you would.
Live chat support is a fairly new way to interact with your e-commerce customers. Unlike other more traditional methods of support communication, chat offers instantaneous resolutions. How it works is fairly straightforward: Entry point pricing begins around $15 a month, although an increasing number of providers are actually offering free plans with reduced functionality. Once signed up, simply copy and paste a few lines of given code onto your site.
Most shoppers intuitively seem to look in the bottom-right corner for chat support, but where you place it is up to you. Doubtful your e-commerce customers will appreciate the feature? Think again — 24 percent of customers polled said they have used live chat and 73 percent of them said they were happy with their experience, according to an econsultancy study. With such a low barrier to entry and such high marks, why not give it a go?
Though it may seem obvious, it needs saying –– most customers will visit your website before ever doing business with you. That’s just the nature of e-commerce. Again, your goal is to make the buying process as seamless and streamlined as possible. Support different communication styles by offering multiple forms of contact: email, phone, forums, chat support, carrier pigeon etc.
When surveyed, 9 in 10 respondents said they expected to receive a consistent experience across multiple communication channels. Although you are by no means obligated to offer every type of contact option, you do want to make sure you’re offering more than one and that those ones are executed flawlessly.
In our modern era of tweets and posts, monitoring customer feedback is no longer optional. With the click of a button, someone could potentially help you lose or gain thousands of potential customers. According to a recent survey by Conversocial (which manages customer service on social media channels for heavy-hitters Groupon and Net-A-Porter), 51 percent of consumers use social media to communicate with corporations. But, perhaps, the most frightening statistic was this: 50 percent of respondents said if a company’s social media page contained unanswered questions and complaints, they’d be unlikely to buy from that company. Yikes.
At IgnitionDeck, we do our best to keep “an ear to the ground,” watching for questions, reviews and feedback on our WordPress Plugin review section AND around the Web (various tools for keeping a pulse on social mentions include Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Technorati and more).
We’ve found that in most cases where we’ve received negative feedback, it was from people who didn’t understand the product. As such, we’re continually refining our documentation and communication processes with our potential and existing customers. In such instances, we’ve often been able to get our customers to edit their reviews after showing them they had the information they needed all along.
An online help desk is a multi-functional hub customers can visit to receive answers to commonly asked questions, receive community support and talk to a representative all in one place. As e-commerce shops have increased in frequency so have help desk providers. Popular options include: Freshdesk, Spiceworks and RobinHQ.
At IgnitionDeck, we accomplish this type of customer support with a forum. This allows users the convenience of instantly finding solutions to questions that have already been posed by previous customers, as well as the opportunity to ask new questions that can be answered by both IgnitionDeck staff and the community.
We used an open-sourced WordPress plugin called bbPress to get it up and running, but there are several alternatives to choose from. If you’re offerings are fairly streamlined, you may prefer the simplicity of a forum over the bells and whistles of a help desk.
As you can see – as with any other aspect of your e-commerce business – your customer support branch will be ever-evolving. The important thing is to keep on experimenting with the options you think will best support your unique goals, industry and company size. And, when in doubt, always return to the primary goal: To make the customer’s shopping experience as easy as possible!
Do you have any other ideas on how to improve your customer’s experience? Let us know in the comments!