Customer Service is Your Retention Strategy

Why Customer Service Matters in ecommerce

Anyone who has ever bought anything online has probably experienced bad or non-existent customer service. Customer service carries right through the customer journey, from the moment they ask you a question in a Facebook comment, to querying where their package is. 

So why are so many eCommerce brands not prioritising customer service? In this article we’ll discuss why customer service is important, the effect of optimising it and what you can do to improve your customer experience. We'll also hear from Lucas from Gorgias, about how best to optimise your customer service. 

Why does customer service matter? 

There are over 500,000 active Shopify stores all over the world and growing, so chances are there is a brand out there that sells the same product as you. There are 2 ways to convince customers to buy from your brand vs your competitors brand: 

  1. Beat them on price
  2. Be a better brand experience

Focussing on the price point of your product is important, but if that’s the main reason customers are buying from you, then you’ll inevitably enter into a race to the bottom. This cheapens brands and crushes all your profit margins. Instead, merchants should focus on creating a better brand experience. 

At the end of the day, people remember the brand experience more than they remember the product. A brand experience is a combination of lots of interactions; this could be a more memorable ad, a better user journey, messaging & prop drivers that resonates with the audiences core values, or the customer service they receive. 

84% of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor when deciding whether to purchase. Of those surveyed only 3% say it’s unimportant. 

What happens when you optimise your customer service

Customer service is clearly important to your brand and the overall customer experience. But when you decide to optimise your service, it has a knock-on effect that improves all of your marketing channels; including acquisition, retargeting, retention. 

Better Social Media Engagement 

Actively using your social media accounts as a form of communication for your customers, increases the engagement. Answering promptly to queries on comments not only shows your willingness to support their query, but it’s also public. This means other audience members are seeing the way you handle your customer service, and could be the final convincer to get a customer over the line. 

Improve Your Own Content

Customer service doesn’t have to just service your customers. You can use your customer service data, to help improve your own content, whether that’s social content, on-site content or even the packaging content of your products.

Consistently being asked the same set of questions over and over? It might be a good idea to turn that into an FAQ page you can use to reference for future queries. If you’re regularly asked about your “green ethos”, then it’s a good indicator that it resonates with your audience core values which can be a catalyst for content. 

Increase your conversion rate

84% of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor when deciding whether to purchase. Actively showing off your customer service channels, is going to help feed trust to your audience and improve your conversion rate. The way you showcase your customer service channels differs from brand to brand, but it could be showing a telephone number, a live chat or even an product FAQ section that’s been updated with customer queries. 

Better retention, returning customer rate and customer lifetime value

Customers that keep coming back to your store, do so because they like your brand, product offering and customer service. However, if they have a bad experience with the customer service, they’ll happily churn and use a competitor. It’s very easy to lose a customer, but when they’re approaching a high-churn probability, you can save them with good, quality and attentive customer service. This is going to keep customers coming back, improving your retention rate and customer lifetime value. 

Tips to Improve Customer Service

Even Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, understands the value of customer service, he once said: 

“We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

Understanding the importance of customer service has made brands like Amazon successful. So here are some quick tips you can do to improve your customer service. 

Be Prompt

If a customer submits a support ticket and has to wait several days (or in some cases weeks) for a response, they’re going to assume that their ticket and needs aren’t a priority. As a brand, you always want the customer to think they’re your number one priority. So be prompt. 

This isn’t to say that you should be asking your customer service agents to work 24/7. Rather manage expectations; if no-one is available for your live chat, make sure there’s a notice, rather than have the customer sit with the browser open, waiting for someone to reply. 

Prioritise customer service requests and tickets so that you don’t have a backlog of unanswered questions. And use a program like Gorgias to auto-fill in common requests.

Offer Omnichannel Support

If you’re offering your products via an omnichannel marketing strategy, then you should definitely be offering customer support at an omnichannel level. If a customer buys from your Facebook shop, you need to be able to answer Facebook Messenger requests and Facebook comments. 

Responding to public Facebook comments is just as important as answering support tickets, probably even more so, because they’re public. 

Use Gorgias’ integrations to see all your support channels in a single dashboard, allowing you to respond promptly and accurately. 

Empathise

Using empathy in your customer service response, allows you to connect with the customer. It’s no longer them vs you when you empathise, instead you’re working together to solve the problem. This helps improve the brand customer experience and will help you solve the problem much quicker. Use phrases like: 

  • “I’m so sorry to hear…”
  • “I understand how frustrating it is…”
  • “I realise how upset you must be…” 

Follow up with a reassuring message and an apology, the customer will have a better experience and will likely purchase from your brand again. 

Personalise Your Response

Nobody wants to be referred to as a number. Personalising your response can make the world of difference to a customer support ticket. Unfortunately, some brands forget the basics, often starting the reply with “dear customer”. Use first names for replying and if the customer has submitted a request previously, draw back to that; show that you know their history and care. 

Use Positive Language 

Positive language can make the difference between the customer being satisfied with the outcome and a customer writing several bad reviews for your brand. Throughout your communication with the customer, avoid using negative sentiments. Once you’re written out your reply, re-read it and change any statements to be positive. Adapt statements like: “This is going to get a little trickier” to say “This is where it is going to get a bit more interesting.”

Be Knowledgeable

Customer service agents need to be knowledgeable about products and services. This will help speed up response times and offer a better customer experience. If you’re getting common requests, use these to educate the customer service team, write new FAQ sections or even create new Gorgias macros. 

Q&A with Lucas Walker - Gorgias

What do you think is the single most valuable thing a merchant can do with their customer service? 

Be responsive to their customers. Amazon has trained us to have internal clocks that expect fast deliveries and faster response times.

What’s the most common aspect of customer service that brands often overlook? 

Empathy. If a customer has had to wait five days for a reply, don’t tell them “no we can’t do that.” Always give some sugar with the pill. It could be a partial refund and say something like “we’ve refunded you $10, and while we know it wasn’t looking for, we wanted to at least buy you a cup of coffee.”

Worst example of customer service (without naming names)?

This is hard - because I know what’s possible it’s frustrating when you have to wait on hold, answer the same verification questions, and hear the same “offer played”.For good examples of what not to do - look at banks, airlines, and insurance companies.

Best example of customer service?

I’m biased but companies like Beardbrand and Supply offer amazing support and the way they do this is use technology to be more efficient and stay lean. They also don’t try to be something they’re not - big large companies.No matter what your size you have to be true to who you are.

What would you say to any brand that says they don’t need to improve their customer service? 

Yet.You don’t need to improve their customer service, yet.I might also say “See you at the liquidation sale!”I could write 1000 snarky responses, but they always come back to two things.

  1. Everything a business does can be an item of promotion and a value add customer touch point. How come you don’t do an email to your VIP customers saying why you won’t explore better customer service?
  2. The IBM Selectric Typeball is still an amazing tool that works just fine, but market needs and customer expectations are always changing.

Gorgias has some very powerful settings and options available, what’s some of the most interesting ways brands have used the platform?

Monitoring for replies as new promotions are launched. Sometimes a discount code isn’t activated, a promo landing page built with a tool like Shogun hasn’t been activated.In these instances paying attention you your support replies will help you make any hiccups last as short as possible meaning that you don’t lose sales, and don’t spend money down the line following up with customers asking why the discount doesn’t work or the page isn’t found.

What does the future of customer service look like? 

The future will go two ways. Self-service and automation for basic requests. Think of something like getting a replacement shipment for a product under $20, a tracking number, or replacement instructions.On the higher, premium end, There will also be more proactive customers support, which will be supporting customers to make the right purchase. This will help reduce returns from customers buying the wrong product and returning an open item down the road. It also helps to increase conversion rates.

What does the future look like for Gorgias? 

Keep innovating to make sure online shoppers who are buying from our customers never have a painful experience when dealing with customer support. This includes connecting to more platforms, and the most exciting live chat on the market.

About Lucas Walker

Lucas Walker is a seasoned ecommerce veteran and burrito enthusiast.

About Gorgias

Gorgias is the number one customer support platform for ecommerce brands. See why brands are dropping their current helpdesk to run to Gorgias by booking a demo through UWP.