Did you know that it costs more for a brand to acquire a customer than it does to retain one? The secret to keeping a customer is exceptional customer service. That’s because the average consumer, nowadays more than ever, looks for an experience that is hassle-free and convenient.
By providing customers with excellent customer service, you effectively make them brand ambassadors who not only favor your brand over others, but persuade their friends and family to do the same. However, before you start prepping your company for a customer relations upgrade, you must educate yourself on the various practices that you can implement for successful e-commerce customer service. Here are 15 helpful methods that your customer service team can incorporate today.
1. Take responsibility for your brand
A customer’s irritation is often at its peak when they have to deal with a customer service team, so imagine the frustration when your customer service live chat team blames someone else. For example, while your customer deals with a damaged product after taking it out of the packaging, the last thing they want to hear is that it was the courier service’s fault.
A live chat team member should carefully listen to the customer before coming to conclusions as to whose fault it was. Even if your brand isn’t to blame, but rather a third party, you should still take responsibility for your contracted companies. By stepping up and offering to shoulder the responsibility, customers will understand that you are willing to make it up to them, and they will accept what you have to offer.
2. Be respectful towards even the most irritated customers
An essential rule of any department in a business is to be respectful, whether you’re dealing with staff or customers. In customer service, a person calling with a problem or query already has a complaint, so being disrespectful will only make things worse. Not to mention, it gives them another reason to complain.
According to the ‘Customers That Stick’ website; when asked which out of seven service triggers would make them most angry, a majority of customers responded that ‘being disrespected’ would be the worst. Therefore, train your customer service team to stay calm throughout the ordeal and treat a customer, as they would like to be treated.
When dealing with angry or rude customers, it can be easy for your staff to lose their temper as well. But one bad reaction from a customer service representative is bad news, and bad news spreads fast, no matter how polite the rest of your customer service team is.
As an e-commerce business owner, you should invest significant resources in finding and training your customer service team to be polite and calm. Also, it can be beneficial to thank a customer for their time after your live chat team has resolved the issue. This makes a customer feel like you value their time just as much as they do.
3. Be quick and use their name when addressing them
Response time is critical for a stable customer service department because your competitors are only a Google search away. Use a live chat for sales to help your team attend to more than one customer at a time. This ensures your customers’ issues are addressed in a timely manner. You could even start with an automatic computer-generated message that simply says ‘Hey there! Let us know how we can help you and we’ll be with you in just a moment’. This doesn’t require any additional staff time and helps your staff to prepare for the customer’s specific issue.
Once the conversation is underway, it pays to use the customer’s name and make the message more personalized. So while automating different aspects of your company may be a good thing, it’s best to add a human touch to customer service wherever possible. Whether you’re replying to a query on social media forums or replying to an email, it’s best to use their name, so they know that they're talking to a real person.
4. Remember to apologize
Apologizing to an unhappy customer is more than just saying that you're ‘sorry,' it involves understanding the problem and being sincere. To keep it short, they’re expecting a genuine, human approach to apologizing rather than one without comprehension of the issue. It sounds confusing, but immediately saying that you’re sorry can do less to alleviate the issue, so it's best to wait until your live chat team has thoroughly understood the problem.
Being empathetic with a customer can go a long way; even if they don’t appreciate all your products or services, they’ll still know you as a brand that looks out for their customers. A thoughtful apology, followed by a solution can improve any customer relations disaster.
5. Don’t be anonymous
This point is similar to using a customer’s name to make the interaction more personal, but in this case, we’re highlighting the importance of using your name when talking to customers. Instead of having nameless chat heads that say customer service representative #, add the team member’s name as well.
The same applies to exchanges over social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Whenever a member of your customer service team is handling queries on such forums through an official account, they should add their name at the end of every exchange between them and a customer. This keeps things on the record and adds a more human aspect to the exchange.
6. Follow up after sales and feedbacks
Customer service isn’t all about resolving problems when there are issues, even though complaints do take up most of a customer service team’s time. Maintaining customer relations revolves around following up a purchase or sale. Your team members should contact customers after their purchase to follow up with their experience and ask if they had any trouble with the product.
This can be beneficial, especially if your business gets a product review out of it, and it leaves your customers with an impression that you care about their experience. It’s also crucial that your customer service team reach out to a customer after they give feedback on your company’s products.
This type of data can provide valuable insights as to what your company is doing well and what needs to be improved. According to Hubspot, a staggering 80% of sales require a minimum of five follow up calls before you can classify them as a winning sale that promises a loyal customer.
7. Reply on all forums if you must
An essential part of customer service is to see if customers are getting riled up on social media platforms. Sometimes disgruntled customers pick Twitter or Facebook to lash out on a brand instead of contacting customer service directly. In these scenarios, asking customers to direct their complaints towards a live chat team can annoy them even further, so members of your team will have to take to social media and solve queries within the channel.
This can mean personally messaging the customer on their account to resolve the issue, or writing a thread of tweets while coming to a solution. Take a page out of JetBlue’s book on how to respond to customer frustration using 140 characters at a time to solve an issue. However, it’s safer to direct the conversation towards the dedicated customer support operator if it starts to get messy.
8. Don't talk about your problems
Just think about it. You’re talking to someone about your problem, they’ve offered to listen, when, all of a sudden, they start talking about their problems. If that’s not a recipe for a customer relations disaster, then I don’t know what is. Customer service representatives should learn never to bring the company’s problems into the conversation when a customer is frustrated over their experience with a brand.
According to Entrepreneur.com, one of the worst things you can say to a customer is that ‘they don’t have a problem’ and it’s the same as telling them about the issues at the company. Unsatisfied customers don’t want to hear why the problem happened or why you took so long to reply; they want solutions, so offer them. Even if your customer service team has no expertise in solving such issues, the least they can do is tell the customer about a possible solution.
9. Tell them when the issue will be resolved and commit to it
In many cases, the problem at hand will require additional expertise from another department. This leaves the customer service live chat team unable to answer most of the questions, something that can make customers even more frustrated.
You can advise your live chat team that when they don’t know how to respond to the query, they can give a resolution time instead. By this time, staff should work to resolve the issue or call in the right expert to do the job.
Usually, customer support teams quickly discuss an issue with the right department and find a solution right away. If that’s not possible, then customers prefer an answer as to when you’ll get back to them, rather than no response at all.
Of course, committing to a promise of getting back to a customer is crucial as well, because even though you may have forgotten about sending your customer an email, they never forget an unfulfilled promise. By committing to your word, you will be seen as a brand that keeps its promises.
10. Stay calm in cases of returns
In e-commerce businesses, especially retail brands, it can be difficult when having to deal with returns and refunds. Customer service representatives don't have the authority to do this, but it's their job to carry out the process smoothly.
For starters, don’t try to approach them with the ‘please stay’ argument, and opt for something more professional. Talk to them calmly and explain the return process to them and whether it requires them to send back the product. Discuss all the details of a return with them, such as if the money will be refunded to their account or if they’ll get credits that can be spent on your website.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’ll become easier for customers to get refunds out of you. This should be a last resort for when you’ve exhausted every other option and still can’t seem to find a suitable solution. It’s beneficial to have your company’s refund policy clearly stated on your website to avoid giving refunds to every unsatisfied customer.
11. Create an updated FAQ page for customers to refer to
Your support team can’t be available to answer queries and listen to complaints, all the time. That’s why it helps to have an in-depth FAQ page, which has all the answers to the most commonly asked questions. According to Neil Patel, customers going to the FAQ page are showing an apparent interest in purchasing your product, and that contributes to your sales.
It's essential that you keep on updating this page as specific types of complaints become more common. If a particular question or complaint about a specific product is coming up again and again, it’s a good idea to address it on your FAQ page. This will help in clearing out any misunderstandings before your customer purchases the product.
12. Embrace criticism
While most people think that the responsibility of helping a brand achieve growth rests on the shoulders of factors like marketing and product development, the truth is that customer service plays an integral role. Since customers are, the real judges of how well your products and services work, building strong relations with them can aid your business.
A reliable customer service department handles multiple queries and relays that information to product developers, who then work on the way to fix it or discontinue it to avoid future frustration. Hence, it’s advantageous to have a live chat team that embraces constructive criticism. By actively listening to customers and probing them to give more details regarding their problem, the customer service department generates a significant amount of valuable information that contributes to your company’s growth and development.
13. Learn about the customer’s purchases
When a customer is calling to discuss a disastrous experience with your company’s product, the last thing they want you to ask them is what their name is and what item they’re calling to complain about. Customer patience wears thin very quickly, so you can’t afford to test its durability. That’s where live chat software like ProProfs Chat can help.
One of the best things about this live support chat software is that it allows you to get valuable information about a customer almost instantly. This will include data about a previous purchase and other details regarding earlier encounters with the customer service live chat team.
Having all this crucial data readily available at one’s disposal can significantly keep nervous representatives at ease because they won’t have to ask irritated customers to give necessary information, such as what they purchased, when they purchased it, and whether they have a valid warranty.
Asking the customer questions that you’re supposed to know the answer of portrays an irresponsible image of your brand, and that doesn’t help your company’s reputation at all. By knowing their name, purchase, and query history before they’ve even said ‘hi,' you can show your customers that they can rely on you to solve their problem.
14. Don’t make them call again
The best way to keep an angry customer from returning is to answer all their queries, and various others, in one session. They’re already annoyed that they have to call with a problem and making them call again only adds fuel to the fire.That’s why customer service live chat representatives need to thoroughly analyze the situation to see if any other issues will follow and address them up-front.
For example, if it’s common for a specific item’s lifespan to shorten because of inadequate care, your live chat representatives need to mention this to all customers the first time they contact your company with a problem.
Live chat representatives aren’t supposed to know the answer to everything, so there will always be cases when they need more time before they can adequately satisfy a customer’s query. Should such a situation arise, it’s paramount that your representative offers to call back and not put the customer on hold. You know why? According to research by company Velaro, putting a customer on hold for just one minute will result in a majority of them hanging up.
There should be a set time that it takes your team to get back to people who have an unanswered query. In a nutshell, the main takeaway is this: The customer shouldn’t have to call you back.
15. Avoid unrealistic customer expectations
A significant portion of complaints directed towards the customer service department result from customers misunderstanding your product and having an unrealistic expectation about it. However, you can’t blame the customer for such a problem, and most of the fault will be on your part. Sound unfair? We know. Nonetheless, you need to understand that most unrealistic customer expectations stem from marketing efforts that try to promote a product as something that it’s not.
Even though the entire point of marketing is to make the commodity look more attractive in the eyes of the consumer, you shouldn’t aggressively overhype your product just to make sales.
ProProfs chat allows your customer service live chat team to initiate a conversation with a customer that has been browsing on a single page of your e-commerce site for a long time by asking them if they need any help. By doing so, your company can learn about your customer’s need for the product before they purchase it, and direct them to a better alternative if the one they’re looking at doesn’t suit them.
A thorough conversation with a customer at this point can help in avoiding problems in the long run. For instance, tell them that the product will work just fine for their needs rather than telling them that they can use it for many other things. Being honest and transparent preserves your brand’s integrity as one that truly looks out for the benefit of their customers.
Carrying out these best practices can do a lot to increase your customers’ satisfaction with the brand, adding one more loyal customer at a time. By having a good experience with a company, customers consider it to be worthy of promotion among their friends.
By promoting these practices and methods among your live chat representatives, you can develop an environment that promotes politeness and professionalism in dealing with customers.
At the same time, you should build on these practices and make them easier to act upon by training current representatives and recruits in your business’ customer service department. Not only will this prepare them for all sorts of encounters with customers, but they’ll also become invaluable assets to the company by helping you retain customers.