Since its inception, the growth of the e-commerce industry has skyrocketed, reaching a peak growth rate of 17.1% in 2021. Though the growth rate of the e-commerce market has since cooled down, it remains incredibly high today, and it is expected to stay that way for quite some time, with experts still projecting a growth rate of at least 8% over the next few years.
While all that growth is great for business, it also leads to a huge uptick in e-commerce customer service requests. To that end, understanding how to improve customer service in e-commerce and maintain your growth trajectory means retooling your customer service operations through tried and true best practices.
With that in mind, here are 12 modern best practices you can employ to offer the best e-commerce customer experience:
1. Get Your Team in Order
Your support agents form the lifeblood of your customer service operations. If they are happy, well-trained, and passionate about your mission to optimize customer service, everything else will fall into place.
With that said, take stock of your current customer support team. Gather feedback from your staff to determine what they are happy about, and ask tough questions to understand what you may need to do better.
2. Audit Your E-commerce Support Services
Audits aren’t just for accountants, so dive deep into your customer support metrics and find those hidden bottlenecks. If response times are lagging, for instance, or if a large percentage of calls have to be escalated, assess the problem(s) so you can pinpoint the root cause and fix it.
3. Make Your Website User-Friendly
Being in a store and unable to find what you need, no matter how hard you look, is precisely what a confusing website will feel like to your customers. As such, view your website from the customer’s perspective and ensure it’s easy to use and arranged logically. A clean design and intuitive navigation system will differentiate your business from other e-commerce brands.
4. Create a Frictionless Checkout Process
Nothing frustrates customers more than a clunky checkout process, and every extra click is an opportunity for the customer to rethink their purchase.
Therefore, you need to simplify your checkout workflow as much as possible, and one way to do so is by offering a guest checkout option. While it is great to have customers enroll on your website to collect information about them, allowing consumers to bypass that process will eliminate any lingering friction from their purchasing journey.
5. Get Personal
Customers don’t want to feel like a number or a cog in a machine: They crave personalized experiences that show their needs, wants, and interests are cared about, and to deliver such experiences, you need to gather customer data from browsing and purchasing histories to demographic insights.
Once you get to know your customers, you can make personalized product recommendations that encourage them to buy more during each transaction. You can also implement personalization in simpler ways, like referring to customers by their first names when sending SMS or email correspondence.
6. Make Obtaining E-commerce Support Easy
Your website’s “Contact Us” link should not be a digital game of “Where’s Waldo.” Make it easy for customers to reach you when they encounter a product or service concern, and don’t limit your customers to a single channel, either. Give them the option to connect with you via phone, email, and chat, and — you have the resources — add direct messages to the mix as well.
7. Create Captivating Product Pages
A good product page doesn’t just sell the product; it addresses consumer pain points and showcases why they should make a purchase. High-quality images, engaging descriptions, and prior customer reviews can make a product too good to pass up.
If you are selling a more complex product, consider including an explainer video on the product page, too. These showcase how a product works and eliminate any confusion from the buyer journey.
8. Optimize for Mobile
We live in an age of powerful smartphones and easily accessed mobile shopping, so your e-commerce site must especially shine on those small screens.
A responsive design ensures your customers can shop while relaxing on their couch, commuting, or virtually anywhere else, and the need for a mobile responsive website has never been clearer. Over half of website traffic originates from mobile devices, and that figure continues to rise, so if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you could alienate more than half of potential consumers.
9. Audit Your E-commerce Call Center
As modern consumers expect quick, efficient, and empathetic service, a call center audit can provide insights into what your team is doing well in those regards and what they can improve upon.
When conducting an audit, use a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Combining dynamic feedback from your team with measurable data points will provide a holistic view of your e-commerce call center.
10. Create a Clear Returns Policy
Returns are inevitable, but a confusing returns policy can mean the difference between a customer giving you another chance and one who vows never to return. Be transparent and fair regarding returns, and make sure it is easy for customers to initiate the returns process.
11. Offer Omnichannel E-commerce Support
Your customers won’t only communicate via phone calls. They’ll use mail, chat, and social media throughout any given day, and being present on these channels and offering consistent, high-quality support will demonstrate that you are customer-focused.
That said, you don’t need to feel as though you must offer support across every channel. Prioritize the channels that are most popular among your target audience to avoid overstretching your support team.
12. Outsource E-commerce Customer Service
You know your product inside and out, and a third-party e-commerce customer service provider will bring that same level of knowledge to your support operations. Outsourcing gives you access to experienced professionals and cutting-edge technology at a fraction of the cost of other in-house support models.
Ready to Put These Tips to Use?
With a thorough understanding of how to improve customer service in e-commerce, it’s time to put these tips and strategies to work for your business.
Start by conducting a needs assessment to identify some of your most significant customer service hurdles, then devise a game plan for improving the quality of your customer service operations and put it into motion.
Remember, you don’t need to apply every one of these best practices simultaneously. Instead, focus on making the changes that will significantly impact your customer journey; your customers and your bottom line will thank you.