You poured in a ton of effort into setting up your business, and you have finally started making sales! So what’s next from here?
Many new businesses think that managing to sell something is the hard part. But the truth is that there’s a lot more to running your business than just selling your goods and services.
Soon, you will have customers trying to contact you for all kinds of information.
“Help! I have a problem that needs to be fixed.”
“How do I get started?”
“Has my order shipped?”
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Importance of excellent customer service in online businesses
A crucial part of running a business is providing your customers with timely support. In fact, customer support is often the deciding factor in whether a customer will shop with you again or not.
This is why a business needs to be serious about its customer support. Especially if the business is new and is out to make a name for itself. Fortunately, customer support has become easier over the years thanks to the various tools that are now available for the job.
These tools help businesses reach their customers through various channels and connect with them. They allow them to provide customers with seamless support that leaves them happy and satisfied.
The many kinds of support tools and channels out there can make customer support seem tricky. However, once you know enough about your customers, you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have to go for every channel out there. The key to becoming good at customer support is to learn to identify the factors that make a difference for your business.
What makes customer support great?
Customer support is all about connecting with your customers. It’s about showing them you care and giving them more reasons to stay with you. While there isn’t any “one-size-fits-all” solution to customer support, there are a few core elements that every business should try to adapt and refine.
When you have an issue, you want it to be resolved as soon as possible. The same holds for your customers. They reach out to you hoping to sort out some confusion or problem.
The average customer nowadays expects to get a reply from customer support within 60 minutes. That is a very small window for a business to respond to. However, failing to do so can damage your reputation. It can even result in your customer going to a competitor and leaving you.
Whether it’s through email, phone, or social media, you should make a habit out of being responsive. You can train your support agents to be faster. You can also provide them with help desk tools that allow them to work more efficiently.
Understand your customers
Good customer support makes a customer feel satisfied and happy. To produce this effect, you need to be able to identify their need and wants. The first step is to know your customers. Remember their names and note their shopping patterns or business information to identify their needs in the future.
Companies that are familiar with their customers can make them feel more welcomed. This automatically makes their customer support infinitely better.
No one likes a liar. The same goes for businesses. According to a recent survey, 84% agree that honesty is a positive trait for businesses and brands to portray. Customers would prefer to choose a mediocre company over one that makes false or misleading claims.
Customer trust is a very powerful factor in determining your ability to retain customers. However, it takes a lot of effort to build and maintain.
Honest companies are transparent with their customers. They don’t mislead them and most of all, they never ignore their mistakes.
Every customer support agent must be able to apologize to a customer. Empathy is an important quality to have when you’re in customer support. If a customer is frustrated or upset, it’s important to address that you understand and can see why that would be bothersome. Then, you can get started on resolving the issue.
Now let’s take a look at some real-life customer support examples. Here are a few tangible ways for e-commerce companies to interact with their customers.
Five great examples of customer support
Technical difficulties are painfully common in the digital realm. Their effects can vary from mildly annoying to ridiculously infuriating.
Usually, Netflix is a breeze. The popular movie and TV streaming service has a great UI and offers a pleasant viewing experience. However, Netflix does run into technical problems from time to time. One common problem being their video player freezing.
Live Chat has been growing in popularity for quite some time. This support channel lets businesses connect with customers in real time, and it’s one that Netflix has figured out. It feels natural, it’s simple to use, and customers love it for its short response times.
Netflix’s Live Chat team manages to provide users with a quirky and fun way of providing support.
Their support team is passionate about what it does and the company itself. Instead of bombarding customers with the same old boring technical instructions, their agents add in movie references to make the conversation more engaging. As a result, their customers get their problem solved and have a great time throughout the process. It creates memorable experiences that instill a love for your brand in your customers’ hearts.
Amazon is a huge organization.
It caters to customers from all over the world. Being such a giant, one might think that Amazon has a hard time dealing with its customers. However, this e-commerce giant has an impressive 84.8 score on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Amazon also has a customer satisfaction score of 90%.
The company manages to keep such a huge spread of customers happy simply by making an effort to know them. Their customer support is highly integrated with the rest of their operations. This allows the company to collect various forms of data about their customers, and predict how they’ll need help in the future.
This data then gets analyzed, and the results are implemented to provide every customer with a wholesome shopping experience and the right recommendations.
This online business makes use of help content to improve its shopping experience. Customer support isn’t all about holding your customers’ hands and guiding them. Surveys show that customers like being able to solve their problems on their own. This is why help content is essential. Help content refers to information that you share with your customers. This information is often shared in the form of FAQ pages, buyer’s guides, etc.
Envelopes.com uses help content to prevent customers from getting stuck in one part of their sales funnel. This approach seems pretty simple, and it helped Envelopes increase its cart recovery rate by 40%. Meaning that the company managed to provide more customers with a pleasurable shopping experience, increasing long-term loyalty, as well.
Zappos is known for being the most accommodating large-scale organization in the world. The company has a unique culture that it likes to share with its customers through social media. However, this isn’t the only thing that Zappos uses social media for.
The company also practices customer support through social media. While Zappos does it well, it’s important to keep in mind that all customer interactions that you have through this channel are public. When you get into any conflict with a customer, you are bound to have spectators.
This makes social media support a riskier endeavor. You get the opportunity to show the world how you take customers. This can be great for your PR, or disastrous. It depends on how you handle any conflict.
Zappos is crazily concerned about customer support. The company aims to deliver “wow” through service. This attitude has helped the company establish its customer support, especially on social media. They look at every interaction with a customer to create a lasting relationship.
Zappos’ social media customer service aims to share the company’s supportive and welcoming culture with its customers. This is exactly why they are one of the best examples to study for social media based customer support.
Email customer support is perhaps one of the best tools small businesses have on hand. Emails provide the most basic support channel out there. Everyone has an email account, and everyone knows how to use them.
Best of all, sending and receiving emails won’t cost you anything — no additional software or overnight shift scheduling needed. However, you can refine your email support channel even more with the help of a few tools.
EasyDNS is a small-time DNS provider. The company often has to go up against bigger fish that have far more resources. However, by integrating their marketing and customer support, they managed to increase their annual sales by 10%.
EasyDNS achieved this by sending highly targeted emails to customers. Every email was meant for customers at various levels of their sales funnel. By identifying their customers’ needs and marketing to them accordingly, EasyDNS raked in much more sales. The company managed to do this because it understood its customer base quite well.
These were five great examples of how companies make use of customer support. Notice how each example ends with a company either holding onto a customer or increasing sales. This is what the end goal of customer support is. You give customers a reason to stay around so that they continue buying from you.
Now, let’s end this guide by taking a look at how you can apply great customer support tactics to your online business.
Improving your online business’ customer service
There are five major support channels and that are essential for a good customer support setup.
- Help Content
- Phone Support
- Live Chat
- Social Media
Which channel should you go for?
Picking the right channel is a crucial part of setting up your customer support. Blindly adding channels can be costly and wear out your support team. At the same time, sticking to one channel can make it hard to reach your customers.
You need to maintain a perfect balance of quality interaction and standardization. The ultimate support setup should be able to provide customers with a consistent experience across every channel.
For a startup or newer business, the email, FAQ, and social media trio is a perfect choice. It’s affordable, easy-to-use, and lets a business reach out more widely. These channels can also be improved with the help of support tools. Once you feel like they are no longer able to meet your support needs, start expanding your setup.
The ultimate goal of every online business should be to connect with their customers in easy, meaningful ways.
Help desk software provides businesses with a suite of tools that enhance their support. These tools help businesses provide seamless support that leaves customers happy and satisfied.
Businesses can invest in entire help desk setups or use tools that are relevant to their needs. For example, a business that only wants to focus on Live Chat can go for a Live Chat tool like Kayako’s Live Chat. Apps like this one let support agents converse with customers in a very natural manner. If you use their Live Chat with their other tools, you can even view each customer’s journey.
Remember, customer support should never be thought of as an isolated operation. It must be highly integrated with other areas of a business to produce good results.
About the author
Noman Aqil is a Marketing Manager at Kayako, the customer service software that helps teams be more productive and build customer loyalty.