The number of online stores is increasing, which makes staying ahead of the competition harder than ever before. And with customer experience overtaking price and product as a key brand differentiator, it has never been more important for merchants to provide an exceptional ecommerce experience.
As experts in customer service, Gorgias were the perfect people to ask about what makes a customer tick and the tools needed to build brand loyalty and favorability. So we caught up with Gorgias’s very own Partnership Manager, Louis Lavedan, to reveal all…
First things first, what is customer experience and why is it so important in ecommerce?
Customer service is what differentiates your online store from your competitors. Essentially, it’s about how your customer perceives their experience with your business. If the experience is good, then this will be reflected in your retention rate, satisfaction rate, and sales. So if a customer is happy, then an online retailer will reap the rewards!
Sometimes things don’t always go to plan and customers are left with a negative perception of a brand. What causes a bad experience and what impact can this have on a retailer’s business?
Many things can leave customers feeling frustrated, but recent research by Hotjar revealed these five to beware of:
1) Long response times – if you leave a customer waiting they’ll go to another store, simple as that.
2) Not understanding the customers’ needs – if you don’t understand what your customer wants they’ll leave with a sour taste in their mouth.
3) Unresolved issues and unanswered questions – failing to answer your customer promptly will leave them feeling dissatisfied.
4) Lack of human touch – AI is great, but it can’t possibly answer all of a customer’s questions.
5) A lack of personalisation – sending your customers a generic message will backfire and show the customer you don’t really care about them.
When a customer has a bad experience, it can seriously impact a retailer’s revenue. With 50% of customers not making a purchase again after a bad customer experience and 30% of customers admitting they’d look for another store after a single bad experience, it’s easy to see why.
Customers are the foundation of success for any ecommerce business. If you’re not taking care of your customers, then you can expect your business’s reputation to suffer, profits to shrink and your customer retention to plummet.
All too often we see complaints spill out onto social media. What can an online store do when this happens?
For any brand handling complaints via social media can be a minefield and with more and more customers preferring this method to complain it’s imperative brands get it right. From the offset businesses need a community management strategy in place. The bigger the retailer, the more important it is.
Firstly, try to respond to complaints immediately. At Gorgias, we use First Response Time – or FRT for short – as a metric when referring to the time your customers spend waiting before being attended to. Lower FRT results in better customer satisfaction rates. On social media, we’d recommend responding to your customers within 60 minutes.
What’s more, always use positive language, but obviously, if you’re delivering bad news it’s best to be direct and professional about it. The key is to always position the response as solving the customer’s problem. For example, if a customer has ordered something that’s out-of-stock, an automated email informing them you don’t have the product just won’t cut it! You need to inform the customer when they can expect it to be delivered or suggest alternative products. Show the customer you care!
Finally, be reactive and proactive. The longer you leave a complaint unanswered on social media the more likely the issue will escalate. Comments on social media are public, so ignoring the messages or deleting them entirely can be brand damaging. We’d also suggest preparing your team for an influx of particular types of complaints. For example, since the pandemic, there’s been 47% more ecommerce shipments. With this increase, a retailer should expect shipment delays. In this case, prepare your customers for possible delays, so their expectations are realistic.
Does response time differ depending on the channel of communication used by the customer?
Absolutely! Today, more than 41% of customers expect live chat on a retailer’s website, so it’s a great way to increase customer satisfaction. However, for this channel to be effective, customers expect a response time of around 120 seconds. In contrast, response via email is a lot less, with up to 24 hours to reply to a customer. The same rules apply to these channels of communication as they do to social media; be reactive and proactive!
So, is it true what they say; is the customer always right?
It’s not a question of them being right or wrong. But since customers drive the success of an ecommerce business, it’s important to always put their needs first. Sometimes a customer complaint might not be logical, but businesses still must respond with professionalism.
What are the best practices for ecommerce businesses to follow when it comes to customer experience?
It’s really important that merchants set KPI’s and track them to successfully measure the impact of their customer experience. Things to consider include response time, conversion rate, converted tickets and total sales. Another indicator of successful customer service is employee satisfaction. When customer service is poor, this will be reflected in an employee’s workload and engagement.
Another tip we’d suggest is to build a user-friendly customer help centre. Over 80% of customers will try to solve a problem on their own, before talking to a customer service representative. So the key here is to make the process of finding a solution as easy as possible. There are a few ways you can do this, firstly, keep navigation simple on your ecommerce site and make sure you have a prominent CTA to contact your customer service team. Also, an FAQ page that answers the most common questions can improve your customers’ experience and reduce the workload for your staff.
Automation is essential. This is because it offers retailer’s 24-7 customer service, but it shouldn’t be overused! For example, you can automate email responses, so if a customer asks a question out of hours then you can still answer them. At Gorgias we suggest using AI in alliance with customer service reps because as I mentioned before; automation doesn’t have the answers to all of your customer’s questions.
Also, ecommerce business owners should actively collect customer feedback. Rather than asking your customer to log into a portal to answer a survey, we suggest embedding these surveys into emails. At Gorgias, we offer our ecommerce clients a customer satisfaction survey feature that can help business owners determine how well their customer service team are supporting customers. With each survey being sent out after they’ve had an interaction with a customer service representative.
As discussed above, it’s also important that customer service responses are reactive, proactive and professional. We’d also suggest revisiting your policies. Customer’s worry A LOT about the fine print, so sloppy policies just won’t cut it! Make sure every policy is available on your website and is concise. For those retailers that need help with this, check out Gorgias’s policy generator.
Finally, can you share some examples of ecommerce businesses that are smashing customer service right now?
I think Beardbrand is offering excellent customer service right now, so much so it’s competing with the likes of Amazon. Since its inception, the brand has gone from strength to strength. Today, the brand serves its loyal customer base with a subscription business model selling premium lifestyle products without the need to offer regular discounts. Beardbrand’s success centres around its ability to expertly manage interactions across all channels and give customers an exceptional one-to-one service.
It’s clear that not focusing on customer service can have a detrimental impact on a retailer’s business. We hope this interview has shown you the different ways you can improve your own customer experience and increase your bottom line. If you have any further questions about the above, please get in touch with our team of ecommerce experts today!
Gorgias provides an integrated helpdesk for e-commerce brands, making it easy to deliver personalized support and automation across multiple channels. Using Gorgias gives your customer support team a true all-in-one help desk experience across email, live chat, phone, Facebook, Instagram, contact us page in one unified view to streamline your support tickets, saving you time and money. We currently serve over 3,000 businesses including Timbuk2, Steve Madden and MVMT.