E-commerce companies that have experienced high levels of growth often find themselves experiencing a sudden onset of customer service headaches. This is also generally the point where it becomes highly apparent that adding to customer service teams is expensive, once salaries and other expenses have been factored in.
Luckily, there are ways to improve customer satisfaction that don’t involve taking on more staff, which are often more effective as well. Some measures can also help to reduce employee turnover, lower your operating costs, improve the efficiency of your business and/or boost revenues.
There are two areas to be considered; the first being to tackle the issues that are causing customer enquiries, thereby reducing the burden on your customer service teams. The other is to better utilise the resources already available, by empowering your existing teams to be more effectual, and ensuring they remain engaged with your business.
1. Lighten the load
Why are your customers contacting you? Are there any things you could change to reduce the frequency or duration of contact? Identifying the primary source(s) of customer dissatisfaction and taking action to remedy will almost certainly be less expensive than continuing to paper over the cracks with more and more customer support agents. Here are a few common issues to look out for:
Lack of information
If customers or prospects are constantly contacting your support centre with questions about the products you stock or for delivery information, payment queries, returns policy questions or anything of a similar nature, you probably need to revisit your website content and update it with more information. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a fantastic way to resolve queries before they reach your customer support teams. User submitted Q&A forums can also be useful, though these do need to be monitored and moderated to prevent abuse, which will take dedicated resource.
Many unhappy returns
Receiving some returns is an unfortunate but unavoidable element of e-commerce retailing. Depending on the products you sell, there may be steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of them being returned. For example, if you are selling clothing or shoes, there are now virtual fitting services that can be integrated into your e-commerce website, which customers can use to identify their perfect fit before they make a purchase. However, even using measures like these (no pun intended), you can never fully eliminate the possibility of items being returned; so having a quick and painless process for handling returns is essential. With a clear returns policy available on your website and an effective inventory management system running behind the scenes, returns can become a simple, largely automated process with minimal customer contact.
2. Power to your people
Another area to examine before considering new hires is your existing team. Have you given them all the tools, knowledge and support they need to be as effective as they could? Common issues to look out for here include:
Inadequate support channels
Offering just a phone number or email address for support issues is no longer acceptable. Facilities like Live Chat, SMS support, social media and video guides have become far more common and are increasingly expected by consumers, especially the younger generations. Giving your team the tools to interact with customers via a number of channels will improve their productivity, as many questions can be answered more effectively with the ability to send links to further information. Customers will also see you as more accessible, which will increase their confidence in your brand.
Missing people skills
Being a successful customer service agent requires an ability to understand exactly what a customer needs. This requires an often-overlooked skill, known as active listening, which can be broken down into four elements:
· Clarify: Ask questions to make sure you understand the customer
· Paraphrase: Reword what a customer said, to confirm you understand
· Empathise: Use phrases like "that must have been frustrating for you"
· Summarise: End conversations with a quick summary of the most important points
If your support teams practise active listening, your customers should always feel heard and understood, helping resolve issues faster and leaving them more satisfied with their experience.
Insufficient measurement or rewards
Improving customer service is only possible if you are measuring and analysing the performance of your team. Without clear metrics, it’s effectively a guessing game. Things like customer satisfaction ratings, Net Promoter Scores, average time spent per customer and first-touch resolution rates are the most common KPIs deployed for customer support operations. These will give you a clear indicator of who is performing well and who is in need of improvement. Once you have determined the agents who are hitting or exceeding their targets – reward them! These are the team members you want to retain, so they can pass on their skills to new hires, as they rise within your organisation and help you to grow your business.
Find out more
For more tips on how to improve your customer experience, feel free to contact us anytime for a no obligation consultation. Our team of e-commerce experts will be happy to help. To discover all the benefits Peoplevox WMS offers; download our WMS Buyers Guide.