Customer service is harder than it seems. Online businesses hate having to think about it, and consumers hate having to deal with it. If you can avoid calling up customer service or engaging with a chatbot, you usually will. Yet, great customer service remains a hallmark of a brilliant business.
This only serves to prove why streamlining yours is so important. In this article, we’ll touch on why trying to streamline your customer service is one of the most important things your business can do this year, and provide some simple ways you can make small changes that have a big impact.
Customer attention spans are dwindling
In case your constant need to keep checking your phone or that stack of half-read books on your bedside table wasn’t enough of a sign, our attention spans have never been so low.
The average attention span has been dropping for years, and retailers know it. While this is a problem for people with more complex products and services, the solution from most businesses has not been to fight it, but to try and find ways to make their processes as efficient and appealing as possible.
A consumer’s attention is hard to keep, and if the process of buying a product or signing up for a service with your website is long and complicated, they’re going to become frustrated and move on.
This is why a streamlined approach to customer service is so important. Typically customer service only becomes a live issue when there is already a problem. This means you’re dealing with an already frustrated or confused user, and have even less time to win them over and retain their interest. If your response to this is complex and arduous, you’re simply throwing away potential business.
A streamlined service holds the consumer’s hand without them even knowing it. More importantly, it gives them a positive experience to recommend to their family and friends and rave about in reviews. Don’t try and fight the modern customer attention span, adapt to it.
Users know what to expect from customer service
While it’s easy to be tricked by the power of sitting on the other side of a website, there’s hardly anything mysterious about the processes of eCommerce.
The average online consumer understands what customer service is and has particular expectations of it. These need to be adhered to and improved upon to secure a wide and loyal customer base. First and foremost, this needs to be easy to understand.
If you’re solving problems quickly and providing simple answers you’re fulfilling the customer expectation of an almost flawless process that years of refined eCommerce customs have taught them to expect. If one store is advertising online shopping as easy, that means every store has to match that expectation.
This is why passive customer service such as implementing a knowledge base is so important to the modern online experience. Users are happy to find answers to common questions about changing their password or translating the webpage into another language by themselves and see the benefit of having that option at their fingertips rather than having to use the phone or send an email.
Even though they might not express it during angry calls, the average customer knows how to do things themselves and wants these expectations to be met.
Your competitors are already doing it
So many questions around eCommerce can be answered with the simple statement: You should do it because your competitors are.
Why branch out into a new service? Your main competitor just announced they are. Why offer free shipping during the holidays? A new store is making it their USP. Why work on streamlining your customer service? Every other store with the right idea is doing it.
Ecommerce stores aren’t just competing against local businesses and other stores in their niche, but every other online enterprise. If you’re not moving forwards when it comes to elements such as customer service, you’re moving backward.
Confidence and quality in customer service is a commonly raised point on the top comparison sites, both as a point of praise for businesses that do it well and a reason to stay away from less than impressive stores.
It’s hardly an original point, but if you aren’t providing quality customer service, your customers will go elsewhere. Constantly streamlining to stay up to date with industry-standard performance is vital and will stop you from being considered out of date or even potentially a scam as the goalposts move along with new advancements and techniques.
How to streamline your customer service processes
Now, let’s take a look at some ways you can start to streamline your customer service.
1. Take the customer journey yourself
To spot gaps in your customer service, you need to become familiar with the customer journey itself.
Go through a typical buying journey, keeping your eyes out for pain points such as:
- Slow-loading web pages
- Broken images on product pages
- Copy that doesn’t accurately explain the product or service
- Issues with the payment portal or restrictive options
- No confirmation email after purchase or sign up
All of these things lead to calls to your customer service desk and angry emails in your inbox (and that’s just the issues the larger public won’t see every time they Google your name). Base your changes on real research, not assumptions about your site.
2. Integrate with social media
Social media has become an important tool for selling, with Facebook and now Instagram becoming common marketplaces for small businesses and larger brands to start selling their goods.
While you might prefer to bring people to your site, not selling on these platforms can frustrate some audiences who prefer them. If you’re looking to appeal to a younger userbase, in particular, it will be difficult to grab them and catch them at the right point to make a sale if social media isn’t an important part of your customer service and journey.
Likewise, social media remains a popular place for asking questions and raising concerns. Even if you try and control where customers can air their complaints, some will gravitate to their preferred platforms. Refusing to respond and leaving these blank is much worse than accepting you’ve made a mistake and being seen to try and remedy it.
3. Establish fast systems across your business
To deliver streamlined customer service, your team needs to be working in tandem and understand their roles.
If your customer service providers aren’t up to date with every offer, product, or service you offer, along with the intricacies of your website, it’ll be impossible for them to provide consistency across their customer assistance channels.
Tools such as Slack can help them communicate common issues and queries, however, you should look to focus on developing robust training programs to ensure everyone is up to date with potential new questions and problems, such as when some functionality breaks on the website.
Customer service is more important than ever
Customer service will always be an important part of retail, even as it moves online and automated methods slowly become the norm. However, you can’t rest on what you think is perfect customer service. New developments are always coming out, and competitors are looking for that unique edge that makes consumers walk away thinking of how much they enjoyed their shopping experience. There are always new ways to streamline.