Good customer service is the make or break point for customer retention, and that makes your customer support services a direct sales concern. Consider these statistics right at the top of HubSpot's customer service stats page:
- "58% of American consumers will switch companies because of poor customer service," and
- "Investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones."
The level of customer support your company provides will impact all of your sales goals, including recurring sales, upsells, and cross-sells. Switching from faster, more convenient, and more effective means of customer service drastically improves customer experience and their willingness to make purchases in the future. Keep reading to see how older technologies can be driving down sales and what process improvements will result in the biggest ROI.
Is Your Customer Service Stuck in the Past?
Outdated customer service is bad branding. The last thing you want is a reputation for being uncommunicative, slow, or difficult. This is true for any business, but it's even worse for e-commerce businesses that need to offer seamless convenience above all else.
Some of your customers may already be frustrated or overwhelmed by shopping online, while others see any interruption to their virtual experience as a major negative. The first signs that your customer service is unwieldy and stuck in the past can be found by auditing your tech stack.
eCommerce Customer Service of Old
Online business deals are nothing new, and that means a lot of established customer service channels are stuck in the past. Look out if your e-commerce business relies on any of these customer service channels:
Telephones are still a popular choice for companies providing customer service (though they're less and less popular among customers). Most call centers have long wait times, complex (and incorrect) phone trees, and poor resolution stats. They can increase customer frustration and decrease customer retention, especially for problems that require multiple steps to solve.
Email introduces several barriers to communication. Both desktop and mobile shoppers have to navigate away from your store to ask queries via email, which interrupts the process. Even worse, email relies on text-based questions and answers that can over-complicate any situation. Expect long email threads and delays when your primary form of customer support is via email.
AI chatbots are a more modern form of support, but they still have severe limitations. Like automated responses on a phone system, they can only regurgitate the information they've been given. The answers may be incorrect or off-topic. They also can't be tailored to the customer's exact question. This can be a great supplemental tool, but only if it's built with a seamless transition to a real person who provides answers.
There is room for all of these options in an e-commerce business. In fact, the more customer support channels you have (provided your organization can stay on top of them), the better. But when call centers, email, or AI chatbots are your exclusive customer support channels, that's a problem.
Modern Outsourced Customer Service
Customer service demands have evolved. Shoppers want instant answers to complex or personalized queries, the ability to get help on whatever device or platform they're using, and convenience at every step. Many shoppers increasingly prefer talking to no one over the phone at all. As a result, your company's customer service channels also need to change.
Look for centralized systems that offer omnichannel support within a single system. This gives your customers convenient options while ensuring your employees operate from a real-time, single source of truth on customers' outstanding queries. The invisible infrastructure and history that your customers can't see are even more vital than the visible portions for creating a consistent level of support.
At ThirdChannel, we don't think either technology or people alone can provide the customer service experience today's consumers demand. Instead, excellent e-commerce experiences rely on a mix of people and technology. Let's investigate this idea:
As businesses move toward seeing online customer support as part of a revenue team, the line between customer service and selling will continue to disappear. Selling tactics are giving away to branding and preemptive customer support — that is, creating content and resources that educate prospective buyers, providing in-depth and engaging knowledge about products, and acting as brand advocates to generate excitement.
Our brand-matched advocates can provide exactly those services. People who truly believe in your brand, products, and services will make your shoppers believe in those attributes of your business. Not only does this increase your in-person product knowledge base, but it gives you a clearer insight into your customers.
Just like customer service is part of sales, your customer service technologies need to be part of your entire sales and CRM infrastructure. Isolating the technology onto a separate system eliminates the ability to use incidents and trends as part of your product and sales strategies. But with an end-to-end solution, you can regularly access data points, find common friction points, better determine your customer support needs, and ensure customers have an excellent experience — even when something goes wrong.
The Difference Is In The Numbers
According to a recent report by Salesforce, 92% of B2B shoppers and 89% of B2C shoppers agreed with this statement: "A positive customer service experience makes me more likely to make another purchase."
Investing in your customer service approach and technology is the clearest way to improve future sales. Not only can it turn good customer experiences into great ones, but it can also save potentially disastrous experiences.
Even better, the right technologies and processes create a consistently reliable method for improving sales. Instead of pouring money into new leads and one-off purchases, you're laying the groundwork for lifetime sales and brand ambassadors.
Improve eCommerce Sales With ThirdChannel
ThirdChannel is here to help support your transformation to creating better customer experiences through outstanding customer service. Contact us today to learn more about how our services help e-commerce businesses of any size attract and keep customers.