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Why Ecommerce Customer Service Should ALWAYS Be Your #1 Priority

ecommerce customer service

Written by Cody

December 13, 2021

It’s sad to say that a lot of people who get into e-commerce are solely focused on the money and not so much about the people they are actually selling to. I get why, there are a lot of gurus out there who flaunt their e-commerce cash and tell you it’s super easy. All you need to do is find a winning product and “scale it to the moon!”

The thing is, scaling a product introduces a whole new set of challenges. And if your store isn’t ready for those challenges it’s going to quickly crumble.

There are a number of issues that can come from scaling a product or combination of products to thousands of dollars per day.

In this article, I’m going to be discussing one aspect that I think is the most important of them all – customer service.

Why Is Ecommerce Customer Service So Important?

Keeping your customers happy is the single most important thing you can do to ensure your online business is successful over the long term. There are a number of things that can affect your business if you have angry customers, for instance:

  • You’ll receive chargebacks. This not only looks bad to credit card providers but you also get dinged $15 per chargeback over and above the cost of the product you sold the customer
  • Facebook could ban you from advertising. Facebook introduced a customer feedback system a couple of years ago which asks the customer how their buying experience was from your site. If your customer feedback score drops below a 2 then you’ll receive a penalty. If it drops below 1 they’ll have your ad account disabled. To check your account quality score visit this link.
  • Shopify could ban you from their platform. If Shopify sees that your store is producing more chargebacks than normal or if people are complaining directly to Shopify about your store then they could potentially ban you from using their platform.
  • Bad reviews will be posted about your store online. Third-party review sites like Trustpilot are oftentimes one of the first places an angry customer goes to talk about their negative experiences with a store. If you didn’t meet or exceed their expectation then you might start seeing bad reviews pop up here and there. Trust me, these are horrible for your brand’s image as more and more people Google store reviews before they make a purchase.

It’s obvious, the happier your customers are, the healthier your store will be. Not only will you not have to deal with any of the issues above but you’ll also likely have more returning customers which is the holy grail of increasing revenue.

How Can You Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Service?

Customer service is a tough job. You have to toe the line between providing your customers with a great experiencing while not letting your customers steamroll you into bending your store’s policies.

It takes some trial and error and no solution will work for everyone 100% of the time.

That being said, it’s important to have a customer service ticketing system in place so that you can easily organize customer emails, quickly reply to generic messages with saved replies, and delegate tickets to other team members.

I’ve been using Helpscout for about 5 years now and in my opinion, it’s the best ticketing platform out there.

They have over 75+ features, awesome support, and are super easy to use. A few of the features I use day in and day out are:

  • Workflows
  • Saved replies
  • Search
  • Tagging
  • Automated replies

It’s seriously a really powerful tool and I don’t know what I would do without it.

If you’ve been using a generic Gmail inbox to handle customer support I can tell you from first-hand experience that it isn’t sustainable. Once I started getting around 5 emails per day from customers I made the decision to switch over to Helpscout.

Helpscout also allows you to pull order detail data directly from Shopify which makes it that much faster to answer your customer’s questions.

How Often Should You Reply To Emails?

When it comes to how often I check and reply to customer emails, I like to do this twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. However, this will really depend on the sales volume your store is getting.

This means I’m replying to customer inquiries fairly quickly and it keeps my customers happy to know that someone is responding to their emails.

Another thing I like to do is send an automated email to every customer who sends me a question. Within the email, I explain that we respond to all inquiries within 24 hours and someone has been assigned their ticket. Here is the word-for-word email I like to send someone immediately after they reach out to me.

Hello {%customer.firstName,fallback=there%},

Thanks for getting in touch with us! We received your email request and one of our customer service representatives has been assigned your ticket. We’ll get back to you within 1 business day.

Thank you!

“Saved Reply” Templates

Having well-crafted saved replies is the key to reducing the amount of time spent typing the same answer over and over again. Helpscout offers an even better solution than copy/pasting a saved reply because they allow you to set variables within your replies that update dynamically for each customer. This includes variables such as their name, email address, etc.

Crafting saved replies can be time-consuming. That’s why I’m providing my most used saved replies below. Take inspiration from them and modify them as you see fit.

1. Longer than expected wait times

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

Thanks for reaching out.

Your package does indeed seem to be in transit longer than usual. Let me reach out to our shipping department to see if they can provide me with some additional information.

I will be in touch.

2. Change size/color

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%},

No problem, I can certainly have that updated for you on our end. I will alert our shipping department to send out a new-color-or-size instead of old-color-or-size.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can assist you with 😊

3. Order was delivered but not received

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

Thanks for getting in touch.

Can you please confirm your shipping address for me so that I can cross-check it with the address that was entered during checkout?

Additionally, I would recommend contacting USPS and providing them with your tracking number: their-tracking-number to see if they can provide you with additional information on your package’s whereabouts.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,

4. Order cancellation (too late, already shipped)

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

Thanks for reaching out.

Unfortunately, cancellations are only accepted within your-preset-timeframe after an order is placed as stated on our FAQ page and refund policy page. I checked your order and do see that it has been processed and left our warehouse.

I apologize for any inconvenience. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can assist you with.

Thanks,

5. Manufacturing defect

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

I’m sorry to hear you aren’t happy with your order.

Could you please send us a couple of pictures showing the defects of your-product so that I can pass this along to our quality assurance department for inspection?

As a solution, we can offer you 3 options.

1) We can send you a replacement for your item, free of charge.

2) You can return the item to our returns department. Once we receive the item in its original packaging we will refund you the full purchase amount.

3) You can keep the item and we will refund you 50% of the purchase price.

Let me know which you prefer.

Thanks,

6. Lost in transit

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

I’m sorry for the longer than expected wait time on this.

I heard back from our shipping department and they agreed that your package does seem to be in transit for an unusually long time. Sometimes packages do get lost in transit and although it rarely happens, it looks like this may be the case here.

Therefore, we can offer you 2 options:

1) We can send out a replacement for you ASAP, free of charge

2) We can offer you a full refund

Just let me know which option you would prefer.

Thanks

7. Where’s my order (shipping from the US)

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%} 👋

Thanks for reaching out.

I just looked up your order and can see that it is currently in transit to your destination. Here is a direct link to the USPS site with your tracking number: their-tracking-link

Although I can’t give an exact date of when it will arrive, our shipments to the US do take between 4-15 business days as stated on our checkout page and shipping confirmation email.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out 😊

Thanks,

8. Where’s my order (shipping from China)

Hi {%customer.firstName,fallback=%},

Thanks for reaching out!

I just looked up your order and see that it is currently clearing customs. Here is a direct link to your tracking number: their-tracking-link

Packages can sometimes take a few days in customs depending on how backed up customs is. Although I can’t give an exact date of when it will arrive, our shipments to the US do take between 4-15 business days as stated on our checkout page and shipping confirmation email.

That being said, I will keep an eye on your order to make sure everything is moving along normally.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with 😊

How To Reduce The Number Of Customer Support Tickets

Although we want to offer great customer service for our e-commerce business, the goal should really be to minimize the amount of customer support required.

To do this, you need to figure out what is your business’s biggest pain point and work on it.

There are 3 main things that you should focus on to help reduce the number of support tickets you receive from customers.

1. Have a Detailed FAQ Page

Your store’s FAQ page should really be your primary focus if you want to help reduce customer support tickets. Make your FAQ page easy to find in your top navigating bar and link to it on important pages such as your contact page as well as your order/shipping confirmation emails.

I believe it’s best to be over-detailed than under-detailed when it comes to building out your FAQ page. If a customer wants an answer to a question they’re going to go to your site and look for it. If they can find it on your FAQ page, that saves you from replying to them personally when they reach out.

A few important details you’ll want to have on your FAQ page include the following:

  • Estimated shipping times
  • Where your orders are shipping from
  • Where your products are made
  • Where you’re headquartered
  • How to track an order
  • What’s the return policy?

Once you start receiving customer emails you’ll get a better idea of what the majority of customers are asking about. Then, once you start to notice a pattern, add the answer to your FAQ page for your customers to easily find.

2. Improve Shipping Times and Allow Customers to Easily Track Shipments

If you’re shipping from China to somewhere that might take a few weeks to receive it you’ll no doubt receive emails asking “where’s my order”. Even though you’ve placed estimated shipping times on your product page, FAQ page, checkout page, and order confirmation email, you’ll still have some customers asking this question.

So, how do we avoid this?

Well, the first way is to improve your shipping times.

Doing this will reduce the number of customer support tickets, make your customers happier overall, and increase their lifetime value. However, improving shipping times will likely mean that you’ll need to shop around for another fulfillment partner.

I personally like working with CJDropshipping because they have various warehouses in many different Countries and allow you to purchase and stock private inventory directly in those warehouses at no extra charge.

If you’re shipping to the US, you can store your products in their California or New Jersey warehouse and provide your customers with 3-5 day shipping.

If you don’t want to work with CJDropshipping, look into using a third-party logistics partner such as ShipBob or Dollarfulfillment. These guys have state-of-the-art fulfillment technology and will work with you to ship out your orders from their warehouses quickly and even with customized packaging if you so choose.

Apart from offering faster shipping, you’ll also want to provide a way for customers to track their orders directly from your website. There are a few apps out there that can help you with this but I personally don’t believe you need an app.

Simply create a new page in Shopify called “Track My Order” and copy/paste the following code from 17track:

<!--Tracking number input box.-->
<input type="text" id="YQNum" maxlength="50"/>
<!--The button is used to call script method.-->
<input type="button" value="TRACK" onclick="doTrack()"/>
<!--Container to display the tracking result.-->
<div id="YQContainer"></div>

<!--Script code can be put in the bottom of the page, wait until the page is loaded then execute.-->
<script type="text/javascript" src="//www.17track.net/externalcall.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
function doTrack() {
    var num = document.getElementById("YQNum").value;
    if(num===""){
        alert("Enter your number."); 
        return;
    }
    YQV5.trackSingle({
        //Required, Specify the container ID of the carrier content.
        YQ_ContainerId:"YQContainer",
        //Optional, specify tracking result height, max height 800px, default is 560px.
        YQ_Height:560,
        //Optional, select carrier, default to auto identify.
        YQ_Fc:"0",
        //Optional, specify UI language, default language is automatically detected based on the browser settings.
        YQ_Lang:"en",
        //Required, specify the number needed to be tracked.
        YQ_Num:num
    });
}
</script>

This will allow your customers to use the 17track tracking widget to search for their tracking number directly within your website. It’s easy to use and will save you from explaining to a customer where their order is.

3. Improve Product Quality

The last thing you can do to reduce the number of customer support tickets is to improve your product’s quality. If you’re receiving a lot of messages from customers complaining about defects or missing pieces then it might be time to change suppliers or work with your current supplier to improve quality.

This process is typically much easier once you’ve proven yourself to the supplier as a recurring purchaser who wants to continue doing business. If your supplier wants to keep your business then they’ll try their best to keep you happy. Talk to them and tell them where the quality is lacking and what can be improved. Then order a sample product and compare it against the original.

If you have a fulfillment agent such as someone from CjDropshipping or a private agent then this process is also much easier. Simply tell your agent what you want and they can pass it over to the factory. If you’re speaking to the factory directly you may still be able to get the point across but there may also be a greater language barrier depending on the factory staff.

Having a good quality product is probably the most important aspect of reducing customer service complaints and keeping customers coming back. Your shipping times can be transparent and if the customer knows they have to wait a certain number of days, in most cases they’ll be okay with that.

But after waiting for the product to arrive and then having the product fall short in terms of quality will be a HUGE disappointment for your customer and will certainly have them reaching out or leaving bad reviews.

Outsourcing Your Ecommerce Customer Service

Once you’ve reached a certain level of success you may want to outsource your ecommerce customer service either because you simply don’t want to take care of it anymore or you need help. Either way, it’s important to outsource your customer support to the right people.

As this whole article is about ecommerce customer service being the number one thing you can do to prolong your business’s longevity it’s important to hire the right people.

That means doing interviews, reading resumes, and screening people to figure out who is the best fit for your company.

Now, when it comes to hiring I recommend hiring freelancers off of websites like Upwork.

Upwork makes it very easy to track a freelancer’s hours and keeps them accountable for the time that they put in. When you’re just starting to outsource customer service, freelancers are also a great way to get around all of the paperwork and extra hassle of hiring traditional employees.

You’ll want to look for a few key factors when hiring an ecommerce customer service person:

  1. They speak and write fluently in the language you’re marketing to
  2. They have previous customer support experience
  3. They answer your questions promptly and in detail
  4. They have a strong internet connection
  5. Bonus: They’ve used Shopify before
  6. Bonus 2: They’ve used Helpcout before

It’s always a good idea to create an onboarding document that outlines EXACTLY what you expect them to do. Therefore, most questions are answered within the document and they don’t need to come to you every time they have a question.

Once you’ve successfully onboarded one person the process gets easier and easier to onboard others since the first freelancer can teach others. It’s really a great process once you’ve successfully trained your first customer support freelancer.

Conclusion

All-in-all, I believe what really sets one business apart from another these days is great customer support. If you’re serious about running an online business ecommerce customer service is key. Not only does it keep customers coming back but it also keeps you in good standing with advertising platforms, payment processors, and e-commerce platforms.

Customer service isn’t an exciting topic by any means, but oftentimes the non-exciting topics are the ones that matter the most. Keep this in mind as you start or continue your online business journey and you’ll reap the rewards.

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