In the tough online business world and extensive competition between various merchants it’s rather difficult not only to meet customer requirements in terms of products offered, but also provide quick, reliable and responsive customer support service they expect. This is definitely an important aspect of online success as the more ecommerce business grows, the harder it is to maintain end user requests. It doesn’t matter whether you own a small web store or huge virtual shopping mall: if your customer service has poor skills and is not user-friendly, you will experience substantial reputation losses.
What should a web store owner or manager undertake? The answer is quite simple – only first-class customer support can be the driving engine of your business. Make your customers happy and they will return to you again and again as well as recommend your online marketplace to their relatives and friends. Ensure that all their issues are resolved in a timely manner and up to their ultimate satisfaction and you will be recompensed quickly. The main task of my article is to outline major support practices you should pay special attention to when launching and running your online business.
Comprehensive Knowledge Base
One of the most common faults typical for many web stores is the lack of an extensive and easy to search knowledge base. This means that, first of all, you will have to build a comprehensive system of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers to release your support staff from answering the same standard questions again and again. It must include the extensive information on products and services offered and give customers an understanding of the overall purchase and delivery process. Don’t forget to update your knowledge base regularly with new questions and answers and remove outdated ones.
Make sure that your knowledge base contains links pointing directly to each of the articles devoted to a particular issue and its resolution. Provide links to similar problems that may be connected with this specific question, so as your clients can enjoy total peace of mind knowing that they’re not alone.
Help Desk Ticket System
Providing your existing and prospective clients with the help desk ticket system will allow them to address all questions to qualified personnel and track all communications online, up to their successful resolution. A client will see a historical log and can close or re-open his ticket whenever required.
A lot of clients prefer to use more than just a single support channel expecting to receive answers by the time they need, so in this case provide your website with the contact/help desk forms in multiple areas along with other contact methods.
Online Chat Integration
With the online chat integrated, your users will be able to ask questions in real-time without having to wait for their email or ticket being answered. Online chats are very useful when your knowledge base section doesn’t contain the full information one some particular issues and your clients have a bunch of small sales or support questions that don’t require thorough analysis and can be replied on the fly..
Don’t forget that online chats in most cases should be available 24/7 in order to provide effective assistance whenever required. They serve as the direct channel with your support or sales staff for those who prefer online communication.
Telephone still remains one of the most actively used customer service channels in ecommerce. Placing a telephone number (better toll-free) on a website increases its authority and trust in clients’ eyes. Sometimes people wish to talk to the live shop assistant to be sure that their needs and complaints are heard. Moreover, rather often a prospect wants to obtain some specific information before making his purchase decision.
Social Media Activity Support
For the last few years, social media and especially such online projects as Twitter and Facebook have become incredibly popular. Maintaining a corporate presence in all major social media channels will allow keeping constant communication with your existing and prospective clients and answering all their requirements more effectively. Furthermore, with social media integration it is possible to track all questions and complaints and react to them immediately.
Traditional Online Means of Communication
Standard communication means such as emails and instant messengers (AIM, ICQ, Skype, etc.) are still very popular between vendors and clients. The significant advantage of using email is the opportunity to help a customer without being bound to some particular support platform. By using an email newsletter it is possible to remind clients about coming events and special deals. With over 2 billion of active email users around the Globe, it remains the most popular mean of online communication.
Having a knowledgeable and responsive customer support service can make a real difference to your online business performance and overall success. Try to provide as many support methods as possible to meet even the most sophisticated customer expectations. Do you have something to add? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Post by Nicolas Fincher – a PR and marketing manager at CS-Cart, a reputable ecommerce software development company with their primary CS-Cart & Multi-Vendor open source shopping carts used in thousands of established online stores.