Online venues don’t need to worry about stampedes of shoppers or paying for staff members to manage crowd control, but they do need to be sure their entire customer processing systems are working optimally. A core tenet of customer service is to be able to handle customer inquiries quickly because, unlike customers at brick and mortar stores who have invested time in driving to stores and waiting in line, abandoning an online shopping experience just takes a single click. Retailers need to respond to inquiries as quickly as possible in order to avoid abandonment and encourage sales. While email is suitable when responses are sent back quickly or it is understood that the issue at hand requires more investigation, many customers who are used to mobile communication simply expect instant answers and won’t wait for responses. Live online chat and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page are two customer service tools that are both easily implemented and pay immediate dividends in terms of providing customers with fast and accurate answers.
Live chat systems typically pay off quickly, as agents can manage several customer inquiries at once, allowing retailers to meet holiday season demand without incurring additional expense. “Implementing an online live chat solution is exceedingly simple,” says Kevin Gao, CEO of Comm100, a provider of customer service and customer communication software. “With our live chat solution, companies just need to install the code onto their site and they can be up and running within a matter of minutes. It’s very positive ROI, requires a minimal amount of training to use, and we recommend it to all of our clients who place a premium on service.”
Live chat should be conspicuously placed throughout the site, including within shopping cart areas in case customers have a final question about a product or shipping details. Retailers need to make sure their site’s full contact info is listed in multiple areas, and does not require three to four clicks to reach. For larger online merchants, compartmentalizing customer staff to handle inquiries about specific product categories can improve answer accuracy and customer satisfaction. Customer requests also can be separated by the type of inquiry, whether it’s shipping, billing, returns or product specifications.
Another easy-to-implement tactic to aid in customer service is to develop a FAQ. In order to lessen the number of inquiries coming into a company’s multiple customer contact channels, it is vital to develop a FAQ that provides detailed information into the most common questions, according to Gao. “A FAQ helps to manage the 80/20 rule where 80 percent of the customers are asking 20 percent of the questions,” he explains. “It’s another feature that has a very clear risk/reward, where it doesn’t take much time to implement, and customer service can avoid answering the most basic questions.” By developing a dynamic FAQ which features product specifics, return policies and shipping options, retailers can provide immediate answers as well as decrease the workload experienced by staff members.
The common thread for these best practices is to increase the efficiency of answering inquiries without expending much capital or time. Online retailers that can implement these practices will maximize profits and be able to better serve customers, while ensuring their brand image remains strong.