The world of e-commerce continues to expand, with many brick and mortar stores developing an online presence, most often on Shopify but Amazon gets a good share of this as well.
What about Walmart?
Some say Walmart is late to the party but so much learning has gone on in the decades before them. All they have to do is copy best practices and overnight they’ll find e-commerce success.
Here are our Top-5 hacks to set up your e-commerce customer service.
#1. Preparation – Don’t Wing it!
Think of every possible scenario and decide on your plan of action in advance. List the most common problems your customers have – or are likely to have if you’re launching a new product. You need to do this with an open mind. Every product has inherent weaknesses, so you need to dig deep and look at all of this from your customer’s perspective.
We have a list of around 20 that we give to clients to get them on the right path – here are a few examples:
Not Arrive, Damaged/Wrong Product, Wrong Color, Wrong Size, Used Product, Doesn’t Work, Smaller Than Thought, Bigger Than Thought, Don’t Like!
You can blame Amazon for the last one. They have conditioned e-commerce customers to buy anything they want and return it anytime they like for no reason. Prime free delivery makes this even easier. Customers will buy all 4 colors of a product and return three as they “wanted to see the color.”
“Doesn’t work” is a frequent customer issue. Customers can’t find the on or off button. Do they press briefly, or a long press? What are the nuances of your product, the possible problems an older customer may have, or a young and impatient one?
You actually want to make as bigger a list as you can. Don’t shortcut this step!
#2. Perception is Reality
If your customer thinks it’s smaller than it should be, then that’s a fact. It’s what the customer “feels” that you need to connect with, not what you think they should have known.
Think of a Mcdonald’s hamburger image. The bun looks large, the green of the lettuce is vibrant, and the tomatoes are a luscious red. The pattie looks thick and its color makes you think of quality meat.
So why do we accept a flat bun with a thin patty – not to mention a limp bit of lettuce with the tomato buried inside?
We’re hungry, we know the taste, and it’s been part of our culture for decades. PLUS – you can’t really give it back because you’re hungry!
No wonder e-commerce sellers get creative with their images, making their products look larger, smaller, fatter, or thinner than it’s in reality. Then they enhance the color, using shades to emphasize the shape…and on it goes on.
Your customers aren’t hungry, nor have they been conditioned over decades to accept your product, even though they know what they see is not what they get. Most don’t even notice McDonald’s over-the-top imagery.
They’ll return it! Just hope they don’t give you a low-star review as a thank-you for wasting their time, spoiling their gift idea, or just plain annoying them.
#3. Write Your SOPs
Standard Operating Procedures. Don’t get brain fade on this step. Translation, “When this happens, do that.”
Take all you’ve learned from Steps 1 & 2 above and decide what you will do for each scenario.
This is the very core of your customer service is to get some engagement going and resolve their problem, or help them use your product without them feeling foolish.
The words you write are critical. Small sentences, simple words, and clear written steps with your audience in mind. This is where you need to spend most of your time in setting up your Customer Service.
#4. Intro and Outro
Engagement, empathy, kindness, generosity. Start your SOP with a personal and engaging opening sentence that speaks directly to what they said in the language they use.
But, don’t write all the nonsense you often get from offshore VAs who are taught that wordiness and paraphrasing back every word they wrote is how to get engagement. Keep it simple. Importantly, read in between the lines where you can. You’ll often pick up on their tone to give you clues on how best to respond.
Then drop in your SOP. Edit any words that you think would provide a better chance of engagement without compromising what action you decided on when writing this out.
Side note…did you just discover a better way to say what you wanted to say? Go update your SOP – they’re living processes, not cast in stone!
Your last sentence is an encouraging close. No need to grovel but of course show empathy and provide them with the assurance you are ready and waiting for their response.
“We’re here 7 days a week so promise a quick reply” is our favorite final sign-off.
Customers have one thing in mind when they write to you. Will they get a response and when?
#5. Slow Responses are OK!
We call them keyboard warriors. Customers who have wound themselves up and are so totally annoyed they just want to vent. Often the language is abrupt, if not downright rude. They are spoiling for a fight and are waiting there, fingers hovering over their keyboard, waiting for a reply to pop so they can vent again.
This happens in all walks of life. People spoiling for a fight and nothing you do or say will change their minds.
We don’t reply!
If we get a message like this at the end of the day we’ll reply in the morning. Let them wind down, have dinner, sort out the kids, watch a movie, do whatever they do to close their day, and then sleep. Most often, people awake in a totally different mindset and we drop in a response that is far more likely to get an engagement going.
Similarly, a morning blast from a customer will get a response at the end of the day.
Our KPI as a business is how many resolutions did we deliver, not did we respond in 1.25 minutes with the best template we could, and kept dropping in the next one in the sequence to dig an even deeper hole!
A low-star review is almost guaranteed.
So there you have it. If you’re a DIYer, just follow these steps and you’ll be on the path to delivering the best level of customer engagement that you can. Your goal is to get a response. From there you are on solid ground to resolve any issue or add value to customers who write in for clarity.
Just make sure you give your customers the time they deserve. Give yourself the best chance to resolve a problem, save a sale, and send customers away as raving fans of your business. Never lose sight of the repercussions if you rush and just want to get rid of the customer as you’re busy.
Maybe there are better uses of your time – product development, marketing, and PPC are some that come to mind. Perhaps you just want some time off the grid?
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