5 customer service channels that might work well for your e-tail site
Even if you have run a successful “high-street” or “brick-and-mortar” business in the past, if you are trying to operate a firm that sells through a purely online interface, there might be certain things you have overlooked about how you can deliver the best possible customer experience.
After all, your target customers might vary widely in terms of their preferences. Some customers of yours who have a support query may first browse other parts of your website for information, while for others, their first instinct might be to seek out a customer service telephone number or email address. Then, there are those who like the quick and fuss-free nature of chatbots.
So, what are some of the customer service channels that your own store might be especially likely to incorporate? And more to the point, what are some of the issues, pros, and cons that you will probably face when considering and/or implementing each one?
We’ve mentioned phone support first, because it’s “old-school”, and still the support option that many prospective or current shoppers in your store might well seek out first.
Certainly, many customers appreciate being able to talk to a human being about an issue or query they have, especially when it is something too complex for a chatbot or even an online frequently asked questions (FAQs) page to satisfactorily answer.
The downside, though, is that it can be draining on the resources of an e-tail store to try to have someone specifically assigned to handling phone queries. It might therefore work better for your store to have a “call back” service, whereby you call the customer back later that day after they’ve provided their details, instead of trying to pay for a fully staffed customer support line.
Frequently asked questions
As we touched on above, many online stores today do have dedicated FAQs pages, to help soak up those queries that they either already receive often, or are likely to receive often.
An FAQs page could be great for answering those common queries about such broad subjects as setting up a customer account, delivery costs and times, and so on. And of course, once it’s up on your website, you won’t have to pay any staffing costs in relation to it – save for any time a staffer of yours might have to spend updating the information on that page occasionally.
But of course, no online store can really depend solely on an FAQs section as a source of customer support, given that not all customer queries will be simple or frequently asked ones. In any case, even certain common queries may be overlooked in the course of writing an FAQs page.
Almost every online store seems to use email as a customer support channel in one way or another, whether by publishing the actual email address somewhere on their site, or providing an online contact form. So, your store’s customers are almost certain to expect this option from you, too.
However, customers do frequently complain about how slow some online stores are to respond to emails. So, to help manage customer expectations, you should be clear as to the timeframe in which you are likely to reply to their email.
It might also be a good idea to draw attention to self-service resources – such as the aforementioned FAQs section or chatbot support – for the benefit of customers who have an especially urgent query.
The use of social media for handling customer support queries has become more widespread in recent years – and why not? After all, social media is where many customers are, and where many of them are commenting, whether positively or negatively, on online stores they have used.
However, a downside of social media is that when dialogue takes place with a customer publicly, the customer may be inclined to make negative comments about the given store that are highly visible.
So, if your own store uses social media for customer service purposes, you might want to try to quickly move communications with customers to a format of private messages.
Live chat or chatbot
While “live chat” can certainly enable a customer to receive a quick response to a query they have, it might be tricky for your store to always have a human available to provide such a swift reply. This dilemma might have caused you to seriously think about chatbot technology in recent times.
As the term “chatbot” suggests, this technology provides automated responses to customers in a “live chat” format, drawing upon artificial intelligence (AI).
However, a chatbot won’t necessarily provide an accurate and complete answer to every possible query. Also, some customers still instinctively dislike chatbots, regardless of the quality of the responses they give.
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