The pandemic has hit the small-business/retail industry hard in 2020, completely shifting the eCommerce business paradigm, and setting a new precedent for online retailers to embrace for the coming future.
However, there was good that came out of 2020, mainly in how quickly it was able to increase the “digitization” of small-to-medium-sized businesses online, completely revolutionizing the way eCommerce businesses operate, and changing the way customers interact with them.
In fact, Q4 in 2020 saw record numbers of online sales coming through the gates, with customers only being able to shop online, online retailers struggled to keep up with the insane demand. Some were able to adapt and capitalize on the booming market, others, unfortunately, got swept away with the tides.
But as always, with a new year comes a new beginning, and there is no time other than the present to correct your eCommerce business strategy, stabilize, and move forward into 2021 with a solid plan of action.
Make note of these eCommerce trends that you can use to build out your customer service strategy in 2021.
1. Focus On Your Average Response Time On Your Website
Average Response Time (AVT) is a metric used to measure how quickly your business takes to respond to a customer, on any channel.
Most eCommerce businesses are seeing an increase in user traffic to their websites, with people eagerly looking to spend money online. This has also meant that there are a lot more reasons for people to inquire about various questions as they browse your website, and making sure to give these users quick and knowledgeable responses will significantly improve the chances of this customer coming back!
Remember, we live in a time of hyper-empowered customers, who have first-hand experiences of what exceptional customer services feel from the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and UPS to name a few.
Taking the extra few steps to connect with your customer, and make their lives easier, will be the edge you need to stand out from your competitors and generate sales while growing your customer base!
2. Create a Solid Shipping & Fulfillment Plan
If you thought Q4 was busy for your eCommerce business, wait until 2021 gets going. Online shopping is only projected to increase, meaning your business must be ready and equipped with the best shipping solution to meet customer demand.
This means focusing on the following:
- Having access to multiple shipping carriers and shipping routes.
- Providing alternative shipping solutions, think drop-off locations, or automated delivery.
- Working with multiple courier service providers to give your customers the best shipping times and flexibility
Consider also building a relationship with a specialized shipping and fulfillment company to help scale your ground level operations. This helps alleviate the stress that comes with an influx of volume since you no longer have to worry about each order fulfillment, counting inventory, dealing with various shipping carriers or the logistics for returns, the dedicated 3PL will handle it for you.
This in turn will also save you on shipping costs, time, and hassle.
If you focus on building out a solid shipping and fulfillment plan, you can expect to keep your customers happy, while also not losing out on potential sales.
3. Leverage Customer Service Tools
Once your eCommerce business begins to grow, running a one-man army will no longer be sustainable, and you will need to scale.
Luckily, in today's online world, scaling is no longer the scary ordeal it used to be.
If your budget allows it, definitely look into partnering with software for call center. Their dedicated agents and expertise in the field will be valuable to your business.
However, you can also take advantage of various customer service tools, digital software like HubSpot, ZenDesk, MailChimp to name a few. These tools are both affordable and entry-level in how they can get you up and running quickly, without you needing a degree in digital marketing or software development.
These tools are powerful in their ability to expand your eCommerce business online and help you keep up with the increased order fulfillment, while simultaneously building out a customer service strategy to keep your customers happy.
4. Omnichannel Customer Service
As mentioned before, with the boom of eCommerce business last year, there will be a lot more people browsing your products/services across various platforms, and with that, there will come questions and concerns.
This means it is critical for your business to have an easy means for these customers to reach out for inquiries, regardless of which channel they prefer.
Of course, you can’t be everywhere, but luckily there are automated tools that can help. Chatbots are great for customers to quickly and interactively ask questions about your brand, receive feedback, or complete payments. Additionally, you can create an app that integrates a chatbot feature, allowing customers to access your brand's information and support services conveniently from their mobile devices.
In fact, customers are more likely to come back to a brand that they like based on the level of customer service they received while shopping there.
So focus on building out a solid chatbot strategy for your business in 2021, as there is a proven track record that customers are positively resonating with the ease-of-use of automated messengers.
However, sometimes the questions or concerns people have go beyond the capabilities of machines, and this is when real people step in.
Making sure to have an actual person behind the difficult calls, or important emails will be the number one reason for your brand to stand out among others this year. So, it is recommended to hire only those who have enough experience in customer service and can handle complex issues. This can be a remote position, too, as many people are looking for remote customer support jobs nowadays.
At the end of the day, real business success comes from having an obsessive customer-centered strategy, and with the difficulties of 2020, customers are looking towards the flexibility and empathy of businesses.
5. Keep Your Customer Health Score Always In Check
Taking the above mentioned tactics and applying them to your eCommerce business is a great start, however like any good business, you must be ready to adapt to the needs and wants of your customers.
This is why it is vital for your business to monitor how your customers are interacting and feeling about your brand — think of it as your “check engine light” signal, this is your way of knowing if there needs to be changes made to your strategy.
So how do you calculate customer health score?
- Define what customer health looks like to your business.
- Select the criteria that you will use to judge the level of happiness of a customer.
- Create a scoring system, whether its color coded, letter graded or percentile.
- Segment your customer data to better fit your above mentioned criteria.
- Visualize the customer health scores for everyone on your team to see, this will allow for immediate action to take place where necessary, ensuring everyone is coordinated in their efforts of solving the problem.
By taking the time to understand how your customer base is feeling about your brand, you are tapping into the heart of what exceptional customer experience is all about.
Knowing what to say, when to say it and who to say it to will be critical in the long-term success of your business.
Ultimately, 2020 gave the world of eCommerce business an unprecedented rise in popularity, and businesses had to rapidly adapt to the increase in customer demand while dealing with the new challenges of digitized shopping.
Paying close attention to new eCommerce trends, and the details within them, will help you deal with these challenges while helping you stand out among your competitors.
Your 2021 customer service strategy should look like this:
- Quick response times to customer inquiries
- Ease-of-reachability throughout various channels
- Leveraging digital software
- Having real people taking care of real people
- Having an omnichannel support system in place
- Keeping track of how customers feel about your business at any given time
By having a customer-first approach, and really caring about your customer, your business will see tremendous growth and opportunity for the following years to come.
About the Author: Khamile is our Customer Success Manager. She has been with eShipper for about a year and switched her career to customer service when she realized her passion to listen to customer stories and help them with their requests and queries. She is currently taking charge at eShipper to improve all of our service processes.