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Decrease costs of customer service using technology

Three ways to decrease customer service costs using technology

Technology in E-commerce, part 1

This is the first part in our series where we explore how technology can be used to enhance customer experiences, save costs, and drive revenue for you and your website.

Written by Tobias Riis Christensen

Automate to decrease costs of customer service for your webshop

Almost everyone in e-commerce will agree that it's important to help customers when they have an issue. It's also the right thing to do if you would like to convert people from visitors to customers, and if you would like to get those customers to come back another time.

Despite this, customer service is often seen as a cost-center, especially since most of the work customer service agents do is after customers have placed their orders. In part three and four, we talk about why this is the wrong way to look at customer service, and how customer service can be used to improve customer journeys, and drive revenue and improve conversion - but for this part, part one, we talk about how you can decrease costs on customer service without decreasing the quality (in fact, you will raise it!).

We will be talking about 

  • chatbots, 
  • automating email replies, and 
  • providing customer service in languages you do not speak. 

Let us start with the latter.


01 Multilingual customer service with the resources you already have

It is a great feeling to see your webshop take off in new markets. Seeing the orders coming in, putting labels on parcels destined for foreign countries - I get chills talking about it! One thing that often gives the complete opposite kind of chills though are emails coming in in a language you do not understand. You really want to help, you translate the conversation, and perhaps you reply in English, which comes as a shock to your customer - cause they do not feel comfortable in that language.

This might come off a bit dramatic - but research shows that 40% of customers would never shop on a website that is not in their native language. The same goes for customer service. 

Luckily translation softwares are becoming really good nowadays, in fact good enough that you can easily make yourself understood - and understand - in any language. Even though it might be visible that it is a machine translation, it still gives the customer the option to communicate in the way they are most comfortable. The problem, or challenge, with this solution has been how to "integrate" it into daily processes, so agents do not have to  go through the following steps every time they get an email:

  1. Copy the email sent by the customer
  2. Open a new tab
  3. Go go Google Translate, DeepL, or similar
  4. Paste the email
  5. Read the translated email
  6. Write a reply in English
  7. Translate the English reply to the original language
  8. Paste the translated version into the reply field in the email
  9. Click send

And then of course repeat that process for every mail in that thread as they come in. This becomes time-consuming very quickly - however, with modern mail and customer service platforms, it is becoming easier to integrate the above workflow in a way that cuts out step 1-4 without having to leave the page.

If you are using a customer service platform like Zendesk, Dixa, Intercom, Helpscout or the like, you will likely find options and different ways to do as described. Whether it's translating the incoming messages automatically, doing so on request with just one click, or just displaying the conversation in English and handling all the work behind the scenes, these platforms makes it incredibly easy to handle customer service across multiple languages. 

If you are one of many brands doing customer service in Gmail, Outlook, or another email platform, you can obtain similar functionality by getting "extensions" for your browser. An extension is basically an app in your browser that can interact with what you see on the screen. Google Translate, DeepL, or similar does this by identifying the language used and quickly translating the text - and allowing you to write your message in English and translate it the other way.

We recently launched a super cheap customer service product which uses machine translation, allowing any of our agents to answer to any email (hence the cheap price of €420/mo).

Let's explore the next option to use technology to decrease your costs: 


02 Have customers help themselves with a chatbot

The image of chatbots has been shifting in recent years. Partly because they are getting better, partly because consumers are starting to give them a fair shot and accepting them as an actual customer service channel where they can get the help they are looking for.

From our own data, we see around 20% of all conversations go through this channel when available. 60-80% of those conversations will be successful (defined as the customer getting the help they were looking for) - the rest are rerouted to an actual human being. Not just nice for you and your wallet - but also for the customer, who managed to get the answer they were looking for without having to wait or speak to a person.

In my experience, deciding to include a chatbot to your team requires initial development and continuous monitoring and changes to become a fully valuable "part" of your customer service team. You also have to decide on a software, build the bot and integrate it to your site - but key to a successful chatbot is the ongoing maintenance and development.

We actually do this for multiple webshops, as they do not always have the resources to do it themselves. We do it for Sephora and Boom Butik and with quite good results actually, automating the majority of their chats, while maintaining high satisfaction scores, and a coherent tone of voice. And at a fraction of the cost of what you would have to commit if you wanted to it yourselves.

But you heard it too - the chatbot channel is only around 20% of total amount of conversations in e-commerce. To shave off more costs, we need to move into email territory: 


03 Automating emails right

You should never make it difficult for customers to get in touch with you - few things are more frustrating. However, there is a good way to automate part of this process - a nice way to deflect conversations.

It involves two things:

  1. knowledge of what questions your customers usually ask, and
  2. some kind of contact form software. 

The first to know what answers to suggest to customers, and the second the software behind.

In terms of software that provides these services, we'd recommend Typeform - a beautiful solution that makes it a joy to fill out forms. If you want to bring artificial intelligence into the mix, Orion Intelligence is a way to go too.

To use these contact forms to provide answers to customers, you need to be clever about the wording - it should not feel like you are trying to get the customer to not send you an email. It should feel like you are trying to narrow down the scope of issue, so you can provide the best service possible. Check it out below!




Automation and technology can decrease costs in customer service and improve quality - and since fast customer service is usually perceived as good customer service, above suggestions helps you not only to save on your monthly costs for customer service, it can also provide you with happier customers. 

This is the first article in our five-part series about technology in e-commerce. Make sure to catch the other parts for insights on how technology can be used to decrease costs, drive revenue, and improve customer experiences.


Tobias Riis Christensen

Tobias is a Product Owner and Business Developer at MakesYouLocal. He helps companies leverage AI technology and automations within customer service to improve processes and drive revenue, and ensures that webshops fully benefit from available technologies in their expansion journey.


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