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The secret behind customer service that's great for both customers and your business
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The secret behind customer service that's great for both customers and your business

Technology in E-commerce, part 2

This is the second part in our series where we speak about how technology can be used to enhance customer experience, save costs, and drive revenue for you and your website. Did you miss the first part? Find it here.

Written by Tobias Riis Christensen

Automating aspects of customer service - from least to most advanced

Two things are certain in life – death and taxes. But customer service requests coming in as you scale your business and get more and more orders? That's up there as a thing that is, well, almost certain too.

Now, the best customer service is no customer service; the best kind of customer service is when product pages, checkout flow etc. are so well-designed that customers need only make contact in extraordinary circumstances. However, this is far from the reality for most webshops – and when they start to grow, customer service does too.

In this article I have gathered different ways for you to more effectively manage and answer your customer service requests using technology, going from the lowest-hanging fruit to more advanced solutions. This both increases your efficiency but also improves the customer experience.

 

01. Implement a Frequently Asked Questions page

A FAQ page is an awfully simple and easy way to answer customer questions. FAQ pages can:

  • be accessed by customers at any point in time (Did you know that 70% of customers try to find an answer themselves before contacting customer service?)
  • easily be updated on an ongoing basis as new types of questions arise

They can also be structured in many different ways. For instance as a long section of questions and answers, perhaps divided into categories that fold down, or slightly more complex ones with specific pages for different categories (the last two are in Danish but I bet your web browser will offer you its translation services here).

As a cherry on top, answering questions on your website about your products, service, or industry is also good for Search Engine Optimisation, and can help you attract potential customers to your site.

If you wish to go a bit further than just an FAQ, consider adding more fleshed out guides to your website as well. Of course, this differentiates depending on the kind of product you are selling. For clothing you can get quite far with a size guide; for shoes a size guide is brilliant too but perhaps you can help in more complex situations too – lots of people struggle with heel spurs and perhaps you can make a guide for them to figure out which shoes in your collection offer the necessary support in those cases.

In this way, your guides do not have to include input from the user to be effective and provide great answers. With the heel spur example, you just have to know which shoes have insoles that are great at absorbing the shocks your feet get from walking, and provide them as suggested options. Sprinkle in some variants for your different customer groups, and you are golden! 

Not only does guides serve a purpose in empowering customer's to self-serve and improve the customer experience; they also allow you to reply to customers with links to the guides when answering those questions. And talking about getting in contact with your customers – let’s move on to the next piece of advice. 

 

02 Have pre-made answers ready

It does not sound sexy or customer-centric, I will give you that. But in practice, and if done correctly, it can be exactly those things!

Chances are that the questions you receive from your customers will follow the 80-20 rule; 80% of your customer service requests are made up by 20% of the total amount of unique questions you get.

So what should you do? You should prepare some really great responses to those 20% of unique questions that you get 80% of the time! Simple, right?

These quick replies can include links to the appropriate guides we mentioned earlier, how to submit a complaint claim through a complaints portal or any other topics you see repeated in your customer conversations. The only things your agents will have to do when replying is add the customer's name and personalise the content – cause it is indeed important that it does not come off as just a generic email that was sent because of a lack of effort or care on your end.

 

03 Implement a chatbot

I previously mentioned implementing an FAQ on your website, and even though this is a great first step, there is an inherent problem with FAQs. They are fixed in place somewhere on your website. Customers will have to look for the answer to their questions – and they won't always want to do that. Here’s where a chatbot comes in. While the content of the chatbot and FAQ is largely the same, the chatbot is present on every single page that customers are on. It is right there in that little widget in the bottom right of the screen (or left - but usually on the right, right?).

Whether the chatbot uses AI to receive, understand and answer questions, or has a click-based structure, they have the ability to automate a large portion of the overall conversation pool. In our work, we have seen successful chatbot implementations being added and then started to handle upwards of 25% of all customer service conversations without trying to force the chatbot down customers' throats. We have kept the email addresses, phone numbers, and live chats on the website, and found that people choose to use the chatbot as their first option.

Of course there are different levels of chatbots as well. Is it "just" the FAQ in a chatbot-format or does it have integrated features such as order-tracking, handovers to agents, ability to create refunds, and the customer's customer club data? All these things impact the potential of your chatbot implementation but even the most barebones approach is still helpful, and somewhere you can start and improve on over time.

 

04 Sending conversations to the place where it makes sense

This one might be a bit tricky but it really is one of the best things you can do to improve customer experiences when your customers reach out to you. It is what we call "routing conversations" (that is, sending conversations to specific people/departments/teams based on some criteria), and doing so based on both the subject of the conversation and the urgency of the case.

A hard lesson to learn is that not all customer service conversations are created equal. An example of this is conversations occurring before vs. after an order has been placed.

  • If a customer has issues with adding a discount code, the difference between answering it right now and answering it tomorrow is an order being placed or an abandoned basket.

  • If a customer has a question about the delivery status a few days after the warehouse sent the order, the difference is literally just when the customer gets the reply - when the parcel arrives cannot be impacted by the agent

This is not to say conversations like the latter are not important - they definitely are but the customer's value to you is less likely to change in the second example, as most can understand that a delay from the distributor is not your fault.

But how do you do this? It can be as simple as setting up rules for specific words in "normal" email programs like Gmail or Outlook, or setting up designated "flows" (that is what they are called in the customer service software we use, Dixa - can recommend by the way!) that uses those keywords to route conversations into specific inboxes or queues.

In practice, you might then have agents that are really good at product questions go to town on those, have someone handle the complaints and refunds, and someone ready to handle urgent pre-order issues. You can then change the keywords used and optimise them over time to get better results and better categorisation.

 

Summary

In this article I have presented a few initiatives that can improve customer service – both from the customers' perspective but also for your webshop, making it more efficient without alienating your customers.

This is the second 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 by signing up to our newsletter

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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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