With companies like Amazon and Zappos setting the stage, online customer service expectations are more demanding than ever before. While every consumer-facing company should be looking to “wow” their customers with exceptional service, this isn’t always easy to accomplish with a website.
What makes good customer service and how can you achieve that through your website?
Your website will often be the first or only entry point to your business, and the experience had there - the user experience - will likely be the determining factor of whether the visitor will do or continue to do business with you. Customer service is a direct influence on conversion rate optimization.
Certain aspects of good customer service are applicable both on and off-line and you can use these skills to enhance the user experience on your website and to reduce the volume of and amount of time spent on customer service inquiries.
Here are 5 ways to enhance your website customer service:
Be accessible:Consumers feel much more comfortable traversing the online sales funnel if they know that there is an actual person to contact when they have a question. At the very least a toll-free phone number or email should be present, but a live chat feature is even more convenient for instant answers.
Need more convincing? Check out these stats:
- 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making a purchase online - eConsultancy
- 45% of customers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. -Forrester
Be transparent: Hidden costs, exorbitant shipping charges and fine print exclusions are huge stumbling blocks to sales conversions. Buyers want to know everything upfront - the costs, the conditions, return policies - the whole truth about what you are selling them. All the important points of the transaction should be relayed clearly and simply to customers. Surprises and miscommunication lead to the breakdown of trust and ultimately cart abandonment. Remove barriers to trust by being forthcoming with information and finding ways to show customers you care and understand their needs.
70% of buying experiences are influenced by how the customer feels they’re being treated. -McKinsey
Be helpful: Impress your site visitors by providing them with the answers to their questions before they need to look for them. Know your audience, the questions, concerns and issues they may have and offer the solutions clearly and directly. An FAQ (frequently asked questions) page is helpful but taking it one step further and offering help along the way through user guidance makes an even better impression and will keep your visitors moving along the sales process. Online guidance, pop-up tips or other interactive features would work well here. On-page personalized assistance, such as that provided by Toonimo, is proven to encourage self-service and reduce customer service costs.
Be encouraging - Many of your potential customers may not be tech-savvy and will easily be scared off once they find it difficult to navigate your site, compare products or find what they are looking for. Using positive language, presenting special offers and providing personalized online guidance whenever possible, will promote a positive experience where the users feel good about themselves. Happy customers leads to more spending and increased customer loyalty.
Be knowledgeable- While the customer will initially be brought to your site by an interest in your product, it is the information they find that will keep them there. Know what your competition offers and show the customer what is unique about your product. Scale down your copy to focus on the main points of interest that you know customers want to know. Be informative but speak in a language that is accessible and easy to understand. If possible, include intuitive elements on your site that will help direct customers to relevant solutions and products.
Again, in this day and age, customers expect a certain level of customer support, while they are shopping online. Keeping users informed, confident, moving forward and most of all happy is the key to current and future sales.
According to Parature, it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for 1 negative one.
Here is a link to a slideshare of other fascinating customer service stats: