Today, companies are shifting from just simple brick and mortar stores to e-commerce sites that focus on clicks and conversions. With this change in how consumers buy, customer service is quickly turning into a critical aspect of a company's success.
According to recent research, 37% of customers view in-store customer service as declining in its effectiveness, while 34% are impressed with a noticeable improvement in online customer service.
Interestingly, with the decrease in brick and mortar customer service, primarily due to unpleasant sales reps or inferior store experiences, customers did raise concerns about shipping times when completing a purchase online.
While most of the complaints for both online and offline shopping focused on customer service, many of these issues could be resolved by offering e-commerce solutions that can shorten the waiting time. For brick and mortar stores, technology could enable sales teams to walk around with tablets and mobile check out options. For online e-commerce stores, adding an in-store pick up option, reduces the waiting time and keeps customers involved with the brand both online and offline. An alternative option to enhancing a customers onsite experience is to integrate a virtual agent or chat feature to respond to customer questions and concerns. These technologies will guide customers to the right information or sufficiently engage a consumer to gain brand loyalty.
With the increase of online shopping, many customers are spending more time researching products for the best price. In some cases, customers can spend over 30 minutes before making a purchase. Of those that engage in researching a product, most of their decisions are based on online customer review sites, crowdsourcing via social media, and most importantly how a site presents its information on the e-commerce site. An e-commerce site should offer added value to the product and highlight the many uses of the product. Additionally, the customer should gain new information and be able to access specific details about the product that only the brand would know.
E-commerce stores need to increase utilizing existing social platforms and other technology opportunities to simplify the consumer product search. Sourcing information shouldn't be a challenge. By making the research process simple, e-commerce sites are adding significant value to their brand and product.
With e-commerce continuing to grow, one way for brands to position themselves as unique in the saturated market is through superior customer service. A recent article in Marketing Mag highlights some important consumer preferences in terms of customer service. While the study was conducted in Canada, the ideas and concepts can easily apply to the global market.
1. Customers are willing to pay premium prices if they know that the brand has a history of exemplary customer service. Think of Zappos. Customer service is the best in the business not because they focus on churning customers through the system but because they can personalize the experience.
2. Close to 60% of customers left or ended a purchase due to a poor customer experience. How's that for leaving money on the table?
3. Almost 94% of those surveyed are active about promoting both the positive and negative customer experiences to their network.
With these major customer service oriented points, any company should quickly work on improving their customer facing staff. Changing and enhancing customer experiences will directly result in an improvement of word of mouth promotion and an increase positive perceptions about the brand.