The New Normal? E-Commerce Customer Service in 2020

In the midst of a pandemic, the importance or e-commerce customer service has grown like never before. Here’s how you can take advantage.

laptop screen with coins

E-commerce has been a staple of our shopping habits for nearly two decades now but, in a pandemic, its importance has grown like never before. This can be seen in the growth of retail transactions taking place digitally, with digital non-food sales increasing 41% month on month in July   

With no sign of digital shopping slowing down, as evidenced by Amazon’s continued retail performance, it’s important to take a look at how e-commerce customer service differs from its brick and mortar equivalentand how your business can take advantage.

digital sales increased by 41% in july

Dealing with Increasing Volume 

One of the biggest differences in online vs. offline customer service is the concept of a queue. It’s well known that British people have a unique appreciation for waiting their turn in lineThroughout COVID-19, we’ve seen people stand outside the supermarket and stoically manage the oneinoneout policy. However, make the queue virtual and that stoicism gives way to impatience after less than 2 minutes    

Fortunately, there’s a major differentiator digital communication has over in-store when it comes to handling volume: technology. Using context to determine a customer’s place in the queue is the key to minimising that on-hold frustration.     

Finding an omnichannel solution that gives you a holistic view of every channel is paramountWithout an omnichannel view, your queueing logic is fundamentally flawed. If a customer is contacting you on all channels, public and private, you need to know that so you can resolve their issue quickly (and quietly).   

However, omnichannel is just the beginning. Technology opens up the two biggest weapons an online retailer possesses – automation and AI. These are two separate tools, though equally important for improving the quality and efficiency of your customer journey. Using the example of routing, automation can ensure rulebased prioritisation which means time decay and channel priority both play a part in speaking to the right customer first. Working in tandem, natural language processing (a form of AI) can detect customers in distress and boost their priority regardless of the general ruleset.    

Adding in everything from automated FAQs to bots and picking the right technology partner remains key with e-commerce customer service too, especially with peak on the horizon already.  

“Where Is My Order?”   

As an online retailer, I’d bet a substantial number of the queries you receive are what we term WISMO: where is my order? This is especially true for traditional high street retailers who are seeing increasing online orders during the pandemic. When you add extra warehouse space, inexperienced staff, and new delivery partners together on the back of unexpected changes in customer trends, teething problems will occur for the most experienced business. For an organisation rapidly scaling their digital footprint in place of in-store visitors, it’s inevitable.   

Fortunately, technology once again comes to the rescue. By using a system which integrates with delivery partner’s tracking (or your order management system), you can again use automation to keep customers updated in real time. This can be done by SMS, social media, email, or wherever else your customers are contacting you – all fully automated, meaning no reliance on human advisors.   

Managing WISMO queries effectively can be one of the biggest differentiators between a successful digital operation, and a failing one.

e-commerce customer service good software

Proactive Pre-Sale Support   

Sales assistants are often a matter of taste. Some customers are seeking advice, whilst others deliberately put their headphones in to avoid the “just browsing, thanks” conversation. Either way, there’s always been a place for salespeople on the shop floor, searching out commission from recommendations and doing everything from laying out stock to finding the last item in the right size. It’s an area often forgotten in digital sales, but no less important.   

The product page is the digital equivalent of the product shelf in-store. Whether it’s looking at different sizes, comparing reviews, or deciding between specifications, consumers are in the decision stage. In a shop or showroom, you’d expect a staff member to approach and help turn the decision into a sale. However, in e-commerce, brands often forgo the chance to serve a proactive communication to help sales.   

With onsite messaging prevalent, and available through webchat, social media, WhatsApp and more, you’re missing out on an important revenue stream by not serving either a human or bot advisor at this point.  The opportunity is bigger than you might think – you have much more insight on a digital customer. You can see if they’re checking reviews or changing colours and serve them relevant information.  

No Time Like the Present 

It often seems Christmas comes quicker every year but, in 2020, this may be truer than ever for digital retailers. With the combination of local lockdowns, potentially increased restrictions during flu season, and economic uncertainty, trends suggest digital shopping over peak are likely to increase again.   

This means the time really is now, as an e-commerce brand, to ensure you have a communication set up that matches your revenue goals and helps you cement your place as a successful digital brand for the rest of this incredible year, and beyond.     

For more information on how an omnichannel contact solution can help you maximise your digital growth, contact us today. 

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