The Importance of Customer Service for E-Commerce Businesses

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In today’s market, the customer has more power than ever. Referred to as the “Age of the Customer” companies’ find themselves competing in a saturated market with the main aspect differentiating them from competition the customer experience they provide and customer service they offer. Customers are disloyal as they have multiple options to purchase the same service or product from a number of different suppliers online. To ensure success in such a competitive market, companies must offer a seamless and effortless customer service experience making it as easy as possible for their customers to purchase online and get in contact with the business post purchase.

“The customer’s ability to quickly access information has resulted in a sea change in the marketplace. In the past, vendors held the most power because they were the only ones who knew what the profit margin would be for a particular product or service.  Today, informed customers are able to research a product or service online and negotiate prices and service levels after comparing one vendor to another. As a result, companies have had to change the way they interact with potential customers in order to build a customer base and foster loyalty.”- Search CRM

Offering a seamless and personalised customer service experience is vital in any industry, however with such a competitive market it is vital within e-commerce. Only 1% of customers feel like ether expectations are always met. Some companies may have perfected the pre-purchase experience for their customers, with a website that is easy to navigate and a buying process that is quick and as easy. However after they have bought the product or service can the customer get in contact with the company if they have a problem or would like to return their purchase. If they would like to ask a question on what they have just bought is there someone available to take their call 24/7?

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It may be easy to acquire the customer and make them buy your product or service. However maintaining a good relationship with them and making them a loyal customer of the business is a much harder hurdle to overcome.

A staggering 96% of customers who have put a lot of effort into their purchase (many sign up fields, poor checkout flow) end up disloyal. –Michiel Gaasterland

To protect against this post purchase ‘failure’ and to ensure that customers do not become disloyal and buy the same product or service from competitors, businesses need to adapt new and better customer service techniques.

Businesses need to understand what the most important aspect of the customers experience is and what needs the most time and effort to maintain. When structuring, the customer experience companies must ensure that they have perfected each stage of the process. The Customer Experience Triangle shows the first stage to complete and the most important stages in terms of how much time is needed to maintain them.
Customer Experience Traingle

With the Post Purchase stage being the most time-consuming companies need to think about how they can provide a service that is available around the clock without adding a large sum to their overheads. Customers need to be able to get in contact with businesses whenever they have a question or problem. Customers will get frustrated and hang up if they are unable to speak to someone after only 2 minutes.

One way to establish a service that is available to customers 24 hours a day is by outsourcing calls to a telephone answering provider. They can look after all incoming calls to the business saving on the cost of paying in-house staff to be on site around the clock. Customers will be able to contact the business and talk to someone on behalf of the company they are calling. Talking to an actual person and not being set on hold or reaching an IVR will increase satisfaction.

Customer Service is the main aspect that all companies within the E-commerce sector should be focusing on. Providing around the clock support and making the buying process of the customer seamless will help maintain loyal customers and keep businesses ahead of their competition in the highly saturated market.

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