Creating quality online customer support can turn prospects into sales
How many times have you raced into a store to quickly pick up a few things and immediately looked for a brightly colored vest to find a sales assistant or customer service person to help you out?And how many times have you scurried from aisle to aisle looking for what you came to buy and seeing no sales associate in sight? That gets real frustrating, real fast! This is how your online shoppers feel if you don't get online customer service right. They need help. And if they can’t find it – guess what, they’re gone, perhaps forever.
According to Forrester, if their questions are not answered quickly, 45% of consumers in the US will abandon their transaction.
Don’t think for a minute that your visitors don’t need your help to some degree. Econsultancy reports that some degree of customer support is need by 83% of consumers while shopping online.
To start, you better make sure you’ve covered your basics. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve analyzed a site only to find it extremely difficult to find contact information.
A Contact Us link in your footer doesn’t cut it. You need to place your phone number boldly at the top of every page (if your business model supports this).That's what customers demand. When your visitors are at that critical moment of whether or not they will become a sale – they need to be able to pick up the phone to ask any questions that they might have.
Better yet, make it a toll free number so that they feel like they’re calling with your money, not theirs.
You should also make sure that you have a Contact button in your main menu bar. On that page you should include every possible means to make contact with you – that includes an email form and email address, a fax if you still use it, your Skype ID, a map so that prospects know how to get to you.
Also include the hours that they can actually reach you by phone. And let them know the response time to their email inquiries.
If you let them know that you’ll respond within 24 hours – they just might be less hesitant to go to your competitor. They may be willing to wait the 24 hours for your response.
There’s a portion of people who won’t want to sit on hold on the phone. Emailing at their own leisure and responding to your email at their convenience may work best for this group.
And then there’s live chat, it's now the preferred customer service channel by many. Recent Edigital research on customer service preferences showed that:
1 in 4 (26%) consumers have used live chat to contact a company in the last year – 73% of whom said that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the experience they received via the touch point.
What's more, Boldchat found that 31% of US and UK shoppers said they were more likely to make a purchase after using live chat.
Why do people prefer live chat?
Here are the reasons found in this survey on SLivechat vs customer service preferences
They also report that millennials are the most likely to use this customer support channel.
So if millennials are a portion of your market segment – make sure that you are keeping them happy by providing them with the option of live chat.
And don’t just wait for visitors to click your live chat button. After a set amount of time that your visitor is viewing your page, be proactive by having your chat window pop up to remind them that you’re there to help.
They could be sitting on your pages frustrated and just about to leave your site, forgetting that live chat is available to them to have their questions answered.
Intuit was able to increase their conversion by 211% by using proactive live chat.
At the very least, include a photo of the live chat agent assisting customers.
And live chat is evolving. Now businesses can employ audio and video live chat to make this a more personal experience in comparison to standard text chat.
Bauble Bar, an ecommerce jewelry start up implemented video live chat into their customer service strategy. They go beyond just offering a face to face experience. They actually show customers the actual pieces and even try them on to show how they look. It’s the next best thing to standing in an actual jewelry store.
After implementing the strategy, Bauble Bar saw a 300% increase in average order value. The frequency at which customers came back to shop also increased by 250%.
Co-browsing is another effective way to take your customer service up a notch. Co-browsing, also known as screen sharing, allows agents to get onto their customers screens to give them a hand. Whether that’s to help them find what they are looking for or to actually take over and take the actions to help shoppers through the process.
One of the nations top health insurance organizations brought their customer experience to a higher level by including co-browsing in the experience.
With LiveLOOK they were able to help visitors find what they were looking for and help them complete transactions by sharing their screens.
In doing so, they were able to reduce call handling times to 7-10 minutes when they previously could take up to an hour.
Agents reported far less customer frustration and customer loyalty increased.
Overall, implementing co-browsing helped them reduce resources by 85%
Help Desk Tickets
Some of you may be thinking that handling all of your customer issues by email is enough. Why bother with a help desk ticket system?
The truth is, it can become hard to handle all of those emails that come in from customers very efficiently. With a help desk tickets in place, you ensure that each and every issue gets addressed. Afterall, a ticket can’t be closed until it’s resolved.
Suntell, the creator of loan management software that is used by banks and credit unions implemented a help desk ticket system to improve their customer experience.
In an industry where they talk to customers a lot, they had to make sure that all customer issues were resolved effectively.
In adding the ticket system, they were able to save 20% in staff time. You have to remember, the more organized your business is, the fewer man hours will be put into fixing issues. And the fewer man hours put it – the less money your business is spending.
And of course there are those times where you would like for your visitors to first look around your FAQ page or help desk to find what they are looking for before you’re bombarded with calls and emails.
By providing documentation, this is another way to greatly reduce call handling times or time spent responding to emails.
You should include a general FAQ page that addresses general questions that your visitors might have. But also create more focused FAQ sections for each of your products or services.
Let Customers Help Themselves
Some of IKEA’s success is due to a record number of incoming calls and email inquiries. In fact, they get roughly 10,000 emails every month.
Their website visitors have a lot of questions before following through with a transaction.
The solution was to self-populate answers to customer’s questions. In effect, they had a virtual agent at their hands.
The customer service software is answering 10,000 questions each month.
With the platform in place, IKEA was able to focus less on these routine customer questions. This resulted in their email volume dropping to just 10% of what they previously had seen.
This greatly frees up IKEA’s resources as well as reducing the amount of money being paid to those resources.
Surveys & Exit Polls
Another way to stay abreast of the issues that your customers are having is to ask them.
You will never know the answers until you ask the questions.
Offer a survey with open ended questions so that your visitors can really tell you how they feel. Just asking “yes” and “no” questions won’t yield as much information.
You can also approach visitors with an exit poll as they are abandoning your site. It’s the perfect place to ask them what their objections are to your product or service.
Turn Customers Into Advocates
Yes, really. You can let some of your loyal customers do some of the dirty work for you.
There are platforms out there where businesses can set up forums where other customers can actually help other customers along.
Who better to help you’re confused visitor than a a loyal customer who knows your brand inside and out?
Being proactive is one of the most effective ways to handle customer service issues. But sometimes, you have to just sit back and listen.
What are people saying about your business on social media? What problems are they having?
It still is a proactive step to take. But it also gives you the opportunity to react to the problems your customers are facing.
Because face it, people talk online. And when they’re talking about your business via social media, you really want to be aware. Because with just a “Like” or a “Tweet” their message spreads like wildfire. And there could go your reputation.
Argos offers 43,000 products online and in physical stores. They are the UK’s leading digital retailer.
After opening 53 new stores across the UK, it was vital that they obtained feedback on these new stores. Primarily because the stores had a new look and feel and they knew that their customers held high expectations.
One way for them to get feedback was by listening to social media conversations that were occurring about their new stores.
In doing so, they were able to make adjustments and respond to their customers
Here’s a few more reasons to keep your customer service experience superior for your online shoppers…
According to Bain & Co., when a problem is service related versus product related, customers are 4 times more likely to purchase from a competitor.
Defanto Research also reports that 55% of consumers would pay more money for a better customer experience.
I know that sometimes businesses are putting a huge amount of focus on their traffic generation campaigns, their product copy and their shopping cart systems. But what it really boils down to is good old fashion customer service.
If you’re thinking that you can just develop a website that is automated and will require little work on your end – then count on lost revenue as well.
It’s always going to require some work in dealing with your customers.
And the better you’re able to work with them, the more you can count on adding to your bottom line.
By using the strategies mentioned here, you have the opportunity to take your visitors customer experience level up a degree. And believe me, they will appreciate it and they will remember you for it.
Thanks to Marie Dean
for sharing their advice and opinions in this post. Marie Dean is the Innovation Director at ConversionLifters and has been working in the field of conversion optimization for 12 years.