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6 Tips For Online Support (2023)

Picture this: You’ve spent the afternoon shopping online, have finally pressed the fateful Order button, only to realize you’ve ordered two of the same item. Who do you turn to for a quick and painless fix? 

Customer service, of course. 

Customer support is an integral building block for any ecommerce business—so integral, in fact, 77% of consumers think good customer service is critical to earning brand loyalty and generating business.

This guide shares how to provide excellent customer service for your ecommerce brand, alongside techniques to measure and improve your current strategy.

What is ecommerce customer service?

Ecommerce customer service is the support and assistance provided to online shoppers before, during, and after their purchase. It includes addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and ensuring a positive online shopping experience to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty in the digital marketplace.

Advantages of good ecommerce customer service

Good ecommerce customer support isn’t just good for the consumers who shop online—it’s good for business, too. At its best, an exceptional customer service team can help build consumers’ confidence in your ecommerce brand. It can also do the following:

Boost customer loyalty

When online shoppers feel appreciated, their sense of customer loyalty deepens. In fact, a Statista survey found 94% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand again when they have a good customer service experience.

Improve customer experiences

Ecommerce customer service can resolve technical issues for online shoppers who have run into any issues and improve their customer experience. Self-service options like FAQ pages and chat functions can also help online shoppers resolve issues instantly.

Attract more customers

Good news spreads fast. The more often your customers have a positive experience, the more likely they are to spread the word about it and refer new customers to your online business—creating added value for you along the way. 

Improve conversion rates

Ecommerce conversion rate is an important metric—one that can be hard to improve. Good customer service can help get potential buyers over the hump and move the most important conversion metric you have: sales.

6 ecommerce customer service best practices

  1. Leverage customer reviews
  2. Have an FAQ section
  3. Develop multichannel support
  4. Utilize live chat support
  5. Personalize your approach 
  6. Integrate inventory data 

1. Leverage customer reviews

Customer reviews are a great way of parsing through customer feedback. And when you engage and respond to those who’ve left a review, you get a better understanding of what your customers want from your ecommerce business—because you’re practicing proactive customer service.

Proactive customer service means fulfilling a customer’s needs before they bring it to you or your customer service team. It’s a fantastic way to build confidence in your ecommerce business and retain loyal customers. By acknowledging reviews—both the good and the bad—you give your online shoppers the sense that they’re both heard and appreciated.

Here, shoe brand Vessi’s customer service team responds to a customer who was dissatisfied with their order. They acknowledge the challenge of finding shoes that fit, and proactively offer additional help to the customer.

A three-star review on a product on the Vessi website, with response from the customer support team
The Vessi support team proactively responds to a three-star customer review, offering help and thanking the customer for their review.

2. Have an FAQ section

The most successful ecommerce businesses offer online shoppers a way to solve their problems on their own before escalating to a customer service agent. 

Easily reduce the number of support questions by building out some sort of resource—a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page or a comprehensive knowledge base—that covers both the basics and the most common queries. Magic Spoon, for example, outlines whether its cereal is keto-friendly, whether kids like it, and what it tastes like, which is important for customers who haven’t tried it before.

Image of Magic Spoon’s FAQ page answering common questions.
FAQ page answering questions across five categories: product, shipping, international, orders, and general.

3. Develop multichannel support

Modern shoppers are inherently multichannel. That doesn’t just apply to their purchasing journey—customers interact with brands across a range of communication channels once their order is complete. 

Develop multichannel customer support and meet customers where they are. From email and SMS to social media support, provide a direct line of communication to your ecommerce customer support team to not only meet expectations, but deliver excellent post-purchase support.

4. Utilize live chat 

Speaking of multichannel support, some customers will head directly to your online store when they need assistance. A survey by Tidio found 88% of web users chatted with chatbots in 2022, and seven out of 10 of them found the experience positive. 

Chat software not only answers questions from website visitors, but gives them instant answers instead of waiting for your ecommerce customer service team to come back online.

Shopify Inbox, for example, can alleviate pressure on your support team by providing customers with real-time responses to basic queries like:

  • Where is my order?
  • What’s your refund policy? 
  • Do you offer an affiliate program?

Chatbot showing three customer support prompts: “Track my order,” “Return policy,” and “Shipping rates and timelines.”

5. Personalize your approach 

Every ecommerce business can approach the idea of personalization differently. It can mean providing email or phone support from a customer service representative when things go wrong or when online shoppers have questions. 

Personalization can also extend to specific customer service phrases and post-purchase follow-ups. Small gestures like including stickers or notes in your packaging or sending personalized emails can make a world of difference.

6. Integrate inventory data 

Customer service is an opportunity to sell. Whether you’re helping website visitors find the right gift or assisting an existing customer with purchasing products that match their last order, the job is made easier when you have inventory data on hand. 

Choose a customer service tool that integrates with your Shopify store. It’ll ensure you don’t sell out-of-stock products, have an accurate picture of your bestsellers, and create a sense of urgency if a popular item is selling fast. 

Ecommerce customer service practices to to avoid

Slow response time

Online shoppers expect brands to meet or exceed their expectations. These expectations are especially strict when waiting for a response to customer support tickets. According to a survey by Tidio, about 53% of respondents find the most frustrating part of interacting with a business is waiting too long for replies.

Setting clear customer expectations around your response times is an easy way to improve customer service. Then, meet or beat them. If your phone support is limited to a specific time frame, be upfront about it. If response times are longer on the weekend, be clear about that too. 

No multichannel support software

Allowing customers to contact your team is the first step in making your support strategy more accessible. But if you’re fielding several types of communication, it’s easy to lose track of who said what. That’ll put a wrench in the works if you’re leaning on personalization to connect with those contacting support.

Help desk software diverts all incoming tickets to a central location. All incoming requests—be they phone calls, emails, or social media direct messages—arrive in the same dashboard. 

Multichannel support software like Gorgias or Reamaze can also sync your Shopify data and act as a customer relationship management tool. Each incoming ticket will connect to a customer profile. Support agents can see:

  • The customer’s name
  • The customer’s contact preferences
  • The items the customer has ordered
  • Any previous support tickets
  • The agent who handled their previous request 
Gorgias’ helpdesk software showing an example customer timeline.
Gorgias’ help desk software showing an example customer timeline.

Inconsistent messaging

Inconsistent messaging is one way to sabotage your efforts in building a strong brand reputation.

Ensure everyone interacting with your brand gets the same experience with templates. Write up your most common customer queries and save them as a template. It ensures customers get the same message regardless of which team member they interact with, while also saving your agents time and allowing them to blaze through more tickets. 

How to measure customer service success

Customer satisfaction score

Your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures how happy customers are with the support provided. It’s calculated as a percentage of people who voted a high satisfaction score out of all those who took the survey.

Implement post-support customer satisfaction surveys to calculate your CSAT. The goal is to have this metric as high as possible, which shows most people who interact with support leave the conversation feeling satisfied. 

First contact resolution rate

First contact resolution rate is the percentage of support tickets resolved in a support staff’s first messaging conversation. If an agent doesn’t have to follow-up, or the customer doesn’t have to reach back out via your help desk software, it’s a strong indicator your team is resolving outstanding issues and delivering incredible customer support. 

Net Promoter Score 

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric that allows you to measure customer loyalty. To calculate it, ask customers how likely they are to recommend your company to a friend. Subtract the number of negative promoters from the positive promoters to find your NPS.

While it isn’t intimately linked to customer service, it’s worth keeping an eye on how your NPS changes as your support strategy changes. An increase indicates your support team is contributing to positive ecommerce customer experiences, resulting in more people who’d likely recommend your products to a friend. 

Provide great customer service for online shoppers

An excellent ecommerce customer service strategy helps you retain loyal customers, acquire new ones, and improve overall conversion rates. In other words: good customer service is integral to the success of online businesses.

Most importantly, a thoughtful strategy around ecommerce customer support can help to set your online store above and beyond the competition—and encourage your customers to keep coming back for more. 

Turn chats into sales with Shopify Inbox

Shopify Inbox is a free app that lets you chat with shoppers in real time, see what’s in their cart, share discount codes, create automated messages, and understand how chats influence sales right from your Shopify admin.

Discover Shopify Inbox

Ecommerce customer service FAQ

Why is customer support important in ecommerce?

The experience a customer has with your brand plays a large role in their likelihood of purchasing. Ecommerce support teams have great control over this. If you can provide friendly, helpful support that answers their questions, you contribute to a positive branded experience.

How can ecommerce improve customer service?

By leveraging technology, ecommerce can offer personalized shopping experiences and instant assistance with chatbots and AI. Further, collecting and analyzing customer feedback and data can help you improve your products and services.

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