Customer support is a key differentiator for many brands. If you can’t budge on price and your quality is comparable to competitors, you can compete on customer service.
Michelle Razavi, founder and CEO of ELAVI, says, “As a small business, customer support is a huge competitive advantage, because while we can't compete with the massive budgets of the giants in our space, we can deliver a real human connection, fast support, and gather real-time data/feedback from our customers.
“They feel so special, it builds our brand as a reliable brand, and helps us win/keep customers for longer.”
Need help improving customer support for your ecommerce business? This guide shares nine tips to deliver exceptional customer service to anyone interacting with your brand.
Nine tips to improve customer support
1. Measure your NPS
Net promoter score (NPS) is a quantitative metric that helps judge customer satisfaction. The higher your NPS, the better experience you’re giving to your customers.
To calculate your NPS, use Shopify apps like Stamped, Reveal, or LoyaltyLion. These tools send automated survey emails a few days after somebody buys from your online store, and after every support enquiry.
Use the metric as a benchmark before implementing any new customer support initiatives. If your NPS moves from 7.6 to 7.9, for example, it’s a sign you’re getting better at delivering a great customer experience.
2. Capture customer feedback
The most valuable feedback comes straight from your customers. Get qualitative data from them—words that describe what people think and feel about your brand, starting from the first touchpoint in their customer journey to the support request itself.
Use this customer feedback to monitor customer service performance, improve support, and prevent future shoppers from needing to reach out for help.
Gray Spate, president of Atomic Defense, says, “Early on, I learned that the only real way to make improvements to customer service was to look at failures in customer service that we had and think, “What could have been done differently to avoid this?”
“For example, after a customer did not get a reply to their email, they went and left our one and only negative BBB review after just eight hours of waiting for a response at 9 at night,” Gray says. “The correction: we now send automatic replies that their email is being looked at by staff and we will respond within a certain time frame. Since then, no negative BBB reviews.”
3. Resolve a customer’s pain points
A pain point is often the driving force behind purchasing decisions. If those pain points go unresolved after buying your products, they might contact support.
Uncover pain points during customer support conversations and try to resolve them. If customers explain they’re struggling with back pain, for example, explain the best setting on your massage gun to relieve pain.
The ability to solve pain points increases customer loyalty. People know they can contact your customer support teams to solve their questions, and alleviate issues they’re facing in their life.
4. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool
A customer relationship management (CRM) is a platform that stores important data about your customers. That includes:
- Their contact preferences
- Previous customer service interactions
- Their reason(s) for contacting support
- The team member they’ve spoken to
- Their last contact date
- Past purchases
- Any add-ons or upsells
Use this information when handling future requests. Not only does it prevent customers from repeating the same issue to several customer service reps, but your team can quickly get up to speed and process more support tickets faster.
Look for a CRM that integrates with your online store to deliver excellent customer service. Popular CRMs that integrate with Shopify include HubSpot, Richpanel, and Segments.
5. Resolve customer complaints quickly
If you have unhappy customers, go above and beyond to resolve customer complaints. If it’s a complaint about damaged products mid-transit, for example, send a free replacement and a handwritten apology note.
Use the following customer service phrases to keep customers happy throughout the complaints process:
- I would be annoyed/upset/confused too.
- I don’t know, so let me go find out for you.
- While we may not be able to do that, here’s what we can do.
Resolving complaints quickly increases retention. The service recovery paradox shows customers build more goodwill after a brand solves an issue than they had before.
6. Practice active listening
Improve customer service skills by practicing active listening. It’s a skill that shows you’re listening to your customers, proving to them that you understand their frustration and want to provide a solution.
Instead of listening to respond, spend time empathizing with your customers and relay their feelings back to them. Take advice from David Zhang, CEO of Katebackdrop: “My number one tip for improving customer support is prioritizing your customers’ needs and making them feel valued. Ask yourself: How can I make my customers feel heard? How can I ensure their queries are addressed as soon as possible?”
If you’re building customer-facing teams, active listening is one of the most important customer service skills to look for. It’ll allow customers to feel heard and understood—two factors driving customer satisfaction.
7. Extend customer support across several channels
Did you know companies that offer omnichannel experiences retain 89% of their customers (compared to 33% that don’t)? Make it easier for customers to contact your support team by opening lines of communication on the channels they’re already using.
Popular customer support channels include:
- Live chat
- Phone calls
- Social media sites
- Chatbots with artificial intelligence capabilities to provide real-time answers
Digital manager Brandon Chopp says that for iHeartRaves, live chat is the most popular communication method: “Live chat is great because it provides customers with an immediate response—in contrast to email, which can sometimes take days to receive a reply.
“Furthermore, compared to phone calls, live chat allows customers and agents to have a record of all conversations, meaning that if the same problem arises again, it can be addressed quickly, without having to wait for a representative on the line.”
8. Create help docs
Not all customers want to contact a support team to get answers to their questions. Some 70% of people expect companies to provide a self-service option.
Allow customers to find answers to their questions with a help center. Ask your customer service team for a list of frequently asked questions, and create simple documentation that explains answers to each. That might be:
Make it easy for customers to find this documentation by linking to it in post-purchase emails. Encourage agents to divert people toward these help docs to free up time to respond to enquiries that need human help.
9. Resolve returns quickly
Research shows that one in five online purchases end up being returned. It’s not always something you can prevent, but 96% of people would shop with a retailer again based on an “easy” or “very easy” return experience.
The following elements contribute to a positive return experience:
- Free returns labels
- Fast processing of a return
- A variety of refund options, such as cash refunds, gift cards, store credit, and exchanges
“Thanks to the sheer volume of ecommerce business these days, accidents happen,” says Dan Potter, head of digital at CRAFTD London. “This can lead to disgruntled customers if not handled correctly. As an ecommerce brand, if you can master the process of returns or exchanges, you’ll win the customer service battle.”
Improve your customer service strategy
To improve customer support, you need a solid understanding of your customers. Gain that by encouraging your team to demonstrate great customer service skills like active listening, gathering feedback, and offering omnichannel support.
Whichever tactic you’re using to provide good customer service, remember: positive experiences encourage repeat business. Customer loyalty and retention are on the line.
Improve customer support FAQ
How can we improve customer service?
Offer multi-channel customer support Develop help documentation Act on customer feedback Perfect the returns process Train customer service teams on active listening
Why should we improve customer service?
Good customer service impacts a customers’ likelihood of making repeat purchases. This recurring revenue can ease cash flow problems, reduce pressure on marketing teams, and build a community around your online store.
What are the three important qualities of customer service?
The three most important aspects of customer support are patience, persistence, and willingness to help. Customer service agents with these three qualities are better equipped to resolve support inquiries.