How To Sell Online / Productivity

How 2 Brands Navigate the Chaotic Chat Channels of Modern Ecommerce Customer Service

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Earlier this year, Michael Mandel from Progressive Policy published a piece about the growth of ecommerce sector jobs based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From 2007 to 2017, the ecommerce sector has created roughly 397,000 new jobs in the United States.

A majority of these jobs are allocated to distribution and fulfillment, but a proportional number of these jobs also go into operations, management, and of course, customer service.

This is no surprise.

When it comes to customer service these days, ecommerce businesses are expected to deliver the highest quality experience.

Or risk losing customers to competitors forever.

Add to that anxiety the massive volume of customer requests ecommerce businesses get in comparison to other industries.

According to an internal study conducted by Reamaze, ecommerce businesses on average accrue more than 3x the conversational volume compared to a software business per month.

And, ecommerce businesses receive more than 5x the conversational volume compared to a services-based business per month.

That’s a lot of talking that needs to be done.

And it isn’t only a business's sale that is at stake. It is the lifetime loyalty of that customer –– and loyalty often determines who wins in various ecommerce verticals.

This velocity as well as the dire consequences of great or poor customer experience means ecommerce businesses need to go above and beyond traditional means such as email, phone or even your typical live chat software.

In order to succeed, ecommerce businesses not only need to build a revenue model around customer service, but also a culture around great service that sets themselves apart from the competition.

But how do you do that?

How do you compete against AI, bigger budgets and more headcount?

Well, you have to get smart.

This guide will walk you through exactly how to:

  1. Actively use Facebook for customer service and support
  2. Actively use text for customer service and support
  3. How to combine big data + human charm to get the best of both worlds (and beat your competition)

Let’s dive in.

What is Multi-Channel Ecommerce Customer Service?

Are you texting with your customer yet? You should be.

Having just an email address and phone number for support is not enough.

Even if you add live chat to the mix, customers require your attention through other means that can segregate your customer service operations as a whole.

This is what multi-channel customer service aims to solve.

It includes popular customer channels and platforms like:

  • Facebook Business Pages
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Twitter
  • Text message
  • Instagram
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Phone calls

All of these are channels that customers leverage on a daily basis to interact with businesses. And you have to be right there –– ready to interact with them –– on every single one.

How can you do that?

Well, a CRM is what most businesses making more than $1,000,000 in annual sales turn to.

But CRM tools can be expensive and cumbersome, and often just add an additional platform for your service reps to learn and utilize.

Of course, not all CRM tools are created equal. In this post, we’ll analyze how 2 brands are using Reamaze to drive up sales and customer loyalty while keeping their customer service reps happy and efficient across a multi-channel ecommerce customer service environment.

Let’s look at a real-world example from online store Rainbow Mealworms.

How to Manage Customer Service for Live Mealworms

Gillian from Rainbow Mealworms currently uses a customer service tool called Reamaze to manage a variety of high-velocity customer service channels.

In addition to easily accessible email and live chat on her website, Gillian also brings in customer conversations from:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • ClickSend (a SMS/MMS text messaging service)

For businesses like Gillian’s, the ability to consolidate all these channels not only saves time but also streamlines her team’s workflows.

“We ship live insects year round to pet owners, so you can imagine the level of not only high volumes of communication our customers demand (pet owners are extremely vigilant), but the amount of mishaps we have due to weather, late deliveries, escapees, etc," says  Gillian Spence, General Manager at Rainbow Mealworms.

Since using this customer service tool, Rainbow Mealworms now is able to see all customer communication, orders and notes at a click of a button.

What does that mean?

Well, for every customer email collected, the Rainbow Mealworms team knows:

  • That customer's last order number (comes in as a hyperlink)
  • How many orders they've placed total (also shows up as a link for the rep)
  • Any notes the team has made regarding the last order or in the customer's account
  • Links to all of that customer’s other conversations with the brand across all channels.

“I have about 10 response templates for frequent emails that automatically fills in the customer's name for me for literally one click responses to them,” says Gillian. “It has combined all our methods customers reach us (Instagram, Facebook, eBay, even the messages from customers in BigCommerce) so we don't spend lost time going from tab to tab looking for incoming messages.”

Let’s take a look at how this appears for the customer on the site.

On Rainbow Mealworm’s website, you’ll see proactive customer engagement messages so they can stay ahead of customer inquiries. After all, the team knows their customers well –– and that they want to get in touch quickly and easily.

This helps that happen.

Rainbow Mealworms can also be reached via Instagram comments, Facebook Page comments and direct messages.

These customer messages get consolidated into a unified (and shared) team inbox so the team can correspond with customers effectively.

Combined with automated social media workflows, customers hear back from the team 100% of the time –– within an hour maximum.

This matters, because according to Social Media Research:

75% of people who contact a company for customer support via social media expect a response within an hour.

Lastly, Rainbow Mealworms adopts a custom contact form ahead of the live chat UI to collect additional data from customers so they can prepare relevant content for that specific customer’s needs.

And because Gillian uses BigCommerce, the deep data integration and native app integration with Reamaze allows Gillian’s team to identify pertinent customer information with ease.

H.O. Maycotte, Founder and CEO of Umbel, a big data aggregation company, pointed out in a Forbes article just how important this is:

“It’s not just real-time data about the customer that creates context for business decisions; it’s also real-time data about other aspects of company operations.

This points to the importance of a customer-data platform that supports integration with other business systems so that you can assess real-time customer data in combination with, and in the context of, real-time data about other areas.”

And Gillian’s team agrees. While it’s hard to quantify the revenue value of big data and quick response times, there are quality metrics:

“I’m not sure if the benefits we’ve received are quantifiable, but you can look at the volume of shipments we do in a day and imagine the level of support our customers require," says Gillian. “The value we’ve gained from using these tools is priceless.”

The SMS + Live Chat + CRM Success Strategy

Let’s look at another online business using big data, tools and automation to save time and make more money through customer service.

This time, we’ll look at a business not so focused on the shipment of live animals –– making it a bit more relatable perhaps.

Lash Stuff is an online beauty brand focused on delivering the best customer service in their industry. To do that, they have to focus heavily on SMS chat –– i.e. text messaging.

After all –– they serve a young, technologically savvy audience.

“Customer service is the new business currency. Our main customer demographic is females 20 to 30 years old who use SMS heavily,” says Jess Philips, CEO of Lash Stuff. “This makes SMS/MMS communication an important part of our customer support. Text messaging provides Lash Stuff customers a quick and easy way to get the support they want.”

Like Rainbow Mealworms, Lash Stuff uses a variety of channels to communicate with customers to improve their customer satisfaction.

More importantly, Lash Stuff needed a CRM and helpdesk platform to deliver a highly personal shopping experience to their customers.

“We were looking for a CRM platform that helped Lash Stuff personalize the shopping experience for our customers, and the Reamaze tool provided exactly what we were looking for,” says Jess. “The integration with BigCommerce connects customers with their past purchases and communications. Part of a good customer experience is providing customers with a quick experience whether it be a phone call to our customer service hotline, an email or a text.

“So, we needed a tool that combined all of those communication gateways and allowed us to help customers quickly. Reamaze was that tool. It also allows our customer service employees to write notes after each customer contact so that no matter who helps the customer next time, we can know the customer history.”

Since using the combined tool, Lash Stuff has seen a large reduction in customer issues and their customer service team can now quickly resolve customer concerns and questions with little effort.

Even more amazing is their customers’ feedback on how great the experience is:

“Customers love how quick and easy it is to get help,” says Jess Philips. “Some companies think of customer contact as a burden, but in this ecommerce world, it is essential to maintain a relationship with your customers. This creates customer loyalty.”

Lash Stuff receives, on average, 100 customer conversations per day.

Most of their customers are females between the ages of 20 and 30, and their reliance on customer support channels are:

  • Email: 40%,
  • SMS: 40%
  • Phone calls: 10%

Prior to reorganizing customer service processes, the Lash Stuff team always used email as a customer service platform and switched to phone and text messaging customer service roughly 2 years ago.

“Before we used Reamaze, we kept a customer log on a word document which was not very effective,” says Jess Philips. “Customers generally do not know that we are using a CRM system. We do get customers telling us all the time how awesome our customer service is. We know that this is directly related to using Reamaze.”

3 Steps to Outsmarting Your Competitor’s Customer Service

Like Jess mentioned, a truly great business understands the value of talking to customers as much as possible.

Making it easier for customers and encouraging them to contact you takes time, effort and most importantly, process.

You can’t scale great customer service without tools. And if you can’t scale it, then you can’t win in your industry.

Rainbow Mealworms and Lash Stuff are successful ecommerce businesses in their respective verticals because they take their ecommerce customer service head on and emphasize it as a core value-generation process in their business model.

You don’t need to be a global brand to succeed in this respect.

As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos once said:

We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.

That’s how Amazon did it. That’s how Lash Stuff and Rainbow Mealworms are doing it.

Is your brand next?

Here’s what you need to do to make that happen.

1. Know Your Customer

Your intent should be to build knowledge around customer needs so you can deliver on expectations. Lash Stuff and Rainbow Mealworms both know their customers well enough to be proactive about their customer service needs and expectations.

Customers primarily want their expectations met.

The only way you can deliver is to know what the expectations are in the first place –– which means you need to know your customer well, including their demographics, where they chat online, the tools and platforms they use, etc.

Real-time conversations are an excellent way to gain valuable insight into customer needs –– and historic data helps to personalize each interaction so you can beat out the AI bots among us.

2. Reduce Customer Effort

Your development should be focused on reducing customer effort throughout the entire shopping experience. This has been shown to actually increase customer loyalty and make customers want to come back.

By offering live chat, SMS, Facebook Messenger and historic customer conversational data, you can ensure that your customer experience is as effortless as possible no matter their channel of communication.

The plus side to this is that you also reduce your customer service rep’s effort as well –– allowing them to focus on WOWing the customer, rather than pulling up tabs or trying to find appropriate information.

3. Solve Problems Instantly

Your customer support should work toward instantly solving customer problems.

In understanding their needs and anticipating their questions, you can actually solve a problem before it arises.

Imagine that?

For common questions and problems, use FAQs on your site to increase your search ranking as well as provide for a self-service model for customers who don’t want to talk to someone. Let multi-channel chat service more complex needs or those who want a personalized experience.


Final Word

And that’s it! Be nice. Be helpful. Be where your customers are. And use tools that help you scale to make it happen faster and “nicer” than your competitors do it.

That’s how you build lifetime loyalty. That’s how you build word of mouth. That’s how you build a brand.

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