Starting an ecommerce store isn’t complicated.
Choosing a product, selecting a store theme, setting up ads… With enough time and effort, these technical skills can be mastered.
Driving a store to sustained success, however, is a different ball game. It requires differentiating yourself from your competitors and ensuring your store stands out above the rest.
In this article, we’ll talk about one of the most overlooked ways to add value to your ecommerce store – through customer service.
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Sell Not a Product but an Experience
With 7.1 million online retailers worldwide (and 1.8 million in the United States alone), ecommerce competition is stiff.
Even if your store is in a niche industry, odds are, there are other merchants selling similar products.
That said, the need for a unique value proposition is more important now than ever.
It’s common for first-time merchants to jump to price-cutting as a differentiating factor. But such an approach is limiting. There’s only so much you can undercut prices by and it probably won’t be long before someone else undercuts you.
One of the most underrated ways to add value to your store to sell an experience instead of a product.
A recurring theme among many successful merchants is their recognition that a product idea can always be copied and the need to set themselves apart with quality customer service.
In fact, many of them credit their success not to how low their prices are or how unique their product is but their ability to offer customers improved shopping experiences. Research has also shown that consumers are actually willing to pay more for a better shopping experience.
While there are many ways to keep customers satisfied, here are some tried-and-tested tactics that have worked wonders for successful ecommerce entrepreneurs.
Four Ways to Provide Better Customer Experience
1. Be There for Them 24/7
Entrepreneur Suhail Nurmohamed differentiated himself from his competitors by providing round-the-clock support for his customers.
His goal was to provide the best customer service possible and he did that by responding to emails as quickly as possible.
With his phone always on him, he’d reply even from school.
I would say I’m gonna go to the toilet, but I would just go make an Instagram post and make sure I’m engaging with everyone, replying to people. – Suhail Nurmohamed
2. Offer Prompt Refunds
Between receiving the order and getting the product to your customers, many things can happen along the way.
This has been especially true during the coronavirus pandemic where shipping times have been completely thrown out of whack.
Whether it’s delays or damaged products, if you’ve promised a refund, do it immediately. That’s the advice of successful dropshipping duo Namrata and Shishir.
Promptly following through with a refund not only shows that you’re taking customers’ complaints seriously, but it also instils trust.
We promptly issued refunds also when there have been delays immediately. So that gives the client more confidence in us. – Namrata and Shishir
3. Give It a Personal Touch
Any seasoned salesman can tell you that a personal touch goes a long way. This applies not just to sales but to all aspects of a business (and life, while we’re at it).
In Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Effective People, he talks about IBM’s willingness to go above and beyond at one of their training sessions during which a participant fell ill.
Instead of sending him to a local hospital, IBM went the extra mile (and more). Knowing that the participant’s wife was anxious for him to receive treatment at home by doctors familiar with his condition, IBM chartered a plane to fly him cross country from New York to his home in California.
Likewise, when entrepreneur Adrien Taylor received his first sale, he realized that it’d come from a few blocks away. Despite it being eight o’clock in the evening, Adrien jumped on his scooter and dropped off the item immediately.
She just couldn’t believe that she had just brought the hat online and it was already getting hand-delivered. – Adrien Taylor
4. Avoid Templates and Be Genuine
Authenticity is a tactic that merchant Courtney White stands firm by.
Though it’s much easier to reach out to customers with templates, Courtney ditches convenience for a more genuine – albeit time-consuming – relationship with her customers.
She makes the effort to engage in conversations personally and her comments and messages are completely personalized and unique.
The result? A consistent and high returning customer rate.
That’s how I’ve built the brand up to the point it is today, it is just that one-on-one relationship. – Courtney White
Aligning Customer Service Goals
Providing quality customer service requires dedication and time. This can be challenging when your customers are on different timezones as you’ll be receiving messages at odd hours.
This is where getting an extra pair of hands comes in handy.
But whether you’re outsourcing or hiring someone in-house, make sure that everyone involved in your business is on the same page.
To bring Stephen Covey back, the lack of alignment between individuals’ goals and an organization’s is one of the most common problems he encountered.
One of the fundamental problems in organizations, including families, is that people are not committed to the determinations of other people for their lives. – Stephen Covey
After working hard to build up a reputation and have the right systems in place, failing to communicate the importance of customer service to others involved in your business is counter-productive and can be detrimental.
Customer service has the potential to drive an ecommerce store to success. Though it can be tedious and even at times frustrating, it is a worthy investment.
In the words of serial entrepreneur Burak Doğan,
It’s worth spending more time on customer service because chargebacks can be a bigger pain than not selling any products.