6 Ways e-com­merce SMBs can of­fer great cus­tomer ser­vice on a tight bud­get

PCQuest - - SMB CORNER -

Keep­ing cus­tomers sat­is­fied is the No. 1 pri­or­ity of any re­tail busi­ness. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances such as in­ter­ac­tive voice re­sponse sys­tems, chat­bots, om­nichan­nel ac­ces­si­bil­ity and ro­bot­ics have helped many large e-com­merce com­pa­nies im­prove cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion rates.

How­ever, these op­tions re­quire fi­nan­cial and man­power re­sources that small and mid-sized firms of­ten don’t have, so SMBs have to look at other op­tions. Here are some bud­get-friendly so­lu­tions e-com­merce SMBs can em­ploy.

1. Pri­or­i­tize Ex­cel­lent Cus­tomer Ser­vice: Make cus­tomer ser­vice a dis­tinc­tive trade­mark and sell­ing point for your busi­ness, sug­gested Robert C. John­son, CEO of TeamSup­port. “Get­ting the right an­swer and per­son­al­iz­ing your re­sponse is more im­por­tant than al­ways rush­ing to clear out the ticket queue,” he told the E-Com­merce Times. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to beat large play­ers on price, but “cus­tomers are wil­ing to spend more with a com­pany that of­fers su­pe­rior cus­tomer ser­vice.” So, when hir­ing cus­tomer ser­vice reps, “try to get peo­ple who are a B+ in mul­ti­ple ar­eas -- from phone to email to chat and more -- in­stead of em­ploy­ees who spe­cial­ize in only one thing,” John­son said.

2. Keep the Cus­tomer In­formed: Com­mu­ni­cate through­out the cus­tomer jour­ney, ad­vised Tara Kelly, CEO of Splice Soft­ware. Good tech­nol­ogy “can make great cus­tomer ser­vice more af­ford­able,” she told the E-Com­merce Times. Per­son­al­ize au­to­mated calls with cus­tomers’ first names, ac­count num­bers and other in­for­ma­tion, and en­sure the sys­tem brings the right tone to the call.

3. Stay Up to Date: Keep abreast of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in your in­dus­try, sug­gested Terry Dun­can, pres­i­dent of Dun­can Man­age­ment. “If your sys­tems be­gin to ham­per your abil­ity to prop­erly serve, sup­ply or dis­trib­ute in a timely man­ner, bud­get for re­place­ment,” he told. Hav­ing a cus­tomer sup­port soft­ware so­lu­tion “is a must for small busi­nesses,” TeamSup­port’s John­son said. Among other things, soft­ware “can make a cus­tomer ser­vice team ap­pear big­ger than it ac­tu­ally is, with built-in so­lu­tions like a self-ser­vice hub.”

4. In­vest in Train­ing: Tech­nolo­gies, equip­ment and cus­tomer needs con­stantly change, Dun­can said, and both your com­pany and your cus­tomers will ben­e­fit if your staff keeps up. Fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing, chal­leng­ing and train­ing as­so­ciates makes for bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions and a lower turnover rate, which will be re­flected in bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice.

5. Un­der­stand Your Strengths: Don’t try to go head-to-head with Ama­zon and other large com­pa­nies on their turf. “SMBs are no­to­ri­ous for think­ing too big when it comes to cus­tomer ser­vice in an at­tempt to com­pete,” Dun­can ob­served. “Don’t fall into this trap. Use your re­spon­sive, in­no­va­tive and per­son­able tech­niques as your ar­mor to pre­vail,” he ad­vised. “Cus­tomers will en­joy the per­son­able sales as­so­ciate over the money they’ve spent every time,” noted Dun­can. “And don’t for­get the hand­writ­ten thank-you card a few days af­ter the sale.”

6. Mon­i­tor Your Progress: Keep track of how your com­pany is do­ing in terms of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. Com­pa­nies have to “mea­sure be­yond met­rics like wait times and on-time or­der ship­ping and get to the heart of cus­tomer loy­alty, which is about cre­at­ing fans who will rec­om­mend and en­dorse your prod­uct,” Splice Soft­ware’s Kelly said. For ex­am­ple, it’s sur­pris­ingly easy and af­ford­able to run an au­to­mated Net Pro­moter Score sur­vey, she pointed out, fo­cus­ing on the key ques­tion: “How likely are you to rec­om­mend our com­pany?”

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