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Timeliness and experience are key to five-star customer service

by maria

By: Alex Payne- CEO of eDesk, the leader in eCommerce-focused customer service software

We’ve all had a bad experience with an online purchase. Whether it’s an inflexible return policy, a long delivery time or simply the wrong product being delivered, it can be incredibly frustrating when you just want things to be straightforward.

But with Covid-19 still wreaking havoc around the world and causing ongoing disruption to shipping that may impact the arrival time of Christmas orders, simplicity feels like a long-distant memory. These delays are surely worrying for many online retailers, especially as we leave summer behind and the holiday season approaches. And not only this, but an ongoing packaging shortage due to so many of us storing cardboard boxes instead of recycling them means that it is more crucial than ever for online sellers to provide consumers with timely answers to any and all of their queries.

Poorly handled, these types of supply chain issues can be debilitating, not just in terms of margins but also in the accrual of bad reviews which affect marketplace algorithms. In fact, according to research that eDesk carried out with insights platform CitizenMe earlier this year, as many as 44% of consumers actively read reviews before making a purchase.

This is just one example of why communication from purchase to delivery is an absolute must, with 97% of people in the UK and US saying they want contact regarding their order. In cases of customers who have experienced an issue, most want a response or an offer of support within a day (64% in the US and 57% in the UK).

The dawn of Q-Commerce

Quick reaction times are reflective of the new era of Q-Commerce, or convenience shopping, that we have entered. This trend was accelerated by the pandemic and the hasty global shift to consuming services digitally, but is here to stay. It means that business is now driven even more by customer experience, with satisfaction and positive last mile experience the main factor for return purchases.

According to our data, across both the UK and US, 90% of CitizenMe’s 2,000 respondents say they will talk with a customer service team before leaving a negative review. Some of the factors which could lead to bad feedback include poor or slow communication from the business to the customer, disputing a refund, not replacing a product in time and having a bad attitude.

eBay is one company doing particularly well. One US respondent explained that: “My best experience was with eBay where they resolved a return problem to my satisfaction very quickly and without a hassle. I have heard that they are known for doing this quickly and will override the seller if necessary to make it right for the customer.” In the UK, another said: ”I bought several items from one eBay seller, and without being asked he refunded part of the postage and let me know he’d done so.”

The customer is always right

The eCommerce boom of the last 18 months has caused a major customer service headache. Not only this, but there is also a $400bn logjam in eCommerce, whereby one in every six transactions requires customer support, on anything from delivery dates to refunds. Perhaps a contributing factor is the emergence of new buying habits, such as purchasing multiple products or items with the intention of deciding which to keep and which to return – a trait typical of groups like Gen Z. Coined the ‘digital generation’, a bad experience could be enough to put these consumers off a brand for life.

As a result, businesses in the online retail space are having to be resourceful and reactive for long-term success in attaining customer loyalty. Now, for example, working to achieve five-star customer service is likely going to be far more efficient than injecting marketing spend into offering one-off discounts.

But how can retailers address customer concerns quickly and efficiently when more UK consumers reportedly value a speedy response to a query (54%) over politeness (42%)? One solution is to strategically consolidate customer support enquiries into a simple, centralised environment. The benefit of this is retailers saving themselves hours of scrolling and organising manually, which can prevent queries falling through the cracks, allowing them to focus on responding as quickly as possible.

Platforms such as these can also harness the power of transaction intelligence, improving the productivity of online retailers through task automation, competitive benchmarking and commercial insight. Investing in this, alongside data analytics and cutting-edge technologies like AI, allows retailers to meet the demands of the Q-Commerce age and stay one step ahead of the competition.

Alex Payne is CEO of eDesk, the leader in eCommerce-focused customer service software