For many sellers, eCommerce customer service automation is a major aspiration. A seller who I ‘mentor’ on Facebook recently sent me a message saying that he is just starting out with dropshipping and wants to automate his entire customer service cycle. I told him to wait a few months, and learn from the customer support feedback loop so he can improve his business and only then seriously consider automation. I asked him a simple question:
Would you put your car on autopilot mode before ever having set foot in a car?!
This is, of course, a rhetorical question and the answer is clearly ‘never!’ What if something goes wrong and you have to retake control of the car? What is true about vehicles is also true about eCommerce businesses, and so I recommend eCom rookies hold in there for now. But for those of you who already have months or even years of experience and are looking to save as much as 63% of their precious time, which according to a recent study is the average amount typically saved by sellers with customer service automation systems like a CRM for instance. I would definitely recommend making customer service automation a top priority and putting that extra time to better use developing and growing your business.
Why eCommerce Businesses are Automating Their Customer Service?
Here are the top 4 benefits to automating your customer service cycle:
#1: eCommerce Automation Tools Save Time
As I mentioned above, one of the key factors taken into account when deciding to put your eCommerce business’s customer support on autopilot mainly has to do with time. Even if you cut down the time spent on customer service by half, that could have an immense impact on your ability to grow your brand and focus on areas of your business which simply would not develop without proper attention from you and your team.
#2: eCommerce Automation Tools Improve Customer Satisfaction
But beyond the major factor of time, automation helps ensure that customers feel more satisfied. In today’s instant economy, customers expect a reply immediately. According to this MyCustomer survey, the average customer expects a response to an email-based query between 15 and 60 minutes. Email is considered by most people to be the slowest means of digital communication. Meaning a customer messaging you on WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or via eBay messages expects a response in under 15 minutes. If it is a post-purchase query, you risk having an unsatisfied customer if you are not constantly available but an automation tool can provide those responses while simultaneously keeping you informed via alerts and notifications if you download the relevant app.
Image source: MyCustomer
#3: eCommerce Automation Tools Increase Conversion Rates
Above I spoke about post-purchase customer queries but what about pre-purchase customer queries, if you miss out on those you are very likely to miss out on a sale. Which is why an automated response tailored to a specific query, alerts and notifications are extremely important in order to prevent as many cart abandonments as possible.
#4: eCommerce Automation Tools Increase Sales
Beyond preventing cart abandonments, customer service automation tools offer sellers the option to run cross-selling and up-selling campaigns that can be tailored based on the type of item purchased by a given buyer. Cross-selling refers to selling an item that can ‘complete’ the original purchase in one way or another, for example, offering a laptop case to someone who just bought a laptop.
In this image you can see an example in which a seller using Subivi eCommerce CRM created an automated message in order to increase his revenue stream by selling a secondary item to an existing client.
Upselling refers to a situation when someone purchases the basic model but you offer to sell them the upgraded model for example and end up making more money in the process.
Why Personalized Customer Service Automation is Paramount?
Everyone has heard of customer service automation gone awry. The main cause for this is typically a lack of personalization. We have all encountered automated messages both verbal and written which have sounded so monotone, so robotic, that the only thing which crosses your mind is ‘how far away from here can I get?’ – you know what I’m talking about, messages like these:
Customer: Hi, I ordered these earphones from you and I just can’t seem to turn them on – can you please help me set them up?
Automated response: Your business is important to us. Our customer service center is open Monday – Tuesday, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Usual holding times are around 30 minutes and most of our team knows nothing about our product. We hope to hear from you again soon.
Ok, I obviously got a bit hyperbolic back there but you get the gist and know exactly what I’m talking about!
But what if customer service automation could be personalized?
So that if someone asks you how to set up their earphones, they subsequently get an automatic response with a FAQ entry from your site with setup instructions. Now we are talking ‘customer success’ and not just ‘customer support’.
How Superb Customer Support Can and Does Drive Sales
No, it’s not an urban myth, great customer support can be in and of itself an engine for growth for your business. Here’s how:
- Trust – Customer service which is consistently good helps foster trust between a customer and a business. The trick is to maintain the same level of support and speed of response over the course of a customer’s entire time at your company and across all communication channels:
- Habit – Great customer service reduces friction and removes barriers and at some point makes the retail experience habitual, almost second nature. Zappos, for example, does not time phone calls with the world’s longest CS call timed out of their call center at a whopping 10 hours. This allows their reps to foster lasting personal relationships with customers.
- Personal recognition – The previous point is directly related to this one. In contrast to popular belief, not all purchase decisions are rational. In fact, a fair amount of them aren’t rational at all. People make purchases based on emotions. The more an item is a luxury, the further away it is from necessity, the more emotional the purchase decision will be, according to a study conducted by B2BInternational:
Image source: B2BInternational
When you personally recognize a customer meaning you give them extra special attention thereby forming a personal bond with them, they will not care that your competitor’s product is cheaper – they will want to buy from you based on the human connection and not based on cold, calculated economics.
- Anticipatory – Excellent customer service anticipates what the customer will need next. Like when you go to a restaurant and the waitress sets the steak knife to your right before you even need to ask for it. So too, anticipatory customer service can really drive growth. It can be with cross-selling as in- if you bought this item you will probably need to buy batteries. It can pertain to ‘set-up’, as in- if you bought this item, you will most likely need to set up a call with a rep since it is a highly complex product. Customers can instinctively feel that their needs are being cared for, which is why I keep on coming back to that steak joint 🙂
- Anecdotal – Everybody loves a good story, look at Hollywood. In my opinion, one of America’s strongest ‘soft powers’ pertains to the talents of its movie industry which manages to captivate global audiences thereby dictating cultural norms and expectations in its own favor. Everyone loves a happy ending in a Hollywood movie and as such people have come to expect this in their daily interactions as well as in their dealings with companies. Good customer service has the power to give that to a customer:– ‘Here is a full refund’.
– ‘Let me walk you through the steps’.
– ‘I identify with your pain’.
– ‘Let me talk to my manager and ensure you get a moth’s free subscription’.
– ‘Next purchase’s shipping is on us!’
To just name a few common examples.
What is a CRM or Customer Relationship Management software?
Great customer service is a given. The only question is whether or not to automate this process to some degree and what tool to use in this effort?
One of the best ways to actually automate your customer support cycle is by using an eCommerce CRM. This internet-based tool integrates with all your eCommerce accounts ensuring that all tickets, queries, and returns from all the marketplaces you sell on are aggregated in one inbox. This means that you never have to open any of your eCom accounts in order to take care of customer service queries and claims. Here are some additional automation features you can expect from your eCommerce CRM:
- Automated templates which can be customized to your specific needs. These should include the ability to precisely time when they are sent out as well as deciding on the desired quantity and message intervals.
- Automated follow-up at key intervals in the sales process such as point of shipping, item arrival, and set up as well as post-purchase satisfaction and feedback requests.
- Automatic in-tool translation capabilities which allows you to hold entire CS conversations with foreign clients without ever having to leave the tool or copy and paste every message to and from Google Translate (which admittedly is so 2018).
- Data collection and analytics which can help you understand your target audience, recurring customer support issues as well as the ability to identify which items need to be gotten rid of and which items should be focused on from a customer support perspective.
- Full – cycle service – You want a CRM which offers you a full solution instead of piecemeal bandaids which will force you to pay for multiple tools when you could have just gotten the one.
Taking your eCommerce Business to New Heights
Many people view ‘automation’ as this magical spell which can somehow run their business for them while they lie on a beach in Tahiti. Unfortunately, this is not the reality otherwise everyone would be doing that and the world economy would crumble to pieces. The truth is, once you have built a strong customer base and have a deep understanding of your audience and their needs, it is then that you can skillfully craft a semi-automated process to help you manage cross the board customer support at a fraction of the time. If you can mention your 10 most frequent customer complaints by heart you are most likely ready to take the plunge. But be truly honest with yourself about what stage you and your business are in – don’t let the allure of some fictional glamorous parallel existence entice you into making choices prematurely.