No matter what industry you’re in, the size of your business, or the audience you serve, one thing will always be key in ensuring your company’s survival: customer service. The best way to ensure that your customers come back, stay loyal, and spread the word about your brand is to make them feel cared for by giving them personal attention, especially when things don’t go as planned or they’re confused about what they’re buying.
Here at Growth Spark, we pride ourselves on building great customer experiences through design, but we know that a beautiful website needs to be backed up by human attention for best results. To help ensure that your Shopify store thrives, we’ve put together this series on what every Shopify owner needs to know about customer service.
This is the first article in the series, and will cover the best practices and basics of customer service, as well as product recommendations that the Growth Spark team and clients love. Next up in the series is How Great Customer Service Can Save Your Shopify Store During Setbacks, which will dive into tactics and tools you can use to make the best of any bad situation by using it as an opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships and brand trust. Last, we’ll dive into What You need To Know About Fraud Prevention Tools For Shopify, where we’ll debate the pros and cons of fraud prevention tools, how to pick out a tool that’s appropriate for your store, and our recommendations for specific tools to try.
Every Company Needs Customer Service
There are over 500,000 active Shopify stores, which combine to make $40 billion in sales a year. The platform is the backend to a wide variety of stores, which sell everything from specialty shoes to B2B supplies, such as the iconic Polycom conference phones. The funny thing is, they are all subject to a universal business truth: great customer service is the key to steady sales success.
Customer service is often the only direct contact your company may have with customers, and will be the medium through which they search for product clarification and resolve any issues they may have with buying your product. This means that your retention rate will be dependent on the quality of the customer service experience you offer. The takeaway? If you can sell more reliably to existing customers than to new customers (hint: almost definitely), investing in customer service will increase the total value of your company.
Build Your Foundation With Documentation
When customers arrive at your store and consider purchasing your product, or when they’ve already bought something but are confused or distressed, the first place they’ll often look is at your documentation. Because of this, it’s critical that you not only have up to date information listed in an easy to find page of your website, but also that you include as much information as possible. This will save the customer the frustration of looking for things that are not there, and will save your customer service team from repetitive phone calls and emails.
Depending on the amount of information you’re including, you may put all of this information into one page (often titled “Policies”) or in several different pages for easier navigation.
Take a look at any ecommerce store, and you’ll see these pages. Make sure yours are up to date and comprehensive, as these pages are not only necessary for great customer service, they’re actually required by the Federal Trade Commission.
Payment & Privacy
Delivery & Shipping Policies
To fulfill FTC requirements, you’ll need to be very clear about when customers can expect to receive their packages, the cost of shipping, and any guarantees that your company makes around shipping and delivery. It’s a good idea to also include how customers can track their packages here, and how they’ll receive their receipts.
Return & Warranty Policies
You must clearly document any guarantees your company makes around what quality the product will arrive in, when returns are allowed, and any warranties offered on products you sell. This is a great location for contact information for your customer support team, even if they’re listed in another area of your website, as customers visiting this page have a higher likelihood of being distressed and impatient. However, keep in mind that this page is incredibly important even before a purchase is made, as over 60% of customers look for return policies before they start shopping, to make sure they won’t be stuck with a product that doesn’t live up to their expectations!
Lastly, there is some information you must provide around your business: what kind of business it is, your physical business address (including the country), and an email or telephone address where customer can contact you easily. The last one must be one that you actually check, or you’ll be at risk of being reported.
While the requirements for this page are fairly short, many companies take the opportunity to flesh out the information listed to include frequently asked questions. If your customer support is constantly fielding the same or similar queries day after day, putting them in this document will save considerable time. Additionally, having a comprehensive FAQ will help with uncertain customers that are unwilling to contact your team!
While these pages are not legally required, they can be a great addition to your website!
Supply Chain Information
If your company’s supply chain is managed with an emphasis on ethical, fair trade, organic, or other moral-driven requirements, make sure customers know! Having a page dedicated to explaining your supply chain policies (in addition to on product pages) will given like-minded customers peace of mind, as well as help with your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).
While listing sizing charts on product pages is helpful, offering a centralized page where a customer can look up their size for multiple products in your store will speed up the shopping process - which means you may improve the rate of impulse-buys, as well as average cart costs.
The Right Tools For 360° Kickass Customer Service
Now that you’re federally compliant and have your policies visible, it’s time to find the right tools to ensure your customer service team - as well as the rest of your company - is always ready to provide an amazing experience, no matter the situation. That means putting information a few clicks away, so your teams can access it right when they need to, organizing it in a way that misunderstandings are minimized, and making it incredibly easy for customers to contact your brand any time and any way that they prefer.
While working with so many diverse clients, the team here at Growth Spark has learned a lot about the tools that actually work. We also use many of these tools ourselves. Here is our list of must-have apps that will bring your Shopify store’s customer service experience to the next level:
Capture It All: Gorgias
The core tool that every company needs for great customer service is a central location where every customer service issue can be captured. Think of this as a digital Help Desk, which is accessible to your entire company, enabling your customer support representatives to access information quickly and accurately, and the rest of your company to access the valuable data and requests that are coming in to make your company even better.
The help desk solution we adore is Gorgias, a tool made just for Shopify that offers a beautiful and intuitive interface, a holistic customer view, and additional tools such as response templates that make your customer support team incredibly efficient.
“One of the main challenges we see with Shopify stores is that they get messages from customers on several different channels, about a variety of issues, questions, and requests,” explained Romain Lapeyre, Co-Founder & CEO of Gorgias. “We created Gorgias to reconcile every interaction with a customer under one profile, to cut down on confusion and miscommunication, and enable companies to go above and beyond in personalized service and attention to detail. The whole product is focused on unifying all messaging and streamlining the process of personalized service.”
Live Chat: Olark
A Shopify store may struggle for a variety of reasons, but it’s always hard to find out that the problem that dragged down your profits for months was one that could have been solved if customers had asked a simple question. We know it’s difficult to get customers to reach out, but there’s a way you can make it easier - live chat. In fact, according to Telus, adding a live chat window to your store could boost sales up to 20%, and will likely result in a 30% increase in order value, and 70% less cost per interaction.
Our favorite service for this is Olark, which offers a high quality product for a reasonable monthly fee, as well as a complimentary 2 week trial. The platform also offers real-time reporting, automated messages to reduce costs, searchable transcripts, and real time chat with human representatives.
Transactional Emails: Conversio
Once your customers have bought a product, it’s important to continue to offer a great customer experience all the way up to - and, ideally, after - their purchase arrives. You may be surprised to know that a great way to do this is to send better email receipts with helpful information in an intuitive, easy to read format.
It’s also important to note that receipts and transactional emails have an incredibly high open rate, which makes them an ideal place to put further purchase suggestions, coupons, and upcoming sales! Experian Marketing Services found that transactional emails have open rates as high as 114% - meaning customers not only look at them reliably, but read them multiple times.
Our favorite tool for transactional emails is Conversio, which enables you to not only send beautiful emails, but also personalize them to ensure that customers always receive the perfect content for their preferences and behavioral history. The platform also offers compelling metrics and responsive customer service, which means you’ll spend your time building your brand, instead of fiddling with the tool or wondering how well it’s working.
Order Status & Tracking: AfterShip
When your customers know where their package is and when it will arrive, they can get excited to receive it, instead of worried that it will never come or that the order didn’t go through. Keep your customers happy and patient with order status and tracking tools - and save your customer support team members hours of time fielding the same question.
Our favorite tool for this job is AfterShip, which automatically imports all shipments to a dashboard and gives your customers the power to track their packages through a branded page. The program can also be enabled to send automated email or SMS delivery notifications to reduce the strain on customer support in the premium option.
Returns Management: Returnly
Nobody likes to have to return a purchase, for any reason, but your company can turn that frown upside down for both sides by ensuring the return process is quick, easy, and makes the customer feel cared for. Whether they ordered the product in error, it arrived damaged, or any other reason, it’s important that your company work to correct the experience.
We love using Returnly, not only because it’s a beautiful, intuitive app that encourages self service through intuitive UX, but also because it offers Instant Refunds, which allows customers to apply the money from the purchase they don’t want to what they do. This is the fastest possible way to make sure they continue loving your store.
Putting It All Together
By providing great documentation of store policies and activities and investing in tools that will streamline the process, you’re setting up your customer service team for success. However, in order to get the absolute best results, it’s important that you also impress the importance of customer satisfaction in your company culture. Need inspiration or not sure if it’s worth it? Look to ecommerce stars like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.