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. To do this, you must prioritize your Shopify support tactics, and invest in your customer experience. 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 must support a great customer experience for best results. To help out, we’ve put together a series on exactly how to make your customers feels loved. This is the second article in the series, and will teach you how to use great customer service to turn a problem into an opportunity to make your customer even more loyal. Next up in the series is What You need To Know About Fraud Prevention Tools For Shopify, where we’ll debate the pros and cons of fraud prevention tools, and our favorite options. If you missed it, check out the first article in the series, Best Practices For Shopify Ecommerce Customer Service, where we cover all the basics for getting start with great Shopify support.
Bad Situations Can Be Great For Your Brand
The longer your store exists, the more likely it is to have some kind of setback. Your skills in business may delay the inevitable, but at some point, your Shopify store is going to have a problem, be it a technical issue, a human error or even a public event that affects your brand’s image.
How you handle the setback will play a huge role in whether or not your customers stay loyal to your brand, or abandon it in search of competitors. If you play the situation correctly, you may just gain an even more enthusiastic customer base by proving that your company will pull out all the stops to ensure an excellent experience, even during rough times.
Never forget that relationships are the key to business success. Show your customers that you care about their happiness and trust, and they’ll love you forever.
Get Organized Before You Need To
You don’t want to be scrambling to get organized during an emergency. The same reason every home should have a first aid kit is why you should be using one of the many tools available to get your customer service organized early on, before you need to.
When disaster strikes - whether your supplier can’t fulfill your order, your Shopify site gets overloaded with traffic, or a human error leads to problems - make sure you can always reference previous customer service interactions. The ideal tool lets you peruse through both individual and group messaging, so you’ll be ready to respond quickly if it’s one lost order, or a batch of defective products that were delivered.
Shopify Support Dashboard: Gorgias
We recommend Gorgias as your customer service dashboard. The platform keeps all of your conversations, emails, offers and blasts in one place.
As an added value, Gorgias allows you to create pre-programmed scripts, which can be extremely helpful in the case of many customers getting in touch about a problem at once. You can pre-load the correct response to common problems, which will make it easier for even your newest customer service representative to respond perfectly. You can also design responses for a problem that you’re expecting many inquiries about. For example, if your shipping partner notifies you that deliveries in the Northeast will be delayed by a certain number of days, you’ll be able to craft responses to likely questions before you send out the notification email to customers:
Question: Will my shipment be delivered by X date?
Hello [Customer name],
Thanks for reaching out to us! We’re working with our shipping partner to get you your purchase as quickly as possible. For the most up to date status on your package, you can check it’s location here: [personalized link for customer]
Please let me know if you need any further assistance!
Standardize Across The Board: Google Suite
Having all of your customer service conversations in one place is great, but you’ll also want an organized system for all of your messaging - that includes advertising, marketing, and even vendor communications - and that this system is unified, organized, and searchable. This will allow you to quickly assess all of the information, leading to a faster solution and more comprehensive service for upset customers. In this way, you’ll standardize how files of any kind are organized, and make finding any resource easy, no matter what the situation. Used in tandem with Gorgias, and your entire team will be able to give a synchronized response with minimal notice.
We recommend Google Suite, which is a business suite that offers a standardized, unified and searchable repository for all of your work in virtually any format. This includes your standard documents, spreadsheets, presentations and mail, as well as your general storage, calendar, contacts, and even texts and logos. The platform can also be accessed on any desktop, tablet or even smartphone, with full capabilities and uniform formatting, which means that you’re always ready. All of the options for this platform are affordable, ranging from free to $25 a month per user.
Responding to Specific Problems
Being able to quickly reference all prior communications with each customer and with your audience as a whole will make high quality customer service during setbacks easier, but even with all that information, it’s not always obvious how best to respond. Here at Growth Spark, we’ve been with customers at every stage of the business lifecycle - from the enthusiastic beginning to major problems.
Here’s how we’ve seen the best handle the worst:
Production or Supply Issues
Occasionally, you may want to run out of stock of a popular item to make it seem more exclusive. However, that should be a controlled event, not one that happens by accident - and it should never become known after a customer has paid for their order!
A common situation for Shopify stores is to have a series of suppliers that actually ship the products, either to your warehouse for further distribution, or directly to customers (this is you, dropshippers). However, sometimes suppliers are no longer able to fulfill promised inventory - and sometimes this only becomes known after orders have been placed. Whether you have one order or a thousand that are unfulfilled, customer service is key to making sure this situation does not spell the end for your brand.
First, send an email out to any customers who have ordered the item, alerting them to the delay and (if possible) offering an estimated time of shipment. Include information about how you’re fixing the problem, both now and to prevent it happening again. We also advise allowing for cancellation of the order if the delay will be significant, especially for items that may be time sensitive, such as perishables and common gifts.
If the delay will last for more than a day, put a notice on the product page itself. Lastly, if the delay lasts longer than you anticipated, offer promotional pricing, coupons or rebates for those who are still waiting on the product to show that you understand their frustration, and that their loyal business is a priority for your company. If you’re using Gorgias, use the feature that exists as part of the script function that will prompt your customer service representative to offer a coupon or gift card to a response:
If you’d like to offer a store-wide sale to recoup both customer satisfaction and potentially lost sales after a negative event, try out the Quick Announcement Bar by Hextom, a free tool that allows you to build a custom banner in seconds:
Inaccurate Product Information
Depending on the vibe of your Shopify store, your product descriptions may be very cut-and-dry, or they may get pretty creative and entertaining. No matter what your style, however, it’s likely that at some point you’ll either omit a product specification, or simply enter it incorrectly. While this is a human error, don’t beat yourself (or the employee that commits it) up too much - we all make mistakes!
The key to fixing this problem is communication - once you realize your mistake, let customers who bought the product know, and offer an opportunity to return or exchange if the information made the product lower value or unusable to them. Ideally, you’ll catch the error early on, but even if many customers have bought the product, making it clear that your brand will fix the problem will show each buyer that their satisfaction is important to you.
If your store has many products, your products change frequently, or both, it’s a good idea to install a chat program like Olark. This will allow customers to get in touch with your team instantly in the case of a problem - which becomes more likely the more frequently your listings change.
Let’s face facts: all technology fails at some point. Whether it’s a partner or vendor that’s particular to your store, or if Shopify has an extended outage (very rare but not totally unheard of), you’ll want to inform your customers. Don’t let anyone visiting your site think that you’ve gone down for good!
Have a quick outage or need to bring the site down for maintenance? Social media is your best friend here. Send out a status on each platform you’re active on (at least Twitter) letting people know what’s going on, and when you’ll be back. Simple, right? It’s even easier when you use a social tool that controls all of your accounts, like Hootsuite. This tool enables you to control up to three different social media accounts for free. There are several paid options that expand what you can do with this platform as well.
If you have a total site blackout and expect it to last for a while, it may be appropriate to email your entire list with a quick update, including what you’re doing to fix the problem and when you expect your website to be back up. Reassure them that completed orders are still being processed - or give an estimate of delays if they aren’t.
Relationships Are Built On Communication
The key takeaway from this article is that, just like in a relationship, it’s okay to make mistakes - as long as you stay communicative and have a plan to fix the problem. Great customer service will keep your Shopify store audience loyal, even if they have to wait a bit longer to shop at your store, because you’ll show your following just how important they are to you.