eCommerce Insiders

6 Customer Service Channels for eCommerce

Every marketer hopes that their marketing efforts will lead to sales transactions. And usually, sales transactions lead to customer service interactions with shoppers.

There are many reasons why consumers seek customer service resolutions. Below is a listing of the most common customer service platforms, along with reasons why each platform might be best suited for certain scenarios:

Call Centers

One of the oldest types of customer service platforms involve telephone call centers. Call centers are still commonly used today, and many company websites list call center numbers on their sites. If the company is small, then the customer might be prompted to call a number that leads directly to the owner of the company, or someone on the sales and marketing team.

Phone platforms should be used as often as possible (in addition to other platforms) because there will always be those who want to speak to a human being. What’s more, certain issues are too intricate to attempt to explain via text or email letter. And also, some issues require a certain amount of empathy and expertise that only a human being can provide, on the spot.

Email

Many companies prefer to provide customer service via email platforms. Email is often an option for small to medium-sized companies who are conscious of their expenses. While call center services can be quite expensive, email platforms that are integrated into the company’s website cost a fraction of the expense.

Emails are a great option for replying to easy-to-answer queries about product information, delivery info, hours of operation, return policies, credits, etc. However, complicated issues might require the use of phone reps, so if possible, it might be best to direct customers to a phone line if their concerns are of a serious nature.

Online Chat

Online chat is one of the newer platforms that medium to large-sized companies are using to address customer service needs. As the name implies, the customer pulls up a chat window that leads them directly to a company’s representative who is also typing in a corresponding chat window.

Consumers love online chat customer service because it provides the immediacy of speaking to a rep on the phone without having to queue up on the telephone. What’s more, online chat customer service can be offered to any consumer who has access to an internet (or mobile device) browser.

The only downside in customers needing to use online chat platforms for their customer service needs rest with those who aren’t able to type. There are many consumers who due to chronic pain or disabilities simply aren’t able to type the text that’s needed to communicate.

While some can afford to purchase voice-recognition software that converts audio conversations into text, the software might not be compatible with your live chat software.

Implementing the use of live chat software to handle customer service issues in general is a great idea, but it might be best to use a complementary platform in consideration of those who aren’t able to communicate by text.

Web Forms

Web forms offer companies one of the lowest cost options of addressing customer service issues. As the name implies, the consumer simply fills out a form on the company’s website, and a company representative reads the submitted online form, replying to the message within an assigned period of time.

With this in mind, it’s crucial to state on your website how long the customer can expect to wait before they receive an reply. Since a web form doesn’t offer the comfort of immediate customer resolution, a consumer might fear that their web form has been sent into a virtual abyss, never to be thought of again.

It’s crucial for service and branding purposes to acknowledge the receipt of your consumer-generated forms. To that end, many companies set up their online forms to generate an email to the consumer, letting them know that the form is being processed, and they can expect a response with an reasonably-assigned period of time.

Social Media

Although social media platforms weren’t created to address business concerns such as customer service, it’s currently common practice for companies to assign customer service reps to their social media teams.

In fact, many companies have created dedicated social media accounts specifically for answering questions and addressing customer concerns. These accounts serve as an ad hock live chat platform, but the beauty in using social media for customer service is that it doesn’t cost a dime to set up an account!

At the same time, the company has no ownership of their accounts-the accounts are property of the social media platform in question.

It’s important for marketers and company owners to remember that customers are allowed to publicly post concerns and complaints about the brand, sharing their negative opinions with anyone around the world. Social media customer service accounts can be used to put out fires, but if used incorrectly by the company’s team, then inappropriate responses to customers can turn into immediate PR disasters!

FAQ/Self Service Web Pages

Finally, some companies direct consumers to FAQ pages. These are the bare-bones resource for customer to get surface-level, front-line questions answered.

Of course, they should be directed to a more comprehensive platform if they can’t resolve their issues in this way.

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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