Guest Column | October 24, 2019

4 Ways E-Commerce Companies Can Improve Customer Service

By Angela Myers, Market America | SHOP.COM

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According to a 2019 eMarketer survey, 42 percent of U.S. in-store shoppers named employees being rude as their top reason to shop elsewhere, while 55 percent of online shoppers say never receiving their shipment is why they end up shopping with a different internet retailer. If a company wants happy, returning customers, it has to provide quick and helpful customer service and deliver customers’ online orders in a reasonable amount of time. “You can’t properly run a business without some form of a customer service team,” Brandi Foster, the Global Director of UnFranchise Services at Market America | SHOP.COM, emphasized in an interview. Market America is a global product brokerage and internet marketing company that specializes in One-to-One Marketing. With close to 20 years of customer service and field training experience, Foster has developed four tips to provide effective and personalized customer service for all of Market America | SHOP.COM online shoppers from around the world.

Tip One: Understand Your Business and Customers

“How can you properly set up a service team if you don’t know what your business is or who your customers are?” Foster asked. Since Market America is a global company, she also emphasizes the importance of understanding the culture of each country where a company does business. “You would be so surprised at the difference you make in your customer base if you understand their culture. It’s crucial,” she said. The business and customer values and traditions are the keys to understanding how to service your customers well.

Tip Two: Provide Comprehensive Training for Customer Service Representatives

Brandi Foster, Global Director of UnFranchise Services at Market America | SHOP.COM, checks in with Alondra Cortes, one of her team members, regarding the day’s customer comments and questions.

What is key to Foster and her department’s ongoing success is making sure that any customer who contacts Market America | SHOP.COM will receive effective as well as respectful customer service, specific to each customer’s individual needs and culture. To do this, Foster spends a great deal of time training each member of her customer service team in a way that is not only informative but fun. Foster said, “We talk about providing great customer service all the time. We know what customers want. What I firmly believe in is training. If I don’t invest the time in my people through technical training and through soft-skills training, and if I don’t find ways to make sure my team has fun while doing it, you can forget about the customers. If I don’t invest in my employees first, our customers are not going to get what they need.”

Tip Three: Divide & Conquer To Provide Faster Response To Your Customers

“Customers aren’t as willing to be as patient anymore. And so that requires us to be ready and readily available to answer questions,” Foster said. “That doesn’t mean we have to have the answer. It just means our response time has to be faster. Our Service Level Agreement (SLA) is within two hours.” However, most interactions for Foster’s team are handled with “first-call resolution.”  

To achieve a timely response to customer communication, Foster has segmented her team to perform specific tasks instead of training everyone to do everything. Foster has divided her team so that some are specifically trained to provide customer service via phone and others have expertise in responding to feedback via emails, chat boxes or social media. Ensuring that her department has the right people providing service through the right media is key to speeding up the response time and keeping customers happy.

Tip Four: Truly Hearing Your Customers

While a critical part of successful customer service is keeping your customers happy, another important aspect is learning from their feedback to keep them content going forward. “We can always go off of the assumption that we know what our customers want, but we can’t be successful until we hear from them,” Foster said. The most vital way to ensure that customers feel comfortable voicing their opinions is to make sure there are easily accessible places to provide feedback. Foster personally believes that chat boxes and surveys are great ways to interact with customers and show them their feedback is valued. “Think about it from a customer’s perspective. Understand what is convenient for them and how to make them feel valued,” she advises.

Knowing your customers and your business, emphasizing comprehensive and fun employee training, providing a fast response time, and creating spaces where it is convenient for customers to provide feedback are all pillars of a great customer service experience. Foster said these four strategies culminate in a personable and positive experience for Market America’s customers. She concluded with an assertion that the basics of good customer service are the same no matter the industry: “People still have questions. They want to be served and served well. They still want great customer service, regardless of how we deliver or market the information.”

Angela Myers, Market America | SHOP.COMAbout The Author

Angela Myers is the Public Relations and Marketing Intern at Market America | SHOP.COM. Angela is a sophomore at Elon University double majoring in Professional Writing and History. Her passions include business writing, travel and fitness.