4 Things Your eCommerce Customer Service Team is Doing Wrong

by Susan Payton

Are you providing top-notch customer service for your buyers? In this guest post, Susan Payton outlines four things to consider in your approach to eCommerce customer service.

Are you guilty of this common eCommerce mistake: putting so much focus on product and fulfillment that you overlook the other key component to a successful business...customer service?

The fact is, that while customer service is at least as important (if not more so) than these other components of your eCommerce business, many companies let it fall down the list of priorities. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, make sure you’re not making any of these costly mistakes.

Mistake 1: Sticking to the Script

Having a customer service script certainly offers tremendous value, especially one with empathetic phrases designed to soothe the savage customer. But where customer service teams go wrong is using that script as a Bible.

There will be instances where there’s no script for a given situation. That’s when empowering your customer service reps to make a judgment call on how to best help the customer is essential. Even when you use an automated system for feedback requests and product review requests, be sure to tailor your message to your customer. And, be sure that any emails about returns are spot-on sorry and fine-tuned. As for your customer service team that's got direct content with customers - they need to have some intuition.

Zappos has long set the standard for the ultimate customer service model, and it’s still one to use as a guide. The company empowers its customer service team to do things like issue refunds, no questions asked, or even send flowers to a customer's sick mother.

Mistake 2: Trying to Upsell

When a customer calls your service department, chances are something is wrong. So why would so many companies train their staff to try to upsell those unhappy customers on additional products? Knowing that 60% of customers are completely annoyed with the upsell strategy should make it clear what an error this is.

Separate sales from customer service. Focus instead simply on addressing the customer’s problem and fixing it.

Mistake 3: Long Hold Times

Every company wants to save money, to be sure, but not having adequate employees in the customer service department may cost you in lost sales, rather than actually save you in payroll expenses. The longer an irate customer has to sit on hold, the harder it will be to make that customer happy.

There are solutions that don’t require more staff, such as implementing queue callback or building your customer service work schedule to accommodate the busiest time for calls.

Mistake 4: Customer Service Emails Going Into a Black Hole

In an effort to show that your business is accessible through a variety of communication channels, you put your customer service email on your website. The only problem is, no one ever checks it. So a customer sends an email and never hears back. You should assume that customer will get more upset, and could possibly leave you negative reviews online.

For Amazon sellers, it's important to respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours. Your Contact Response Time is a metric that Amazon tracks. And, Amazon says that their research "shows that orders with messages responded to within 24 hours receive 50% less negative feedback compared to orders with messages responded to after more than 24 hours." So no black holes for emails, OK?

All it takes is assigning one or more customer service reps to handling email queries. Also, make sure to communicate on your website how long a customer should expect to wait before getting a response. This can manage expectations.

Providing stellar customer service isn’t rocket science, but it does require effort and continually monitoring results.

Originally published on April 28, 2017, updated August 7, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.