Digital channels and e-commerce options increasingly impact buying habits, behaviors, and preferences of online shoppers. E-commerce has reshaped the way buyers interact with online brands (and each other) as they make purchase decisions, big or small. With one tweet, status update or pinned post, customers can relay the good, bad and ugly of any shopping experience to hundreds or even thousands of followers with a viral recounting of events. The exponential potential of a Facebook update, Yelp review or Twitter tweet can carry a message far beyond those directly connected to the original poster—brazenly broadcasting remarkable attributes or woeful weaknesses of your online business and the service you provide.
Now more than ever, e-tailers (or online retailers) must establish multi-channel customer support options to ensure buyers are prioritized and mesmerized. One highly effective channel for interacting with customers is through knowledge base software. Etailers that implement customer support knowledge base software are a step ahead in the digital marketplace, particularly when their platform is well designed, interactive and comprehensive. Providing buyers with the information they need, when they need it, is the basis for building enduring customer relationships that yield loyalty through repeat business, consistent referrals, and enthusiastic eWOM (electronic word of mouth).
Supporting customers with knowledge base software builds lasting and thriving relationships.
Knowledge base software allows small online store owners to provide a level of customer service that rivals larger brands with deeper pockets. Customers want to be wowed, regardless of company size or employee count. Accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency, and preciseness are key factors in any successful customer care strategy. And with an interactive customer support knowledge base, independent e-commerce outlets are better able to achieve these goals, both timely and proficiently.
According to the digital research and advisory firm, Forrester, “Customers want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon the first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose.”
The Forrester survey expounds, “Customers want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey on channels of their choice.” With online shoppers placing increased emphasis on positive buying experiences, e-tailers must ensure they not only meet customer expectations but over deliver with escalated efforts to delight savvy buyers.
In a crowded online marketplace, excellent customer service is a key differentiator that builds trust, retention, and brand awareness, while reducing costs related to customer dissatisfaction and attrition.
By paying attention to what matters most to buyers, agile etailers can honor their customers on a highly practical, prompt, and personal level to build and preserve loyalty. Metrics by Forrester further confirms, “55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question; 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.”
By listening to visitors, e-tailers can choose service solutions that closely align with customer values to ensure the best shopping experience possible.
Growing numbers of e-commerce transactions require smarter options for customer service delivery.
According to Media Post, “42% of consumers stated they shop online at least once per week, while 26% indicated they shop online two or more times per week. Only 18% of consumers stated they shop online less than once a month. In terms of dollars spent, nearly half of consumers stated they spend more than $100 per month online, with 6% spending over $500 per month.” These statistics indicate a growing shift in how consumers engage retailers. Online shoppers are more intelligent, confident, and demanding with their purchasing power. If one online store fails to meet an expected caliber of service, another e-tailer is only a click away.
With online shoppers being more inclined to conduct pre-purchase research of businesses, services, products, and reviews, making this information easily accessible is an obvious advantage. And although phone, email, and ticket submissions are still prevalent customer service options, interactive assistance that provides immediate, consistent and comprehensive responses prevails as effective and desirable alternatives amongst customers and support teams alike.
Cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), empowers e-tailers to reinvent customer care delivery. Customer service tools like live web chat and knowledge base software leverage AI to revolutionize customer engagement, often leading to contextual up-sells and cross-sells. These customer service capabilities offer a direct and indirect return on investment through increased sales, brand recognition, customer retention, and referrals, along with decreased costs associated with support staff assigned to resolving customer inquiries and complaints.
Excellence in customer service empowers buyers to make smart purchasing decisions.
As stated earlier, having a robust customer-centric service philosophy protects your reputation, enhances brand recognition, and improves profitability on three important fronts: customer acquisition, retention, and reactivation. By implementing service strategies that cater to a diverse customer base (and avoiding those that don’t), your e-commerce business can reap immediate and long-term benefits of attracting new customers, building loyalty amongst existing customers, and re-engaging lost customers with a renewed focus on quality service delivery.
Attracting new customers is a continuous challenge for any retailer, particularly those in the online arena. Borderless businesses proliferate the internet making it increasingly difficult to distinguish those that are legitimate from those that are not. Discriminating buyers (often bruised, burned, or bamboozled), are understandably skittish when transacting with a new e-tailer, no matter how tempting the offer. Potential customers have no way to examine the features and quality of your products physically; thus, they must rely on the information you provide and customer reviews from previous transactions.
Diffusing the heightened skepticism of new website visitors involves educating them through customer support knowledge base software. Developing an intuitive, robust knowledge base should incorporate not only detailed company and product information, but it should also include information gleaned from customer inquiries, feedback, suggestions, complaints, and other visitor data collection.
As the axiom goes: An educated customer is the best type of customer. By providing an easily accessible, well-constructed, and up-to-date customer support knowledge base, visitors can become well informed on your product offerings. This self-serve educational process often results in a positive and empowering buying experience for shoppers—particularly during the phase of new customer acquisition.
Existing customers can also take advantage of a resource-rich knowledge base, while former customers can often be recaptured with a renewed service commitment. Regardless of your targeted customers (new, existing or lost), providing exceptional service is essential to remain competitive. According to Forrester, “72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority.” As such, evolving in the area of customer care is a highly worthwhile pursuit for any store owner in an increasingly crowded e-commerce landscape.
A collaboratively built customer support knowledge base benefits everyone, especially inquisitive customers.
Tony Hsieh, Founder, and CEO of Zappos states “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” In a similar sentiment, it behooves e-tailers to implement (or improve upon) a knowledge base system that encompasses the broadest spectrum of relevant information that’s beneficial to customers, as well as experts, representatives, and affiliates of your business.
By expanding knowledge resources to include well-defined and appropriately presented content generated by industry authorities, owners, management, staff, vendors, and customers, everyone involved has an equal opportunity to contribute, learn and grow. Diverse sources yield textured content based on varied expertise, experiences, and perspectives. All businesses generate and accumulate a wealth of information from many sources that can be transformed into valuable learning opportunities. Proper standardization and dissemination of this collaborative information can be especially useful in shaping and affirming customers’ buying decisions. Ultimately, educating customers to become informed discerners of the products you offer positively impacts your long-term reputation, growth, and potential for profit.
Most importantly, paying close attention to what your customers are telling you is the first step in developing a vibrant culture of customer service. Whether your data collection involves surveys, chatbots, knowledge base or other forms of information gathering, providing solutions that satisfy customer needs is the cornerstone for building loyal and lasting relationships. When customers feel understood, valued and appreciated, they become brand ambassadors for your business. And, finally, there’s nothing more exciting than positive promotion from satisfied customers to influence like-minded buyers to take informed action—especially when the promotion is virally broadcasted from Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.
Robin is a Technical Support Executive. He is an expert in knowledge management and various Knowledge base tools. Currently, he is a resident knowledge management expert at ProProfs. In his free time, Robin enjoys cycling and sky diving.