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6 Ways E-Commerce SMBs Can Offer Great Customer Service on a Tight Budget

By Richard Adhikari
Nov 1, 2017 10:04 AM PT
customer-service

Keeping customers satisfied is the No. 1 priority of any retail business. Technological advances such as interactive voice response systems, chatbots, omnichannel accessibility and robotics have helped many large e-commerce companies improve customer satisfaction rates.

However, these options require financial and manpower resources that small and mid-sized firms often don't have, so SMBs have to look at other options.

Here are some budget-friendly solutions e-commerce SMBs can employ.

1. Prioritize Excellent Customer Service

Make customer service a distinctive trademark and selling point for your business, suggested Robert C. Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport.

"Getting the right answer and personalizing your response is more important than always rushing to clear out the ticket queue," he told the E-Commerce Times. "It's impossible to beat large players on price, but "customers are wiling to spend more with a company that offers superior customer service."

So, when hiring customer service reps, "try to get people who are a B+ in multiple areas -- from phone to email to chat and more -- instead of employees who specialize in only one thing," Johnson said.

2. Keep the Customer Informed

Communicate throughout the customer journey, advised Tara Kelly, CEO of Splice Software.

Good technology "can make great customer service more affordable," she told the E-Commerce Times.

Personalize automated calls with customers' first names, account numbers and other information, and ensure the system brings the right tone to the call.

3. Stay Up to Date

Keep abreast of technological advances in your industry, suggested Terry Duncan, president of Duncan Management.

"If your systems begin to hamper your ability to properly serve, supply or distribute in a timely manner, budget for replacement," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Having a customer support software solution "is a must for small businesses," TeamSupport's Johnson said. Among other things, software "can make a customer service team appear bigger than it actually is, with built-in solutions like a self-service hub."

4. Invest in Training

Technologies, equipment and customer needs constantly change, Duncan said, and both your company and your customers will benefit if your staff keeps up.

Focusing on improving, challenging and training associates makes for better working conditions and a lower turnover rate, which will be reflected in better customer service.

5. Understand Your Strengths

Don't try to go head-to-head with Amazon and other large companies on their turf.

"SMBs are notorious for thinking too big when it comes to customer service in an attempt to compete," Duncan observed.

"Don't fall into this trap. Use your responsive, innovative and personable techniques as your armor to prevail," he advised.

"Customers will enjoy the personable sales associate over the money they've spent every time," noted Duncan. "And don't forget the handwritten thank-you card a few days after the sale."

6. Monitor Your Progress

Keep track of how your company is doing in terms of customer satisfaction.

Companies have to "measure beyond metrics like wait times and on-time order shipping and get to the heart of customer loyalty, which is about creating fans who will recommend and endorse your product," Splice Software's Kelly said.

For example, it's surprisingly easy and affordable to run an automated Net Promoter Score survey, she pointed out, focusing on the key question: "How likely are you to recommend our company?"


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.


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