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Customer Expectations Have Changed — Here’s What You Can Do

Explore the top 6 ecommerce trends for 2024, from rising sales to SEO essentials and the power of AI and returns for growth.
By Tina Donati
0 min read . By Tina Donati

TL;DR:

  • Ecommerce sales are expected to rise by 8.8% in 2024, presenting new growth opportunities.
  • Longer consideration times mean businesses need to engage customers at every stage of their buying journey.
  • SEO remains crucial for growth, with over half of consumers using search for pre-purchase information.
  • Ethical AI and well-managed returns can boost customer trust and loyalty while driving sales.

Let’s stop with the doom and gloom ecommerce trends and talk about what’s really up: growth.

Yep, you read that right. 

Ecommerce sales are set to soar by 8.8% in 2024, and the digital marketplace is ripe with opportunity.

Sure, we’ve all been budget-conscious for the past year or more—businesses and consumers alike. And we’re not saying you shouldn’t be.

Despite that, there is a ton of opportunity to grow your sales this year. It’s just time to understand how consumer behavior is shifting and how you should adapt to it.

So, what’s changing? We shared six trends to know about below.

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1. Consideration times are longer

There’s no denying that the more budget-conscious mindset is creating longer consideration times.

According to a 2023 consumer behavior report from Knocommerce, only 23.4% of shoppers reported discovering a brand and making a purchase on the same day. 

Meanwhile, 15.3% reported buying in the first week, and 61.3% of people reported taking longer than a week to make their first purchase.

What this data tells us

It's imperative to adopt a full-funnel approach and strategically engage customers at every stage of their buying journey. 

How? First, you must understand what they need to learn about your products, when they need to learn it, and which customer service channels and content formats they prefer for learning about your products.

Part of the issue is knowing how to simply be available for your customers. They shouldn’t feel like they’re on a scavenger hunt on your website, trying to track down your product FAQs and contact information.

Helpdesks are a great way to solve both issues. For example, with Gorgias On-site Campaigns, you can integrate live chat across your website to recommend products to shoppers in a subtle way, typically at various stages of their buying cycle like,

  1. Personalized messages on product pages that resonate with individual shopper preferences and browsing history.
  2. Recommending complementary products or upgrades based on the customer's current cart selection.
  3. Capitalizing on the excitement of new product launches to capture the attention of browsers.
  4. Implementing winback campaigns targeted at customers who have previously engaged with your brand but haven't made a purchase recently.
  5. Using browse and cart abandonment strategies to re-engage customers who have shown interest in your products but haven't completed the purchase process.
  6. Providing valuable educational content that addresses common pain points, showcases product benefits, and guides customers towards informed purchasing decisions.
  7. Sending targeted holiday campaigns around seasonal trends and shopper preferences to drive conversions.
Glamnetic uses Gorgias Convert to promote their new nail collections

               Glamnetic uses Gorgias Convert to promote new collections.
             
         
Manduka uses Gorgias Convert to help browsing customers

               Manduka uses Gorgias Convert to help browsing customers make a purchase.
             
         

2. Search still matters

Over half of consumers (55% to be exact) rank search as their top source for pre-purchase information. 

Despite what some marketing gurus share online, SEO is still an essential part of any brand’s growth strategy. Don’t sleep on SEO as an acquisition channel.

What to do about this 

Don’t forget the basics of SEO. 

We know it’s easy to forget when to set up an internal link or use a specific keyword, but there are a few best practices you should use to make sure your SEO engine is chugging alone:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify high-value keywords related to your products or services and integrate them strategically into your website content, meta tags, and headings. 
  • Focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that addresses user queries and provides valuable information to enhance your search visibility and rankings. I.e. don’t try to “game” the system.
  • Use Customer Knowledge Bases to improve your website's visibility in search engine results and attract organic traffic. Incorporate targeted keywords and search-friendly formatting into your knowledge-base articles to maximize their SEO impact.
  • Keep your website content fresh, relevant, and up-to-date to maintain search visibility and engage users effectively. 
  • Track and analyze key SEO metrics, such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, and conversion rates, to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. If possible, do this at least every few months (we know you’re busy!).

Remember, SEO takes time to build. Two things you should know:

  1. Traffic reflects past efforts (often taking at least 6 months to show results).
  2. Your success 6 months from now depends on your work from 6 months ago.

Essentially, what you do today will shape your results next year, which is why it’s worth investing ASAP.

3. Customers expect AI safeguards. Prioritize an ethical AI strategy

According to a report by Salesforce, 74% of customers express concerns about the unethical use of AI. Additionally, 80% emphasize the importance of human validation of AI output.

Can shoppers be any more clear about the fact that we need a human-centered approach to AI implementation?

AI is impacting how customers trust businesses. Plain and simple, you need to implement an ethical strategy and make sure it’s managed by humans.

What this data tells us

There’s a fine balance between speed to resolution and adding a human element to every customer message. And you can have both automation and humans running the show.

Businesses that take this approach meet customer expectations for AI safeguards while driving operational efficiency and delivering exceptional customer experiences.

The proof is in the pudding: According to Gorgias data, within just 28 days, merchants who automated up to 20% of tickets experienced an impressive 8-point increase in repeat purchase rates. 

Automation goes beyond keyboard shortcuts or macros; it serves as a hands-off assistant capable of engaging customers and impacting revenue significantly—while making it easy for a human to jump in at any point for more specific customer inquiries.

TL;DR: Don’t be afraid to embrace automation as a strategic tool for customer engagement and growth. 

4. Returns are becoming a profit driver, not a cost center

Returns are an inevitable part of ecommerce, with up to 30% of sales potentially resulting in returns. 

Contrary to common belief, returns are not a cost center—they can be transformed into a profit driver and a valuable touchpoint for enhancing customer loyalty and retention.

In fact, 91% of consumers actively track their packages, indicating a high level of interest and engagement in the returns process.

By making it easy for customers to track returns and exchanges directly from the order tracking page, you reduce return-related support tickets while providing a transparent experience for buyers.

TL;DR: A well-handled return can start a new chapter in the customer's relationship with a brand, not the final page.

What to do about this

At the end of the day, returns can be costly… Unless you customize the returns experience based on shopper segments and save time to re-allocate to other growth-related initiatives. 

Some tips:

  1. Customize the returns experience: Only offer free returns exclusively to VIP customers to incentivize loyalty and increase customer satisfaction.
  2. Understand return reasons: Collect data on return reasons to gain insights into areas for improvement. For example, customers will tell you how to improve product quality, refine the buying experience, and tailor messaging to better meet expectations.
  3. Empower customers: Provide customers with the autonomy to initiate returns independently. By enabling self-service returns, businesses can streamline operations, reduce resource-intensive support tickets, and enhance overall efficiency.
  4. Use integration solutions: Leverage integrated platforms such as Gorgias and Loop Returns to streamline returns management and customer support processes. With two-way integration, merchants can access comprehensive returns data directly within their Gorgias admin interface, enabling faster ticket resolution and improved customer service.

               JAXXON has a self-service portal for returns and exchanges.
             
         

Read more: Ecommerce returns: 10 best practices for taking your online store to the next level

5. Customers expect connected journeys: Break down your business silos

A staggering 79% of customers expect consistent interactions across different departments. Unfortunately, only 45% of customers feel that companies currently provide such consistency. 

Additionally, 56% of customers report the frustration of having to repeat or re-explain information to different representatives, highlighting the disconnect between departments within organizations.

PwC states that 44% of consumers are willing to engage with chatbots to seek product information before making a purchase, making it even more important to have consistency across departments.

Today, customer support teams play a dual role as both problem solvers for post-purchase inquiries and guides for customers exploring products before buying.

What this data tells us

Your support team must understand how to provide consistent support, pre-sale and post-sale. No matter where a buyer is in their journey, every message should feel consistent with the rest of the brand’s ethos.

Our recommendation? 

First, develop templates and macros for customer communication to ensure consistency in tone of voice. By providing standardized responses, businesses can maintain a cohesive brand identity and deliver a seamless experience to customers.

Second, keep all customer information in one centralized location to avoid the need for repetitive inquiries and ensure a holistic view of each customer's interaction history with the brand. No one should have to repeat themselves when trying to get support.

Last, promote a customer-first mindset across the entire organization by prioritizing the needs and preferences of customers in all decision-making processes. For a real-life example of what this looks like, Amanda Kwasniewicz, VP of Customer Experience, shares the strategies she uses at Love Wellness in this article here.

(Teaser: the team shares customer feedback directly in Slack for the whole company to see.)

Love Wellness shares customer feedback on Slack to promote a customer-first mindset across the organization.

         

6. Email is harder, time to diversify

You’re likely already aware that Gmail, Yahoo, and others are imposing stricter rules for inbox placement, making it harder for marketing emails to reach their intended recipients.

Not only that, but according to Klaviyo's benchmark report, email-placed order rates have remained stagnant, with only a minimal increase from Q1-Q3, reaching just 0.8%, and a slight rise to 0.9% in Q4. 

PWC also shares that TV and social ads remain highly influential in customers’ purchase decisions, whereas email is closer to the bottom. This doesn’t mean you should stop investing in email marketing, but connecting with customers in other ways is a good idea to supplement your email efforts.

What to do about this

You can explore many other channels—SMS, direct mail, mobile apps. Even voice marketing is a super unique and niche way to connect with audiences today.

Here at Gorgias, we’re experts at customer experience marketing, and using conversational customer service is a great way to engage with customers directly and personally—without hoping the message hits their inbox and not the spam folder.

This communication style engages customers using various channels, including live chat, messaging apps, chatbots, and even voice support. 

For example, skincare brand Topicals increased sales by 78% using conversational customer support. Specifically, the brand uses Quick Response Flows to automate answers to common questions, such as: 

  • How should I use the Faded Serum?
  • Where do you ship?
  • How do I apply to the Ambassador Program?
  • How do I find the right products for my skin type?

All of this takes place within a self-service chat. These chat flows also guide shoppers to additional helpful resources in Topicals' Help Center or product pages. If a customer still has unanswered questions, a customer support agent can take over the conversation and chat with them directly.

Topicals uses Gorgias Automate to provide instant support to customers

               Topicals uses Gorgias Automate to provide instant support.
             
         

Change can be good — embrace it

If there’s one thing we’ll leave you with, it’s this: 

Embrace the shifts, leverage the trends, and explore new avenues of engagement. 

You don’t have to be scared of new customer expectations, and thankfully, there are a ton of awesome tools out there now that make it easier than ever before to connect with your buyers.

With Gorgias, you can set up conversational marketing across your website, connecting with customers in ways that resonate and drive results. You can try it out for yourself here.

10 min read.

Why Automation is the Future of CX

Automation is a surefire way to help your team succeed. Read why the future of CX is driven by AI and automation.
By Halee Sommer
0 min read . By Halee Sommer

TL;DR:

  • Automation increases repeat purchase rates, boosts response times, improves resolution times, and allows brands to scale faster while saving time and money.
  • 94% of ecommerce experts agree that automation is going to be more important in ecommerce.
  • Brands saw an 8-point increase in repeat purchase rates in 28 days by handling repetitive inquiries with automation.
  • Gorgias users report 52% faster resolutions, reducing response and resolution times, making customers happier.

For most CX teams, budgets are getting tighter, but tickets are on the rise. 

With strapped teams and incoming customer issues, automation is becoming an ideal tool. 

94% of Gorgias customers agree, according to our recent survey. 

Supporting automation in your workflow now is a surefire way to set your team up for success. Let’s explore why we’ll see an AI and automation-driven future within CX. 

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Automation increases repeat purchase rates 

Happy customers are the best fuel for growth. Why? 

Happy customers want to come back to shop with you, and we know that repeat customers give long-term value to your brand. 

Findings from 12,000+ Gorgias merchants show that repeat customers: 

  • Account for only 21% of customers but generate 44% of revenue
  • Make up 46% of orders
  • Generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers

Our research also found that it is five times less expensive for a brand to retain an existing customer than it is to source a new one. 

If you want to see improvement in your repeat purchase rates, automation is the way to go. Automation can handle repetitive inquiries from customers, like “Where’s my order?” so your team can focus on high-touch problems. 

Brands that use Gorgias to fuel automation see improved repeat purchase rates. Within 28 days, merchants who automated up to 20% of tickets increased their repeat purchase rate by 8 points.

Automation boosts response times

Gorgias's research found that 90% of U.S. customers expect an immediate customer service response. Of those customers, 60% want that response in 10 minutes or less. 

A significant advantage of automation is that it effectively gives you a zero-second response time. When you trust automation to handle even a tiny percentage of your incoming tickets, you will see a decrease in your first-response time (FRT)

After Shinesty implemented Gorgias's Automate, the company saw a 65% boost in its first response time. This change in FRT made a monumental impact on the support team's workload.

Thanks to Automate, Shinesty is able to deflect 55% of incoming tickets with automation, giving CX agents more time to deliver personalized and proactive support to customers. 

On this improvement, Molly Kerrigan, Senior Director of Retention at Shinesty, says: 

“Automate has allowed us to focus on improving customer experience from the ground up, because we're not so deep in ‘ticket town.’”

Thanks to automation features from Gorgias, Shinesty gained the best of both worlds, providing excellent customer service while saving the budget. 

Automation improves resolution times

An added benefit of lightning-fast response times is getting to a resolution faster. This is more than just a nice-to-have — it makes your customers happier. 

As we said earlier, happy customers are more likely to shop again and cite an overall more positive experience with your brand. This is a full-circle moment that shows how a slight change in workflow can lead to significantly positive results. 

In 2022, Gorgias studied over 10,000 ecommerce brands to understand the connection between customer experience and growth. We found that lowering the average resolution time to under 6 hours gave companies a 2% boost in revenue. 

With Gorgias, customers see resolution times improve dramatically, with automatically handled tickets resolving issues 52% faster than those handled without.

That happened at Psycho Bunny, where the customer support team saw resolution times improve by a staggering  99.4% after implementing Gorgias’s AI Agent to automate 26% of customer tickets.  

With AI Agent to support the team, Psycho Bunny’s human customer support agents were free to spend more time on higher-value tasks beyond answering FAQs.

“Our customer support KPIs are already fantastic: we're already leading in the industry,” says Tosha Moyer, Senior Customer Experience Manager at Psycho Bunny. “To improve on that, we need AI — it’s not physically or financially possible with human agents alone.”

Automation allows brands to scale faster

Growth is always the goal, and incorporating automation into your existing CX workflow is a tool for achieving that growth. 

Brands that use Gorgias's automation tools can successfully scale their customer service operations quickly.  

For example, just 30 days after deploying Gorgias's automation features, brands see an average 1% increase in CSAT. 

It's a small move in the meter that has a long-lasting impact on team morale, improved customer interactions, and a more positive experience for shoppers. 

Obvi relies on Gorgias’s automation features to efficiently handle 150+ tickets each day with a slim team. 

Gorgias Automate manages about 27% of Obvi’s incoming tickets — which consist of low-priority, simple, or repetitive customer inquiries. This frees up the support team to answer complex tickets and drive sales, leading to an astonishing 10x boost in revenue over BFCM. 

Even better, Obvi was able to achieve all of this after onboarding Gorgias in just two weeks. 

“AI is going to help us transform ourselves into deeper thinkers by taking over simple, standardized functions,” says Ron Shah, CEO and Co-founder at Obvi. “In the ecommerce world, Gorgias is getting ahead with doing that for customer support — they’re the center of the AI revolution, and that is the standard customers are expecting.”

Automation saves time & money

Your team can focus on more meaningful work by automating responses to repetitive questions or low-priority tickets. 

Quickly solving a customer's problem also means they can get back to checkout faster. 

But remember, automation is a tool, not a replacement for human agents. Automation helps teams of all sizes drive value, gaining extra support without spending more overhead. 

‎July turns to Automate to tackle 30% of incoming tickets, taking on the workload of three extra agents

In this case, the company has the demand to support a bigger team but not the budget. Automation helps July fill this gap to provide a seamless customer experience without overextending their human teammates. 

“We immediately deflected 450 tickets a month just by setting up some automated Quick Responses,” says Alex Naoumidis, Head of Operations and CX at July. 

“Now, we don’t waste the customer or the agent’s time with basic questions that probably don’t require any human interaction.”

Gorgias Automate: Your solution to an automated future

Gorgias is leading the revolution in AI-driven customer support solutions

Features like our AI-generated Help Center, AI Agent, Flows, and Quick Responses allow brands to autonomously answer customer questions and track and measure AI-customer interactions to create more meaningful customer experiences and transform how support is delivered. 

Start a free trial to see Gorgias’s AI and automation features in action.

6 min read.

How to Prime Your Website to Automate CX

The dos and don’ts of making your website user-friendly so you can offer automated support as soon as possible.
By Christelle Agustin
0 min read . By Christelle Agustin

TL;DR:

  • Automating customer experience (CX) can save costs, reduce agent burnout, and increase customer satisfaction
  • A good website user experience consists of fast load times, informative product pages, mobile optimization, and guest checkout
  • Automate CX by using automated chat, replacing email links with contact forms, updating your help center, and deploying onsite campaigns
  • Do not overcomplicate the user journey by only providing automatic support — route back to human agents

Nowhere is the customer experience more important than on your website. CX is so much more than post-purchase troubleshooting. CX that grows your brand makes the entire buying journey as effortless as possible, from the first ad to the 10th item purchased.

Your website isn’t only the marketing team’s domain. Your support team’s input is crucial to ensure customers can find all the answers they need without waiting around.

With a better website experience for your customers, you enable more sales and reduce the repetitive inquiries for your agents.

Here are some tips to enrich your website with CX automations that will delight your customers and your team.

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Why automating CX is essential

With 63% of consumers expecting service agents to know their unique needs and preferences, your efforts should be focused on improving support speed and responsiveness — and that starts with automation. 

Here are the five benefits of automating your customer experience:

  1. Cost efficient: Automating routine questions cuts down the cost of human labor, redirecting resources to more impactful areas of customer service.
  2. Reduced workload for agents: Your support team can focus on more complex issues instead of spending time on questions that can be answered with automated replies.
  3. Increased customer satisfaction: Automation provides fast answers, keeping the shopping experience uninterrupted.
  4. Enhanced navigation and user experience (UX): A website optimized for automation is easier to navigate and shop from, and reduces cart abandonment rates.
  5. Prevents support overload: Automation helps your agents from lessening their touchpoints with customers where it’s not needed, allowing customers to feel in control of their own journeys.

How website UX and CX work together

If done correctly, your website's UX should be so intuitive and smooth that shoppers barely notice it. For ecommerce stores, a well-thought-out website UX consists of everything from a logical menu to a straightforward checkout flow. 

Below, pay attention to the following website elements as they directly influence the buying journey and can impact customer satisfaction.

Informative product pages

Engaging and detailed product descriptions add substantial value by influencing buying decisions and simplifying the shopping experience.

Take a look at how Good Protein keeps descriptions engaging but short in three bullet points, includes social proof by displaying customer ratings, and provides flavor, size, and subscription options in one section:

Good Protein
Good Protein provides all important product information upfront.

Mobile optimization

According to Airship’s 11,000-respondent survey, 76% of shoppers shop through retailers’ mobile websites. With a significant portion of online sales coming from smartphones, it’s best to test your website on mobile devices. If users can’t complete a purchase through mobile, you lose out on a large fraction of sales.

Minimized distractions

Reducing distractions like unnecessary pop-ups and banners keeps the shopper focused on the main goal of conversion. Streamlining content to spotlight key campaigns or product launches can dramatically improve conversion rates.

Quick page load times

Fast-loading pages are crucial for keeping potential customers engaged. Delays can significantly deter shoppers, as studies show that even a one-second delay in page loading can reduce conversions by 7%.

Check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights to assess your website's performance.

Streamlined checkout process

Simplifying the checkout process and providing multiple payment options, such as guest checkout, removes common barriers to conversion by offering a convenient purchasing process.

Swimwear brand TRIANGL makes shopping easy and fast by adding a Quick Buy button to every product:

TRIANGL makes it easy for shoppers to buy products without making an account.

‎Exceptional customer support

Tools like live chat or help centers provide a portal through fast support. AI-powered support tools like Gorgias Automate combine automated responses with the option for human interaction, ensuring customer inquiries are addressed promptly.

This integration of website UX with automated customer experience strategies creates a more efficient, enjoyable, and productive shopping environment that exceeds customer expectations.

Related: Stop Marketing, Start Converting playbook

Implement these 5 strategies to prep your website for automation

Keeping your customer support options visible is the key to prepping your website for automation. 

Follow these five methods to provide easily accessible support routes, simplify communication, and help customers quickly find the information they need. 

1. Keep chat active 24/7

When you hear “chat,” you may think about not having enough bandwidth to offer live chat all the time. Well, that’s just a common chat myth

In fact, chat doesn’t require agents to operate 24/7. You can configure live chat to only be active during your busiest hours or even deactivate it altogether and replace it with automated FAQs to keep customer questions answered throughout the day. 

Here’s how ALOHAS keeps their chat running using Gorgias Automate’s Quick Responses:

ALOHAS uses Quick Responses to answer questions about shipping policy

‎Beyond automating common questions, chat can also accomplish other support-related tasks:

  • Email Capture: When live agents aren’t available, automation can ask for customer emails so that their inquiries can be routed to your support inbox.
  • Article Recommendations: Chat questions can be scanned and matched with the most relevant article, reducing the need to talk to an agent.
  • Order Management: Automate WISMO requests with an order management portal right in chat. Customers can track, return, cancel, or report an issue on their own without waiting for an agent to do it for them.

Don’t forget that chat is one of the most visible components on your website. Make sure the chat dialog can be minimized and hidden to avoid disrupting the shopping journey.

2. Replace email with structured contact forms

Leaving your customer support email on your contact page is the equivalent of leaving plain URLs on your website — it’s disorganized and can attract spam like no other channel.

Contact forms are far superior to email links because they collect all necessary information (like issue type and contact information). This helps agents provide resolutions as efficiently as possible because tickets are already structured and include the necessary details.

For example, Gorgias Chat includes Offline Capture to collect customer inquiries while agents are offline. Gorgias Helpdesk then uses the structured information to detect customer intent, making interactions easier to manage.

CALPAK uses email capture on Gorgias
CALPAK enables email capture so that chat inquiries can be handled even when live chat is offline.

3. Display your Help Center and contact form prominently

Make your Help Center visible no matter which page shoppers are on. Displaying important customer support resources like this in your website's header, footer, and various emails like marketing messages and order confirmations allows customers to self-serve, without having to contact a live agent.

With Gorgias, you can use one-page Help Centers to create a seamless experience from one page to another on your online store. This setup allows customers to quickly find the answers they need, improving accessibility while reducing the demand on your team.

Here’s what clothing brand Princess Polly’s one-page Help Center looks like:

Princess Polly keeps the user experience seamless by keeping the Help Center a part of their website, so customers can go back to shopping whenever.

4. Make sure your knowledge base is up-to-date and comprehensive

Updating your knowledge base, whether it's a Gorgias Help Center or another FAQ page, directly impacts the customer journey. Gorgias's AI Agent uses the Help Center as its primary source to autonomously handle over 30% of customer email inquiries, drawing on articles that cover necessary topics like shipping, orders, product information, and account management. 

To optimize your Help Center for AI, ensure your content is comprehensive and current, particularly in areas such as policies and product updates. All articles should be published, not saved as drafts, to be accessible to AI Agent. Regularly reviewing your articles encourages customer self-service and reduces reliance on agent assistance.

5. Maintain engagement with targeted campaigns

Targeted onsite campaigns on product pages educate customers and boost confidence, especially when tailored to your top-selling products. For instance, when items are out of stock, campaigns can redirect customers to similar products, as demonstrated by Glamnetic during their product launches.

Additionally, Gorgias Convert chat campaigns like those used by Manduka, which highlight product guarantees, provide valuable pre-sales information that mimics the support of a physical store.

Related: Convert Campaigns playbook

The 3 don’t s of website optimization

There are pitfalls to avoid when optimizing your website for better user experiences. Keep the user journey simple and always provide options for human assistance like live email or voice. Below are three key mistakes to steer clear of.

1. Don't complicate the user journey

The user journey includes all interactions from browsing to the post-purchase experience, and automation should make this process seamless, not hinder it. Avoid adding unnecessary steps or making critical information hard to find, as this can disrupt the shopping experience and force customers to seek help when it isn't needed.

For instance, include a guest checkout option on the checkout page to simplify purchases, and ensure that links to your Help Center or Contact page are easily accessible in the top navigation. 

Watch out for these common elements that can confuse the user journey:

  • Complex navigation: A convoluted menu system can make it difficult for customers to find what they need.
  • Hidden support information: Essential details like shipping costs and return policies should be visible and easy to find.
  • Excessive pop-ups: Overloading pages with pop-ups can frustrate users.

2. Don't only provide automated support

Automation is valuable but don’t rely on it — it's still important to provide avenues for human assistance when needed. This includes support options like live chat, email, phone, and social media

The key is balance: make it easy for them to reach out to human support once they realize self-service options are insufficient. This might involve including contact options in a Help Center or contact page rather than displaying raw email addresses everywhere.

3. Don't forget to test regularly

Maintaining an optimized website requires data-driven testing and optimization. You can improve your website by following customer feedback and suggestions. Once changes have been applied, monitoring performance metrics and user behavior can ensure the user journey remains solid.

Metrics to track: 

  • Cart abandonment rate: A high abandonment rate may mean that your checkout process is too complex, causing shoppers to exit early.
  • Page load time: Slow-loading webpages negatively impact the customer experience. 
  • Bounce rate: Difficult navigation, slow loading times, or an unattractive layout are all factors that contribute to a high bounce rate. 
  • Conversion rate: Conversion rate indicates which areas of your website are performing well and which are not. Pay attention to conversion rate to prioritize areas for improvement, such as optimizing landing pages or adjusting the user journey.

Automate 30% of CX for exceptional customer experiences

July, a leading luggage brand, uses the power of Gorgias Automate to deliver unbeatable user experiences. With Automate, routine tasks typically handled by level 1 agents are accomplished automatically. Agents are then able to free up valuable resources to focus on more complex inquiries.

Ready to elevate your CX game? Book a demo today and unlock the full potential of automation for your business.

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10 min read.
Create powerful self-service resources
Capture support-generated revenue
Automate repetitive tasks
Create powerful self-service resources
Capture support-generated revenue
Automate repetitive tasks

Further reading

Pre-Sales Support

How To Use Pre-Sales Support To Unblock Sales

By Alexa Hertel
16 min read.
0 min read . By Alexa Hertel

The buyer’s journey is full of questions: When will this arrive? Is this ethically made? Will I be able to return it if I don’t love it? 

Pre-sales support grows your business by proactively answering these questions to help customers make more confident buying decisions. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, businesses with solid pre-sales strategies convert 40-50% of new customers.  

Whether you’re aware or not, most shoppers need a lot of information before they trust you with their credit card number: information about sizing, shipping costs, production materials, and so on. And if they can’t find an answer, they might venture to Amazon or another store that provides this information upfront. 

Below, learn how to structure a more effective pre-sales strategy that bolsters customer satisfaction and supports a healthy sales cycle. 

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What is pre-sales support?

Pre-sales support is the process of providing shoppers with the answers they need to feel confident in making a purchase. 

Especially as the shopping experience moves online, customers have new questions (e.g. “Is expedited shipping available?”) and more suspicion (e.g. “Does this product really show the accurate color of the product?”). The ability to answer pre-sales questions is an important factor in your online store’s conversion rate

Example of pre-sales questions that impact customer sales

A lack of pre-sales questions is a major pain point for shoppers, resulting in lost sales. While your store’s complete list of pre-sales questions will depend on your unique product and industry, use the list below as a starting point that covers most ecommerce fundamentals. Below are some common questions that your support team should be prepared to answer. 

Product details

  • What size should I get?
  • How does this product work?
  • Who is this product for?

When trying to identify the best product for their needs, customers typically ask questions about size, color, durability, warranty, user-friendliness, safety, and so on. Another common question is how the product compares to its competitors.

For example, tech accessory brand Native Union’s product pages include quite a lot of information to proactively answer pre-sales questions about this product. On top of a detailed description, the page includes tech specs, compatibility, a section on “Why we designed this,” and products that work well with this one:

Example of pre-sales product questions.
Native Union          

Your agents must answer these questions and point out how each product feature will add value to the customer’s life. If necessary, the agent can recommend other available products that might be a better fit for the customer’s budget or other requirements.

Inventory details

  • When will you get this item back in stock?
  • Does this include refills? 
  • Does this come in any other colors? 

On top of questions about specific products, customers may have pre-sales questions about inventory levels and product availability. Think of this as the equivalent of asking the clerk whether they have any additional sizes in the back.

For example, ABLE responds to inventory-related questions on its Instagram posts: 

Example of pre-sales inventory questions.
ABLE          

Shipping questions 

  • How long do items process before they ship?
  • Do you ship to my location?
  • How much does shipping cost? 
  • How long will shipping take?

Shipping-related concerns are common among pre-sales shoppers. Including a robust shipping FAQ page and self-service order tracking once orders ship can go a long way toward quelling those concerns. 

For example, Vancouver-based dress shop Park & Fifth has a detailed FAQ page that lists out answers to many shipping questions. To help brides understand how long they need to order a wedding dress from their white collection, they even specify how long those dresses take to ship. 

Shipping policy to deflect pre-sales questions.
Park & Fifth          

Technical support

  • Will this item fit in my space? 
  • How will I know how to install it once it arrives?
  • Will this be compatible with my other devices?

Technical questions often require detailed measurement guides or a human touch so that shoppers can ensure they make the right choice. 

For example, car accessory brand GOBI shares installation guides and product specs within every product page. Since the brand creates roof racks for many different car models, customers need to ensure they’re purchasing the right one. 

Example of pre-sales information around technical support.
Gobi          

Sourcing, ethical concerns, and brand values

  • Do you use fairtrade and sustainably sourced materials?
  • Are your operations eco-friendly?
  • Are your sheets OEKO-TEX certified? 

More and more customers prefer getting their goods and services from socially responsible companies. Pointing out that your company adheres to ethical practices can convince shoppers with those concerns to make a purchase.

For example, fashion brand ALOHAS makes its sustainability practices well known across its website.  

Example of pre-sales questions around ethics and brand values.
ALOHAS          

Pricing frustration or confusion

  • Can I get a discount?
  • Do you have any upcoming sales? 

Most customers are looking for a bargain, so it’s not unusual to hear questions like the above. If a customer complains about prices or missing sales, you can offer a coupon to help get the customer to make a purchase. If giving a coupon is not feasible, inform the customer about upcoming sales.

If your brand doesn’t do sales, let shoppers know why your products are worth the price by explaining your unique selling points (USPs). You can also sway undecided prospects by offering free returns if the product falls short of their expectations.

For example, jewelry brand Jaxxon’s chat widget includes a button labeled, “Do you have any current promotions?” This way, customers can quickly find any promotions without having to leave your website or wait for an agent’s response (both of which would delay, or even derail, the purchase): 

Questions around pricing : pre-sales.
Jaxxon          

Doubts about product efficacy

  • Will this help my hair grow back?
  • Are these vitamins really effective? 

When a potential customer doubts a product’s efficacy, telling them the product works is not enough to clear their doubts. 

On your website, make sure to list the product’s ingredients or qualities and explain why each one can deliver the results the prospect seeks. Case studies, positive reviews, and science-backed research that showcases the product’s effectiveness also go a long way in the battle for customer trust.

For example, vitamin brand Ritual shares information about the research team who formulated its vitamins and where it sources its ingredients on its website. 

Pre-sales information around product efficacy.
Ritual          

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7 ways boost revenue with pre-sales support

Pre-sales support helps to stop shoppers from leaving your page to research products on other sites, and provides crucial objection handling that can make or break sales. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that optimized pre-sales processes converted 80 to 90% of repeat customers. 

Your support team must also act as sales reps in order to answer any questions, handle objections, or provide the assistance shoppers need to make a purchase. 

1) Make your website informative and easy-to-navigate

Shoppers won’t make purchases if they get confused on your website, or if it doesn't provide the information prospects need to confidently place an order. Your website’s browsing experience is your first line of defense against pre-sales questions that could block a sale.

How to optimize your site for pre-sales support.
         

There’s no limit to the ways you could optimize your website, but here are some of the best opportunities:

  • Provide delivery estimates early in the checkout process
  • Use banners to notify customers about temporary announcements (like delivery delays or new promotions)
  • Make your shipping and return policy easily clickable from any page
  • Create detailed product descriptions that provide information about the products production, compatibility, use cases, sizing, and more
  • Create detailed sizing guides or a sizing questionnaire
  • Use product quizzes to help customers find the right product for their needs 
  • Provide multiple product photos (or even videos and 360-degree images) on each product page

You can also do market research to figure out what kinds of websites are easiest to navigate or for tips and tricks you can adopt to improve your website’s functionality. 

You can also look at your website traffic and perform data analysis to figure out what’s working and where you could use some optimization. For example, if you have incredible shipping and return policies that barely get any traffic, you may want to make links to those pages more prominent.

📚 Recommended reading: Our guide to ecommerce conversion optimization with A/B testing. 

2) Provide proactive self-service resources

On top of information dispersed across your site, you can also centralize answers to pre-sales questions in a self-service resource (like an FAQ page or Help Center knowledge base). 

If customers with questions are directed straight to your email, that’s a problem. You want to create a path to these answers (and the purchases that follow) that doesn't require leaving your website or shopping app — especially before an order is placed when leaving your site means abandoning a cart

A detailed, organized resource will quickly become your shoppers’ first stop for all questions and issues before reaching out to support. 

Once you build an FAQ page or Help Center, link it prominently on your website (like Jaxxon, who put a link in their website’s top navigation).

A prominent help center.
         

Once customers land on this resource, make navigation as easy as possible so customers can quickly answer their questions. A search bar is your best friend here. Your next best? Clear categorization, titles, and headers so customers can find exactly what they’re looking for. 

For example, furniture brand Branch offers an FAQ page and Help Center organized to answer common pre-sales questions from shoppers:

FAQ pages and Help Center.
Branch          

📚Recommended reading: Why Proactive Customer Service Is Your New Growth Strategy

3) Provide self-service answers to the most common questions in your chat widget

If your customers can’t find help on your website or help center, they’ll likely open up your live chat widget to ask a question. Fortunately, you have one more line of defense: Pre-loaded FAQs in your live chat. 

To save both your support team and your shoppers time, you can use a feature like Gorgias’ Quick Response Flows. These add interactive buttons to your chat widget that customers can click for an instant answer.

Take a look at ALOHAS’ Quick Response Flows to get the idea:

Quick Answer Flows in chat.
ALOHAS          

Quick Response Flows are a great match for pre-sales questions because your customers don’t have to leave your website (or wait for an agent’s follow-up response) to get the information they’re looking for.

Plus, Quick Response Flows don’t mimic or replace human agents — if customers aren’t satisfied with an answer, they don’t have to fight with a frustrating chatbot or open up an email to contact your team. They can easily click “I need more help” to be connected with a customer support agent or salesperson. 

How did Jaxxon Increased Revenue by 46% with Quick Response Flows? With Gorgias, Jaxxon is able to automate responses to common pre-sales questions and give customers instant answers around the clock, leading to happier customers, 46% more revenue, and time saved for the team to handle higher-impact conversations.

Read the case study.

4) Automatically answer common pre-sales questions your support team gets asked

If customers end up asking a question to your support team, you still have an opportunity to provide an answer with the help of automation. We recommend using a helpdesk that leverages omnichannel communication to receive and send messages via email, live chat, SMS, or any other channel.

With help from Gorgias, you can automatically detect common customer questions and fire an instant response based on a pre-written Macro template.

Automatic responses.
         

Gorgias’ Intent Detection capabilities can understand when customers are looking for specific information, so you can provide a helpful response without waiting for an agent. 

Setting up automated responses provides instant, helpful responses while improving project management for agents (they won’t have to answer as many questions) and create better workflows for them.

Save your time for better things

Unlock your customer support with Automate in Gorgias. Leverage tools designed to resolve common customer inquiries so you can focus on conversations that no robot can answer.

5) Use chat campaigns to reach out to live shoppers in real time 

Chat campaigns are automated outreach to customers via your site’s chat widget — kind of like an in-store sales team member approaching a shopper to see if they need help and know about the latest products and promotions.

Chat campaigns can offer updates, news like product launches or recent collabs, or ask shoppers if they have any questions they need answered. 

For example, if you use Gorgias, you can set up a prompt for users who have been on the site for a while: 

Chat campaigns to offer support.
         

While the above example is a welcome message for all website visitors, you can get much more specific. For example, you can create chat campaigns for:

  • Premium product pages to offer high-touch support
  • Shipping pages to remind customers about your free shipping eligibility
  • Checkout pages to offer a discount to get shoppers over the finish line

📚 Recommended reading: Learn more about chat campaigns, including examples to move shoppers down the sales funnel. 

6) Create custom pre-sales views within your helpdesk

To help support agents filter out pre-sales conversations, set up rules to help tag and prioritize pre-sales tickets within your helpdesk. 

In Gorgias, you can set up views and create tags and rules within those views so that agents can filter for only pre-sales questions. If you do this, be sure to clearly define to agents what qualifies as a pre-sales question. It’s anything that a shopper needs answered in order to justify a purchase. 

7) Monitor social media for pre-sales questions (and answer them publicly)

Help potential customers learn more about your products without ever leaving the social app they’re using. 

Because social media comments and direct messages come in across apps and usually in large quantities, this task should never fall on your marketing team. Instead, set support agents up with the information they need to answer customer questions on social media. These questions can often remove the barrier a shopper needs to make a purchase. 

For example, fine jewelry brand Fewer Finer often answers questions via Instagram Stories to help sell different pieces in its vintage and signature collections. 

Answer pre-sales questions on social media.
Fewer Finer          

How to measure pre-sales support

Most brands don’t think customer support teams offer much in the way of lead generation or sales. This couldn’t be farther from the truth: Pre-sales customer support teams can be a huge facilitator of sales — it’s just a matter of proving so. 

Here are three ways to measure revenue that comes in through support.  

1) Use a revenue generated by support dashboard 

Create or monitor a dashboard that shows all revenue that your support team generates. If you use Gorgias, you can see this in the Revenue Statistics part of your account. Gorgias attributes revenue to a conversation with an agent within the last 5 days before a sale. 

Revenue dashboard in Gorgias.
Source: Gorgias          

2. Track traffic coming into your help center

The traffic you get to your help center can also be another great indicator of pre-sales questions answered, an indicator of revenue generated by support. 

If a shopper visits your help center before making a purchase — especially an article containing pre-sales questions — it’s most likely because they’re interested in your brand, have questions, and are actively interested in learning more. 

Keep an eye on traffic here to prove your impact as well as understand how you could better organize and link your knowledge base to improve discoverability. 

3. Track the automation rate of pre-sales Quick Response Flows

If you automate responses in chat for common questions (called Quick Response Flows if you use Gorgias), you can measure their traffic.

For example, if you see that 200% more people click the response for “Do you have new products,” that’s a good sign your pre-sales support is funneling traffic to product pages. If you see a spike in purchases following that, count that as a win. If you use Gorgias, you can find these stats in the Revenue Statistics Dashboard

Revenue Statistics to track automation rate in Gorgias
         

Post-sales support 

Post-sales support is an effective tool for supporting existing customers, encouraging exchanges over returns, and creating repeat business. 

The difference between pre-sales and post-sales support

Pre-sales support means answering the questions customers ask before making a purchase plus leading customers through the sales process and closing deals. Support agents turn into sales representatives to guide a customer from being a prospect to becoming a satisfied shopper. 

Customer support team members handle post-sales support as well — and this activity impacts your brand’s bottom line as well. By creating a good impression and meeting customer needs through quality post-sales, customers are more likely to become return shoppers, boosting customer retention and lifetime value. 

Proactive post-sales strategies 

After a customer places an order, keep them at ease but eager to keep shopping by sending:

  • Detailed order confirmations: Share order confirmation emails that include a link to a customer’s order portal where they can find status updates like shipping times or return information. This helps to reduce WISMO (where is my order) requests. 
  • A thank you note: Appreciating a customer goes a long way in showing that you value their patronage.
  • Review request: Asking for feedback shows clients that their opinions matter to your company, and can help you make necessary improvements to the post-sales process. 
  • Product suggestions: Product suggestions are a great way to keep customers engaged while awaiting their orders. Sending them product suggestions that match their searches also increases the chances of the customer making more purchases.
  • Shipping updates: Send shoppers shipment updates until their order arrives. The updates can contain personalized alerts about ongoing discount offers, upcoming promotions, and more, to bring customers back to your store.
  • Marketing communications: Send out email newsletters or nurture campaigns to re-engage shoppers and encourage repeat purchases.
  • Offer fast customer support wherever your customers are: According to a study by AMA, you can use live chat to improve post-sales customer support by 39%. Lowering your average response time can also help meet customer expectations. 
  • Take an omnichannel approach: Customers expect to get support on their preferred channel, whether that's SMS or Facebook Messenger. Make that a reality for them by employing omnichannel customer service

Strengthen your pre-sales activities with Gorgias

Gorgias can support your support agents and your customers as they embark on a pre-sales journey. While most customer support teams and tools focus on troubleshooting issues, Gorgias focuses on generating more qualified leads and improving conversion rates for online stores.

Book your demo to try out the most revenue-generating helpdesk in ecommerce. 

SLA Best Practices

SLA Best Practices for Effective Support Ticket Management

By Christelle Agustin
8 min read.
0 min read . By Christelle Agustin

TL;DR:

  • A service level agreement (SLA) is a promise of how quickly and well a company will help customers.
  • Setting SLAs helps support teams meet customer expectations and business goals.
  • You can easily create and customize SLAs in Gorgias for different channels like chat, social media, email, and contact form.
  • Track how well you’re meeting your SLAs with Gorgias Statistics.

Customer expectations are becoming more demanding as AI technology redefines the meaning of great customer service. Support teams need to catch up, which means monitoring performance with a service level agreement (SLA) to meet efficiency expectations.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about SLAs, including what they are, why they matter, how to create and measure SLAs in Gorgias, plus some SLA best practices.

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What is an SLA?

A service level agreement or SLA is a document that outlines the expected level of service a company will provide to customers, how responsive the company will be, and how performance will be measured.

In ecommerce customer service, SLAs typically include metrics like first response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction score (CSAT). 

Brands can create an internal SLA for support agents and display a customer-facing SLA for customers.

How brands benefit from setting SLAs

Setting clear expectations and measurable goals with SLAs provides several advantages to your brand and immediate customer service team.

Here are some key benefits you gain from setting SLAs:

  • Informs data-driven goals. SLAs can help dictate what business targets to set based on team and agent performance and customer expectations.
  • Consistent support standards. The terms laid out in an SLA make it easier for every agent to deliver the same quality of service to customers.
  • Manages customer expectations. The customizability of SLAs ensures expectations can be met no matter the customer or scenario.
  • Pinpoints support performance gaps. SLAs enable teams to track individual agent performance, which can give insights into the gaps in your customer service operations and escalation processes.
  • Enhances marketing strategy. Brands can use SLAs to market their commitment to exceptional customer service to appeal to new and existing customers.

How to create an SLA on Gorgias

Create SLAs with just a couple of clicks with Gorgias, no matter your plan. You can use templates based on support channel benchmarks or create an SLA from scratch to customize your first response and resolution target times.

Follow these three easy steps to get started.

Step 1: Create your SLA

Go to Settings → Productivity → SLAs → Create from Template. For a brand new SLA, click Create SLA.

You can select from three templates based on your channel needs:

  • Chat
  • Email
  • Social media

These templates give you baseline recommended first response and resolution times, allowing you to start supporting customers instead of sweating the details.

Step 2: Customize the times 

Already know the amount of time responses should take? You can specify the time frame for the first response time and resolution time in hours, minutes, or seconds. Ensure the time frames are realistic and achievable for your support team.

Step 3: Activate or deactivate the SLA policy

Only admins and team leads can activate or deactivate SLA policies. This activation feature can be helpful during peak shopping periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) when your team needs to switch SLAs to meet faster times.

Navigate to the bottom of the SLA creation page and toggle “Enable SLA” as needed.

How to track and measure SLA performance

Once your SLAs are in place, track your performance to ensure you uphold the terms of your SLA.

Here’s how to track SLA performance on Gorgias:

Find your SLA statistics under Statistics → Support Performance → SLAs.

You will see your SLA performance overview, which includes your Achievement Rate and Breached Rate:

  • Achievement Rate: Percentage of tickets that meet the SLA terms.
  • Breached Rate: Percentage of tickets that failed to meet the SLA terms.

You can filter SLA performance by channel (chat, email, social media, contact form, etc.), ticket tags, and date. 

The graph will change based on your activated filters. It sorts tickets by Satisfied, Breached, and Pending tickets.

In addition, you can gain insights into specific tickets and their achievement rate. This detailed view can help you set realistic target times and find out if agents need more training.


Best practices for creating SLAs

Remember that overpromising can backfire. To set realistic expectations, here are seven helpful tips to set up an SLA that delivers and improves customer satisfaction.

1) Determine the type of SLA to use

Never (ever, ever, ever) copy and paste because an SLA policy is rarely a one-size-fits-all scenario. Your SLA should be designed based on your customer support team’s capacity and target audience.  

There are three types of SLAs to consider:

  1. Customer-based SLAs: This agreement commits to delivering a certain level of service to a customer. It focuses on organizing the customer’s obligations and expectations about the contract. Each customer might have a different SLA. A customer-based SLA may be used for an ecommerce store and a manufacturer.
  2. Service-based SLAs: Determines the services that will be offered to customers. For example, an ecommerce store may use a service-based SLA to ensure they can support customers from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays. 
  3. Multi-level SLAs: This SLA can take several forms and outline expectations if there's more than one service provider and one end-user.

2) Learn the standard SLA metrics for ecommerce brands

Track performance metrics to ensure you’re committed to your SLA’s terms. Consider the following customer support metrics:

  • Average resolution time: The average time it takes to respond and resolve a ticket. 
  • First response time: The average time it takes to reply to a customer’s initial inquiry.
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): A measure of how satisfied customers are with your service delivery. CSAT is often measured through single-question surveys asking, “How satisfied were you with our service?”
  • Uptime: The percentage of time your website is operating. 
  • Downtime: The percentage of time your website is not operating. For example, if your brand provides 99% uptime, you won’t be available 1% of the time (this is your downtime).

Check it out: How exceptional is your customer service? (Gorgias customer service benchmark report)

3) Avoid ambiguous language

Don’t use vague phrases like “as soon as possible,” “fast,” or “quickly.” Instead, use clear measures of time like, “We’ll get back to you within 12 hours.” Concrete, measurable language lets customers understand your policies, avoiding confusion. 

Here’s an excellent example from olive oil brand GRAZA. Notice their live chat shows “Typically replies in a few hours,” not “We’ll be back soon.”

Graza uses Gorgias Automate to chat with customers
GRAZA states their expected reply time on their chat widget.

💡 Pro Tip: Avoid intimidating phrases like “we are not responsible for,” “you are required,” or “you must.” Set your boundaries, but also show empathy.

4) Design your SLA based on data

Basing your SLA terms on past support performance data will set your agents up for success instead of trying to achieve unrealistic goals.

Here is some support data to consider:

  • What is our average first response time on [channel]? 
  • What is our average resolution time on [channel]?
  • What is our daily ticket volume?
  • How many customers can one agent handle?

Want direct insights? Don’t be afraid to ask customers for feedback about your support services. Ask them what you could do better, if your speed is acceptable, and if your service is missing anything.

Most importantly, consult your support agents’ bandwidth and workflow to ensure your SLAs are achievable.

💡 Pro Tip: It might be time to revamp your SLA if you consistently fail to meet it. Are the expectations you’re setting too high? Are support agents facing roadblocks that prevent them from resolving tickets? Should you hire more agents? 

5) Make your SLA flexible

In ecommerce, peak shopping seasons like BFCM entail more customer support traffic. Adjust your SLA based on holidays, sales, and shopper behavior. For instance, provide 24/7 customer service during the holiday season to account for the increased shopping activity.

💡 Pro Tip: You may also want exclusive SLAs for high-value, repeat customers. For example, they might get support priority over first-time visitors.

6) Specify your business hours

Make information about service availability visible on your website. If your support hours are unclear, customers will assume they can contact you anytime — even when agents are offline.

For example, if you provide support from Monday through Friday during business hours, state it in your SLA. This way, customers know you’ll only handle their service requests during that time.

On Nashua Nutrition’s Contact Us page, you’ll find clear information about their operating hours and holiday closure updates. They also explain how they provide curbside order pick-up for local customers.

Nashua Nutrition states their customer service availability on their contact page.

Besides the Contact Us page, you can also show your SLA on live chat, FAQ page, Help Center, or even on the header as Trimleaf does:

Trimleaf displays their business hours on their homepage.

7) Outline your procedures for SLA breaches

Prepare for the unpredictable, like an outage, website crash, or server maintenance, by outlining what your support team will do if these critical issues happen.

When you’re transparent about your service, you build your credibility, and customers trust you more. 

Elevate your customer experience with Gorgias

Customer service efficiency and satisfaction are within reach with these SLA best practices. Gorgias offers the tools you need to create and manage SLAs seamlessly while delivering omnichannel communication to your customers.

Ready to take customer experiences to the next level? Book a demo with Gorgias today and drive success for your brand.

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Customer Service Skills

16 Essential Customer Service Skills to Manage Any Situation

By Deja Jefferson
22 min read.
0 min read . By Deja Jefferson

Customer service professionals (and the customer service skills they possess) are at the frontline of creating great brand experiences. 

All too often, customer service workers aren’t valued as truly skilled or strategic members of the business. It’s a shame (and a missed opportunity), given how big a role customer service agents play in the success of a business. 

According to 2022 McKinsey research, three out of five customer service leaders view attracting, training, and retaining skilled customer service workers as a top business priority.

My name is Deja Jefferson, and I’m the CX and Consumer Insights Manager at Topicals. We’ve upskilled our customer experience associates with both soft and hard skills to give our customers complete support and unwavering confidence when making a purchase.

Here are 16 of the most important hard and soft skills for customer support that we train for at Topicals, and that you should build your support team to possess. 

Top customer service soft skills to manage any situation

Customer service soft skills are the non-technical, interpersonal traits agents use while supporting shoppers. Ultimately, soft skills help to problem solve through good communication and clear thinking. 

These aren’t technical skills, nor are they easily quantifiable, but they are vitally important to improve customer communications.

1) Positive language

Your support agents need to have a firm understanding of how their tone of voice and word choice affect customer satisfaction. 

Using positive language is a valuable customer service technique that steers conversations toward positive emotions, which generate positive outcomes for customers and your business. 

Examples of positive language used in customer service

Here are some examples of how your team can use positive language in customer service situations.

  • “Absolutely! We will definitely get this sorted out for you.“
  • “Good idea! I will do everything I can to make it right.”
  • “Oh, that certainly sounds like something I can help you with.”
  • “I’m confident it will work out and we’ll get your product to you as soon as possible.”
  • “Thanks! I hope you have a fantastic day. Please reach out again if I can assist you with anything else.”

For further clarification, here are a few examples of what these same interactions might look like using negative language instead:

  • “Oh no! I’ll see if I can fix your problem.”
  • “That sounds awful; I wish that didn’t happen.”
  • “Ah, I’m not sure if I can fix it, but I’ll try.”
  • “Don’t be upset; this is why I’m here.”
  • “There you go. Let me know if anything else goes wrong.”

image

Tips to use positive language in your customer service communications 

You can get a sense of a person’s positive language skills early on, even during an interview when hiring for customer service roles

If your support agents need help using positive language for any scenario, write customer service scripts or Macros that incorporate positive language. This helps all your agents stay positive, whether they're brand-new employees or established team members.

“I ensure that customer service provided by Topicals not only exhibits empathy when issues arise but should be seamlessly integrated throughout the entire transaction process. Our priority is to ensure that our customers feel fully supported at every step.”

—Deja Jefferson, CX and Consumer Insights Manager at Topicals

2) Showing empathy

It's a key customer service skill to show empathy for a shopper, especially when a difficult situation comes up. 

When customers share their challenges and frustrations, it's essential for them to feel assured that their concerns are being understood by empathetic listeners. In the realm of targeted skincare for specific skin conditions, we must consider the vulnerability of consumers as they seek out new skincare solutions. Let's be honest — they've received recommendations from friends, witnessed numerous skin influencers endorse their preferred "featured" products for various skin types, and might be following advice from various dermatologists, (if they're lucky). I ensure that customer service provided by Topicals not only exhibits empathy when issues arise but should be seamlessly integrated throughout the entire transaction process. Our priority is to ensure that our customers feel fully supported at every step.

Examples of empathy in customer service

Take a look at this hypothetical customer issue with an angry customer:

  • Hypothetical issue: “When my order arrived, it was three days late and broken. This was supposed to be a birthday gift for my daughter, and now I’m not going to have this in time to give it to her on that day. I’m angry, and I demand a refund.”
  • Empathetic Response: “Wow. That does sound frustrating, and it’s not the experience you were hoping for when you chose to shop with us. I totally see why you’re angry. Let me find out what I can do for you.”

Tips to foster empathy among your customer service team 

Empathy is hard to teach. At Topicals, I train my team to get inside the customer’s mind. 

Our customers are real people facing challenging (and highly personal) skin issues, from Hyperpigmentation, Atrophic/Acne Scarring, Keratosis Pilaris, and so much more.

Sure, some customers lose their patience when they feel defeated — that’s unavoidable. But most of them are feeling frustrated and hopeless. And my team has an opportunity to give them hope that we can work together to help fix the customer’s issue. 

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3) Active listening skills

Whether in a physical retail setting or digital, active listening is a key step to adapting to nuanced questions or navigating tense situations with customers.

Active listening is listening with the intent to obtain information and understand it, rather than simply listening with the intent to reply. 

Examples of active listening in customer service

Active listening requires the agent to acknowledge that they understand our customers during a conversation, and provide feedback or ask follow-up questions when appropriate.

First, let’s look at a hypothetical customer issue:

  • “Hey, I ordered the Post-Acne Kit several weeks ago and still haven’t received my package. I haven’t gotten an email with tracking updates. Can you tell me whether or not my order was shipped?”

Here’s what a generic, canned response looks like:

  • “Thank you for contacting us. Did you receive a confirmation email with your order number?”

But when you use active listening skills, the reply becomes more like this:

  • "Hi there, we apologize for the delay in your order. Rest assured, we're actively resolving the issue with our shipping partners to determine its status. If it's considered lost, we'll promptly send a replacement. It may take 24-48 hrs for us to hear back but we will provide and update to you tomorrow. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”

The second example response showcases that the support agent has heard the problem and is actively looking for a solution.

Tips to incorporate active listening in your customer service strategy 

Use active listening alongside a helpdesk like Gorgias, which helps your customer service representatives “remember” past interactions. It’s like active listening but at scale.  

Gorgias displays customer information like past conversations and orders, current orders, and data from your other apps (like loyalty points or product review scores). 

Your agents can use this information to avoid asking for information the customer already gave, and automatically pull it into their responses with variables like [Last Order #] or [Shipping Address]

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Related reading: Our full guide on personalized customer service

4) Time management

Time management is the ability to get the most important things done, with a limited number of hours in a day. 

As a customer service skill, it's make-or-break: The better an agent's time management, the quicker their first response time and the more tickets they can resolve.

Customer service response times tremendously impact your store’s bottom line. If a response to a query takes too long, customer satisfaction plummets. 

Examples of time management in customer service

In a customer support environment, managing time effectively allows an agent to handle a larger volume of tickets (without breaking their back).

Effective time management is a team sport. You need to make sure: 

  • Your automations (like Rules) are saving your team from repetitive tasks
  • Your team is using resources (like Macros) to avoid typing messages from scratch
  • Your team is prioritizing customer service requests to handle the most important tickets first

Tips to improve time management with your customer service team 

Your agents have better things to do than copy/paste order statuses all day. We use Gorgias’s Automate at Topicals to handle repetitive questions (like “Where is my order?” or “Where do you ship?”) so that my team can spend their time on issues that need human attention. 

Plus, Automate helps customers, even when my team isn’t online. 

5) Patience and awareness of tense situations

Support services is an industry that is stressful by nature, largely because most shoppers’ problems are a little tense. 

Your agents need to understand when a situation is tense and what to do to defuse the emotional heat:

  • Recognize the situation as emotionally tense
  • Detach from taking anything said personally
  • Maintain control over internal negative emotions
  • Employ empathetic responses to the customer

Examples of patience and awareness of tense situations in customer service

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We know we can’t make everyone happy, but we can always make sure people feel heard. In this example, a shopper shared on Instagram that the product we were featuring didn’t work for them. 

Instagram comments are public-facing and we always want to be sure we address feedback from disappointed customers in this kind of arena. 

So, we apologized and recognized what the commentator said. Then, we suggested carrying the conversation to a private DM so we could find a solution. 

Tips to boost patience and handle awareness of tense situations 

In addition, support agents need to care for themselves, drink plenty of water, and get enough rest. 

"People underestimate the emotional and mental resilience that working in CX requires. It’s hard not to take things personally sometimes."

—Grace Choi, Customer Experience Team Lead at TUSHY

When an agent takes time for self-care, they are prepared to be resilient to the job's stresses and approach customer problems with understanding. It’ll improve both a customer's patience with your rep as well as their ultimate satisfaction.

6) Reflecting

Reflecting is the act of repeating a concern to the person speaking — and it’s a crucial customer service skill your agents must master. 

It will make your shoppers feel heard, which is the foundation of a great experience.

Reflecting accomplishes three things:

  1. Enables the speaker to hear their own thoughts spoken back to them so that they can focus on what they have to say and what they feel.
  2. Displays empathy to the speaker, letting them know that you are trying to understand the concern at hand.
  3. Encourages the speaker to continue expressing themselves.

Example of reflecting in customer service

Let’s see what reflecting looks like in action in a customer support context.

  • Hypothetical issue: “I’ve been having trouble getting my Scar Primer to work properly. I’ve written in three times for help with the same problem, and it keeps happening. Does this product even work?”
  • Reflective response: “Hi, I’m happy to help. Sounds like the Scar Primer is giving you trouble. Are you not seeing results, or is it causing a breakout? I’ve got some solutions to try for either.”

Tips to improve reflection in your customer service strategy 

Sometimes, the most challenging part of solving a problem is understanding what the problem actually is.

image

Here are a couple of clarifying phrases to keep in your back pocket. 

  • “It sounds like ..., is this correct?” 
  • “Did I miss anything?” 
  • “Is there anything else you want to make sure I understand?” 

7) Maintaining brand voice

A strong brand voice is crucial for any brand, but keeping the brand tone consistent in customer comms is a challenge — especially for technical tickets.

Example of maintaining brand voice in customer service

Skilled customer service reps know that maintaining brand voice in customer communications goes a long way toward improving customer experiences. 

Personalized Macros help brands plug in automated responses for commonly asked questions. You can build pre-made responses that are infused with your brand voice, so you can maintain fast and effective response times without sacrificing your core messaging.  

At Topicals, we use Macros to help maintain brand voice while handling a high volume of customer service tickets. We’ve built a library of templated responses based on our audience persona of skincare-obsessed Gen Z-ers and millennials.  

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As a result, 69% of tickets at Topicals are now dealt with using automations.

Tips to encourage customer service reps to maintain brand voice 

In addition to Macros, consider following up with customers using SMS messaging. 

At Topicals, we tested out SMS so customer service reps could follow up with customers. The less formal format made it easy to keep up with our brand persona of Gen-Z and millennials who prefer quick messaging over emails or phone support.  

We were blown away by the positive response. Customers were willing to open up about their experiences and were happy to chat about how much they loved our products. 

Important hard skills for any customer service rep

Beyond the soft skills we’ve discussed above, there are hard skills every customer service representative needs to master.  

Customer service techniques or hard skills are defined as the hands-on, technical requirements of the job. This entails understanding the company's products and the tools and technology that your customer service team uses. 

8) Product knowledge 

The most obvious customer service skill your agents (and your virtual assistants) must possess is the ability to answer questions and communicate information about the products you sell. 

An essential part of customer service training is making sure your agents really understand the product, so they can answer in-depth questions and questions about how to use the product:

  • “Can I use Faded with my retinol at night?”
  • “How long will it take for me to see results?”
  • “Will this work on my melasma?

If hiring, you may occasionally come across an applicant who has existing knowledge of your products, which is a bonus. Still, you should maintain a knowledge base that gives your support team (and your customers, if you chose to make your knowledge base public) easy access to the information they need.

Product knowledge includes product ingredients, uses, compatibility, troubleshooting, and more. Your training should also include process and policy information, like shipping times, packaging, returns and exchanges, and other common questions in ecommerce.

Tips to expand your product knowledge 

  • Create a comprehensive knowledge base or FAQ page so support agents can easily access the product information they need.
  • Have your product development team brief support agents on new products and product updates.
  • Identify frequently asked product questions and ensure that your agents have canned responses to these questions.

↗️ Check out our Director of Support’s guide to customer service training for more guidance.

9) Language and grammar

Your support staff doesn’t need to illustrate beautiful images with their wordplay — actually, that risks confusing the customer. However, they do need a sharp understanding of the language they’re using and know how to use proper grammar and spelling.

Test your prospective agents on the following:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Word use

Tips for improving your language and grammar

If your agents are having trouble with spelling or grammar, consider giving them access to tools they can incorporate into their day-to-day work. 

A few great language and grammar tools to consider include:

10) Typing speed

Typing speed may not sound like the most crucial skill on this list, but when you break it down faster typing speed = faster response times. 

90% of customers rate an immediate response as "important" or "very important" when they have a support request. So, the faster you can move through tickets, the more satisfied your customers are likely to be.  

Tips to optimize typing speed

Take a typing speed test to know exactly how your typing ability stacks up. 

Generally speaking, here’s a ranking of words per minute (WPM): 

  • Below average: 20 WPM or less 
  • Average: Between 20 - 40 WPM
  • Above average: 40 - 60 WPM 

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If you’re a professional typist, you’re likely typing at a whopping 60 - 90 WPM (or more!) 

11) Email

A bulk of communication with your customers will take place via email. 

Make sure your support staff has excellent email communication skills in place and that they understand how to leverage your email platform’s features.        

One great way to make email customer support more streamlined and convenient for your team is to utilize a single platform for all of your customer support channels. 

With Gorgias, agents can respond to emails, SMS messages, and social media messages from a single, easy-to-use dashboard rather than having to master each channel individually. 

Tips for better emails

  • Include the recipient’s name in the body of the email, and use a professional signature at the end of the message.
  • Speed up your email response time with automated responses to common customer questions.
  • Create an efficient system for responding to email inquiries so that nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Limit back-and-forth responses and reduce your resolution times by requesting all necessary information in your initial email to the customer.

↗️ Check out our email templates for a way to scale quality email customer service.

‍12) Indirect channels (like social media)

Considering 59% of the world's population uses some form of social media, it makes sense to arm your support staff to field questions and concerns that come through your social media comments. 

Build a clear protocol to handle public tickets. Will you move the conversation to another communication platform or handle it where it starts? Your support agent should know what you expect as well as how to use the social media platforms you promote your brand on.

If you don’t have a helpdesk, you’re missing out on opportunities to provide great experiences and turn more casual browsers into loyal buyers:

“Gorgias has so much integration between Shopify, Instagram, and Facebook. The Facebook ad comment has been very interesting. People have been converting right there, thanks to simple social interaction.” —Cody Szymanski, Customer Experience Manager, Shinesty

↗️ Learn more about how Shinesty earns more sales and answers questions faster with Gorgias.

Tips for social media customer service teams

  • Move public negative customer interactions to a private channel (like DMs) so that they don't damage your brand image.
  • Don’t worry about being on every social media channel, only use the ones where your customers are the most active. 
  • Monitor social conversations that are relevant to your brand with social listening tools.

↗️ Read our complete guide on social media and customer service for more tips.

13) Omnichannel customer service

Most customer relationships span multiple channels. As your brand grows, make sure your customer service agents are comfortable switching from one channel to the next. 

If you don’t have a helpdesk, this will require a bit of tab-shuffling throughout the day to respond to comments and messages from all these different platforms. 

That said, a helpdesk will save your agents hours every week by unifying your omnichannel approach to one platform, where agents can see every past interaction — be it an hour-long phone call or a 5-star review — and respond to customers without leaving the platform.

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Tips for omnichannel customer support

Offering customer support via multiple channels such as live chat, email, call centers, and social media provides customers with more touchpoints for contacting your company. 

A helpdesk that can unify customer support interactions across channels in one view is helpful for agents because it reduces the amount of app swapping they have to do. It also gives every customer's entire interaction history with your brand across all channels. 

Here are a few effective tips to optimize your omnichannel support approach:

  • Use a centralized customer support dashboard so support reps can access messages from multiple channels in a single location.
  • Offer mobile-friendly customer support options.
  • Create a system for efficiently transferring customer interactions between support channels.

↗️ Check out our complete guide to omnichannel customer service for more tips.

Ecommerce-specific customer service skills

The skills we’ve covered so far can apply to agents that work to manage customer issues for in-person or online experiences. 

For those agents who solely work in ecommerce, there are four more valuable skills to help improve customer satisfaction with your brand. 

14) Live chat

Nearly 80% of customers told PwC that a speedy, helpful answer is the most important aspect of good customer service. So, brands are turning to messaging-based customer support channels (like live chat support, WhatsApp, and SMS texting) to meet these customer expectations. 

If your support team isn’t trained on these fast-moving channels, your customers miss out on opportunities for sales

Answering live chat is more involved than you may think: Agents must incorporate previous customer context, pull up the right information, and be proactive to think about a forward resolution (like being able to answer customer follow-up questions) — all at a fast pace, and potentially handling other interactions at the same time. 

Example to incorporate live chat in your customer service communications 

Here’s what answering a live chat in Gorgias looks like:

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In addition to the technical skill required to maneuver these channels within your helpdesk, your staff should refine their skillset to drive sales with live chat. Live chat can boost your conversion rate by 12%, and it’s made a huge difference in raising our purchase rate and lowering our return rate here at Topicals:

https://gorgias.wistia.com/medias/yok5z1e4uo

Tips for enhancing live chat skills

  • Use templated Macros to help your live chat agents address customer questions more efficiently.
  • Use automated responses to filter out repetitive questions for your agents.
  • Ensure clear communication by prioritizing proper spelling and grammar.

Check out our detailed guide to live chat support for more tips and tricks. 

15) Decision making 

When talking directly with customers you need to be able to solve their issues quickly — and that involves fast decision-making. 

It’s the responsibility of the customer service rep to take care of the customer by providing the best possible solution to their problem right away.  

Example of decision-making in customer service

Sometimes what the customer wants isn’t beneficial to your business’s bottom line. If that happens, your agents need to be able to weigh this one issue with the customers’ entire lifetime value. 

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. 

  • “Hey, I ordered the Faded serum in the mail. When it was delivered, the box was damaged. The serum works just fine, but considering the way it was delivered, I’d like my money back. 

While the delivery person didn't take great care to keep the packaging intact, the customer was clear that the serum works as advertised. It might not be realistic for your brand’s bottom line to offer a replacement in this case. 

Instead of giving the customer something that could hurt your bottom line, a strong customer service agent might make a quick decision:

  • “Wow, I’m so sorry to hear the package was damaged — our packaging is really cute and we’re proud of the design work. Luckily, it sounds like our Faded serum is living up to its expectations, which we are so happy to hear. We are happy to offer you 30% off your next order with this special discount code.”  

Sometimes, bending your rules to keep a customer happy (even if it’s not the most cost-effective) can pay you back with repeat purchases, positive reviews, recommendations, and more. 

Tips to empower your customer service team to make informed decisions

In your customer service policies and training, be extremely clear about what kinds of situations are black-and-white, where the agent must follow company policy. 

But also be very clear where there's some gray area, where the agent can deviate from the stated policy to delight a customer or make sure an interaction ends positively. 

Make sure your customer service reps know what they are allowed to do on their own, and when they need a manager's review.

16) Pre-sales support 

In a physical retail setting, employees can welcome customers, ask if they need any help, and give customers the information (and encouragement) they need to make a purchase. 

Pre-sale support means you are able to communicate with a shopper during their browsing experience — helping the shopper make a confident purchasing decision before they click “checkout.” 

It's tricky to pull this off in an ecommerce setting, but it can have a huge impact on the ROI of your support team. That’s why it's important to think critically about how your brand offers pre-sale support and give agents the skills to pull it off.

Examples of pre-sales support in ecommerce customer service 

Empower your customer service reps to speak with shoppers during their browsing experience. 

At Topicals, we offer a lot of education about our products, so we can arm agents with the knowledge they need to talk about Topicals with customers. 

Here are a few examples of common pre-sale questions your agents might see: 

  • Product questions: How does this product work? 
  • Inventory questions: When will this product be back in stock? 
  • Shipping questions: Do you ship to my location? 
  • Technical questions: How do I use this product? 
  • Sourcing or ethical questions: Do you use sustainably sourced materials? 
  • Pricing questions: When will this item go on sale?  

Tips to establish pre-sale support in your customer service communications

For brands that use Gorgias, chat campaigns let you proactively reach out to customers based on their browsing behavior. 

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This way, you can ask if the customer has questions, remind them of a timely promotion or free shipping offer, point them to a product recommendation quiz, or even offer a discount to nudge them toward a purchase. 

Level up your customer service skills with training 

When you’re looking for a new agent, it’s a great idea to hire for the skills in this list right out the gate. Then, continue to offer training opportunities for your customer service reps to master their craft. 

Training for the skills listed in this article has a great impact on your company’s reputation and revenue.

Once you’re ready to put those skills to use, sign up for Gorgias to turn your customer support team into a revenue-generating machine.

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series c-2 funding

Announcing Our Series C-2 Funding & the AI-powered Future of CX

By Romain Lapeyre
5 min read.
0 min read . By Romain Lapeyre

Today, we’re sharing that we raised $29 million in Series C-2 funding from our existing investors, including Shopify. 

Throughout the lifetime of Gorgias, we’ve always believed that great CX can be the main channel for growth for brands. Now, we believe that AI empowers any brand to realize that potential. 

Most CX leaders agree, with 94% out of 1,000+ agreeing automation is becoming more essential to CX.

Funding will specifically be used to support AI Agent – a fully autonomous AI teammate built on brands’ own knowledge bases, data, and integrations, powered by OpenAI's newest model, GPT-4o.

the interface of ai agent as a gif and some benefits of the tool like automating 60% of support

AI and the next evolution of customer experience

AI has changed the landscape of digital technology. The best comparison is in the early 2000s, when the internet boomed and innovation followed. 

Brands like Netflix embraced the change, evolving alongside their customers' expectations, while brands like Blockbuster tried to stick with the old ways. Now, one of those brands is a Fortune 500 company and the other is a nostalgic throwback.

Now, in the 2020s, artificial intelligence is lowering overhead, automating cognition, accelerating processes, and so much more. Brands – from software companies like Gorgias to ecommerce brands like the ones we serve – must lean into these new technologies to continue growing. 

That’s why we’ve made the conscious decision to go all in on AI and automated CX. We truly believe that AI-powered solutions are the best way to help ecommerce brands on Gorgias grow and succeed.

The case for AI-powered CX 

Our recent research shows that brands who automate their CX see:

  • 52% reduction in resolution time
  • 26% lower ticket-to-order ratio
  • 36% more repeat purchases

AI is your instant Level 1 support. Use it to handle repetitive, basic questions quickly, to meet customer expectations, at a lower cost than hiring human staff. 

Reliable AI frees CX teams to do more than what they previously thought possible, such as opening up new channels like Voice or Live Chat and freeing up your team to focus on high-impact conversations, strategy, and other important projects that get neglected when you’re drowning in tickets.

“The combination of AI and human agents is the future of support,” said Tosha Moyer, Senior Customer Experience Manager at Psycho Bunny. 

Leveraging millions of ecommerce data points

Gorgias has processed 500 million tickets — every single one of them from ecommerce brands — which give us the data points and knowledge we need to build the best AI tool for ecommerce.

We also integrate deeply with 100 ecommerce apps like Shopify, Recharge, Loop Returns, and Klaviyo. This means that AI built with Gorgias has access to more data from your ecommerce tech stack, and can push updates to those apps as well.

“The combination of AI and human agents is the future of support”

— Tosha Moyer, Senior Customer Experience Manager at Psycho Bunny

We cannot stress enough the value of these data points and integrations to power CX. Without these, AI can only offer ChatGPT-style answers. It cannot pull up customer information to personalize a response or find information like order status and loyalty points. Likewise, it cannot process a partial refund or update a subscription. 

With more data and integrations than any other CX tool built for ecommerce, we’re confident our AI will provide accurate, personalized, and helpful answers to our brands’ customers. 

AI that integrates seamlessly with your team

We’re committed to developing AI solutions that put you in full control. You’ll be able to:

  • Feed the AI from your private knowledge base
  • Teach the AI your brand voice and policies
  • Set guidelines that tell the AI exactly when and how to respond to specific scenarios
  • Review every single AI interaction
  • Provide feedback to improve the AI over time

And much more!

This means the way you work will shift: before, CX work was answering repetitive tickets over and over (and over). Now, you’ll use some of that time to monitor and improve your AI Agent and use the rest to tackle CX projects that have been on the back burner for months (if not years).

The next chapter: AI Agent 


Powered by the latest ChatGPT model, GPT-4o, AI Agent can instantly answer tickets, perform actions in other apps, and match a brand's tone of voice, all while ensuring that human hand-off is always possible and smooth for the customer. It can drastically reduce your support time while earning higher CSAT scores than 95% of human agents. 

Gorgias AI Agent

Launching in July, AI Agent is already being used by leading brands like Psycho Bunny. They’ve combined Automate and AI Agent to automate over 40% of inquiries across all channels, responding to and resolving them in minutes, not hours, all while achieving a higher CSAT than their human team.
Join the waitlist

“The AI Agent actually personalizes responses better than our human team, who sometimes just apply a Macro and hit send. The AI Agent restates parts of the customer’s questions helping them feel understood. Plus, of course, it’s super fast.”

— Anneliese Field, Customer Experience Manager at Love In Faith

AI Agent is just the next step in our evolution as a company. 

Looking into the future, we’re using this new round of funding to develop AI-powered solutions to help you provide instant responses, gather insights to improve your CX, turn support agents into top sellers, and help you drive LTV through amazing customer experiences.

How to Optimize Your Help Center for AI Agent

By Christelle Agustin
16 min read.
0 min read . By Christelle Agustin

TL;DR:

  • AI Agent, Gorgias’s conversational AI tool, uses your Help Center as its primary knowledge source to autonomously handle over 30% of customer email inquiries.
  • Ensure your Help Center articles address all relevant topics such as shipping, orders, product information, and account management.
  • An updated Help Center boosts AI Agent's ability to deliver accurate and relevant responses.
  • Ready your Help Center for the upcoming AI Agent beta in May 2024 by using our 50+ article templates.

Your Help Center is a great resource for sharing information with customers. And as AI technology transforms customer support, the Help Center now also serves as a data source that provides AI with the knowledge to answer questions.

Gorgias’s AI features function by drawing on information from knowledge sources. For example, Gorgias’s AI can draw upon your past support tickets to generate Help Center content. Likewise, our upcoming AI Agent uses your Help Center to write and send answers to customer questions.

Our AI Agent is coming July 1st (with a Beta starting in May). Below, we'll explain why an up-to-date Help Center that covers all your policies is the best way to prepare for AI Agent, gain admission to the Beta, and resolve 30%+ of your email support interactions.

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Help Center: The foundation of AI Agent’s knowledge

AI Agent is a conversational AI tool that answers customer support emails by learning your brand’s policies and processes from your Help Center. It can understand a wide array of questions and generate unique responses that are helpful, personalized, and accurate.

Unlike AI tools like ChatGPT or Gemini, which are trained on public information, AI Agent specifically works with your data. Its first layer of support is your Help Center, a database of articles about your products and policies. From there, you can complement its knowledge with data from Macros and connected ecommerce tools like Shopify. 


With AI Agent as your level 1 support, your team can focus on escalated or VIP tickets and other projects you may not currently have time for. 

The crucial step to fully prepare AI Agent is to make sure your Help Center articles are accurate and up-to-date. You don’t need to have your Help Center published or linked on your website — however, articles must be published and not saved as drafts. 

How to tell if your Help Center is ready for AI Agent

To hit the ground running with AI Agent, your Help Center must meet a few criteria. Here’s a checklist to prepare your Help Center:

✔️ Answers all relevant topics

Ideally, customers should find answers with just one click. You can achieve this by publishing articles that answer your customers’ top concerns. 

We’ve compiled the most important Help Center articles to have, with the starred questions being essential to include. You can skip to the bottom of this post to find templates for these topics: 

Shipping & Tracking

  • ⭐️ Where is my order? (WISMO)
  • ⭐️ How do I track my order?
  • ⭐️ How do I get my tracking number? 
  • ⭐️ How much does shipping cost?
  • ⭐️ Do you offer free shipping?
  • ⭐️ International shipping / do you ship worldwide?
  • ⭐️ Do you offer expedited shipping?
  • ⭐️ How long does delivery take?
  • Why can’t I track my order?

Orders & Payment

  • ⭐️ Can I edit or add anything to my order?
  • ⭐️ How do I apply promo/discount codes?
  • What methods of payment do you accept?
  • Where do I get promo codes/discounts?
  • My promo code isn’t working
  • Forgot to add a promo code (but already purchased)
  • How do Shop Pay installments work?
  • How do I update the billing information on my order?
  • How do I purchase a gift card?
  • How do I use a gift card for my purchase?
  • Do you price match for sales?

Order Issues

  • ⭐️ What is your return/exchange policy?
  • ⭐️ What is your cancellation policy?
  • ⭐️ How do I initiate a return?
  • ⭐️ How do I initiate an exchange?
  • ⭐️ How do I cancel my order?
  • ⭐️ How do I get a refund?
  • ⭐️ Order is marked delivered but not here
  • ⭐️ What do I do if I receive the wrong item in my order?
  • Right product was delivered but wrong size/style/color/etc.
  • Item is missing from my order
  • Does not fit/not true to size
  • I’m having a reaction to the product
  • Order damaged

Product Information

  • Sizing
  • Styles
  • Materials/Ingredients
  • Product recommendations
  • How to use this product
  • How long does this last?
  • How to store this product (if it’s perishable)?
  • Product care / washing / cleaning
  • Differences between similar products

Accounts/Subscriptions

  • ⭐️ How do I use these benefits/rewards points?
  • ⭐️ I’m having trouble logging in
  • ⭐️ How do I cancel my membership/subscription?
  • ⭐️ How do I skip a subscription shipment?
  • ⭐️ How do I update my subscription items?
  • How do I set up an account?
  • How do I become a member/subscriber/loyalty program?
  • What are the member benefits? Why should I sign up?
  • I forgot my password / Reset my password 
  • How do I change my default address?

✔️ Up-to-date and accurate articles

As an online business, your information constantly changes, including policies, product updates, and brand revamps. Review older articles, particularly those over a year old, to ensure the information is still accurate. 

Here are the most important elements to update: 

  • Policies, e.g. international shipping, order processing times, return windows, your contact details
  • Product names and availability
  • Links (to key pages on your website or self-service portals)

✔️ Includes important links

If your articles point to other web pages, you’ll want to make sure the right texts are hyperlinked, and the links do not lead to 404 pages.

Some important links to include:

💡 Pro Tip: Avoid including statements in your articles like, “To resolve this issue, contact us at [email]” as this confuses the AI Agent.

✔️ Articles are published

Ensure your articles are published so AI Agent can learn from them. Whether the article is Unlisted or Public, you must take them out of Draft mode. An article left in Draft mode remains invisible to AI Agent. To confirm that your article is published, check the top right corner of the editor to ensure the article is “Published” and not “Unsaved.”

Choose to make your Help Center articles Public or Unlisted
Modify the category, visibility settings, and language of a Help Center article in the editor.

That said, if you’re not ready to share your Help Center with customers,  you don’t need to publish the Help Center itself.

Toggle whether you want your Help Center to be live
You can choose to publish your Help Center live or keep it hidden.

Related: How to boost your Help Center’s visibility

How to build a Help Center as quickly as possible

If you don’t currently have a Help Center, you can set one up and start filling it with articles within a couple of hours. Below are three strategies that will let you create the most comprehensive Help Center, fast.

1) Use AI to create articles

When you create a Help Center on Gorgias, you can access the AI Library. The AI-generated articles are based on your past conversations with customers and their concerns. You can edit them to suit your brand voice and policies.

AI Library gif
Gorgias’s AI Library automatically generates articles based on what your customers inquire about.

As of now, only accounts with a single Shopify store connected have access to the AI Library. We expect multi-store accounts to gain access to this feature by mid-May 2024.

Related: Our AI Library Help Doc

2) Use article templates

Accelerate the setup of your Help Center by using pre-written article templates. These templates cover common customer inquiries and ensure consistency in response quality and format. 

Gorgias offers six ready-to-use Help Center article templates that cover essential topics. These templates enable you to quickly establish a strong database without wasting agents’ time.

A GIF of Help Center article templates
Gorgias makes it easy to create a Help Center with six ready-made article templates.

3) Leverage existing content

Take stock of your existing content, such as FAQs, product guides, and blog posts. Convert this content into Help Center articles and properly categorize them based on the topic for seamless user navigation.

💡 Pro Tip: Each article should only ask one question. This helps AI Agent to easily decipher the purpose of each article.

Evolve Skateboards
Evolve Skateboards links their YouTube videos in their Help Center.

50+ Help Center Article Templates with Answers

To speed up Help Center creation, we’ve provided article templates covering topics from shipping and tracking and account creation to product information. Simply edit the details and add the necessary links based on your policies.

Shipping & Tracking

⭐️ Where is my order? (WISMO)

To check the status of your order, please visit our Order Tracking Portal and enter your email address and order number. We update our tracking information as soon as it is available.

⭐️ How do I track my order?

Once your order has shipped, we'll send you a confirmation email with a tracking link. Click on the link to view the latest updates on your order and its estimated delivery date.

⭐️ How do I get my tracking number?

Your tracking number will be emailed to you when your order ships. If you haven't received it, please check your spam folder. If it's not there, please contact our customer support team.

⭐️ How much does shipping cost?

Shipping costs vary depending on the weight of your order and the destination. To view shipping costs, simply add items to your cart, proceed to checkout, and enter your shipping address. The applicable shipping fees will be displayed before you finalize your order.

⭐️ Do you offer free shipping?

Yes, we offer free standard shipping on orders over [$#]. A standard shipping fee will be applied to orders under [$#].

⭐️ Do you ship worldwide?

We ship to [#] countries worldwide. Shipping costs and times vary depending on the destination. For detailed information and to see if we ship to your country, please visit our international shipping page.

⭐️ Do you offer expedited shipping?

Yes, we offer expedited shipping options for most locations. You can select your preferred shipping method at checkout. Additional charges will apply for expedited shipping.

⭐️ How long does delivery take?

Delivery times vary depending on the destination and the shipping method selected. For standard shipping in [country], expect your order to arrive within 5-7 business days. International orders may take 10-20 business days. 

Why can’t I track my order?

If you can’t track your order, it may be for several reasons: the tracking information is not yet available, the tracking number is incorrect, or there may be a delay in the tracking system updates.

Please allow up to 24 hours for your tracking information to become available after receiving your shipping confirmation email. If you still face issues, contact our customer support team for further assistance.

Order & Payment

⭐️ Can I edit or add anything to my order?

Once an order is placed, we are unable to make changes to the order. However, if you need to update your shipping address or contact information, please contact our customer service team immediately after placing your order.

⭐️ How do I apply promo/discount codes?

To apply a promo or discount code, proceed to checkout and enter your code in the 'Discount Code' field. Click 'Apply' to see your new total before finalizing your order. Only one code can be used per order.

What methods of payment do you accept?

We accept various payment methods including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and PayPal. 

Please note that we do not accept personal checks or money orders. 

Where do I get promo codes/discounts?

To get promo and discount codes, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, check our homepage, and follow us on social media to get the latest deals. 

My promo code isn’t working.

The promo code you entered may not work due to an incorrect input (check that you have entered the right letters and numbers), specific conditions (like minimum spend), or an expiry date. If you continue to experience issues, please contact our support team for assistance.

I forgot to add a promo code but already made a purchase.

If you forgot to apply a promo code at checkout, please contact our customer service team as soon as possible. Depending on the status of your order, our team may be able to apply the promo code for you.

How do Shop Pay installments work?

Shop Pay Installments allow you to split your purchase into multiple payments, interest-free. At checkout, choose Shop Pay, select 'Installments', and follow the prompts to set up your payment plan.

How do I update the billing information on my order?

To update your billing information, you may log in to your account and change your information from the Account Settings page. If you do not have an account, please contact our customer service immediately.

How do I purchase a gift card?

Gift cards can be purchased directly from our website. Visit our gift card section, choose the amount, and complete the purchase. The gift card will be directly emailed to you or to the specified recipient.

How do I use a gift card for my purchase?

To use a gift card, enter the code in the 'Gift Card or Discount Code' box at checkout. The value of the gift card will be deducted from your order total.

Do you price match for sales?

We offer price matching for sales within [specific timeframe] of purchase. If an item you’ve bought goes on sale within this period, please contact our customer service to adjust the price difference. Note that certain conditions may apply.

Order Issues

⭐️ What is your return/exchange policy?

We accept returns and exchanges within [30] days of purchase. Items must be in their original condition and packaging. Some items may not be eligible for return. Please see our detailed return policy for more information.

⭐️ What is your cancellation policy?

Orders can be canceled within 24 hours. After this period, we may not be able to cancel your order as it might already be in processing or shipment.

⭐️ How do I initiate a return?

To initiate a return, please visit our Returns & Exchanges Portal and enter your order number and email address. 

⭐️ How do I initiate an exchange?

To exchange an item, please visit our Returns & Exchanges Portal. 

⭐️ How do I cancel my order?

If you need to cancel your order, please contact us immediately. If your order has not yet been processed, we will cancel it and issue a full refund. If the order is already processed, please refer to our Returns & Exchanges policy.

⭐️ How do I get a refund?

Refunds are processed upon receipt and inspection of the returned item. Please allow up to 10 business days for your refund to be credited back to your original form of payment.

⭐️ Order is marked delivered but not here.

If your order is marked as delivered but you haven't received it, please check around your delivery location and with neighbors. If you still can't locate it, contact our customer support for assistance.

⭐️ What do I do if I receive the wrong item in my order?

If you receive the wrong item, please contact our customer service immediately. We will arrange for the correct item to be sent to you and provide instructions for returning the incorrect item.

I received the right product but in the wrong size/style/color.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused. Please contact our customer service team within [#] days of receiving your order to initiate an exchange for the correct size/style/color. Visit our Returns & Exchanges policy for more information.

What should I do if an item is missing from my order?

We're sorry to hear that you're experiencing issues with your order. Please check your confirmation emails to ensure all items were included in your shipment. If an item is missing, please contact our customer service team immediately so we can resolve the issue.

What can I do if my item doesn't fit or isn't true to size?

If the item you purchased does not fit, you can return it for a refund or exchange it for a different size. Please refer to our Returns & Exchanges policy for details on how to initiate a return or exchange.

What should I do if I'm having a reaction to the product?

Your safety is our priority. Please stop using the product immediately and consult a healthcare professional as needed. To report a reaction and request a return or exchange, contact our customer support team. We also recommend checking the ingredients list to identify any potential allergens.

What should I do if my order arrived damaged?

We apologize for the inconvenience. Please take a photo of the damaged item and email it to our customer service department within [#] days of delivery. We will assist you with a return or exchange as quickly as possible.

Product Information

Where can I find sizing information?

Our sizing runs true to size unless stated otherwise.

For detailed sizing information, please visit our Sizing Guide page. The guide includes size charts and tips on measuring yourself to ensure the best fit.

Which style is best suited for my needs?

Our various styles cater to different preferences and requirements. For a breakdown of our styles and their best uses, please check out our detailed Style Guide.

What are the materials or ingredients used in this product?

We use high-quality materials/ingredients to ensure the best experience with our products. For a full list of the materials or ingredients in this product, visit the product page.

What product do you recommend for [trait/preference/condition]?

For [trait/preference/condition], we recommend our [Product Name], designed to provide a [benefit here]. 

How do I use this product?

For optimal results, follow these steps: 

  1. Step 1
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Step 4

How long does this product last and how should it be stored?

This product typically lasts [X amount of time] when used as directed. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. For perishable products, refrigeration may be required. 

What's the best way to care for this product?

To maintain the quality of your product, we recommend [specific care instructions, e.g., machine wash cold, hand wash only]. For more detailed care instructions, please visit our Care Guide.

What's the difference between Product A and Product B?

Product A is designed for [specific use], while Product B is better suited for [different use]. 

Accounts/Subscriptions

⭐️ How do I use these rewards points?

You can redeem your rewards points at checkout. Enter the amount of points you wish to apply in the 'Rewards' field, and the discount will be applied to your total.

⭐️ I’m having trouble logging in.

If you're having trouble logging into your account, please try resetting your password using the 'Forgot Password' link on the login page. If you still experience issues, contact our customer support team for help.

⭐️ How do I cancel my membership/subscription?

To cancel your membership or subscription, please log into your account and navigate to the 'Subscriptions' section. You can choose to cancel your subscription from there. If you need assistance, our customer service team is here to help.

⭐️ How do I skip a subscription shipment?

You can skip a subscription shipment by logging into your account, going to the 'Subscriptions' section, and selecting the shipment you wish to skip. Please do this before the billing date for the next shipment.

⭐️ How do I update my subscription items?

To update the items in your subscription, log into your account and visit the 'Subscriptions' tab. You can add or remove products or change the quantities for your next shipment.

How do I set up an account?

Create an account [here] by using the same email address you ordered with.

Please note that if you haven’t created a password, you do not have an account. Additionally, signing up for our emails or ordering doesn't mean you have created an account.

How do I become a member/subscriber/loyalty program?

Become a member by visiting our Membership page.

What are the membership benefits?

You’ll earn many perks as a [company name here] member! Upon joining, you’ll receive a 10% off discount on any purchase. 

Plus, more benefits:

  • Points for every dollar spent
  • [$] off anytime you refer a friend
  • A special birthday gift
  • An anniversary gift

I forgot my password.

To reset your password, please click [here].

How do I change my default address?

You can change your default address from your Account settings.

If you need to change your shipping address for a current order, please [contact us].

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Customer Expectations Have Changed — Here’s What You Can Do

By Tina Donati
10 min read.
0 min read . By Tina Donati

TL;DR:

  • Ecommerce sales are expected to rise by 8.8% in 2024, presenting new growth opportunities.
  • Longer consideration times mean businesses need to engage customers at every stage of their buying journey.
  • SEO remains crucial for growth, with over half of consumers using search for pre-purchase information.
  • Ethical AI and well-managed returns can boost customer trust and loyalty while driving sales.

Let’s stop with the doom and gloom ecommerce trends and talk about what’s really up: growth.

Yep, you read that right. 

Ecommerce sales are set to soar by 8.8% in 2024, and the digital marketplace is ripe with opportunity.

Sure, we’ve all been budget-conscious for the past year or more—businesses and consumers alike. And we’re not saying you shouldn’t be.

Despite that, there is a ton of opportunity to grow your sales this year. It’s just time to understand how consumer behavior is shifting and how you should adapt to it.

So, what’s changing? We shared six trends to know about below.

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1. Consideration times are longer

There’s no denying that the more budget-conscious mindset is creating longer consideration times.

According to a 2023 consumer behavior report from Knocommerce, only 23.4% of shoppers reported discovering a brand and making a purchase on the same day. 

Meanwhile, 15.3% reported buying in the first week, and 61.3% of people reported taking longer than a week to make their first purchase.

What this data tells us

It's imperative to adopt a full-funnel approach and strategically engage customers at every stage of their buying journey. 

How? First, you must understand what they need to learn about your products, when they need to learn it, and which customer service channels and content formats they prefer for learning about your products.

Part of the issue is knowing how to simply be available for your customers. They shouldn’t feel like they’re on a scavenger hunt on your website, trying to track down your product FAQs and contact information.

Helpdesks are a great way to solve both issues. For example, with Gorgias On-site Campaigns, you can integrate live chat across your website to recommend products to shoppers in a subtle way, typically at various stages of their buying cycle like,

  1. Personalized messages on product pages that resonate with individual shopper preferences and browsing history.
  2. Recommending complementary products or upgrades based on the customer's current cart selection.
  3. Capitalizing on the excitement of new product launches to capture the attention of browsers.
  4. Implementing winback campaigns targeted at customers who have previously engaged with your brand but haven't made a purchase recently.
  5. Using browse and cart abandonment strategies to re-engage customers who have shown interest in your products but haven't completed the purchase process.
  6. Providing valuable educational content that addresses common pain points, showcases product benefits, and guides customers towards informed purchasing decisions.
  7. Sending targeted holiday campaigns around seasonal trends and shopper preferences to drive conversions.
Glamnetic uses Gorgias Convert to promote their new nail collections

               Glamnetic uses Gorgias Convert to promote new collections.
             
         
Manduka uses Gorgias Convert to help browsing customers

               Manduka uses Gorgias Convert to help browsing customers make a purchase.
             
         

2. Search still matters

Over half of consumers (55% to be exact) rank search as their top source for pre-purchase information. 

Despite what some marketing gurus share online, SEO is still an essential part of any brand’s growth strategy. Don’t sleep on SEO as an acquisition channel.

What to do about this 

Don’t forget the basics of SEO. 

We know it’s easy to forget when to set up an internal link or use a specific keyword, but there are a few best practices you should use to make sure your SEO engine is chugging alone:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify high-value keywords related to your products or services and integrate them strategically into your website content, meta tags, and headings. 
  • Focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that addresses user queries and provides valuable information to enhance your search visibility and rankings. I.e. don’t try to “game” the system.
  • Use Customer Knowledge Bases to improve your website's visibility in search engine results and attract organic traffic. Incorporate targeted keywords and search-friendly formatting into your knowledge-base articles to maximize their SEO impact.
  • Keep your website content fresh, relevant, and up-to-date to maintain search visibility and engage users effectively. 
  • Track and analyze key SEO metrics, such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, and conversion rates, to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. If possible, do this at least every few months (we know you’re busy!).

Remember, SEO takes time to build. Two things you should know:

  1. Traffic reflects past efforts (often taking at least 6 months to show results).
  2. Your success 6 months from now depends on your work from 6 months ago.

Essentially, what you do today will shape your results next year, which is why it’s worth investing ASAP.

3. Customers expect AI safeguards. Prioritize an ethical AI strategy

According to a report by Salesforce, 74% of customers express concerns about the unethical use of AI. Additionally, 80% emphasize the importance of human validation of AI output.

Can shoppers be any more clear about the fact that we need a human-centered approach to AI implementation?

AI is impacting how customers trust businesses. Plain and simple, you need to implement an ethical strategy and make sure it’s managed by humans.

What this data tells us

There’s a fine balance between speed to resolution and adding a human element to every customer message. And you can have both automation and humans running the show.

Businesses that take this approach meet customer expectations for AI safeguards while driving operational efficiency and delivering exceptional customer experiences.

The proof is in the pudding: According to Gorgias data, within just 28 days, merchants who automated up to 20% of tickets experienced an impressive 8-point increase in repeat purchase rates. 

Automation goes beyond keyboard shortcuts or macros; it serves as a hands-off assistant capable of engaging customers and impacting revenue significantly—while making it easy for a human to jump in at any point for more specific customer inquiries.

TL;DR: Don’t be afraid to embrace automation as a strategic tool for customer engagement and growth. 

4. Returns are becoming a profit driver, not a cost center

Returns are an inevitable part of ecommerce, with up to 30% of sales potentially resulting in returns. 

Contrary to common belief, returns are not a cost center—they can be transformed into a profit driver and a valuable touchpoint for enhancing customer loyalty and retention.

In fact, 91% of consumers actively track their packages, indicating a high level of interest and engagement in the returns process.

By making it easy for customers to track returns and exchanges directly from the order tracking page, you reduce return-related support tickets while providing a transparent experience for buyers.

TL;DR: A well-handled return can start a new chapter in the customer's relationship with a brand, not the final page.

What to do about this

At the end of the day, returns can be costly… Unless you customize the returns experience based on shopper segments and save time to re-allocate to other growth-related initiatives. 

Some tips:

  1. Customize the returns experience: Only offer free returns exclusively to VIP customers to incentivize loyalty and increase customer satisfaction.
  2. Understand return reasons: Collect data on return reasons to gain insights into areas for improvement. For example, customers will tell you how to improve product quality, refine the buying experience, and tailor messaging to better meet expectations.
  3. Empower customers: Provide customers with the autonomy to initiate returns independently. By enabling self-service returns, businesses can streamline operations, reduce resource-intensive support tickets, and enhance overall efficiency.
  4. Use integration solutions: Leverage integrated platforms such as Gorgias and Loop Returns to streamline returns management and customer support processes. With two-way integration, merchants can access comprehensive returns data directly within their Gorgias admin interface, enabling faster ticket resolution and improved customer service.

               JAXXON has a self-service portal for returns and exchanges.
             
         

Read more: Ecommerce returns: 10 best practices for taking your online store to the next level

5. Customers expect connected journeys: Break down your business silos

A staggering 79% of customers expect consistent interactions across different departments. Unfortunately, only 45% of customers feel that companies currently provide such consistency. 

Additionally, 56% of customers report the frustration of having to repeat or re-explain information to different representatives, highlighting the disconnect between departments within organizations.

PwC states that 44% of consumers are willing to engage with chatbots to seek product information before making a purchase, making it even more important to have consistency across departments.

Today, customer support teams play a dual role as both problem solvers for post-purchase inquiries and guides for customers exploring products before buying.

What this data tells us

Your support team must understand how to provide consistent support, pre-sale and post-sale. No matter where a buyer is in their journey, every message should feel consistent with the rest of the brand’s ethos.

Our recommendation? 

First, develop templates and macros for customer communication to ensure consistency in tone of voice. By providing standardized responses, businesses can maintain a cohesive brand identity and deliver a seamless experience to customers.

Second, keep all customer information in one centralized location to avoid the need for repetitive inquiries and ensure a holistic view of each customer's interaction history with the brand. No one should have to repeat themselves when trying to get support.

Last, promote a customer-first mindset across the entire organization by prioritizing the needs and preferences of customers in all decision-making processes. For a real-life example of what this looks like, Amanda Kwasniewicz, VP of Customer Experience, shares the strategies she uses at Love Wellness in this article here.

(Teaser: the team shares customer feedback directly in Slack for the whole company to see.)

Love Wellness shares customer feedback on Slack to promote a customer-first mindset across the organization.

         

6. Email is harder, time to diversify

You’re likely already aware that Gmail, Yahoo, and others are imposing stricter rules for inbox placement, making it harder for marketing emails to reach their intended recipients.

Not only that, but according to Klaviyo's benchmark report, email-placed order rates have remained stagnant, with only a minimal increase from Q1-Q3, reaching just 0.8%, and a slight rise to 0.9% in Q4. 

PWC also shares that TV and social ads remain highly influential in customers’ purchase decisions, whereas email is closer to the bottom. This doesn’t mean you should stop investing in email marketing, but connecting with customers in other ways is a good idea to supplement your email efforts.

What to do about this

You can explore many other channels—SMS, direct mail, mobile apps. Even voice marketing is a super unique and niche way to connect with audiences today.

Here at Gorgias, we’re experts at customer experience marketing, and using conversational customer service is a great way to engage with customers directly and personally—without hoping the message hits their inbox and not the spam folder.

This communication style engages customers using various channels, including live chat, messaging apps, chatbots, and even voice support. 

For example, skincare brand Topicals increased sales by 78% using conversational customer support. Specifically, the brand uses Quick Response Flows to automate answers to common questions, such as: 

  • How should I use the Faded Serum?
  • Where do you ship?
  • How do I apply to the Ambassador Program?
  • How do I find the right products for my skin type?

All of this takes place within a self-service chat. These chat flows also guide shoppers to additional helpful resources in Topicals' Help Center or product pages. If a customer still has unanswered questions, a customer support agent can take over the conversation and chat with them directly.

Topicals uses Gorgias Automate to provide instant support to customers

               Topicals uses Gorgias Automate to provide instant support.
             
         

Change can be good — embrace it

If there’s one thing we’ll leave you with, it’s this: 

Embrace the shifts, leverage the trends, and explore new avenues of engagement. 

You don’t have to be scared of new customer expectations, and thankfully, there are a ton of awesome tools out there now that make it easier than ever before to connect with your buyers.

With Gorgias, you can set up conversational marketing across your website, connecting with customers in ways that resonate and drive results. You can try it out for yourself here.

Knowing What You Don’t Know with Nick O’Brien

By Christelle Agustin
5 min read.
0 min read . By Christelle Agustin

Nick’s Top Advice:

  • Sharpen your skills through classes, books, and other resources.
  • Ensure your hires are all good communicators.
  • Create rapport and maintain strong relationships with your network because this will pay off in your future endeavors.

Nick O’Brien didn’t think he would find himself back in the print packaging industry, a trade that’s been written in his family tree for four generations. Then 2015 came and Nick witnessed how difficult it was for New York City business owners to find print packaging suppliers. This reignited a fire in him, pushing Nick to start his own print packaging business called Templi in 2017.

Don’t end up non-technical

There were already “two big strikes” against Nick starting as a non-technical and solo entrepreneur. Although he had spent his younger years working for his family’s print shop Concept Print, Templi was new territory. Not only was there printing to worry about, there was also the coordination work of wrangling together a reliable group of suppliers, designers, and buyers.

ConceptPrint office in Nyack, NY
ConceptPrint’s office in Nyack, New York

He accepted this operations puzzle completely, “I worked through it by realizing, know what you don't know, and trying to get 1% better and more technical every day.”

Nick took it upon himself to fill in the gaps even without a background in business. Code Academy, an online learning platform for coding, was foundational to Nick’s learning and helped him overcome early obstacles. “You can’t run away from learning,” he says, “you have to try to get proficient in all of these areas before you make your hires.”

“You could start non-technical, but you shouldn't end up non-technical.”

Lead by example

The balance between leader and learner was hectic in the early days of Templi, and Nick could only survive as a one-man operation for so long. Building his team was ultimately a self-assessment of what duties he could and couldn’t handle as a founder. He was “basically replacing [himself] with the things he felt were the most easy to train — like customer service, bookkeeping, artwork.” 

For those beginning the hiring process in their startup, he advises to “start small with the technical hire to keep your costs low, then bring in administrative hires to relieve yourself of smaller tasks, so you can stay focused on sales and the customer relationship.”

‎Now, with 10 people on the team, maintaining a healthy workplace culture is top of mind. “Find people who are good communicators and who raise the standards of the team with each new hire.” As a CEO, that means being eager to receive criticisms from both employees and customers so you know which company standards need to be improved.

“How you deal with problems as CEO is how your culture ends up getting defined.”

Keep in touch with your network

In 2020, Templi was one of many U.S. businesses shocked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. When orders stopped coming in, Nick had to start selling personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep the business afloat, “I relied on some connections I had from living and working in China for a couple of years, and that gave us just enough money to keep the business going.”

Maintaining a network is crucial for Templi since they serve design agencies in charge of multiple brands. “Creatives, by nature, have higher standards, and if we do right by them, we make their life easier, they bring us more customers.”

“You may think that because you're in ecommerce, you're not physically connected to your customer, but I would implore you to get connected in every way you can — visit a customer, call them, understand deeply the problems you’re trying to solve. Those relationships will pay off for you and them.”‎ —Nick O'Brien on connecting with your customers

Optimize with speed-based KPIs

Nick often talks about iterating quickly, and to him, that means integrating customer feedback. He still makes sure to spend time with customers, whether he’s visiting their offices or getting their feedback through an email.

To make sure they’re on track, their KPIs address consistency and speed: “We're always trying to optimize for anything that involves those two things, like optimizing for repeat orders. We ultimately want to put these types of purchases on autopilot for the customer and create as much consistency as we can.”

Templi
Templi’s recyclable double-wall coffee cups are great for lower volume cafes, weddings, and other intimate gatherings

Templi’s minimum order quantities (also known as MOQ) are at the high end of the spectrum, with coffee cup orders starting at a minimum of 2,000 cups per order and bar coasters at 2,500. At this level of manufacturing, printing errors and product defects can occur. How does Templi salvage them? Or, more importantly, how do they keep customers happy? 

“To retain a customer, sometimes you may not want to give a certain discount, but then you realize you need to retain them as best you can. That plays into your customer experience, doing whatever you can to keep customers happy, and optimizing the customer experience at every turn.” 

Focus and be present

When the work day ends, Nick comes home to his wife and three-year-old daughter. He is mindful about time, dividing his day into half-hour blocks. For Nick, a great day equates to 10-12 hours of focused work, which he uses carefully: “You need to be able to focus, turn off, and be present for your family.” 

Templi has already beat the odds of startup longevity as a seven-year-old business. Focus is also Nick’s mantra when it comes to leveling up Templi, “Just making those incremental improvements on focus is probably the best thing I've done in building the team.” 

Nick reminds aspiring entrepreneurs not to shy away from collaboration and to continue getting better 1% every day.

“I'm doing my best. I'm not perfect, so I always try and keep getting better everyday.”

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Offer More Self-Serve Options with Flows: 10 Use Cases & Best Practices

By Christelle Agustin
9 min read.
0 min read . By Christelle Agustin

Unfortunately, many shoppers struggle to find the information they need while shopping online, even when self-service portals should be standard, according to 88% of consumers.

At Gorgias, we focus on simplifying customer experiences with AI and automation tools. Our automation tool, Flows, is a self-service feature that delivers shoppers instant answers throughout the entire buying journey, whether it’s to find the right size or track an order.

Keep reading, and we’ll show you how to leverage self-service options at every customer touchpoint using Flows. We’ll start with 10 Flows examples from ecommerce brands, show you how to do it yourself on Gorgias, and then put all the learnings together with some best practices.

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What are Flows? 

Flows are designed to initiate simple interactions that quickly guide shoppers to the information or actions they need. They minimize website bounce rates and enhance automation rates for ecommerce customer support teams.

Flows enhance your website's chat by automating interactions with customers. They provide an immediate automated response with just one click or guide customers through a branching path that caters to their specific needs. This path could include multiple-choice questions or even prompt customers to log in and select an order.

Effective ways to use Flows:

  • Sizing guide
  • Returns and exchanges portal
  • Warranty claim handler
  • Free shipping checker
  • And more

Read more: The types of Flow steps

10 powerful use cases for Flows

Flows are so versatile that they can be used for every type of shopping experience, whether a shopper has just discovered you or they’re already a dedicated brand advocate.

We’ll go through 10 use cases that could benefit from a Flow, show you how real ecommerce brands use them, and how you can make them yourself with Gorgias Automate.

1. Answer shipping policy inquiries

Provide instant answers to customers' shipping inquiries with an easy-to-access shipping policy Flow directly on your website. This Flow efficiently resolves questions about shipping times and fees, helping customers quickly go from browsing to buying.

Nomad states their shipping policy in a Flow that conveniently answers processing time, shipping time, and shipping rates:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a shipping policy Flow might look like:

Shipping policy Flow builder
If your shipping policies vary by region, include options that reflect those regions.

2. Automate returns & exchanges 

If a customer isn’t satisfied with your product, don’t make it harder for them to return it.  A returns Flow not only clarifies your return policy to motivate a customer who's on the fence but also connects them directly to the right process to start a return or exchange. All they have to do is enter their order number and email, and they’re done.

No handling it on the agent side and waiting from the customer end.

Try out bag brand CALPAK’s returns Flow in the tour below:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a return and exchange Flow might look like:

Return and exchange policy on Gorgias
If returns policies vary for international locations, include an option for international customers to select in the Flow.

3. Recommend products to browsing customers

A product-matching quiz can solve decision fatigue if shoppers are faced with multiple versions of a product — like a supplement for different concerns, beverage flavors, or makeup for different skin tones. 

Sol de Janeiro, the fast-growing body care brand, boasts shower gels, body creams, and fragrances of different scents and colors. To prevent customers from feeling overwhelmed, Sol de Janeiro offers product-matching quizzes.

For example, their What body cream is right for me? quiz asks customers about their main skin concern. If a customer’s concern is smooth skin, they’ll recommend a body cream supporting skin elasticity. If the concern is firmer-looking skin, they recommend a cream rich in antioxidants.

Here’s what the Flow looks like on Sol de Janeiro’s website:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a simple product recommendation Flow might look like:

Product recommendation template on Gorgias
A product recommendation flow can consist of one or multiple questions.

4. Manage subscriptions in a few clicks

Seventy-four percent of customers forget they’re paying for a subscription, based on C+R Research. Keep customer relationships honest and show customers that they have full control over their memberships, whether they want to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel their subscription plans.

Even if you have a customer portal for managing subscriptions, not all customers will look for it on their own. A Flow can bridge this gap by guiding customers directly to the portal while significantly reducing the volume of subscription-related tickets in your inbox.

Online vet care service Dutch lays it all out with a subscription management Flow, providing customers with straightforward instructions: 

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a subscription management Flow might look like:

Subscription management template on Gorgias
The subscription management Flow template provides information about changing subscription frequency, products, delivery details, payment information, and cancellation.

5. Display your warranty policy

Big ticket purchases need extra support in case of defective parts. Tell customers you’ve got their back by displaying your warranty policy upfront. You’ll ease their concerns and earn their loyalty knowing their premium buy is protected.

Bidet brand TUSHY sells premium bidets. To provide similarly premium customer experiences, they have a 12-month guarantee on equipment and parts. They present their warranty policy Flow on their website:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a warranty policy Flow might look like:

Warranty policy on the Flow builder

6. Notify customers about product restocks

“Sold Out” or “Out of Stock” aren’t the nicest words to see on a product page, especially if you’re a repeat customer ready to buy your favorite product. To keep customers in the loop, create a Flow that lets them know the status of your products.

For the baby stroller brand Zoe, popular products sell out quickly. To efficiently manage customer inquiries, they created a When are you expecting a restock? Flow. It informs customers about product availability and also encourages them to leave their email address or SMS number. This ensures they can purchase a stroller as soon as it's back in stock and allows Zoe to connect with them for future marketing efforts.

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Here's what a restock notification Flow might look like:

Restock flow in the flow builder
A restock flow can contain as few as three steps.

7. Troubleshoot an order

Products may require additional assistance depending on their usage. These can be products like electronics, apparel, and furniture. If customers are asking the same troubleshooting question, it would be best to add a troubleshooting Flow.

Check out how CAKES handles product issues with a simple Troubleshoot Flow:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a troubleshooting Flow might look like:

8. Welcome new customers

Nothing beats a warm welcome, especially for new customers who are just starting their journey with your brand. A welcome Flow is essential for engaging these newcomers right from the start. It provides them with crucial product education and relevant information, setting the tone for a supportive customer relationship. 

Take a look at how Crunch Labs, STEM building kits for kids, assists customers with a welcome Flow:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Here's what a welcome Flow might look like:

Welcome flow
A welcome flow can address multiple FAQs within one flow.

9. Ensure perfect product matches with a sizing guide

Apparel brands face frequent sizing inquiries that can lead to returns. A sizing guide Flow provides clear, self-service information upfront, reducing sizing issues. This Flow acts as a self-service tool that customers can use to find their correct size before purchasing. 

Here’s how gender-inclusive apparel brand Both& guides customers to the right size:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Gorgias has a templated Flow to get you started. Here's what a sizing guide Flow might look like:

Sizing guide flow

10. Answer pre-sales questions

Unanswered pre-sales questions can deter purchases. A pre-sales question Flow delivers immediate, thorough answers, leads to a boost in customer confidence, and reduces post-purchase dissatisfaction.

Organic soap brand Dr. Bronner’s provides shelf life information for all their products with a Flow:

Do it yourself on Gorgias

Here's what a pre-sales question Flow might look like:

Pre-sales flow
Pre-sales questions aim to alleviate customer concerns before they decide to buy your product.

Keep these Flows best practices in mind

Stick to 1-step Flows to maximize automation potential 

Single-step Flows are the most engaging Flows because there’s no opportunity for shoppers to drop off. Single-step Flows can link out to additional resources, like a Help Center article or a returns and subscription portal through tools like Loop Returns or Recharge. 

💡 Pro Tip: Keep Flows to a maximum of five steps. Any more and you're likely to lose customers’ attention.

Include shipping and returns policies in your Flows

Online stores’ top-performing Flows are almost always about shipping and return policies. Make sure to anticipate customer questions by creating a Flow for each policy, succinctly answering questions like:

Shipping Policy:

  • How long does shipping take?
  • How much does shipping cost?
  • Where do you ship?
  • Where is my order? (with a link to Order Management tracking if possible)

Return Policy:

  • What is the return window?
  • Cost of return shipping
  • Condition item(s) must be in
  • How do I initiate a return? (with a link to the Return Portal if possible)

Create Flows for each language

Flows will not appear for shoppers unless the language of the Flow matches the language of the shopper's browser — including regional languages. 

If a Flow is only in English (UK), it will not show up for American shoppers whose browsers are in English (US).

If you sell internationally, we highly recommend adding all possible languages to Flows, including regional languages.

Note: Gorgias Chat supports 15 languages, including English (US and UK), French (France and Canada), Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Czech, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and Finnish.

Read more: Multi-language support for Chat

Link to other self-service tools (like Loop, Recharge, Help Center, etc.)

Flows often automate interactions when they send customers to another page (like a Recharge login page or a Loop portal, or even sometimes a Help Center article). 

If a customer’s inquiry could be solved with one of these tools, include a link to the right page in the Flow’s automated answer.

Automate engagement with Gorgias Automate

Join brands like Shinesty that use Gorgias Automate to transform their customer experience. By using Flows, Quick Responses, Order Management, Article Recommendations, AI Autoresponders, and AI Agent, Shinesty has been able to automate over 50% of their customer tickets. 

Book a demo now and be a part of the 15,000+ ecommerce brands using Gorgias to transform their customer experiences.

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