Before writing this article, we searched customer service tips and found lots of content giving advice that individual agents can apply: be patient, be empathetic, and listen actively. These tips are helpful, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg for teams looking to provide excellent customer service.
The goal of ecommerce customer service isn’t just to please customers. Just like any function of a business, great customer service must drive revenue — and having positive interactions with customers is just one small element of that goal. Great customer service can help an online store grow its bottom line revenue through:
- Better customer retention (and more loyal customers)
- Higher average order volume (AOV) from loyal customers
- Better word-of-mouth advertising and referrals from high net promoter score
- More chances to drive sales with new customers through proactive customer service
With that in mind, we set out to give you some customer service suggestions that positively impact your customers, your agents, and your revenue. Here are 20 tips for better customer service on many levels, from operational changes down to individual agents’ day-to-day.
Tips for making high-impact changes to your customer experience
Starting with the big picture, there are several high-impact changes that customer support leadership can execute to revamp the customer experience. Best of all, these changes are high-impact and wide-reaching but also don't break the bank to roll out. With that said, here are five tips to overcome the biggest customer service challenges your team faces and improve your customer service experience from the top down:
Collect and use customer feedback to improve the product and customer experience
Customer feedback is the single best resource to improve the overall quality of your product and customer experience. Analyzing customer feedback from support tickets, NPS and CSAT surveys, and face-to-face conversations can surface patterns harming customer satisfaction and opportunities for improvement.
For example, if you are getting a lot of customer questions about your return policy, you may want to make that policy a little clearer. Or, if customers are frustrated about your response times, consider implementing real-time support channels such as live chat or SMS, or consider using automation and templated responses to resolve common questions quickly.
Also, your customer support team can use feedback to share customer insights with other teams like product or shipping — changes that may have an even bigger impact on customer success. We strongly recommend you develop a system to pass along the feedback to appropriate teams. If you use Gorgias, you can automatically tag tickets with feedback for certain teams and create a View for each team. And since nearly all pricing tiers in Gorgias give you unlimited seats, you can invite people from those teams to see customer feedback first-hand.
Automate simple ticket requests such as WISMO to let agents focus on valuable conversations
Automating simple tickets such as "where is my order" (WISMO) offers two substantial benefits. First and foremost, it speeds up your response and resolution times by providing an immediate resolution to many common support tickets. For these simple questions, customers don’t need a “human touch” — they need fast, helpful responses.
Leveraging customer service automation to resolve simple tickets also frees up your team to focus on high-impact tickets and more complex customer issues. When your team doesn't have to spend their entire day answering the same relative questions over and over again, they can put their customer service skills to use on tickets with a bigger impact on your brand's bottom line.
Provide self-help solutions
Most customers don't actually like to contact a company's customer support team and would prefer to resolve issues on their own. In fact, 88% of consumers say that they expect companies to offer an online self-service portal.
The benefits of providing self-help solutions to your customers go beyond simply meeting customer expectations, though. By allowing customers to resolve common issues on their own, you can free up time in your support team's schedule so they can focus on resolving more pressing inquiries.
So, what does providing self-help solutions to online customers look like? On top of automating simple answers as described above, publishing a detailed and comprehensive FAQ page on your website is a great place to start. You can also create a comprehensive knowledge base (also known as a help center) where customers can find more information about your products. Here’s a quick snapshot of the difference between FAQ pages and help centers:
Automated chatbots span the gap between self-service and hands-on support by making customers feel like they are receiving personalized assistance without tying up your support team members. Similarly, if you use Gorgias, you can install self-service flows to your help center or live chat so customers can answer their questions or even track and modify orders without waiting for an agent response:
Train agents to have a strong understanding of your products and processes
Customer service training for soft skills like empathy and active listening is important. But empathy and active listening aren’t helpful unless your agents understand the product enough to troubleshoot. Similarly, they need to deeply understand your processes (for things like escalation and returns) to give clear, accurate instructions.
When support agents guide customers to do something — for example, completing the checkout process — they should always ensure that the information they provide is correct. Providing customers with faulty information leads to negative interactions and is a bad look for your brand. Creating Macro templated responses is another quick way to reduce human error.
If you’re developing a training program, emphasize these lessons first and foremost. To be more helpful, create an internal knowledge base about your product and processes that customer service agents can reference.
Finally, make sure you train your agents on whatever customer service tools you use. If you’re shopping for a helpdesk, look for one with built-in agent education. Gorgias Academy, for example, has courses and certifications for agent training and account management. Plus, our help center has detailed documentation on how to configure your account, set up new automation, and so much more.
Benchmark your customer service's impact on your brand's revenue
More than just a way to address customer needs and keep them happy, excellent customer service can directly create revenue for your brand. After having a great customer service experience, 93% of customers are likely to return to your store and 90% are likely to purchase the second time around according to Hubspot data. And according to our data, return customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time shoppers.
Beyond furthering customer loyalty and repeat shopping, customer support impacts sales via product recommendations, generating word-of-mouth referrals, and encouraging happy customers to leave product and brand reviews.
Whether you’re a business owner or lead a customer service team, tracking this revenue can help you understand (and improve) the revenue you’re driving through customer happiness.
In-depth tracking is a challenge by hand, but you can start by seeing how many customers place an order within five days of a customer service interaction and attribute that revenue to customer service. If you want more suggestions, check out our list of 25 customer support metrics, which walk through revenue-related metrics like customer churn, revenue backlog, and more.
With Gorgias' revenue statistics feature, brands can access detailed metrics and analysis regarding how much revenue their customer service team generates. By using Gorgias to analyze support ticket details and identify sales trends, you'll be able to figure out what works and what doesn't and use data to develop a customer service strategy optimized for revenue generation:
Tips for driving sales with customer service interactions
Too often, brands view customer service only as a way to fight fires and prevent unhappy customers. However, every customer interaction is an opportunity to generate sales and drive revenue. By shifting your customer service representatives’ focus to revenue generation via customer satisfaction, you can implement a customer service strategy designed to both help customers and create sales.
Here are three tips on how to do just that:
Enable live chat to resolve questions that might prevent a customer from making a purchase
According to data from the Baymard Institute, about 70% of all online shopping carts are abandoned. While there are many reasons why shoppers abandon shopping carts, questions or issues arising during the checkout process are some of the most common reasons.
Thankfully, live chat solutions such as Gorgias live chat enable brands to stop this type of cart abandonment. Installing a live chat widget on your checkout page will make it easy for customers to request assistance with any issues that might otherwise prevent them from making a purchase.
If you use Gorgias, you can also proactively reach out to customers throughout the buying and checkout process. By asking if they need help, reminding them they’ll qualify for free shipping at a certain cart value, and offering discounts strategically, you can to reduce cart abandonment and increase average order value via upsells and personalized product recommendations.
Proactively chat customers with best-selling items in their cart
Speaking of offering proactive customer support via live chat, proactively reaching out to customers who have placed best-selling items in their cart is one effective way to lift your brand’s revenue up to 13%, according to our data. Just like the tip above, offering customers discounts, product recommendations, or a chance to ask questions could make the difference between a completed sale and an abandoned cart.
Of course, this isn't the only way that proactively contacting customers via live chat can generate sales. Offering personalized recommendations for additional products or upselling based on the items already in a customer's cart can boost both conversion rates and average order value. Meanwhile, contacting customers who navigate away from your checkout page to offer them assistance or a discount can reduce your cart abandonment rate.
Best of all, you can fully automate all of this with the right customer support platform. Using Gorgias chat campaigns, you can create templated live chat responses that are automatically triggered based on specific customer actions. For example, adding a best-selling item to their cart or lingering on the checkout page for over 30 seconds.
These are just one more way to help generate sales via proactive customer support — even when your support team is off the clock.
Offer product recommendations in your email signatures
Customer support emails are first and foremost for giving helpful support. However, an agent's signature at the bottom of a customer support email is a subtle yet noticeable position to place product recommendations.
If you use Gorgias, you’ll always have the customer sidebar and order history to tell you whether a customer loves your brand (and will therefore appreciate a curated recommendation) or is frustrated with a recent experience (and probably less open to a recommendation):
Plus, if you use Shopify, you don’t even have to leave Gorgias to choose and include a product recommendation in a response. The Shopify product picker lets you include visual links to products in your tickets.
Tips for improving day-to-day productivity (for individual agents)
Improving your agents' productivity allows you to speed up your response and resolution times and gives your team more time to focus on delivering value to the company. If you would like to eliminate the various obstacles that are keeping your team members from being as productive as possible, here are three effective tips to follow:
Get up and move around
Sitting for prolonged periods takes a mental and a physical toll on a person, even if they don't notice it at first. While you certainly want your agents to stay busy throughout the workday, encouraging them to take short breaks from time to time is sure to benefit their productivity much more than it reduces it.
Even something as simple as getting up for a coffee can be enough to refresh your mental energy and prevent burnout. Doing exercises and stretches at your desk is another quick way to alleviate both the mental and physical strain that sitting in the same position for hours on end creates.
Set daily goals
Setting daily goals for your agents will guide them through what they need to work on and achieve every day. And, when your team consistently accomplishes their daily goals, they'll have more motivation to keep up the good work.
When creating goals for your customer service representatives, you should create both short-term and long-term goals. Generally speaking, short-term goals deal with more immediate issues, and long-term goals are more stable.
A few examples of short-term customer service goals include:
- Latest internal updates from your team: New issues, new tickets, changes in inventory, etc.
- Pending tickets that remained unresolved from the day before: For example, if you asked for help from your manager or other agents, did they help with the issue? Do you need to follow up or further troubleshoot with the customer?
- Anything you need to keep an eye on: Did you receive any requests to handle urgent tickets from your boss? Do you have any call requests that you need to book for the day?
For long-term goals, consider:
- Provide feedback, tips, and training to the members of your team who have less time than you to improve as a team.
- Learn product knowledge and customer service skills so you can do your work better.
Sometimes things may be out of your control, so try not to stress too much if an agent doesn't complete their goals by the end of the day. Instead, encourage them to be open about the roadblocks that kept them from reaching their goals so that you can help them improve.
Prepare your workspace
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for support agents to work remotely. In fact, one 2021 survey finds that 87% of customer service reps work from home in some capacity.
One of the biggest challenges when working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. This is why WFH agents should have a dedicated "work corner" in the house to help them stay as productive as they are in the office.
Here are some tips to help you set up a workspace optimized for productivity:
- Use good natural lighting, a nice comfy chair, and a few decorations to make your workspace more comfortable and inviting.
- Write a task plan for the workday, and then cross out everything you complete. Not only is it satisfying to cross things off the list, but it can motivate you for the day ahead.
Tips for avoiding common customer support mistakes
Avoiding common mistakes that can lead to poor customer service is just as important as implementing best customer service practices. To avoid falling short of customer expectations and making mistakes that could harm both your brand's reputation and its bottom line, here are three common support agent mistakes to watch out for:
Never interrupt customers
One of the most critical rules in customer service is to never interrupt a customer. Because if you do, your customers may think you don’t want to listen to them and don’t respect them. They probably aren't going to be very happy as a result — even if the rep who interrupted does eventually resolve their issue.
Use inappropriate language
Words can affect us in a good way or a bad way. A customer support team needs to understand the power of words and always use positive language while avoiding phrases that customers could interpret as rude.
Use canned responses strategically
Using canned responses is a good way to answer customers’ tickets quickly. But it can backfire if you rely too much on canned responses without modifying them according to specific cases.
The best practice is to personalize canned responses based on customers’ questions. This prevents your agents from recreating the wheel with every response, but still puts a personal touch on each response; even something as small as including the customer’s name can make a big difference.
Avoid using canned responses when you’re unclear about what a customer is trying to say. Also, if you can’t find a relevant canned response, ask a teammate for help: Never use a canned response just for the sake of giving customers an answer.
Check out these 16 email templates to get started. Or if you use phone support heavily, check out these customer service scripts.
Tips for handling angry customers
Dealing with unhappy customers is often one of the more challenging aspects of a customer support team's job. However, it is certainly a vital element of good customer service. Here are six tips that your support team can use when dealing with customer complaints to turn angry customers into happy customers again.
Try to always use positive language
Customers may not always have the kindest words for support agents, but it is essential for your agents to always use positive language themselves — no matter what the customer is saying to them.
Using positive language doesn't just mean avoiding words that directly insult the customer; this is a basic requirement for the job and something that should come as obvious to any customer support representative. It also means avoiding words that can trigger negative emotions.
To explain what we mean, let's take a look at a few examples. Here are some hypothetical responses from customer support agents that use negative language:
- "I might be able to help you with this problem that you are experiencing."
- "If you have any more issues, I'd be happy to work with you on them."
- "Don't get angry; I'm going to help you."
And here are a few examples of what similar responses might sound like using positive language:
- "I can definitely help you find a solution to that."
- "Thanks! I hope you have a wonderful day. Please feel free to contact me again if there is anything else I can help you with."
- "I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. Let me fix it for you."
Training customer service professionals to utilize positive language in every interaction will help build better customer relationships — soothing angry customers and preventing negative emotions along the way. If your support agents need more help putting positive language into practice, customer service scripts are an excellent resource to leverage.
If you use a helpdesk, build a library of these templated responses so your agents don’t have to write positive responses from scratch each and every time.
Keep your composure
Angry customers can make it hard for you to keep calm, but if you lose your cool in those situations, the consequences can be damaging. Your customers won’t be happy and will likely start sharing their unpleasant experiences with your business across social media — something that can turn new shoppers away from your brand..
Here are a couple of tips from the Gorgias customer support team on how to keep your composure when dealing with unhappy customers:
- Handle angry customers’ requests urgently. Try to calm them down, and if possible, involve others to reassure the customer that your team will resolve their issue.
- Always approach customers with a direct explanation and excellent soft skills. Don’t let the situation affect your emotions.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes
Attempting to fully understand a customer's problems first before you try to resolve it can go a long way. When you try to put yourself in the customer's shoes, you see things through their eyes and practice empathy. And, in many cases, a little empathy helps you understand the customer’s problem a little more deeply, which can help you find a better solution.
Be transparent about what happened
Brands must be willing to take ownership of their mistakes rather than trying to cover them up. Be completely transparent about whatever happened, as your customers will likely get agitated if they feel like you're giving them the runaround.
Your customers need to know you’re always going the extra mile to help them resolve whatever issue they’re experiencing. If the problem was from your end, you need to communicate what you’re doing to prevent it from happening again.
Practice active listening
Regardless of the outcome and eventual resolution, customers want to feel heard. If your agents aren't actually listening to what customers are saying, the customer will notice and will only grow more frustrated and upset.
Active listening entails carefully listening to everything the customer is saying and then providing feedback demonstrating that you were paying attention. Repeating details of what a customer tells you back to them in a natural manner is one effective way to demonstrate active listening and is sure to help calm a frustrated customer.
Thank the customer for bringing this issue to your attention
Anytime an upset customer tells you about their problem, you should thank them for bringing it to your attention. For one, negative feedback is indeed valuable and is something that no company should shy away from. In a very real way, customers are doing you a service by making you aware of issues.
Beyond this, thanking customers for voicing their issues proves that you are genuinely interested in solving a customer's problem and improving their experience with your brand. When customers realize this, they are less likely to stay upset.
If you use Gorgias, our integration with Yotpo can help you see whether customers have left reviews of your brand, which could prompt a certain tone of response or even a win-back campaign like offering a discount:
Better customer support experience, better customer journey — more revenue generation
By using these 2 tips to optimize your customer support strategy, you can improve customer satisfaction while at the same time utilizing customer service as an avenue to generate sales.
Find out how Gorgias' industry-leading customer service tools helped Loop Earplugs boost their customer experience — and increase revenue by 43% in the process.
To learn more about how Gorgias' cutting-edge customer service and automation features can help you improve customer service at every level, book a demo with Gorgias.