Great customer service is the shortest path to reliable growth for ecommerce brands: 90% of customers say customer service is an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Plus, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases from a company that offers excellent customer service — and those repeat customers are 300% more profitable.
Many businesses don't invest enough in customer service because they believe it has a low return on investment (ROI). So, well-meaning customer service teams aren't given enough tools and staff (or "a seat at the table") to create a customer experience that positively impacts revenue. Then, they have even less leverage, and the cycle continues.
We chatted with Phil Roireau, Gorgias's VP of Business Development and Partnerships (and co-owner of his own ecommerce brand), to identify some top customer service challenges and tactical solution for each challenge.
1) Proving the team’s ROI and getting buy-in for additional agents and tools
At its core, a customer support agent’s job is to answer questions and address customers’ problems. However, too many teams strictly focus on clearing the ticket queue, measuring the support team’s impact with non-business metrics like response and resolution times.
Another common pitfall is to aim for overly broad goals of “surprising and delighting” customers without a real understanding of the business ROI.
The reality is that customer experience (largely driven by the support team) has many touchpoints across the entire customer journey (from pre-sales to post-sales), leading to more sales and customer loyalty.
It’s essential that your customer service team proactively measures and proves ROI. Without knowing how much money your customer experience (CX) drives, you’ll never:
- Actually understand the impact you're having on the business
- Learn about the biggest opportunities to improve your CX
- Have up-to-date data about your impact on revenue in order to ask for more resources from company leaders
Solution: Shift your support team’s metrics and KPIs
If you only measure first response time and average handle time, you're only seeing whether your agents are good at answering tickets. Not whether they’re boosting revenue.
Expand your KPIs and reporting dashboard to track customer retention rate (CRR), customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, and conversion rate from customer service conversations.
If those are your base measurements, you'll incentivize support team members to act more as sales agents by reaching out to customers proactively to suggest products, encourage happy customers to leave product reviews, and other tactics that boost revenue.
And if you use Gorgias, you can focus in on CX-driven revenue even more with our Revenue Statistics dashboard:
2) Customer service representatives don’t have the answer to customers' questions
If a customer calls your company and doesn't get the answer to their question, they aren't likely to leave the interaction feeling good about your brand.
Of course, customer service reps can't possibly know the answer to every question off the top of their head. This makes it essential to provide your reps with all the resources they need to address each customer’s needs — fast.
Solution: Create a knowledge base, use templates, and thorough onboarding with product and process information
A knowledge base is a collection of articles, videos, and other resources that customer support staff can use to find answers to common questions. It’s also different from an external help center or knowledge base that’s customer-facing, and more extensive than an FAQ page. Your knowledge base will serve as an easy reference tool for agents whenever they need to double-check a customer service policy or product.
You can also program that knowledge directly into your helpdesk. Gorgias allows brands to create templated Macros that are easy to use and customize as needed. You can create templates for a number of common questions and issues, building an internal knowledge base of sorts for your agents to pull directly into customer tickets.
This ensures that customers get consistent, accurate information, and serves as a training tool for new and established reps alike.
That said, when it comes to instilling product and policy knowledge, nothing replaces your onboarding and training process. We recommend dedicating more of these valuable sessions to educating your reps on:
- Product and service knowledge
- Policy and process knowledge
- Customer service tools
- Technical skills
- Good vs. bad tickets
- Brand voice and tone
- Soft skills (like hot to empathize with customers)
- Helpful customer service phrases
3) Dealing with a frustrated or angry customer
Dealing with angry customers is a part of the job that very few support agents enjoy.
However, empathizing and working with customers no matter how upset they are is a vital element of good customer service.
Angry customers who eventually calm down are potential customers who might return to your company — they are also less likely to leave negative reviews that could damage your brand image.
Solution: Improve your CX proactively with clear product and policy descriptions (plus self-service)
Most blog posts claim the best way to deal with an angry customer is to practice patience and empathy, maybe with a pre-written script. And if you want that kind of advice, check out our blog post with an example script for how to deal with an angry customer.
But let's look closer at the root of most customers' anger: The shopping experience didn't happen like they thought it would. And the best way to mitigate that anger is to lean into proactive customer support:
- Create incredibly clear product descriptions (to avoid a customer feeling duped)
- Display detailed policies (for things like shipping and returns) prominently on your website
- Use pop-ups, banners, and mass emails to proactively warn customers about delays and outages before they get frustrated
- Build detailed FAQ pages and Help Centers to help customers find answers fast, before they get angry about having to reach out and wait
For example, develop a great post-purchase experience to avoid customer anger. Send customers a detailed order confirmation, clear step-by-step information about when their product will be shipped and how to track their order.
If you’re not sure where to start, listen to your customers. Our guide to collecting customer feedback explains how to take insights from customer support tickets
4) Providing customer service to multiple customers at a time
If you want to have any hope of achieving industry standards for metrics like first response time and resolution times, your customer support reps need to be able to work with multiple customers in real time, across communication channels (like live chat and social media).
This is one of the more challenging aspects of the job for small teams. Thankfully, it is also something that the right customer service software can go a long way toward helping your customer service agents achieve.
Solution: Use a centralized helpdesk and steer customers toward faster support channels
If you aren’t already, consider using a helpdesk to manage customer conversations across all channels. A helpdesk pulls these conversations into one centralized inbox so your team can offer omnichannel service — a fancy way of saying offering support to customers on all channels, without having to switch between tabs.
Once your helpdesk is up and running, direct your customers away from calling your support line and, if they want to talk to an agent quickly, use channels like SMS or live chat. For most brands, those channels have lower first-response times. Plus, they also let agents talk to multiple customers at once (unlike call centers, where you can only chat with one customer at a time).
Berkey Filters does a great job of ushering customers toward these faster channels on their contact us page:
Note: This isn't a universal tip. If you struggle with not being able to serve multiple customers, follow the above advice. If you don’t have enough staff to keep up with these instantaneous channels, diving straight in could cause problems. Read our guide on how small teams can manage live chat for more help.
Alternatively, you can use contact forms in your live chat to collect customer emails when they ask a question and send a follow-up email when you have more time:
5) Too many service tickets for your team to handle (especially during busy seasons)
For many support teams, incoming ticket volume is an unending challenge. For many of those same companies, some seasons (like Black Friday) are even more overwhelming. Ask yourself: How many times have you answered, “Where is my order?”
The challenge isn’t just keeping up with a full contact center, it’s making sure to maintain a helpful, customer-centric approach in every single message your customer support team sends.
Solution: Deflect low-impact tickets (without sacrificing support quality) using self-service
The best way to keep up with tickets (and preserve enough energy to nail the most challenge tickets) is to lean on self-service in your chat widget.
Self-service is a bit like a chatbot, but set up for customer success (rather than customer irritation). While chatbots try and imitate people, self-service provides simple functionality and workflows to answer common questions, track orders, request returns, and more.
Watch this video to understand a bit more about what self-service from our Automation Add-on can do for your brand:
If you still struggle to meet demand during busy seasons even with the help of automation, consider utilizing services such as Simplr that provide remote support agents on demand.
6) Hiring quality customer service agents at scale
As your business grows, growing a team of agents that can provide high-quality customer service becomes more challenging.
It's one thing to hand-train a few agents to meet the needs of a small business. Building and training a large, constantly growing customer service team is an entirely different challenge — one that many companies struggle with. And if you hire low-quality agents and provide poor training, your team’s ROI will begin to snowball:
Solution: Hire agents like they’re sales associates
Hiring skilled customer service reps is the first key to solving this challenge. People often view customer service as a junior, outsourceable role. However, if you consider the impact that customer service has on revenue, it makes much more sense to hire support reps as though they are sales associates — because, in many ways, they are.
Also, once you hire an all-star team, choosing a customer support platform that includes built-in product training (like Gorgias Academy) can also help streamline your onboarding process. Basing your training off real support data gathered with Gorgias can help you focus your training initiatives on the areas that matter most.
Check out our ultimate guide to customer service hiring for a step-by-step process that attracts strategic, empathetic, and business-minded agents.
7) Slow resolution times
While most customer service teams need to start thinking beyond resolution times, they’re still a tentpole of your team’s performance — and one of the biggest customer service challenges.
In today's world of instant gratification, most customers expect an immediate response to their questions. This is especially true of younger customers, with 71% of customers between 16 and 24 years old stating that a quick response to questions and issues can drastically improve their customer service experience.
When your team already has more tickets than it can handle, meeting these customer expectations can be a real challenge.
Solution: Give customers instant help with self-service (and prioritize the rest)
Yet again, the answer isn’t to work harder — it’s to work smarter. Rather than trying to answer every question as quickly as possible, set up self-service resources to deflect simple questions and build systems to prioritize the rest of your requests.
We talked about self-service above, but to recap, here are a few easy-to-implemnet solutions worth considering:
- A robust help center with articles and videos to explain your policies and products
- A public forum where customers can post and answer questions, which becomes a self-service resource for future customers with similar problems
- A customer self-service menu in your chat widget, which customers can click for instant information about their order status or shipping progress
Once you’ve deflected, it’s time to prioritize. While you could prioritize each of these tickets by hand (sometimes called manual ticket routing), a helpdesk like Gorgias can help you do this automatically. Here’s an example of an automation in Gorgias, called a Rule, that will put any customer requests to cancel a recent order (before it ships) into a priority queue:
That’s just one example. Read our Director of Support’s full guide to customer service prioritization for more guidance.
8) No crisis management or escalation policies
Support tickets may need to be escalated higher up the chain to be resolved. If your company lacks policies for escalating these tickets, many of them may go unresolved.
This leads to angry customers who feel that your company has no interest in fixing their problem.
Solution: Automate the ticket escalation process
Creating policies for escalating support tickets is the obvious place to start in addressing this challenge, but it's also helpful to automate ticket escalation to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
With Gorgias’ Rules, support agents can automatically transfer a ticket to another agent or team without having to manually collect customer information and reassign the ticket — much like the example in the above section.
Gorgias also allows you to create rules for escalating tickets automatically, such as a rule for automatically escalating tickets when the platform's Sentiment Detection feature detects that a customer is angry. Here’s an example of a Rule that uses Sentiment Detection to flag tickets where someone may leave a bad review:
Conquer challenges and grow revenue with Gorgias
All of the common customer service challenges we've looked at in this article are more than just annoying issues for your support team to deal with; they are also revenue blockers that can harm your company's bottom line. Thankfully, creating a solid customer experience is a worthy investment — and Gorgias is your tool to grow through great CX.
With Gorgias, you can automate tedious customer service tasks, utilize live chat support, access detailed analytics, and take advantage of many more revenue-boosting tools and features. Here’s a video explaining what Gorgias can do:
Need more proof? See how our customer, Ohh Deer, used Gorgias Live Chat to boost their CSAT score to 4.95 and generate an additional $12,500 per quarter.