With a decade of experience in customer service roles, I’ve recognized that ecommerce customer service goes beyond answering questions.
The best experience you can give customers is proactively providing them with what they need so they don't have to contact support at all. In instances where customers do need to talk to someone on the team, interactions that surprise and delight help keep them coming back.
Ecommerce customer service may feel less personal than it would in person, but there are a multitude of ways you can make it special.
Whether you’re building an online store from scratch or need extra hands to handle your growing customer base, I’ve rounded up the top 15 best practices for ecommerce customer service that you can start using to improve your support team.
What is ecommerce customer service?
Ecommerce customer service is the process of assisting customers through the buying journey by using tools and practices specifically made for online stores.
How is ecommerce customer service different from traditional customer service?
While depth and personalization are key traits of ecommerce customer service, that’s not always the case in traditional customer service.
Since traditional customer service normally occurs as a face-to-face or phone conversation, it’s easier to convey tone and empathy through voice, facial expressions, or body language. Agents can understand customers’ feelings better without much guesswork.
When it comes to ecommerce customer service, though, you can’t see facial expressions or body language. Without those cues, support agents have to work harder to express empathy. It’s why the concept of mirroring or adapting to a customer’s speaking style can be the best way to show you understand what a customer is going through.
What are the qualities of good customer service?
Good customer service should be prompt in ways that benefit both your customers and business. In practice, this means looking out for your customer across the entire customer journey and then applying these learnings to improve your product and customer service procedures.
If you feel your customer service is falling short, check out the six qualities of good customer service that you may be missing:
- Fast: Customers expect support teams — especially ecommerce brands — to be active and ready to answer their questions. 46% of customers expect a response time of 4 hours or less.
- Convenient: Make it easy for customers to reach you by offering numerous support channels like email, live chat, social media, SMS, and phone.
- Proactive: Take the initiative when you’re speaking to customers to recommend solutions that go above and beyond. That means solving problems on top of what the customer already asked for. For example, you could say something like, "While I have you, I see that you have an order that never arrived. I've gone ahead and requested a new one to be sent out."
- Friendly: Friendly agents set the tone of how customers feel about your brand, which can make or break customer loyalty.
- Measurable: Keep track of customer data like CSAT scores and LTV to mark your wins and make improvements to your weak points.
- Feedback-focused: Ask your customers for feedback to refine your customer service processes, so you can make interactions with them better.
The top 15 ecommerce customer service best practices to implement
1. Use a customer service helpdesk specifically built for ecommerce stores
If I could only recommend one tool, it would be a helpdesk. A helpdesk is a customer service software that allows support agents and teams to manage customer data, inquiries, and orders in one platform.
If you run an online store, Gorgias is the perfect helpdesk specifically designed for ecommerce tasks. It smoothly combines order management, order fulfillment, and customer service in one tool, so that you can speak to customers and resolve their issues while being able to pull up their order data in one window.
2. Combine all your support channels on one platform
When customers can receive help the way they want — whether that’s a phone call or Facebook messages — they feel more comfortable initiating a relationship with your brand. Establishing a positive first impression can be the fuel you need to turn them into returning customers.
💡 Tip: Phone support can be the key to keeping customers. Throughout the years, I’ve seen first-hand how a simple 10-minute phone call can turn a sour interaction around. Most customers may prefer written communication, but being able to hash out an issue over a voice call can be the difference between losing a customer and keeping them.
The top support channels you should offer:
- Email: Provides customers a channel to voice in-depth and detailed inquiries.
- Chat: Useful for quick questions that can be answered within one interaction.
- Social media: The best channel for new customers who want quick answers.
- Voice/phone: A valuable channel to explain and resolve complicated issues.
3. Automate responses with reusable Macros
The best way to use Macros is by applying them to what I refer to as empty-calorie tickets. Empty-calorie tickets are repetitive inquiries that people ask over and over again, such as “Where is my order?” Automating the responses to these low-effort tickets is the easiest way to incorporate Macros into your workflow.
When to use Macros:
- Welcome emails
- Order status emails (transaction completed, order shipped, order delivered)
- Refund processed emails
- Customer loyalty emails
4. Trigger shopping cart abandonment notifications
Customers who abandon their carts are inevitable, but you don’t have to leave it there. Sending an email to a customer who still has items in their shopping cart can be the final push to trigger a purchase. You can even pair the notification with a discount to make the purchase more appealing.
Acquiring new customers is expensive, so it’s extremely important to recapture customer attention when you have the chance.
5. Respond to social media comments quickly
Pay attention to your social media presence because 26% of people learn about a product through social media, according to a 2023 study by Statista. Public social media comments have the power to either bring in new customers or completely turn them off from your brand. For this reason, it’s important to actively engage with social media users who mention your brand.
Having an active social media presence is an easy way to show you care about what your customers have to say. When you address comments publicly, prospective customers will trust you more for your ability to be transparent and authentic.
📚 Related reading: 5 tips to leverage social media for your store
6. Send order status and shipment update emails
Customers like to know when an action they’ve taken was successful. When it comes to ecommerce, you can easily check this best practice off your list by making it a routine to send order status emails, like when an order has been shipped.
On Gorgias, we take the manual work out of sending routine emails with Macros. If you’re a Shopify store, Gorgias automatically populates your emails with important customer information pulled from Shopify such as customer name, order number, tracking number, and more.
7. Offer self-service options
88% of customers like to find answers on their own and expect a brand to have a self-service portal, according to Statista. You can help make the search easier by filling your website with self-service options.
Self-service options are resources for customers to get the answers they need without contacting an agent. These include FAQ pages, help centers, chat widgets, and interactive quizzes.
Here’s how each self-service option can benefit you:
- FAQ page: Centralizes customers’ most commonly asked questions on one page to prevent your inbox from being filled with the same questions.
- Help Center: Larger in scope than an FAQ page, a Help Center is a database of detailed resources like articles and how-to videos to help customers learn more about your brand and product.
- Chat widget: Chat widgets can turn into a self-service option with the implementation of Quick Response Flows, or preset conversations that can answer customers without a live agent.
- Interactive quiz: A fun self-service addition to online stores that carry highly specialized products, like skincare, health supplements, and apparel.
📚 Related reading: A guide to building an FAQ page
8. Collect email addresses
Data collection makes up a large chunk of customer service, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The easiest way to gather customer data is by collecting email addresses via newsletter signups and contact forms on your online store.
Customer service is important and shouldn't stop when your agents are off the clock. On Gorgias, you can add a contact form to your chat widget when your store is offline, so you have the opportunity to turn first-time customers into loyal followers.
Benefits of collecting customer emails:
- Allows you to entice new customers with promotional offers and discount codes
- Boosts customer data with requests for feedback
- Personalizes customer interactions
9. Optimize your website for mobile
Three-quarters of Americans are shopping with their smartphone. It’s time to shift your focus. To take advantage of this customer behavior, match a convenient tool like the smartphone with an equally convenient and optimized website.
A website optimized for mobile includes:
- A responsive layout that adapts to all device sizes
- An easy-to-use menu
- Limited popups and distractions
- Legible fonts and text sizes
10. Create a customer returns and exchanges portal
If your store accepts returns and exchanges, it’s a good idea to automate the process with a portal. Returning an item is essentially just one step: getting an item out of a customer’s hands. It shouldn’t require a live agent. So, when your customers can return an item on their own, it becomes a huge time-saver for both them and your agents.
For example, when I worked at Stitch Fix, every time a customer needed an exchange, they'd have to reach out to support. It was a huge friction point. Eventually, we decided to build an exchange tool that became part of our checkout flow. From then on, our customers didn’t even need to think about contacting support because it was just an automatic part of the process.
💡 Tip: The easiest way to make a returns portal is by connecting Loop Returns with Gorgias. Loop Returns simplifies the return and exchange process by routing customers to a link, not an agent. By automating this part of the customer journey, your support team can deal with more urgent tickets.
11. Feature customer reviews to amplify your brand
Showcasing personal experiences can be the magic ingredient that adds credibility to your product. When potential customers read about real-life encounters with your product, they gain trust in your brand. Customer reviews can even nudge hesitant buyers toward making a purchase.
For example, PuffCuff does an amazing job at making their product shine. Not only do they feature reviews, but they also include a customer review video. Being able to add a visual element that shows how conveniently your product solves a problem can convince customers who are on the fence.
Where to feature customer reviews:
- Product pages
- Social media posts
- Welcome emails
12. Create a loyalty or rewards program
Attracting new customers requires extra marketing that you may not have the budget for. Here’s a different approach: increase the value you get from your current customers with a loyalty program.
With a loyalty program, customers who already love your brand are incentivized to buy more while earning exclusive perks. An easy way to set up a program is by integrating LoyaltyLion with Gorgias. You instantly get customer retention features like shopping cart rewards, in-site notifications, and loyalty emails.
13. Use high-quality product photos
Without a physical storefront, your product photos will be doing all the talking. Customers want to get as close to the product as they possibly can to make an informed purchase. In short, gaining customer trust depends on the appearance of your products.
Here’s how to build trust through product photos:
- Standardize product photos across your website. Using the same high-quality camera, lighting, and background will show customers your brand pays attention to details, allowing them to trust your products more.
- Display multiple angles of your product. Allow customers to envision how your product will fit into their lives with accurate photos.
- Implement zoomable photos. Letting customers zoom in on your products can show them the exact qualities of your product, such as color, texture, and build quality.
📚 Learn more: Improve your product photography with these 3 tips
14. Improve your checkout experience
When customers get to checkout, they’re inches away from the finish line. Don't risk hampering their journey by subjecting them to a bad checkout experience. In fact, a staggering 17% of US online shoppers abandoned their orders in 2022 because of a "too long/complicated checkout process," according to Baymard.
Here's how to improve the checkout experience:
- Offer guest checkout. Customers want fast service and that means letting them skip the tedious account creation process.
- Present all extra fees and costs. Surprise fees can turn customers off from buying a product. Be transparent by including any extra fees at the checkout page to avoid losing their trust.
- Accept a variety of payment options, including Buy Now, Pay Later. A brand that caters to all wallet sizes is likely to bring in more customers.
- Include a checkout progress bar. Visually guiding your customer through the buying journey allows them to feel at ease with manageable steps and provides them with a sense of achievement once they reach the end.
15. Track trends by using customer service metrics
You’ve got pages of customer emails, buying behavior data, and feedback — now what? The next step is to use this data to track customer buying trends and your support team’s performance. With Gorgias, you can track how well your customer service operates with Support Performance Statistics.
Track these support performance metrics to improve your processes:
- First response times: The faster you answer tickets, the more satisfied customers will be.
- Average resolution times: How effectively is your team resolving tickets? You can track this number to pinpoint gaps and inefficient steps in your process.
- Average number of tickets: A high number of tickets may indicate that you need more self-service options.
Tip: Great customer service should have clear KPIs that are aligned with company goals such as customer retention and revenue generation that clearly demonstrate how your customer service creates value for the company and enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your support program.
The bottom line: Delight your customers at every stage
Making every customer interaction delightful goes a long way. Customers are more motivated to keep interacting with your brand and can even inspire new customers to join in. When you show customers that you care, you give way to loyalty.
At Gorgias, we quickly get support teams the customer trust they need with an all-in-one helpdesk. Our helpdesk streamlines the customer experience with omnichannel support, ecommerce platform integration to Shopify and BigCommerce, Revenue Statistics, and automation in one convenient platform.
Ready to put these best practices into practice? Book a demo now.