Offering an excellent customer service is key to meeting consumers needs and building strong, long-term relationships with them. However, companies don't always focus on providing good customer services. In this article, we will see why it is important and what you should consider when providing it.
Customer care is often an underestimated activity, especially when there are few resources available. However, it is essential that customers are assisted and helped both in the purchase and after-sales phases. The quality of a product or service is not enough to stand out from competitors. If the buyers are dissatisfied for other reasons, including bad customer service, they will look for alternatives and will not return to buy your products or use the services of your company. Therefore, meeting customer expectations and needs plays an important role in terms of loyalty.
According to recent data published by Business Wire, 58% of respondents said they were more demanding of brands in terms of customer service than in the past. Furthermore, in today's landscape, users share their thoughts and opinions both with their acquaintances and with other unknown users via the internet. A good customer support service will not only actively help us avoid negative comments and reviews, but could also encourage consumers to leave positive ones and thus improve the image and reputation of the brand.
But what exactly is customer care? Customer care concerns the set of activities and strategies aimed at taking care of the clients, that is, understanding their needs, answering their questions and solving any doubt or problem. Let's see specifically why it is important and how to implement it in the best way!
Consumers value customer service so much that over half of them are willing to pay a higher price to have access to quality customer care services. Obviously, we are not saying that you should increase the prices of your products/services, but the focus on customer assistance is growing and brands should act accordingly.
With a single positive or negative shopping experience that can make the difference between a gained and a lost customer, there are two main reasons why providing great customer care services is a winning strategy to expand your business and differentiate yourself from the competitors.
Customer service is one of the factors that most influences the image and authority of a brand. Sometimes, the idea that a brand has of itself does not coincide with that conveyed to potential customers. Communication on social media and promotional activity can influence the perception of users, but it is customer care that allows you to establish a direct and loyal relationship with consumers and talk to, help and make them satisfied, so that they will positively remember the shopping experience. Only if satisfied, they will come back: almost 96% of buyers claim that customer care is one of the main reasons why they become loyal to a brand.
This brings us to the second point of why customer service is so important: brand loyalty. Why does this matter? First of all because it is much easier to retain a customer than to attract new ones. In addition, the retention of as little as 5% of existing customers could increase profits by more than a quarter because it significantly decreases the abandonment rate of a cart and also saves on operational and promotional costs. Plus, loyal customers will not only be more likely to spend for your brand, but also to promote it. Statistics show that about three quarters of customers who have had a positive experience and are therefore satisfied will talk about it to at least five other people belonging to their circle of family, friends and acquaintances, as well as online, thus triggering a chain reaction with other potential customers. According to Support CC, a provider of customer care solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, customers are the best and most cost-effective way to promote a brand, as word of mouth is one of the most trusted forms of advertising. A loyal customer is also much more likely to receive and engage with your marketing activities, as well as take into consideration promotions such as up-selling and cross-selling, because they know the brand, they know that it is suitable for their own needs and will be able to find a quick and convenient solution to any problem.
After explaining why customer support is useful for all brands, including eCommerce, let's see what are the elements that allow to provide excellent customer care services. If in the past users were keener to overlook some inefficiencies, today things are very different: users expect a precise, fast and efficient customer service.
The development of the digital world has made it possible to experiment with new ways to engage and support customers, both through chat, posts on social media and video calls and with more innovative tools such as augmented reality. But the trust that customers place in a brand will increase if they perceive that they are talking to people in the flesh and not with simple algorithms. This does not mean that chatbots and other automated features should not be used (on the contrary, multi-channel solutions integrated with each other are essential to help customers in the most appropriate ways), but that human interaction must always be present.
Therefore, buyers should always be given the opportunity to interact with an operator. Human contact inspires greater trust and allows to establish a relationship between the customer and the brand. However, this contact must be in line with the rules, communication styles and values of the brand, so as to be able to convey them. In fact, one should not make the mistake of thinking that customer care services and promotion activities don’t have anything to do with each other: they go hand-in-hand to spread a positive brand image. It is also important that the staff collects as much data and feedback as possible, in order to be able to analyse them, understand the recurring problems that users face and take action to eliminate or at least significantly reduce them. All of this is followed by the personalisation of the customer care experience. Sending follow-up communications to customers who have asked for assistance allows to gain valuable data and feedback, and to establish a closer and attentive relationship with the customer. In these communications, we can ask if the problem has been solved, how quickly and if they are satisfied with the assistance provided or if there are some aspects that could be improved.
In addition, you may also implement proactive customer support strategies, instead of waiting for shoppers to contact your brand and report their problems. This time around as well, you could send communications asking for their satisfaction degree after a purchase and if they encountered any problem, indicating the fastest way to contact your customer support team. This allows users to understand that you are continuously working to ensure that their experience with the brand is the best possible.
The basis of every customer care activity is listening. Not only listening to customers who are directly reaching out to you, but also listening to the conversations of users that revolve around the brand, for example on social networks. Social listening refers to the on-going process of identification and monitoring of online comments related to specific keywords associated with your brand, one of your products and/or services and also your competitors or the field in which you operate, in order to analyse consumer opinions and market trends and understand what they like and what they don't like. As a matter of fact, in the event of negative shopping experiences, customers may not contact the brand directly but talk about it on social media and leave negative comments and reviews. Over time, the internet and in particular social media have gained a central role in customer assistance, since more than half of users expect to be able to receive assistance through social media accounts; therefore, those who deal with these channels should be careful in observing comments, collecting data and act promptly to provide support to customers or redirect them to the most suited resources.
Customer care service is one of the most important activities of any business, because it builds consumer loyalty and allows you to attract new clients at very low costs, since the clients themselves will promote the product and the brand through word of mouth and positive reviews. In an extremely competitive environment, it will not only be the quality of the products that will differentiate you from your competitors, but also the speed and availability with which you will help your customers, who will remember and reward you.
However, the problems encountered by customers do not always depend on the brand itself. Some of the major problems that an eCommerce may face are related to the incorrect management of the warehouse or delays in shipping. Fulfillment is therefore essential. Taking care of the various phases such as receipt of orders, warehouse management and control, preparation of shipping documents, packaging, compliance with bureaucratic regulations and returns management is essential to guarantee an efficient service to the customer. Addressing these processes is not simple at all and it requires time, resources, precision and specific skills. Therefore, it is good practice to rely on external fulfillment services, which will not only allow you to optimise time and resources by offering the customer an optimal service, but will also ensure the support of professionals that are able to complete all the tasks, even the most unexpected ones.
IFS Italy offers a professional and competitive fulfillment service, thanks to exclusive agreements with the main postal and courier services. For more information on IFS fulfillment services, you can check the catalogue or visit the fulfillment & e-commerce section.