Ever felt lost and overwhelmed when wanting to order something online? The variety of products and services is vast, and the internet can feel like opening the wardrobe door to Narnia. Customers need a helping hand – or at least the offer of one – at every stage of their journey: before, during and after placing an order, ideally leading to the next purchase cycle(s). Customer service is not something that only steps in after a successful order (or the opposite of it), but should be omnipresent throughout the whole customer journey.
Give your customers the feeling that they have made and are going to make the right decision by choosing your company. Actively nurture your customer relationships by showing them you care and are there for them when they need you. In the long run, a great service experience will turn into customer loyalty and let you keep your customers for life.
Sounds good in theory, but how does it work practically? The service component of every e-commerce business should always be available for the customer – one way or another. This can be achieved by setting up a proactive and contextual customer support system.
Your customer support team is most likely not around 24/7, but you still want to help those late night shoppers, just as much as those shopping during working hours. While your service agents get their well deserved beauty sleep, your customers need service that never sleeps. Therefore, self-service is key and comes in two forms: a static one and one in the more engaging appearance of a chatbot. Both options deliver a simple but substantial message: “Wherever you are, we are here for you – whenever you need us.” They provide a visible safety net for your customers.
Static self-service helps the customer through the resources available on the website such as FAQs, help centre, knowledge base or other types of documentation. These have to be visibly displayed or easily discoverable to provide help when needed. Yet, customers might not always find the information they’re looking for in your ready-made answers. This requires a more dynamic approach.
Onboarding a chatbot to your customer service team does not only solve your problem of providing a 24/7 customer service, it also takes over easy, repetitive tasks from your human agents and can quickly offer customers various solutions in an adaptive way. Let’s run through some scenarios of how to support your customers at every stage of their journey with the help of a bot:
When customers are active on your website, maybe virtually going through your aisles and shelves, a chatbot can offer assistance to support their purchase decision. By adding a little beacon in a corner of your website, you can visibly, yet unobtrusively place your chatbot to help your customers at their convenience.
Option A: Item(s) placed in basket
One option for making your chatbot approach customers can be triggered by one or more items in the shopping basket. Hereby, a chatbot can support your customers in their final purchase decision:
Option B: Browsing different pages for a while
Another option is that your customers are already on your website for a while, visiting different pages. Noticing this, a chatbot can engage with your customers the following way:
You could even go deeper into personalisation and let the chatbot refer to the products the customers viewed or categories they browsed and help them to make a purchase decision. Tailoring your chatbot’s content to the needs of your customers can be very effective to a certain degree. However, the focus should be on supporting the customer and not use this feature purely as a marketing tool. This might do more harm than good.
Therefore, moderation is essential and messaging is everything. Bombarding your customers with a ton of (potentially irrelevant) chatbot messages won’t do any good. Be smart about when and how you start a conversation. Keep the voice of the chatbot casual and unobtrusive. It’s your customers’ friendly helper. Drive your customers to your chatbot with the right strategy, but never drag them to using it.
After helping your customers in the initial purchase decision phase by means of a chatbot, you can furthermore use it to handle and complete their order successfully. Once committed to buying the selected items, your customers might still need some assistance during the checkout process. When your customers select the shopping bag and proceed with checkout, it gives you another opportunity to deploy your bot.
Your customers might still have open questions, such as how to redeem a gift voucher or promo code. Although a chatbot is not an equivalent of your FAQ and should never promote its whole content, it is still helpful to include popular topics like shipping costs, delivery times and return policy, which influence the completion of the final order step. Hereby, the key intention is to help resolve a customer’s questions without having them leave the checkout page, which carries the risk of the customer dropping out of the purchase at the last minute.
If a customer has successfully made a purchase, they probably will return to your website when there is a further question or problem. In order to help your customers in a comprehensive manner, your chatbot has to be integrated with your CRM system to be able to associate the customers with their orders. When a chatbot asks the customer for the specific order number, it can crosscheck with your system, provide the needed information and, if applicable, change the order accordingly.
It’s all about building a 360° self-service ecosystem within your chatbot in order to serve all of your customers’ different requests. Giving different options to assess the customers’ concrete needs is the base of your chatbot. Hereby, it also circles back and connects again to the stage of pre-purchase. A broad initial need assessment includes both options, pre- and post-purchase. Choosing the latter, gives the customer further options:
But great service experience does not stop at the self-service level. And sometimes this option is not sufficient. Some requests are more complex than wanting more information on a product, looking for the return policy or tracking the whereabouts of an order. Chatbots have limits – that’s where your human customer service team steps in. If a customer reaches no satisfying solution with the bot, further contact options need to be offered and requests handed over to a human agent – seamlessly along the customer service funnel.
Everybody and everything in customer service seems to be wild about omnichannel. In theory, offering customers a variety of contact options to choose the one that suits them best, sounds promising. Yet in reality, it can turn out quite messy when those channels are applied with no clear prioritisation and are often not handled by the same department (e.g. customer service, marketing, …). According to a study by Gartner, the omnichannel approach is potentially flawed as it complicates the customer journey, increases the number of contact points and sparks more channel switching activity.
However, this does not mean that offering different contact channels is a bad idea per se. You just have to apply the many channels in the right way – and the right order. Instead of allowing your customers to run freely, letting them pick any arbitrary channel, you should strategically guide them towards the most efficient channel based on the type of problem or request.
In the modern business landscape, service strategies should focus on providing a smooth, holistic service experience and not on maximising the number of available channels. An excellent customer service strategy will seamlessly link self-service channels (for simple, repetitive enquiries) with channels that are staffed by service representatives (for requests that are more complex and require added empathy). This covers all bases and ensures a smooth service experience. In the end, it is all about getting your customers the help they need at every stage of their order journey. Learn how to create a strategic customer service funnel for your service department.
Introducing a funnel system paired with an automation approach to your customer service strategy will help you create a better service experience for your customers at every step of their journey. With the help of a chatbot, you can fill the service gap of not having your team around 24/7 and shift repetitive tasks which can easily be automated to free up your team’s workload for the complex tasks which need the human instinct. When you make a chatbot your full-time frontline assistant and first point of contact, you enable both your customers and your service agents to solve requests more efficiently.
Solvemate is a leading customer service automation platform for an improved service experience. Its chatbot enables self-service support with near instantaneous solutions. The chatbot learns more quickly, integrates more easily, and resolves requests more reliably than any other bot on the market – around-the-clock. Companies benefit from lower costs, faster responses, and happier service teams and customers.