Communicating with Customers

An essential key to a successful customer management strategy is making it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you. There are few things that frustrate customers more than when they try to contact an online store with an inquiry, and are not able to locate a way to communicate, or simply never get a reply from the merchant.

Additionally, setting the right expectations for your level of support will help prevent customer frustration when trying to communicate with you. You’ll want to identify any roadblocks or dead ends that your customers could possibly come across, and give them clear direction about where and how they can get help.

Here are some tips you can implement to prevent shopper frustration and unneeded support contacts:

  • If you also have a physical store, post your hours of operation.
  • If a popular product is out of stock, include a notice of when you expect it to be available again.
  • If you provide phone or chat support, display what times they are available.
  • If the last day to place an order and receive it by Christmas is December 18th, make it clear in a banner or call-out on your store.

Your customer base expects to see the following list of staple information in your store:

A good starting point is to have a readily available “Contact Us” page that has all your important customer service details, such as your store’s:

  • email address
  • phone number
  • street address
  • mailing address (for returns)
  • hours of operation
  • feedback form
  • social media links
 

As soon as a shopper lands on your site, they should be able to get to your contact page with as little friction as possible.

Providing the history of your business can help build good sentiment with your customers. By sharing your story — how you developed your business idea, a little about yourself — you can really humanize your brand. People are more likely to trust (and buy from) a store or product that resonates with them.

Of course, every business is unique, so you can use your about us page in whatever manner you prefer. If you’re not sure, go and check out some of your competition to generate ideas and ensure there is no overlap.

Tortoise Supply does a lovely job sharing how their online business intersects with their day-to-day lives with a personal image, on-page copy and a video.

The About Us page of BigCommerce client tortoisesupply.com.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/26139901
 

Client Example: Tortoise Supply

 
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The best customer service contact you can ever receive is the one that never happens. Having a FAQ page can save you time and money by deflecting commonly asked questions. Believe it or not, the vast majority of shoppers will attempt to answer their own question before resorting to contacting the merchant.

Here’s a few examples of stores with well done FAQ pages:

The FAQ page of BigCommerce client jenis.com.

Client Example: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Although it can feel intimidating to a new online store owner, having an easily visible phone number on your storefront has been proven to increase conversions of both account sign-ups and purchases. Although you may receive some communication, a readily available phone number can provide shoppers with peace of mind and adds credibility to your brand. Also, look into services like Google Voice. They can provide extra functionality, like a dedicated customer service number, voice mailboxes and call screeners to make your life easier.

BigCommerce allows you to easily create a contact form web page for your store, allowing your customers to send you general questions, or inquiries about a specific order or product. Having a contact form also has the added benefit of being able to receive feedback from your customers without surfacing your email address. For extended functionality, BigCommerce is also compatible with several free third-party contact form creation services.

Social media outlets provide another way for you and your customers to interact. It gives you another way to answer questions, and provide support and service in a public forum. The timeliness and professionalism with which you address posts and tweets can also help build your brand in eyes of other users and potential shoppers.

Example Facebook comment and reply from BigCommerce client mancrates.com.

Client Example: Man Crates

Example Facebook comment and reply from BigCommerce client jigsawhealth.com.

Client Example: Jigsaw Health

Customers who’ve chosen to create an account are able to send you messages about specific orders via their My Account page on the storefront. Notifications of these order messages are emailed to the store owner and displayed in your control panel’s dashboard.

Example of order messages inside of a BigCommerce control panel.

Merchants who get a lot of customer service volume can also take advantage of customer relationship and ticketing software. This is especially important for businesses that have multiple contacts, or touches, from the same customer. Keeping a history of customer interactions helps keep a customer service team on the same page. Having to explain an issue more than once can lead to a very negative customer experience.

Surveys are another great way to tap into your customers’ interests, and can help generate ideas on how to improve your processes and offerings.

The BigCommerce Marketplace has several apps for customer feedback that can help organize service requests and inquiries, as well as survey and feedback apps designed to collect even more data from your customers.

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