The Joys of Customer Service
So much of finding joy and success as an e-commerce retailer is rooted in reframing problems and pain points as opportunities for joy and understanding. For most entrepreneurs and retailers- online or not- customer service is likely one of the most pressing daily problems that warrant some major reframing.
Customer service jobs have historically been considered a lower-level, more menial position within a retail structure. Unless it’s a small business or startup, customer service representatives traditionally have not carried any short-term or long-term management and strategic responsibilities. Today’s 21st-century e-commerce driven retail market, however, is much more democratic than the hierarchal companies of the past. Customer service has unlimited potential in the context of broader strategic growth, and it presents a chance to open a dialogue with your customer base.
As e-commerce startups and retailers navigate uncharted waters and expand the digital marketplace, the value and opportunity in customer service continue to grow. This article will explore the places and ways to find joy in customer service as well as some improvement strategies that will create meaningful change in your e-commerce store.
Opportunities for Joy, Growth, and Connection in Customer Service
Customer service is, in many ways, an opportunity to bring humanity and connection into e-commerce and digital marketplaces. Fostering an authentic connection with your customers will bring you joy and create a positive company experience in their minds, which leads to longevity. Customer service presents an opportunity to:
- Facilitate human connection in the age of digital communication.
There are endless direct, open lines of communication available to e-commerce retailers today: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as large scales digital marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay. The growth and expansion of these platforms mean that, even though we are all often sitting behind screens, there’s never been more effective methods to communicate directly with consumers. Customer service starts to blend together with marketing efforts. It means carving out time to respond to individual Instagram comments, customer reviews, and questions about your product. With customer service comes a rare opportunity to listen, understand, and engage.
Customer service is one of the only chances e-commerce retailers have to bring a little bit more humanity back to the digital age. Seeing customer service as a chance to talk to your customers honestly is a fantastic way to reframe what was once a job that everyone avoided. Invest in your customers, understand them as people, and find common ground. You will find joy in learning about your target market and consumer psychology, and you can use technology to bring people together and connect authentically.
- Collect data-driven and anecdotal experiences about your product (and use it to improve or diversify your product set).
E-commerce tends to be very much oriented towards quantitative data gathered by computers: clicks, advertising costs, traffic, SEO performance, and order statistics. And, yes, all of that is great. Customer service, however, is a chance to hear more qualitative and anecdotal data that can deepen and expand your understanding of what you already know from company analytics.
Use what you hear and learn from customer service calls, submissions, and comments to develop product improvements or expansions. The joy of customer service is in seeing your product and brand in action and adapting it to consumer needs.
- Go beyond answering angry phone calls.
The best customer service is proactive. While it is vital to make your customers feel heard (yes, you still have to listen to the occasional angry phone call), proactively seeking out conversations and sharing thoughts with them will do just as good for you and your business.
Check on customers, ask about their experiences preemptively, sharing content on your platforms that aligns with their interests, and invest in thoughtful packaging that makes customers feel unique. Curating a customer experience from start to finish is a cornerstone of implementing good customer service, and knowing that you’re serving your customers well is one of the most joyful parts of entrepreneurialism.
Customer Service Strategies to Consider
While speaking directly to consumers is always the goal, ensuring that customers feel heard and valued in real-time as they choose to engage with your brand is critical. If someone has a question about a product and it takes you three days to respond, you’ll likely lose their interest. When millions of people have constant access to your brand via so many different digital avenues, it is impossible to keep up. That’s where automation and social media integrations can be lifesavers for customer service initiatives.
These are messaging systems and submission platforms that facilitate the fielding of customer concerns on various platforms: personal websites, Amazon, Instagram- you get the idea. Setting up automated responses for whenever you or a customer service representative is away will ensure that consumers don’t feel ignored. This will, in turn, preserve the joy that lives in serving your customers and growing your business.
Another way in which to encourage customer service engagement and attention in your e-commerce culture is through customer service focus groups and mapping exercises. Map out how a customer moves through your online store and channels. Trace their steps from point A to point B, and understand what the process of talking to customer service entails. Exceptional customer service is grounded in the same fundamental business skills of any other higher-level management position: creativity, adaptability, collaboration, and the ability to listen.
Customer Service: Meaningful To You and Vital To Your Business
Too often, entrepreneurs and consumers underestimate the value of thoughtful, genuine customer service when it deserves active, frequent attention, and significant company resources. In those concentrated efforts and resources, you will find joy, understanding, and opportunity. Customer service demands a unique combination of human connection and strategic business thinking. It engages both sides of our brains, drives sales when done well, and has the potential to be incredibly fulfilling.
In a time when e-commerce is growing rapidly, and the spread of COVID-19 saw an influx in e-commerce retailers and products, the digital marketplace will only get more saturated and competitive. Embracing the joy of customer service, and the opportunities for consumer connections it holds will be one of the greatest investments you can make in your continued growth and success.