Foto: paul-golla/www.pixelio.de

Transform your E-shop customer service from a cost center to a profit center

Many companies consider the customer service and users support as a cost. In case of E-commerce, these services are required by law because the procurement of services or the purchase of products online needs to offer different types of contact.

Well, it is possible to transform it from a cost center to a profit center.
To do this, the first point is to control all data that allow us to set the targets and assess their level of achievement:

1.    Which is the current monthly cost of the customer service?
2.    Which is the current and monthly sales amount?
3.    Which is the volume of sales on absolute values and which is its relation with:
– Unique monthly visitors.
– Total of monthly visits.
4.  Which is the monthly percentage of abandoned carts?
5.  Which is the number of contacts monthly handled by the customer service?
6.  Which is the sales conversion ratio of the handled contacts?
7.  Which are the total and average amounts of all contacts that have generated a final sale?

Once these data are regularly monitored, we can implement changes in the customer service and watch the differences. Note that if I have listed these control data is because a good customer service has a positive effect on each customer.

It is also important to take into account that improvements should be implemented once the market quality standards are consolidated and applied not only in online stores but also in any customer service. These goals are commonly called Service Levels or SLA (Service Level Agreement).

The most common are:
1.    % of contacts handled before X time, usually during the following ranges: 80% -90% of received calls are handled within 20 or 30 seconds.
2.    Maximum between 3% -5% of abandoned calls.
3.    80% of the emails are met before a certain time (in this case, there is no standard because customers’ profiles are very different). But the most common is that at least 80% of emails are handled within 24 hours.
4.    In Chats: a maximum waiting-time is guaranteed before starting the Chat.
5.    A maximum waiting-time is guaranteed to answer by Twitter or Facebook.
6.    First contact resolution. The goal is usually achieved at 60%.

In general, all customer services have an impact on sales and develop the users’ loyalty and satisfaction.
But today we will focus on the actions to improve sales: concrete actions with measurable results.

1. Optimize the costs by offering different channels according to the time of the purchase process.
The more recorded is a communication channel, the less their associated costs are high. So it is clear we should always promote the use of email instead of the phone use. But be careful! Many companies are wrong and lose purchases by canceling the telephone to reduce sales costs.

Only 5% of the visitors finally make a purchase. 22% of the remaining 95% will leave the purchase process when the slightest error or problem occurs. Lots of visitors just enter the website to check prices and compare products but they do not really intend to purchase anything.

According to these data, results would increase 20% only by improving sales conversion.
To optimize costs we must know in which buying process step the customer is, and provide him a more direct channel according to his purchase intention. For example:

a)    Always provide a visible FAQs section and email while browsing the web.

b)    Display a chat window to solve doubts for those users who are in screens of product or service description. If he is going into detail it is because he is interested but maybe he doesn’t want to buy anything immediately.

c)    When customer has a product in the cart, you must offer a visible click to call or a chat to find us if he has any questions or difficulties.

2. Coffee for everyone…no!

According to an American study, 8% of the buyers represent 41% of sales in an online store. In my humble opinion, that means that economic efforts should focus on those customers with greatest purchase potential. To do this, we only have to identify them when they enter the website and, from the first moment, give them all possible facilities to contact us. This can be done from cookies management or by giving a VIP code that encourages customers to login when they enter the web.

3. Proactivity

New technologies allow a set of features we must use.
Today, we are working cart abandonment mainly through remarketing and mass mailing shipments. This is an out-of-date service and we must focus on this service.

The whole point is to prevent cart abandonment by being proactive.

The best example I’ve seen in motion is a chat window appearing as a pop-up on the client’s screen when he has a full cart and it has taken some time without any interaction with the page. This screen offers help through click to call or click to chat services.

Maybe the customer will not be able to complete the purchase at this time, maybe he has a personal inconvenience or he just wants to see the shipping costs (something that could be easily avoided by placing the costs clearly at the beginning of the process). But probably he has questions or technical problems. If you solve it, he will complete the purchase and you will have earned a loyal customer for a good service.

As a friend of mine says….. “Competence is just one click away”.

Check out for the second part of this article, which will be published soon.

Marta López, Manager Business Development
Pic: Paul Golla/pixelio.de

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