A smart customer communication strategy is essential for any business. But with e-commerce demand expected to soar in 2023, online stores must ensure that all operations remain as proficient as ever.
Global e-commerce sales reached an estimated $5.2 trillion in 2023 and are forecast to exceed $8.1 trillion in 2026. Following the surge in online demand, this article covers the importance of maintaining an effective customer communication strategy, its many challenges and how businesses can improve.
Why is customer communication important?
An effective customer communication strategy can be the difference between a positive or negative brand experience.
Customers who do not receive prompt and informative responses to their queries can be left feeling neglected and are unlikely to return to your online store. In turn, many could feel compelled to leave a negative customer review, impacting your business’ reputation and reducing company profits.
What are the challenges of e-commerce customer communication?
Maintaining an effective e-commerce customer communication strategy is vital for business growth. However, it can be a challenge to ensure that operations run consistently smoothly, particularly during busy periods.
Some of the most significant challenges with e-commerce customer communications can include:
- Responding promptly to large volumes of customer queries
- Effectively managing multiple communication channels
- Maintaining customer loyalty in a competitive market
- Smooth customer returns, refunds and shipping
- Creating a seamless customer experience
How can e-commerce businesses improve customer communications?
Although it can be a challenge to monitor multiple communication processes, here are ways in which businesses can maintain quality and consistency in their strategy:
How to respond promptly to customer queries
While promptly responding to customers is crucial, an ill-defined reply will only add to the customer’s frustrations. Companies must also provide detailed answers to questions to alleviate customer concerns.
When customer service queries are received, representatives are often required to gain further information from another team or a supplier. E-commerce businesses must have sufficient systems which provide complete end-to-end visibility from the point of sale to shipping. Intuitive platforms allow employees to quickly retrieve relevant information and provide an efficient response to the customer.
How to manage multiple communication channels
Multiple communication channels are ideal for e-commerce businesses. It provides customers with various contact options, and customers love to have choices.
Increasingly consumers now opt for social media as their preferred communication channel. However, some favour a live chat option, whilst others still prefer a telephone conversation. The main benefit of each of these communication channels is that it allows customers to interact with a real person and is an excellent way to humanise your brand. Automated emails and ticketing systems often create a faceless business reputation and often leave your customers feeling disengaged.
Whilst it’s beneficial to provide your customers with as many contact options as possible, managing multiple communication channels can also be challenging. Many e-commerce businesses now rely on omnichannel customer communication platforms, making it much easier to manage numerous channels. Whether questions are received via social media, email or phone, all communication forms will appear via a dashboard. Viewing every customer query in a centralised space makes it much easier to manage multiple enquiries.
How to maintain customer loyalty
Projected e-commerce sales figures for 2024 indicate the growing competition in online retail. In 2023/24, it’s no longer enough for an e-commerce business to merely sell the right products; they must also pair this with fantastic customer experiences to stand out from the competition.
Here are ways in which you can ensure your customer communication experience is as good as the products you sell:
- Deliver on the promises of your customer communication strategy. Whether you claim to process returns within a specific timeframe or prioritise human interaction, businesses must keep their promises to meet their customers’ expectations.
- Act on customer feedback. Whilst many companies collect customer feedback, very few do anything with the results. If your customers make valuable suggestions regarding your communication strategy, listen to what they have to say.
- Provide emotionally intelligent responses. Customers are likely to return to your business if they feel their concerns are dealt with professionally. On occasions where a customer is particularly frustrated, employees who can understand the customer’s frustration and provide thoughtful answers can dramatically transform a negative experience.
- Reward your loyal customers. Customers are likely to return to your business if they know their loyalty will be rewarded with a special offer or discount which they won’t receive elsewhere.
How to handle returns, shipping and refunds
Returns, shipping and refunds are often the most taxing within the order fulfilment process. They are also critical stages where customers want to be kept most informed. Some of the crucial questions we all find ourselves asking as consumers:
- Has our order been shipped?
- How far is the delivery driver from our house?
- Has our return been received?
- When can we expect to receive a refund?
Advanced technology can help businesses keep their customers informed during each stage of the fulfilment process. Many third-party logistics (3PL) providers use scanners to process data automatically. Once items have been scanned, companies will receive notifications when orders have been shipped, or returns have been accepted.
How to create a seamless customer experience
Many e-commerce businesses outsource processes to third parties, whether it be manufacturing or order fulfilment. Choosing reputable third-party companies is critical to guarantee that your customers do not receive a disjointed service.
Businesses can achieve seamless customer communication at each stage of the customer journey by ensuring that data is transparent across all company platforms. System integration enables customer service representatives to retrieve status updates for customers quickly.
A solid customer communication strategy can be a challenge in 2023, but implementing the above steps can dramatically improve your e-commerce business operations.
If you think your e-commerce business’ communication strategy could be improved by a savvy order fulfilment solution, please give Pointbid Logistics a call on 0121 326 7368.
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