There is no alternative to excellent customer service. If you want to succeed in your business, it should be at the heart of everything you do. A customer experience that is positive can lead to 77% of the consumers recommending a company to their friends. In fact, 86% of customers who have experienced a bad brand experience have stopped buying from that brand in the future.

It’s more than just fixing problems when it comes to delivering quality customer service. Your brand will grow, you will retain current customers, you will upsell products to existing customers, and you will increase sales. As a result of eCommerce’s fast-paced and competitive nature, these points are only accentuated further, and they create unique demands on your customer service strategy.

Ultimately, it is wise to outsource your customer service function to a third party as an eCommerce business. Due to the continued boom in the retail industry, it has become more and more clear that the development, management, and scalability of a customer service offering are tasks that are best outsourced. Our objective here is to show you how to set up an outsourced customer service function that is tailored to the needs of e-commerce companies. It’s time to get started.

eCommerce has the following unique features:
What is the purpose of outsourcing for an eCommerce business?
Effective customer service has to be geared towards the specific needs of a business in order for it to be successful. There are a number of unique factors that need to be considered when it comes to eCommerce businesses that should be taken into consideration:

The hours of operation for brick-and-mortar retail stores are usually posted, however eCommerce businesses are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your customers are going to expect the same 24/7 availability from your customer service teams as well. The customer support team must work 24 hours a day so that they can provide full service capabilities to your customers.
With eCommerce, you are probably selling products to a variety of geographies. These customers may speak different languages, and they may operate within different cultural frameworks.

In other words, you would need to have a customer service function that is capable of accommodating these differences in language and culture. You should therefore have a flexible team of skilled professionals who can match your customer demographics to your products and services.
Digital-first: eCommerce customers are already using their computers to interact with your brand, and they will likely go directly to your website when something goes wrong.

Although it is not possible to ignore traditional phone support, you should make sure that you also provide live chat and email support options (or even a chatbot) for customers to get answers to immediate questions online.
If you have a customer that buys online, they haven’t had any face-to-face interactions with your brand and are paying for something that they haven’t seen and haven’t yet experienced.

It means that in most cases, engagement with a customer service representative is the only human interaction your customers will have with your brand. Ensure that their concerns are taken seriously and that their experience is seamless, positive, and quick.
In both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail, there will be plenty of overlap between the customer service functions. In order to build a successful outsourcing strategy, it is important to keep these unique factors in mind and build your strategy accordingly. I will elaborate on four key points that you should know about before moving forward. They are as follows:

1. The importance of omnichannel customer service cannot be overstated
In the world of online shopping, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Each customer and each inquiry is different. Having a wide range of channel options is essential to providing high quality customer service (live chat, chatbots, email, phone support, social media) – especially when engaging with clients who have already been in contact with your brand online.

It does not come as a surprise, then, that establishing a customer service function in-house that is capable of operating across an omnichannel strategy is not only expensive, but time-consuming as well. For example, you have to hire the appropriate staff, train them and provide them with the necessary materials in order for them to provide exceptional customer service across email, phone, live chat and chatbots (for example). When you outsource your customer service function, you gain access to a group of experts that has extensive experience working across many different channels and can be accessed quickly, scalable and flexible. Basically, you can focus on growing your e-commerce business while they focus on serving your customers in an exceptional way.

However, it is still important to know your customer so that you can offer them the best service. In general, older customers prefer phone support (51% of Baby Boomers jump straight on the phone when they have a problem), while younger audiences are looking for text-based support and quick response times. As a result, phone support remains to be the number one choice for overall support.

Customers’ preferred channels of communication are shown in the following graph
The most important thing is to make sure that communication between these channels is as easy as possible. Multi-channel options shouldn’t be the end of flexibility. It is expected that 71% of customers will be able to transition seamlessly between a chatbot and a phone call without having to repeat themselves. It is important to note that outsourcing omnichannel customer service offers that continuity – and allows customers to switch seamlessly from one channel to another.

It is possible to resolve small problems, such as checking a delivery schedule or resetting a password, using online channels. The truth is, even an online store needs phone support for more serious issues, or for customers who prefer that method of contact.

2. A priority should be given to self-service
I am a big fan of the self-service options. The advantages of these are that you are able to keep costs under control and cater to the needs of customers who would prefer not to speak to a live person directly. The nature of e-commerce makes self-service a particularly useful option, as a customer service option that is self-service, apart from being more cost-effective and easier to set up, is also easier to scale. Regardless of how much of your customer service offerings you outsource to a third party, establishing essential self-service options is a key step to building a comprehensive and exhaustive customer service offering.

There are a number of things that every online shop should provide, at least in part:

There is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on the website. It is the expectation of customers to be able to find simple answers to questions such as order status, returning products, and requesting a price themselves.
Documents pertaining to onboarding complex products. As a result, customers will no longer need to call our customer service team for help.

A proactive approach that attempts to prevent problems before they arise. A good example of this would be if you are setting up your website to automatically offer a live chat or phone call option to your customers once they have searched through the FAQ for some time.
The steps outlined above can be taken as a series of simple, easy steps that you can implement with your outsourced customer service efforts in order to guarantee your customers have a seamless and enjoyable purchasing experience, from prospect to purchase to review.

3. Make sure you are prepared to scale
It is important for online businesses to be aware that demand can change rapidly. Ensure that you analyze your previous sales statistics from previous years to determine what is causing the demand to change – for example, is the demand seasonal or due to other factors that you can track? Outsourcing your fulfilment and customer service will provide you with flexibility with regards to fulfillment and customer service.

How to scale up a business
The growth of an eCommerce business can often be very rapid. You will need to consider how you will assemble an in-house team of customer service representatives who can handle increased demand without slowing down the response time. It’s not realistic to expect this to be the case. It would be unlikely for your business to be able to fluctuate the level of staff directly in response to fluctuations in demand.

Imagine that you have built your own Customer Service team and you have 5 permanent employees. What happens when demand triples around Christmas and you cannot afford, both time-wise and financially, to lose one of the agents while the 3 new agents are being trained.

The good news is that if you deploy an outsourced customer service strategy, your chosen provider will be able to augment your team with extra members within hours, sometimes even within minutes.

Many eCommerce businesses are looking to outsource to customer service partners because they want to scale and be flexible, these are just two of the reasons why they are doing this. In the next section, we will be discussing the pros and cons of outsourcing vs. in-house customer service.

4. Don’t forget that customer service isn’t just about solving problems
A great customer experience is the key to providing great customer service. In order to achieve a great customer experience, we have a user-friendly website and high quality products. The quality of our products and timely delivery are also at the top of our list. You might, for example, inform the customer in advance if you realize that you will be late or that the product will not be as anticipated.

This already important element of customer service is elevated by the “trust factor” in eCommerce (the fact that the customer pays for items that they haven’t even seen yet in person). You may want to consider offering generous return policies, investing in quick delivery, and ensuring that you deliver on your promises. A good customer service experience is detrimental to the growth of your business. There is a high probability that your customers will continue to use your products, and they will recommend your brand to others.

Stats and insights on ToF’s essential customer service trends

In order to find a good outsourcing partner, you need to look at the following:
Can you tell me a little bit about how you work out what is right for you and your business?
In order to implement an outsourced customer service strategy, eCommerce businesses have a variety of options to choose from. The right choice may not exist, nor will there be a one-size-fits-all solution. However, you should take this decision seriously.

Outsourcing on-demand versus outsourcing on a fixed contract
It can be argued that both of these options stem from an outsourced approach to customer service.

This refers to the ultimate scalable customer service offered by the most on-demand outsourcing system available
Outsourcing contracts with strict terms and conditions: These refer to contracts that do not vary with regard to the number and specialization of the customer service representatives, the number and combination of the channels covered and more.

In the end, fixed contract outsourcing is as restrictive as it seems on the surface. In fact, from a flexibility standpoint, it offers you nothing more than using an in-house customer service operating model. The point is that neither offers flexibility or scalability in the real world. You will find that in both cases, your customer service function will be linked to the way you predict demand. Regardless whether you take your customer service in-house or outsource it but on a fixed contract basis, you can be assured that your CS requirements will be unmatched. There are several reasons why in-house teams and fixed contract outsourced teams are unable to deliver the kind of flexible capacity that is needed to match the resources to the requirements of the business.

We typically see the highest levels of customer inquiries during the holiday season, when we see up to a 75% increase in customer queries. You cannot expect the same level of customer service all year round, so you do not need to rely on it. You can scale your customer service on a demand-based basis to match demand and cultivate customer satisfaction by outsourcing your customer service on an on-demand basis.

You need to invest in quality – onshore vs. offshore
In order to answer the “offshore question,” both in-house and outsourced options have to provide solutions. There is often a confusion between outsourcing and offshoring, yet the two are actually quite different, and offshoring is a cost-saving move that can be implemented inside (or outside) of the outsourcing context.

The benefits of outsourcing to an offshore location include:
Despite the fact that having your customer service function off-shore will certainly reduce your operating costs (by taking advantage of lower overseas wages), we do not consider it to be a wise choice. In general, cutting corners in eCommerce comes at the expense of quality, and the importance of good customer service means that cutting corners can be a mistake.

An example of this is that the inability to understand a customer service representative is rated as one of the most frustrating parts of dealing with customer services. It will result in longer-term value if you choose a quality onshore provider.

Among the advantages of outsourcing onshore are:
Economies of scale and specialisation enable offshore outsourcing providers to offer excellent customer experiences on demand, taking advantage of economies of scale and specialisation. Even if onshore outsourcing is more expensive than offshore outsourcing, it is generally less expensive than the cost of building your own infrastructure. We recommend that if you are considering outsourcing, you do so with a partner that is located onshore.

The following information is being made public: Odondo is an onshore customer service provider. If you would like advice tailored to your specific needs, please contact us.

Service centers distributed throughout the country
In this digital age, we are living through a revolution of “work-from-home” work, therefore agility and flexibility have never been more important. However, in the field of customer service, this shift had already begun a long time ago. As a result of moving away from the traditional call center and service center, the adoption of a distributed network of WFH agents brings with it a number of significant benefits:

There is no doubt that 70% of workers would prefer to work from home rather than in an office. By allowing employees to work from home, the company is not limited by geographical location, and the distributed service centres can recruit higher quality agents with more experience, allowing them to provide better customer service.
It is possible to hire a broader range of agents with WFH’s flexibility since it allows a variety of agents to work in the call centre who might not have considered it in the past. It includes retired people, people with disabilities, and parents who are staying at home with their children. Therefore, you will be able to engage with the right skills and demographics that are in a position to meet your customers’ needs in a more flexible manner.

Reduced costs: A distributed approach to call centers removes a number of overheads (rent, office amenities, etc.), helping you to reduce your overall cost. On top of that, it becomes much easier to scale and dynamically dialup and dialdown resources according to requirements.
Flexible on-demand service: By redistributing your CS reps and embracing the WFH environment, you are able to operate with agility. Your reps will be able to work from the comfort of their own homes and set their own hours to suit both their needs and yours.

It is possible to operate a distributed call centre either within the organization or through an outsourced partner – but both scenarios bring benefits.

It’s also important to note that there are a number of operational challenges to overcome when implementing a distributed call center. Quality control, management, training, security, and infrastructure support are just a few examples. It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of these aspects when building a capability in-house.

Don’t forget to put your customers’ needs first
The purpose of customer service is not just to solve a problem, but to take care of the entire journey of the customer. Excellent customer service should permeate every aspect of a company’s business model. You should remember that 86% of customers expect good customer service when doing business with you. Excellent customer service can be used by a brand to attract and retain loyal customers by providing them with exceptional customer service.

A customer may only have one human interaction with your eCommerce brand when they talk to a customer service agent. So make sure it’s a good one.