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csrWhat is the difference between customer service for an ecommerce site and a brick and mortar store? Simple, your ecommerce site may be selling the exact same products as a physical store, but they have the advantage of sales associates walking around asking if you have any questions or need help with selecting the right product. While your sales team for your ecommerce website doesn’t have the ability to see when customers are frustrated or can’t find a product they are looking for, you can still offer five star customer service.


There are a number of great tools that can help you to provide excellent customer service on your website. Some of our recommendations focus on self-service, such as having the information on your site your customer’s need, while others involve direct customer contact. No matter which tools you decide to use, the overall goal is to create a guiding voice that customers can trust to provide them with the information that they need.


The most important customer service tool that every ecommerce website should have is self -service pages. Self-service pages include FAQs, how-to articles, videos, and a knowledge base. These pages allow customers to independently find the information that they need without directly contacting a service employee. When you have a small customer service team, it is important to emphasize these pages. Unnecessary direct contact could mean additional employees or taking time away from your other responsibilities—two resources that are very valuable to every ecommerce business. Additionally some customers do not have the time or desire to directly speak with someone and these customers may leave your site for one that does have the information that they need.


Some customer service tools for your ecommerce website allow you directly interact with your customers. These can be as simple as providing a phone number and email address on every page of your website. It is imperative that you have someone who can always answer these contacts. Consider adding live chat software to your website for instant, real-time, one –to- one communication with your customers. Live chat can be used proactively answer questions, make product recommendations or to upsell services. 77% of customers agree that online chat positively influenced their attitude about the retailer. Many live chat applications can be configured on your ecommerce website to display the chat window after a customer has been on a page for a certain amount of time assist which mimics a salesperson coming over to a customer in a store.


Use social media to respond customer questions, complaints and product feedback. Whether you have a retail or wholesale ecommerce site, people are probably posting about your products and customer service on social media. 46% of online customers expect brands to provide customer service on Facebook. You don’t have to wait for people to be talking about your products to get into a conversation. You can use social media proactively to offer solutions to potential customers that are sharing a need that they have. Even if you choose to not respond directly to your customers using social media you should still monitor what your customers are saying about you on these sites.


Lastly, use your website’s analytics to gain a better understanding of your customer’s behavior. While analytics do not involve direct contact with your customers they can alert you to areas where there may be problems. If you are not seeing traffic convert to sales take a look at the top exit pages on your site. A high percentage of people exiting your site at checkout may signal usability issues or a technical problem with your site. If you see a high number of people leaving from your top product pages without making a purchase, your prices may not be competitive and you might want to take a look at your competitor’s websites.


Of course, you do not have to use all of these tools. As mentioned above, direct contact customer service is expensive, and not every business has the resources to have a support team devoted to being readily available to answer customer questions. If this is true for you, design your website carefully in a very user-friendly way to minimize the need for direct customer service. Be sure to provide as much information and imagery about your products along as possible- never think there is too much information. Keep your self-service pages updated regularly and full of information that a customer may inquire about, especially when you start to unveil new products and promotions. At the bare minimum, have a support phone number. There will always be a customer that will need help and if they are helped properly, that builds what every online store wants: customer loyalty.


LogMedia and the e-tailing group, “Forth Annual BoldChat Live Chat Effectiveness”, 2012

Oracle, “Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012: A Global Perspective,” March 2012


About Speartek: Founded in 1999, Speartek provides unparalleled design, e-commerce development, and hosting solutions to companies of all sizes. Speartek’s versatile applications empower businesses to update content, manage online stores, and create email-marketing campaigns with ease. The Speartek team includes application development experts, web design specialists, experienced project managers, and U.S. based customer support professionals. For more information on Speartek, please visit

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