It's good to know others mirror the thoughts I've written in my books over the years. I'm not sure if Andrew had read anything I've written, but his guest post below make me feel secure that the drum I've been beating for close to a decade is being heard by someone!
This comprehensive guide on ecommerce customer service will teach you how to improve your customer service strategy without altering the structure of your business. It also helps illustrate just how much money you can make from your existing customer base with great customer service.
50 Good Ecommerce Customer Service Strategies1. Offer a monthly product giveaway to customers that sign up for your newsletter.
2. Offer coupons to your customers for writing a seller review.
3. Add coupons & promotions in your e-mail marketing. Don't have an e-mail marketing strategy set up? You need one.
4. If possible, work to offer same day shipping for customers that need their items in a hurry.
5. Increase your call center hours to take into account extremely early and late orders.
6. Offer free return shipping for a limited time to see if that added feature builds confidence in your customers and leads to more conversions.
7. Give customers the ability to have their items sent gift wrapped, or to purchase their item with gift wrapping for them to wrap themselves.
8. Offer gift cards to your customers so they can easily share your website with others.
9. Implement live chat. Live chat can greatly decrease the number of abandoned carts at your webstore.
10. Give a coupon to each customer that signs up for your weekly newsletter.
11. Let customers apply to become a ‘product tester’ where they get your products for free in exchange for writing about them on blogs and linking back to your website.
12. Throwing a video-submission contest using your products and rewarding the winner, then use those videos for your own marketing.
13. Provide product recommendations or similar items to customers below the items they're interested in to make it easier for customers to find items that work well in sets, and to increase average order volume. Sweetwater does a great job of this:
14. Be upfront with shipping and tax costs. No one likes hidden charges.
15. Invest into your site navigation and search functions. Customers who can't find an item they're looking for quickly is one of the major causes of a high bounce rate.
16. Start a review contest. Whoever writes a review gets entered to win a drawing of $1,000. Roots Canada has a great example below:17. Create a blog where you show off your expertise about your products and interact with your customers.
18. Start a Twitter & Facebook page and promote it on site to share deals and listen to your customers.
19. Throw a Holiday-inspired contest where a winner receives a gift package or makeover of their house with your products. To be entered into your contest you can have users sign up for your newsletter or fill out a short questionnaire.
20. Display McAfee, Better Business Bureau or VeriSign secure badges.
21. Include a personable About Us page. Here’s a great example:
22. Lower shopping cart confusion. Use one of these tools for help: http://www.getelastic.com/8-quick-n-dirty-tools-to-beat-site-abandonment-this-holiday/
23. Increase your return policy time table to increase customer confidence.
24. Give coupons to customers that share their purchases on Facebook. Shopon.com provides a tool to help you do just that.
25. Display positive seller reviews and testimonials on your home page.
26. Personalize your brand beyond your About Us page with interviews and op-eds from your staff. Show off your expertise of your products.
27. Offer delivery estimates so your customers can know when to expect their order.
28. Add additional payment methods like Paypal, Google Checkout, and Amazon Checkout so your customers can checkout with ease.
29. Open a forum where your customers can talk openly about your products. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from them.
30. Ask for product reviews in exchange for coupons. You can then use these product reviews as valuable SEO on your website.
31. Create a ‘deal of the day’ or ‘deal of the week’ for your customers.
32. Offer a deals section to your customers. Offer quarterly or yearly clearance sales to clear out old inventory. Wetsuit Warehouse does a great job of this:33. Give your customers free samples of products for signing up to your newsletter.
34. Donate generously to a charity and promote it on your website.
35. Run a special promotion where a certain % of proceeds goes to charity.
36. Offer a ‘best sellers’ or 'popular products' section to your customers.
37. Add a coupon section to your website for easy access. You’d rather keep your customers on your website while they look for coupons instead of on Google, right? Macy's does a great job of it: http://www.macys.com/campaign/social?campaign_id=61&channel_id=138. Offer freebies / coupons for customers that share your products on social networks.
39. Reach out to bloggers with a strong community and let them write about your products. They don't even have to be in your industry – do they have a hobby that your products can service?
40. Give coupons and deals to users who invite their friends to shop at your store. Have them e-mail you a copy of their invetation for a coupon.
41. Have great phone support? Connect consumers directly to a phone representative from a search engine. More: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2120364/Phone-Through-Rate-is-new-AdWords-Ranking-Factor (Make sure to read the comments- some good insight there).
42. Include any retailer awards on your home page.
43. Host a blog-a-thon where you invite regional bloggers interested in your products to a big party where they are the theme, in exchange for a blog post. Lucky Gunner does a great job of this: http://www.luckygunner.com/2011-blogger-shoot
44. Listen to your customer and talk about it. Offer an easy ‘submit feedback’ button on your website, then talk about any changes you make that take into account customer suggestions on your website or blog.
45. If all of your products are made by people in America, show it off on your About Us and home page.
46. Offer discounts if customers buy in bulk? Let it be known, clearly!
47. Have a list of charities to donate to? Share that list on your website.
48. Offer multiple language phone support for your products? Show it off clearly on your home and product pages. Don't have multiple language phone support? Depending on your products it might make sense to add new language support to your customer service team. Talk with your current team to see approximately how many non-English speaking calls, or calls where the caller cannot speak English very well, happen.
49. List your contact info clearly, including a mailing address, on your Contact Us page. I hate it when I find retail stores that only include a customer inquiry form to fill out on those pages without any information about the company.
50. Advertise your top customer service employees on site to show off your good customer service skills and promote good customer service within your company.