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e-Commerce Industry News

November 11, 2014
Serving the customer across all channels is critical
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November 11, 2014
Customers like live chat. Customers like live chat.
Customer service is a no brainer for any successful retailer. At most brick-and-mortar stores, every employee plays some sort of role in customer service - cashiers often ask whether people could find what they were looking for, sales floor associates are there to answer any questions and assist shoppers in getting the items they need and customer service agents process returns, exchanges and other similar matters.

To that end, it is almost strange that in an era of omnichannel retailing, that attention paid to customer service does not manifest itself in other retail channels. Everyone plays an active role in customer service at physical locations, but sometimes finding answers to questions online feels like pulling teeth for shoppers. Many retailers have their contact pages hidden somewhere in the fine print at the bottom of pages and offer only a simple email address and a customer contact line.

In today's digital world, retailers need to do more than that. Relying on email, even if an answer is guaranteed within 24 hours, is not acceptable. Likewise, offering a phone line can be frustrating if people have to go through time-consuming option menus and automated scripts.

At the end of the day, omnichannel retailing's purpose is to improve flexibility and convenience for the shopper, yet many merchants are not extending this philosophy to the way they handle customer service. Even if email and contact centers were effective means of handling customer inquiries - which they can be, but are not always - retailers need to offer more options just to appease the customer.

Customer satisfaction with online live chat is through the roof
As further evidence of the importance of multiple digital communication channels, a recent report from Vendor LiveChat found that many customers find live chats on eCommerce websites to be highly fulfilling. More than 86 percent of respondents to the survey said they were happy with the results they got, and the figure has shown consistent growth in recent years.

Live chat makes sense for eCommerce because it is so approachable. For many shoppers, having to stop shopping and look up phone numbers or other contact information can be a frustrating experience and may even take people out of the shopping experience. On-site live chat keeps customers on the same page and does not remove them from the shopping experience, which may increase chances of securing the sale.

"Visitors can ask questions on various pages during their stay on a website - they don't have to ask all the questions immediately," the report said, as quoted by Internet Retailer. "This is much more comfortable than the phone, where you get all the information at once and you need to call again if another problem pops up."

"Live chat is a natural pick for every online retailer as it allows for quick contact with customers who visit the said retailer's web site," the report concluded.

Customer service is critical to retail success
Merchants know that good customer service plays a pivotal role in not only securing the immediate sale but also in bolstering customer loyalty and generating future sales. People who have a negative service experience are not likely to come back to a merchant in the future, and in many instances, sellers only have one chance to get this right.

For online sellers, it is paramount they offer a variety of service options, including on-site live chat, call centers, email, social media and other channels. This gives customers the ability to get service via the means that is most convenient for them.