Customer Support For eCommerce: The Profit Center You (Still) Ignore

Customer support for eCommerce is a profit centre you’re probably ignoring at the moment and it’s not surprising why.

Here’s a quick question for you: Just how much do you think customer support — as a business function –collectively earned for eCommerce businesses? 

The folks at Gorgias collected data from a whopping 8000 different brands. The result? Those brands earned 1.1 billion (with a B) from “customer support” alone. 

We are humans. We chase things that are flashy. Something has to hit the popularity circuit before we take notice. 

Most e-commerce businesses think that customer support is just one of those things that we need to do to keep the business going, and that customer support as a business function and not as a profit centre.

In fact, there are lots of customer support horror stories. Then there are stories about customer support success. 

There are even fewer stories about how customer support alone has helped businesses become profitable.

According to Fletcher Richman of HubSpot, the customer service department is usually treated as second-class citizens.

Empowering your customer support team to treat it like a customer centre instead of just a business function could be single-handedly the most valuable thing you could be doing for your brand. 

You forget that the customer support directly equates to money on the table.

If everything was equal in your industry where you are selling product X and your competition is selling product X as well, you could make customer support your competitive edge. 

All you had to do was to bring back “being human” back into eCommerce. 

It’s people you are doing business with and as long as you remember that, you are well on your way to customer-service driven profitability. (Just look at what Zappos did, and later got acquired by Amazon). 

Here’s how to turn your otherwise “I didn’t think of this” customer support for eCommerce into a venerable profit center: 

Follow The Industry Leaders

Some of the best brands in the industry received a 4/5 satisfaction rating from their customers in the year 2021. 

With more than 75 million tickets resolved, top brands went at it by attending to one loyal customer at a time. 

For your e-commerce business and for your customer support for e-commerce to succeed, these are the performance metrics that the top quartile of merchants achieve.

The top performing teams had first response times under two hours and resolution times under eight hours on average.

Here are some more customer support for e-commerce stats that you should follow:

  • Email happens to be the most popular customer support channel used by at least 92% of brands surveyed, together they answered around 64 million emails last year alone.
  • 78% of brands bought Facebook Instagram and Twitter interactions into their collective customer support workspaces. Together, they answered 3.7 million comments across these three channels alone with almost 2/3rd of customer requests coming from Facebook. 
  • Voice support for customer support was big as well. In a survey, merchants responded by taking more than 4000 calls from shoppers in the year 2021 and resolved problems at least 34% faster than others who left phone service out of their e-commerce Support strategy

How is that for some performance?

Customer Support Metrics for eCommerce 

Metrics usually get a bad rap for being vanity metrics and that’s true.

To measure how much customer value customer service value you’re getting for your business, you need to change the way you measure.

Increasing efficiency, turnaround time, and how fast you resolve customer support tickets — these are obviously at the top of the very value chain of customer support but there are other customer retention metrics that you need to check out as well.

To begin with, focus on metrics such as resolution time, satisfaction ratings per team member, churn rate, repeat purchase rate, and Net Promoter Score. 

Use Technology to Make Customer Support for eCommerce Work 

Without customer support automation of some kind it will be impossible for you to resolve millions of tickets Inbound and resolve customer queries or customer support instances in an easier manner. 

Whether you choose to embrace automation in other parts of your business is really up to you but for customer support you absolutely need integration of some kind. 

Using technology to make customer support for e-commerce work as a single best investment you would make for your e-commerce business.

You don’t even have to be a genius to make this work. No you don’t even have to haggle with 17 different apps to make this work again

Using tools such as the Gorgias — along with its many integrations — can help speed up, ease, and empower your customer support function for eCommerce. 

For Instance, Gorgias directly integrates with the following:

  • Klaviyo: An email and SMS marketing automation platform
  • Recharge: For subscriptions and recurring payments
  • Attentive: A comprehensive text message marketing solution 
  • Postscript: SMS marketing for growing ecommerce stores
  • Yotpo: For customer reviews, loyalty, referrals, and more

Read More:

8 Ecommerce Email Marketing Automation Series for Online Stores

Customer Support for eCommerce: Attitude Adjustments

If you want to make it big with e-commerce, you need to aim at providing not just value but also “wow” your customers day in and day out by offering more than what they expect.

It starts with leadership; it needs a company-wide obsession with customer support for eCommerce.

To succeed, you’d need to be monomaniacally obsessed with customer support. There are two ways (or more ways) around this.

At the very basic level, you need to solve problems, be helpful, be enthusiastic, and help customers achieve their goals. 

Those are just the basics. 

Add in a dash of personality, helpfulness, eagerness, being yourself go a long way to try and help customers get what they want and even delete them if you have an opportunity to do so. 

Delight Customers 

The big question: how do you delight customers? Learn from the best. Consider they beta-test new products with customers who opt-in. They test discounts and coupons. They gather feedback and act on the feedback they get. 

One primary standout trait when it comes to businesses – solo, small, or large — is generosity. Businesses don’t nickel-and-dime; they don’t fuss about the cost of trinkets. 

Notice what airlines do: they offer peanuts, packaged water, tissues, spoons, forks, and even earphones to make your journey better. Yes, you take them for granted now, but imagine your life on a plane without these. 

Think about how you’d integrate “constant delight” for your customer support processes in your eCommerce business?

Offer a little “free something”

No matter how many years go by, nothing can beat the value of “free”. 

Some of the best brands and e-commerce understand the value of free and is not just a marketing gimmick.

Giving away a little free something doesn’t hurt your bottom line as much as you think.

On the other hand, it helps customers feel delightful and it feels as if they’ve gotten more bang for the buck. 

Consider a few free offerings (work backwards to integrate costs — if any —  into your overall cost of marketing or cost of goods sold): 

  • Free overnight shipping
  • Free return shipping
  • 24/7 fulfillment operations (including order processing and customer care)
  • Free assembly (for products that require assembly or installation) 
  • Free phone support
  • Free email support
  • Free 24/7 support 
  • Long-term warranty and free replacements 

You can also consider free resource centers, help centers, video tutorials, PDF checklists, assembly instructions, product use instructions, and more. 

Need more help? Get this: The Essential Ecommerce Launch Checklist That Every business Must Know

What else can you think of? How are you thinking of turning your customer support for eCommerce into a gift that keeps on giving?

Some of the links in posts and elsewhere are partner links and affiliate links (the only way I keep some money flowing in). You can purchase some of these products and I make commissions which keeps the lights on. You never pay more. Sometimes, you get discounts. Thank you for understanding. Here's the Aff Discloure Policy (if you love that kind of stuff).