The Future of the Online Customer Service Industry

Exciting innovations are in store for e-commerce shoppers. The online arena now features a highly interactive customer experience. Out with the old and in with the new!

There have been dramatic innovations in the field of online customer service in recent times. Gone are the days of contacting customer support and waiting hours, perhaps even days for a response. Society now expects instant feedback for all queries. Nowhere is this more evident than e-commerce websites. Perhaps it’s a mix of our instant gratification culture, coupled with the fast-paced life we all find ourselves in. In any event, customer service is an ever-evolving organism that appears to be more and more autonomous every day. Put simply, we are seeing unprecedented changes in the way that communication takes place online. The old way of providing generic responses to all manner of customer queries and comments is gone. Of course there are many sites reluctant to switch over to the newer model, but eventually it’s do or die.

Innovation & Expectation in Customer Service

We’ve all been there; shopping online, frustrated beyond belief. There are scores of reasons why frustrations mount, including: items we seek are out of stock, we need information on substitute items, shipping concerns, returns policy, guarantees and so forth. A paradigm shift has occurred in the way that companies respond to individual customers. It is now accepted that each customer is unique. In other words responses should be tailored to individual questions. What’s good for Jack in Montana is not necessarily good for Ingrid in Sweden. Since e-commerce websites have a global presence, their customer service department should reflect that ethos. Many companies are now redoubling their efforts to find cost-effective and efficient software to meet these precise needs.

Websites offering multilingual support services – operating across multiple countries – are hamstrung by costs. Maintaining a 24/7 call center is simply out of the question for many retailers, so alternatives are being sought out to assist in improving, upgrading and simplifying the entire online customer service experience. At the heart of these initiatives are three basic objectives:

  • Improved ROI
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduction of shopping cart abandonment

Naturally, all three work together synergistically to improve the experience for everyone. This begs the question – how is it done?

Creating an Efficient Customer Service Solution

Many businesses are now turning to customer service solutions that update in real time. This artificial intelligence software is able to learn from the questions that are asked by customers, based on where they live, and other customer-specific data. It’s no longer a generic model of question/answer, as the one-size-fits-all theory has all but been abandoned. What we’re seeing now is customer service that engages with customers on key points. The software is able to anticipate customer queries, based on the specific product page, category or section that a customer is browsing. New Age customer service solutions provide suggestions and alternatives to customers in the event that items may be out of stock, or delays may be experienced.

What’s great about the new-age software is that support is available throughout the entire shopping process. Most of the shopping cart abandonment that takes place typically occurs during the latter stages of the shopping process. Customers may have a change of heart when it comes to paying for their item based on lack of information, uncertainty, queries about shipping options, and the like. Customer support that is available at every stage in the process essentially acts like a companion shopping assistant to make everything easier for the customer. The figures that we are seeing now reflect reduced shopping cart abandonment and increased customer satisfaction. Most everyone in the industry has been struggling with the shopping cart abandonment gremlin. Lots of tinkering has gone into creating online customer support solutions that are now starting to bear fruit.

Go for the Total Package Deal

In addition to the customer service software, businesses are looking to bolster their bottom line by improving the visual appeal of available products. This includes clever use of images from different angles, banners, colors and so forth. Other aspects include related products, details of each of the products available, guarantees and warranties and tailored offerings based on geographic location. As you can see, it’s so much more than a mere customer service solution that is being adopted – it’s a total package deal.

Photo Credit: G.L Barone