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Article 5 min read

Support agents can improve the ecommerce experience

By Andrew Gori

Last updated June 13, 2018

In the world of ecommerce consumer decisions are made in seconds. Whether it’s a first impression, purchasing decision, or change of heart—seconds can make or break a customer outcome.

It’s no coincidence that within seconds of making a buying decision, I can complete the purchasing process online. With the click of a button, voice command, or automated subscription—I can’t spend my money any faster or easier.

Positive experiences lead to positive reviews, referrals, and satisfied repeat customers, but the sale is just the start of the customer journey and the new challenge is delivering that consistent experience downstream. “Poor service” is the number one reason that customers change brands with 67% of that churn being preventable if the customer issue was resolved at the first engagement—so how do we support customer problems with the same efficiency we support their purchases?

Advancements in AI and self-service technologies offer a critical no-touch solution for streamlining customer interactions without inundating frontline agents, but the typical requests reaching agents are becoming more complex as a result. Consequently, the average cost of a live customer interaction has gone up 38% since 2009.

Given the importance of streamlined solutions and the growing complexity of agent-handled requests, it’s as important as ever for ecommerce companies to also streamline how agents solve customer problems.

Share knowledge

Between waiting for the next available subject matter expert and having the same conversation more than once, escalations are extremely inefficient and frustrating for customers. An Accenture study revealed that 89% of customers reported frustration over needing to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.

One of the simplest ways to streamline support is to avoid unnecessary escalations altogether with a robust yet digestible internal knowledge base.

First: Choose a knowledge base that is effective enough for frontline agents to use real-time. When managing a live customer interaction, seconds matter and can’t be wasted navigating a maze of knowledge base articles for the right solution. Ensure your database is searchable, suggests content, and renders in a way that effortlessly guides your agents.

Second: Invest in content. As part of the go to market strategy for new products, policies, and business processes, ensure subject matter experts deliver relevant content prior to roll out. While this may take some time and dedication from stakeholders, a little goes a long way when eliminating bottlenecks and preventing significant customer pain down the road.

Provide tools

While providing real-time guidance empowers agents with information, it’s important they have the right tools to effectively solve customer issues.

Quality management tools

Product quality is a key component to long term customer happiness and support reps are typically the first line of defense when product issues arise. Empowering reps with access to your organisations quality management tools will not only accelerate your organisations product feedback loop, but just as importantly, will empower reps with visibility into known product issues, status and solutions as they arise. This transparency can be the difference between a first contact resolution and a frustrating escalation process for the customer.

Ecommerce platform

“Where is my order?” inquiries and product returns are a common and inevitable part of any ecommerce business. An effective ecommerce platform can deflect inquiries by providing strong customer visibility and offer effective internal tools for managing orders and return merchandise authorisations (RMA). Storefronts provide an exceptional happy path process for purchasing, but to provide the best possible ecommerce experience it’s important to choose an ecommerce platform that provides an equally streamlined way of managing those purchases downstream and responding to common requests.

Shipping platform

Not all shipping carriers are created equal. Between cost, reliability, regional coverage, and express options, there are many factors that go into choosing the “right carrier” and often times the “right carrier” will vary by region. This is why it’s important to choose a shipping platform with robust carrier options. In addition to carrier options, the right shipping solution should provide your agents with tools to efficiently track and manage shipments when unavoidable issues arise. We can’t control the weather, we can control which carriers we use and how we empower our reps to manage these interactions.

De-clutter your digital workspace

Visualise your desk: equipped with a laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and phone. It’s likely every device you need to perform your day-to-day role is within reach. Optimising your physical workspace is a lot like optimising your digital workspace.

Your digital workspace, like your desk, contains finite accessible “real estate” so contents must be thoughtfully procured and placed. Too many tools in one place and you waste time sorting through clutter. Poorly position tools and you waste time moving around to complete routine tasks.

Now, consider that the typical customer service agent spends 15% of his or her time finding relevant information to do their jobs and uses an average of 5-7 interfaces and it’s no surprise support workflows are inefficient.

Creating a streamlined workspace for support reps requires both purpose-built tools and an intentionally integrated workspace. You don’t need to leave your desk to send an email. Agents shouldn’t need to navigate and duplicate data across multiple platforms just to complete a routine task. As you add tools, ensure those tools offer apps or API’s and invest time integrating them to eliminate the need for agents to work outside their primary workspace.

By creating a thoughtful agent experience, your support organisation will gain significant operational efficiencies – efficiencies that matter to customers.

In conclusion

A lot can happen in seconds. A skeptic can become a customer. A detractor can become a brand ambassador. Make sure every second with your customers count.

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