Customer Service departments are an underutilized resource in improving e-commerce for most Athletic and Outdoor brands. As a department, they are tasked with understanding customer frustrations before and after a purchase. And as more and more purchases are happening online, Customer Service has the most readily available data of where the website and content is preventing customers from accomplishing tasks.
Seizing the opportunity
Online customers are left choosing between calling Customer Service and abandoning the site. In a retail store environment, it’s nearly impossible to track the point at which a customer doesn’t buy. This is especially troublesome if the customer is already in the store with the intent to buy. But with e-commerce, the point at which customers choose not to buy can be tracked and changes can be made to improve purchasing success.
For brands to maximize the value from this exchange, it is important that systems and processes exist to communicate this knowledge to content managers. Equally important is the capability to track the effectiveness of changes. Digital tools, such as dashboards, display critical metrics that allow brand managers to have a better pulse of website interactions. This type of centralized view also helps make it easier for brand managers to track and compare key performance indicators against business goals.
When customers are frustrated with the site their only options are to abandon the site or to call Customer Service.
Customer Service feedback and digital dashboards create a continual feedback loop that serve to improve initiatives that help customers make purchases quickly and easily. With this feedback loop Brand Managers are able to identify initiatives that create a poor customer experience. As a result, assessing return on investment and allocating marketing dollars become more straightforward.
Understanding if and how Customer Service feedback is being utilized begins by asking, “How often is feedback from Customer Service being incorporated into the content changes on the website?”
5 Most common deflections
Marketing departments often point to the FAQ page as a way to address customer feedback. Unfortunately, this serves more as a deflection tool than as a customer resource. It is an admission to the customer that the brand knows a problem exists but has yet to provide a solution. The FAQ page offers an opportunity to address the most pressing concerns for customers. More importantly, it serves as a guide to Brand Managers as to what updates need to happen first.
The FAQ page offers an opportunity to address the most pressing concerns for customers. More importantly, it serves as a guide to Brand Managers as to what updates need to happen first.
The five most common issues deflected with FAQ pages include:
- Technical jargon disguised as marketing copy
- Dysfunctional compare tools
- Lack of useful sizing and fitting tools
- Complicated account registration or login requirements
- Poor warranty, returns and shipment tracking notification
Brands who take the time to resolve these issues receive two immediate benefits:
- The implicit promise every brand makes of a seamless and enjoyable experience is fulfilled
- Customers can move beyond the logistics of purchasing a product to offering feedback on their product experience
Brand Managers will find themselves uncovering new opportunities to serve the customer based on direct and actionable feedback. For example, endurance athletes want to know what products will enhance their individual performance needs in the rain. Coaches want to buy team gear in bulk (and at a discount).
When brands can do the simple things correctly, customers begin to welcome timely and personalized recommendations. Brands should not be surprised to find new seasonal patterns emerge. In this regard Customer Service departments serve as a source for important untapped opportunities.
In this regard Customer Service departments serve as a source for important untapped opportunities.
A feedback loop: The call log
One way to take advantage of the information gold mine would be to initiate dialogue between departments (Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, etc). Call logs are the simplest methods for facilitating discussions. Ideally, these discussions would lead to changes on the website and to creating a feedback loop between customers and brands.
The call log should capture the following information from each caller to Customer Service:
- Affected customer segments
- Any actions the customer took before calling (e.g,. visiting the website; what specific pages?, order of pages?)
- Product categories discussed
- Key issues prompting customer to call for help (e.g., purchasing, product info, sizing, warranty, return, shipment tracking, account log in, team purchase, etc).
- Any other key issues and related notes
It is important to keep the logs as painless and easy to complete as possible. Google Documents Forms offer a solution that is simple, quick and easy to setup online. Each call log initiative should be no more than two weeks in duration and each log should take less than 30 seconds to complete. Radio buttons, drop-downs and limited text fields are recommended.
Maximizing the effectiveness of call logs
The call logs will provide a wealth of information on which customer needs are being met and which are not. With each new round of call logs, customer feedback will yield better and better results.
Below are a few guidelines to maximize value from call logs:
- Apply Zipf’s Law and focus on the top 20% of most common complaints and suggestions.
- Continually ask the following two questions:
- What problem is the customer trying to resolve?
- What is the customer trying to do?
- After each round of call logging, ask the following questions:
- Were the solutions to address the the complaints and suggestions from the first call log effective?
- What worked and why?
With each new round of call logs, customer feedback will yield better and better results.
Call logs help to get different departments on the same page. Once on the same page, departments can have meaningful discussions on what problems customers are having, what resources are needed to address those problems, and what solutions will best serve business goals. This process will lead to fewer Customer Service calls, to higher sales, to greater customer retention, and substantially improved conversion rates.