Since shopping online implies there is no personal interaction with a sales person, many customers grow frustrated if they encounter issues with the website or an order. To make matters worse, lots of online businesses fail when it comes to customer service by offering slow, delayed responses — or not offering them at all. Poor customer service can drive customers away faster than anything else. In fact, 3 out of 5 customers  have not completed a purchase due to poor service.
eCommerce Customer Service Ideas
Providing stellar customer service with your e-commerce business can do wonders to make your company stand out amongst the competition. This process is not always simple, but it can mean a world of difference when it comes to sales. Here are 5 ecommerce customer service ideas to consider.
1. Have an Easy-to-Understand Return Policy
One major concern many online customers have is the hassle of returning a product. Since anywhere from 15-30%  of online purchases are returned, having a clear return policy for your online business is extremely important. Writing out detailed instructions, of which are listed multiple times on your site or in emails, assures customers they can purchase with confidence.
Be sure to clearly state if you provide a full refund, partial refund, or offer store credit. You may also want to consider extending your return window, or even offering a lifetime guarantee. Offering easy and free returns influences 68% of online purchases , so you want to make the entire process as simple as possible for your customers.
Purple , an online mattress company, offers an excellent example of a well-defined return system. Their site lists out details for each product, from bed sheets to mattresses, and clearly states which returns will be refunded and which will not. If customers have further questions or concerns, Purple also includes their return department’s email address and phone number so customers can contact a customer service representative directly.
2. Personalize Each Experience
Online customers crave a more personalized buying experience. In fact, over 70% of American consumers expect personalization  from online businesses. Personalization can include offering customers personal shopping account logins that record past purchases, shipping addresses, and suggest related items for their next order. One easy way to offer some personalization is by using marketing automation  to send out triggered emails with special offers tailored the past shopping behavior of each customer.
Personalized shopping can take many forms. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. More importantly, use personalization to address customer concerns in shopping online vs. at a physical store near them. For example, Bluestone, an online jewelry company, found a unique way to bring their brand experience to the next level. Customers can set up an appointment online and a consultant will come directly to their homes, allowing them to try on the jewelry in the comfort of their own home.
This “try before you buy” service gives customers some peace of mind (especially before making an expensive purchase) as well as provides a personalized shopping experience by allowing the customer to choose which pieces to view. The company even offers a “design your own ” feature for rings, earrings, and necklaces – providing a truly personal experience for each customer.
3. Ask for Feedback
As the great musician Stevie Wonder once said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Customers are not very likely to leave a review, especially a positive one, if you do not ask. Sending out a follow-up email asking customers to rate their experience or to write a short review increases the likelihood they will leave feedback. Make sure you include their comments on your site or social media; as customer reviews play a major role in purchase decisions.
Take the instance of an online purchase for an air vent cover for a HVAC. Unless the item or purchase experience was exceptionally wonderful (or terrible), it’s highly unlikely for such a product to receive a review. However, one company sent out a follow up email to its Amazon customers with links that made it easy for the purchaser to leave a quick comment and rate their experience:
4. Provide Live Chat
Having a live-chat option can increase customer satisfaction by leaps and bounds. Plus, it’s an easy way to answer questions and concerns instantly. Rather than waiting for an email response, customers can receive assistance right away, which means they are less likely to leave your website without purchasing.
Outsourcing an online chat service is a great strategy, especially for smaller online businesses who can’t afford to hire round-the-clock customer service reps. Sites like Influx  will handle online chats 24/7 for your e-commerce business and provide peace of mind for you and your customers.
5. Provide Service via Social Media
Customer service via social media is expected by e-commerce customers today, and they want responses instantly. Many customers use social media because it’s easy for them to find a business and contact them directly.
There are, however, some downsides to using social media for this purpose. The big one being lack of privacy. Many companies reply to concerns with a link to their customer service page or respond with a private message.
Determine which of your social media platforms has the largest number of followers or activity, then promote your support services there. You can use social media monitoring tools  to alert you when your brand is talked about online so you can respond to inquiries quickly.
Providing a remarkable customer service experience from your e-commerce business gives your company an impressive competitive advantage. Focus on making the whole buying experience easy and personal for your customers throughout your site. Clearly list return and exchange instructions, and ask customers to review their experience to help your business improve and attract new audiences. Most importantly, don’t shy away from thinking outside the box!
Ecommerce Business  Photo via Shutterstock