Customer service is the lifeblood of any online business.
It can be tricky for growing companies to keep up with customer service, particularly during busy periods like Christmas and summer holidays. This is especially true when it comes to scaling customer support as your eBay sales grow.
For eBay sellers, customer support is the holy grail. Seller metrics – and ultimately sales – depend upon factors such as response and resolution times. The most successful companies’ constantly review their customer service processes, to make life easier for not only buyers, but for staff too.
Here are three steps to reducing the workload of your customer support staff.
Step 1: Map Your Current Process
The first step in streamlining your customer support is to record daily activities.
Recording and analysing your current customer support process is the easiest way of understanding and mapping the key activities within each task and identifying ways to simplify the process, both on a minute and macro level.
Key processes such as returns and refunds should be scrutinised and simplified as much as possible. Sure, it’s great if all a buyer has to do is click a button and a return or refund request is submitted – but is it just as quick and painless for customer service staff to process it? Do they have to process the payment manually? Do they have to use more than one system?
Boiling down common processes into a few simple steps mitigates the amount of work for your support staff, freeing them up to engage with and help your customers in more meaningful ways.
Step 2: Identify Contributing Factors
Once support activities have been recorded and broken down into individual tasks, it’s time to start recording the key metrics within them to further distinguish the most resource-demanding factors.
The quickest way to determine which areas of support need review is to start with your inbox. Recognising which query types account for the biggest percentage of your inbox enables you to classify them and compile a spectrum of most and least frequent queries. For example, if you receive a large number of shipping queries; are these due to reasons such as late deliveries or unclear shipping times being given at checkout? Determining the basis of these issues will enable you to take action to mitigate their likelihood, as well as implementing strategies to deal with situations when they do occur.
It’s essential to involve all CS reps in this process, as they will be able to share which situations and messages take up the most of their day. This step is all about locating the functions which constitute the most workload for the reps and working backwards to determine (and negate) the root cause.
Common problems (and solutions) include:
- Returns: Record the reason for each return, to deduce the most common causes and establish the driving force behind this.
- Damaged goods: If there are high rates of goods damaged at arrival, the packaging used should be reviewed.
- Wrong delivery: A high volume of wrong item deliveries could suggest a problem with pick pack and warehousing.
- Late delivery: Late deliveries could indicate a problem with your courier.
Product queries are one of the most time-consuming to answer because they require specific answers pertaining to different products, which may require staff to look up the information requested. For this reason they are always worth delving into further. Receiving questions about products is an opportunity to improve and update product descriptions to be more detailed and to clarify any ambiguity for future buyers, thus boosting customer satisfaction, while shrinking product query volumes.
Step 3: Strategic Automation
Once the customer service process has been mapped and the key contributing factors analysed, automation of the most time-consuming tasks can be implemented.
A quick way to get started is by using the data from the inbox analysis, which determined the most common query types, and using it to create a library of template responses for support staff to utilise. The process of crafting good support messages can be somewhat time-consuming, but in the long run will save staff hours typing.
When automating and implementing pre-sale preparation, it’s valuable to remember that many customers prefer to be autonomous and either have easy access to their own self-serve solution or to be able to find the answer without contacting a customer service representative.
For example; including a note and pre-labelled envelope with the company’s address (particularly for items such as clothes, which have a higher margin of returns rates) will save buyers the frustration of contacting customer support to find this information and in turn reduce the potential for negative feedback from an unsatisfactory experience.
Every marketplace seller is conscious of their metrics with regards to customer response and resolution times. The quickest and most effective way of increasing these is by creating auto-responses for periods where there could be a delayed response, for example out of office hours.
Setting up strategic automated messages not only lets your buyers know that their query has been received and will be dealt with swiftly, but also ensures that your response metrics remain high.
Follow these three steps and ensure you raise your customer service game to a new level in 2016.
Author: Josie is Head of Partnerships for XSellco, a Dublin based eCommerce solutions provider specialising in
solutions for multi-channel online vendors. XSellco’s main products are Fusion a HelpDesk tool build to
online retailers, Price Manager an Amazon repricer and High5 a marketplace feedback solicitation tool.