In an era where most people prefer shopping online, the phone carries significant weight.
Today’s shopper wants their questions answered with the same level of ease they enjoy when making a purchase.
But some eCommerce support teams still struggle to deliver.
From disconnected systems to lack of agent autonomy, many factors can get in the way of providing customers with the frictionless experiences they crave.
Here’s what we recommend:
1. Adopt a growth mindset
The biggest threat to progress is our attachment to the status quo.
For support teams, this usually manifests as rigid rules around behavior: Answer all calls on the first or second ring. Try to end calls within X minutes. Ask whether there’s anything else you can help with—every single time. The motto of many is stick to the script.
While there are plenty of valid reasons to create support standards, being too inflexible can hurt your organization in the long run. Enforcing hard rules around language or call time, for example, is unlikely to translate to exceptional customer experiences.
But it is likely to:
Decrease agent empathy
Limit agent adaptability
Turn agents into robots
This is exactly what you don’t want. To succeed in today’s market, you need a team of adaptable, creative problem-solvers who feel empowered to take reasonable risks.
To get there, eCommerce teams plagued by too many doctrines must trade their fixed mindsets for growth-oriented ones.
Threatened by change
Embracing of change
Focuses on outcomes
Appreciates the process
Support agents may need to move fast, but it’s more important they move with consideration for the customers they engage with. When they don’t—and instead focus on getting to the next call—phone support loses its chief advantage, the human touch_._
When you adopt and promote a growth mindset, agents are better prepared to meet the needs of increasingly discerning customers and enjoy the freedom to build relationships that keep them coming back.
2. Address gaps in your process
Every customer service process has a purpose. But shedding a fixed mindset means taking an honest, ongoing look at each one to determine whether they’re helpful or harmful.
For instance, what happens when an agent receives a refund request? Are they required to submit it in writing and re-enter it elsewhere? Are they empowered to grant it themselves? If so, under what conditions?
What about the dreaded request to speak to a manager? Do agents typically place customers on hold while trying to flag down someone with authority? Do they take messages for callbacks—and does someone actually return them?
Here are some indications your processes could use refining:
Training: Are there issues that always seem to cause confusion or aggravation, no matter who fields the call? Do agents avoid certain ticket types?
Autonomy: Do agents have the information they need to make their best judgment call when a manager or supervisor isn’t around to give them the green light?
Consistency: How do you ensure agents handle similar issues in a similar fashion? Do you have a system in place for evaluating the quality of conversations?
Efficiency: Is your team bogged down by time-consuming manual processes that prolong customer wait times? Do customers have viable self-service options for FAQs?
To improve your team’s phone support, aim to streamline processes and eliminate as much manual work as you can. Customers and agents will thank you.
3. Connect your tools
Efficient operations and the right tools go hand-in-hand. But when customers call an online business, they’re frequently treated like strangers.
Agent: Thank you for calling Tots and Bots. How can I help you?
Customer: I have a huge problem—my order shows as delivered, but I never received it.
Agent: Can I have your order number, please?
Customer: Hold on, let me pull up my email…
Agent: Okay. Take your time. ?Hold music ensues.?
Customer: Is there anything else I can provide? Maybe my name?
Agent: Sure, yeah, OK. How do you spell your name?
Customer: A-N-N, O-Y-E-D.
These scenarios happen often. And not for the reasons consumers might expect. On the whole, agents aren’t apathetic, they’re avoidant.
They don’t want to use search terms that yield dozens of results, they don’t want to hop between several systems, and they don’t want to run through the alphabet to confirm someone’s identity if they can help it.
With technology where it is, they shouldn’t have to. When a customer calls your team for help, agents should ideally have access to their entire history—from recent orders to recent conversations.
When you integrate tools like Aircall and Magento, you arm agents with a tremendous advantage in customer service: context.
In a matter of seconds, agents know who they’re talking to, and in less than a minute, they have a sense of why they’re calling.
Equipped with such information, they can personalize their interactions from the start, ask meaningful, targeted questions that make customers feel valued, and deliver solutions faster.
If you want to improve eCommerce phone support, invest in the tools to scale great service.
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Published on September 6, 2023.