Navigating through e-commerce customer support issues

Customer satisfaction is the primary target and much wanted end result if a company wants to create a name and remain successful. There will always be more urgent problems to take care of, than optimising customer care, especially in small and medium business.

So should one be investing time, energy and yes capital in this area?

  • With internet and social media news travels quickly and 39% customers are more likely to remember a bad experience. A company’s customer service policies and their customer support system can build or break its reputation, doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 500 member team.

  • 52% people indicated that a good customer service experience lead them to purchase more from the company. Great customer service can become your defining factor, the USP. In this growing Indian market a lot of websites come up with the same basic premise in retail, and something that sets you apart from the rest is needed to gain the trust and loyalty of the customer.

Akosha findings show that the month on month growth rate for online ecommerce complaints, averaged over the past 2 years is about 30%. In the first trimester of this year (Jan – Mar ‘13), out of 76,000 complaints registered on Akosha across all different sectors, 13.84% of them were from ecommerce sector. Bulk of these complaints are from Tier I cities and Delhi is at the top with around 1700 complaints in the e-commerce sector.

Where are e-commerce sites going wrong?

Data shows that most common ecommerce related issues amongst customers are the following:

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Deficiency in Delivery – 58%

Pain Points -

All issues related to non delivery, delayed delivery, damaged or wrong items being delivered, and discrepancy between items displayed on the website and items actually delivered; they were the points that came up most often.

Possible Solutions -

  1. Keep your customers informed about the status of the delivery.

  2. Outsourcing logistics to multiple players and selecting the right one for different pin codes with automated decision making backed by data.

  3. Focusing on Quality control process to make sure items are delivered correctly and undamaged.

Refund Issues – 29%

Pain Points -

Issues related to refusal or delay in processing of refunds.

Possible Solutions -

  1. Most people are hesitant to shop online because they are unsure about the purchase and return policies. Clearly state the company policy in easy language and somewhere its easy to find.

  2. Publish a customer friendly returns policy, all sales may not be final. A lot of shoppers get deterred when they see that there is no chance of refunds or returns at all.

Others – 13%

Pain Points -

Issues not included in previous two categorisations. Some common ones are:

  1. Difficulty in website navigation.

  2. Unclear instruction or information.

  3. Incorrect and unwanted money transactions.

Streamlining Customer Service

Customers gets attracted to the ecommerce platform because it claims to offer them a more efficient shopping experience. Don’t create customer service road blocks!

  • Don’t forget to improve on the basic touch points. Telephone and Email etiquettes, proper product and shipment packaging etc.

  • Keep things simple but obvious. Make it as easy as possible for the customer to share their grievances. Give them a combination of various methods of getting in touch with you instead of just one or two.

  • Make company policies clear and transparent. Offer comprehensive details on the About Us page and offer an FAQ tab that clarifies smaller queries.

  • Invest in the education and training of the customers care staff. This is the team that is on the forefront and touch points of the company and needs further empowerment to enable customer satisfaction. Not only do they need to be efficient in people skills but they also must have technical product and website related knowledge.

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A customer who brings up a problem doesn’t just help you identify an issue but also gives you the opportunity to turn a complainer into a loyal customer. No business platform is without its obstacles and no product is perfect. How efficiently a complaint is handled decides the outcome, whether it will result in a sale or a disgruntled customer contributing to negative publicity.

As it is there are too many competitors in the market, it is better to look at customer support as a way of client acquisition than to look at it as a challenge in ecommerce.

All data has been taken from various sources. Specific data has been obtained through collaboration with