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Mar
12

3 Ways Online Platforms Have Improved Customer Service

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Online platforms have redefined the consumer experience and raised the bar for what it means to deliver satisfactory customer service. Last year, Amazon once again topped all companies on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a ranking of 86. Overall, internet retailers scored an 83 on ACSI’s scale, illustrating that Amazon’s success is shared by other online platforms. Temkin Group tracking shows similar results, with the retail industry including e-commerce outranking all industries except supermarkets and fast food chains for customer experience.

What are e-commerce companies doing that is delivering such superior customer satisfaction? And how can other companies emulate their results? Here’s a look at three ways online platforms have improved the customer service experience that other companies can learn from.

Better Informing Consumers

One way online platforms have changed the customer service experience is making consumers better informed. Online information assists consumers in researching products and comparing prices. Nearly seven in 10 consumers now research products online before buying them in physical stores, while almost half research products in-store before buying them online, a Harris poll says.

The biggest thing customers use online platforms to research is prices, with 52 percent using mobile devices to check prices while they’re in stores. Helping customers check product information and reviews is another way online platforms help consumers, with 50 percent of in-store shoppers using their mobile devices for this purpose. Online retailers who recognize these consumer habits can use their websites to attract buyers by providing the information they’re looking for. For example, o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber assists customers in their research by providing online information and tools for selecting the correct size and material for their sealing needs.

Providing Faster Service

Another way online platforms have raised customer service standards is by providing faster service. The most efficient service option for both customers and businesses is self-service tools such as FAQ listings and knowledge bases, which has made this the most popular online service option. A Dimension Data study found that 73 percent of customers prefer to use a company’s website for self-service instead of using other support channels. Three in four customers say faster service is the biggest attraction of self-service, according to a CMO Council survey.

Online platforms are also using automation to deliver faster service. One of the most popular automated service tools today is chatbots, which can manage routine text inquiries while forwarding questions that require human assistance to a representative. Chatbots are both faster for customers and more cost-efficient for companies, which is why 57 percent of businesses are already using them, Inc reports. Leading chatbot platforms include Chatfuel, Botsify and Flow XO.

Offering Faster and Cheaper Delivery

Online platforms have also raised customer expectations when it comes to delivery. Amazon’s fast and free shipping options have led consumers to expect similar service from other companies. Shopping cart abandonment rates rise progressively if shipping will take longer than two days, with abandonment rising to 40 percent for eight days, says Conveyco. Customers also expect shipping to be reasonably priced, with 63 percent cancelling purchases if they deem shipping excessive.

While Amazon relies on a huge national infrastructure to offer fast and free shipping options, smaller retailers are also finding ways to compete when it comes to delivery. FedEx now offers two-day shipping services for small businesses to 98 percent of the United States. You can also offer free shipping by using strategies such as requiring minimum order values to qualify for free shipping.

Providing consumers with better information, faster service, and faster and cheaper delivery are three ways online platforms have improved customer services. Both online and traditional retailers can boost their customer satisfaction as well by studying these strategies and adapting them to serve their own customers.

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