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Five eCommerce customer service tips for making a human connection

What do today's consumers expect from the eCommerce experience? In a word: everything.

Online shoppers don't just want easy access to the products they seek. They want reasons to keep coming back, including relevant offers, customized recommendations and of course, reliable customer service.

While automation has a role to play in meeting these customer expectations, don't overlook the importance of the human element. Consumers have grown accustomed to an algorithm-based online experience, and most have come around to value the convenience this technology has created — but that doesn't mean they're looking to go without human connection. Technology may enable brands to streamline the customer care process, but it's your representatives who ultimately shape the customer experience (CX).

Many companies have already embraced the opportunity to create a more caring and customized CX. As reported by global fintech Broadridge, even though 56% of consumers say the pandemic fundamentally changed how they communicate with businesses, 54% have seen "an increase in 'humanity in the communications they've received from providers."

As eCommerce brands and online shoppers continue to embrace technology, remember that there are plenty of reasons to keep human interactions in the customer care equation. In a study by Statista of over one thousand Americans, 40% of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. The stakes are high — retaining a human touch can be key to delighting your customer base and maintaing great customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.

Looking to learn more about how to encourage human connections to enhance your customer experience? Try these best practices.

1. Lead with an empathetic customer care team

Creating a culture that fosters empathy can strengthen your customers' relationship with, and loyalty to, your brand. To reap the benefits, begin by encouraging your team to be active listeners who are skilled at lifting your customers up. Showing customers that your company genuinely wants to understand their needs and is committed to meeting them can positively transform any interaction with your eCommerce brand.

Creating a more empathetic customer experience depends on first creating a more empathetic company culture. As Businessolver's 2021 State of Workplace Empathy report notes, "Organizations will rely on leaders to build bridges between their vision of an empathetic workplace and how employees are experiencing it in their everyday lives." Demonstrating empathy towards team members helps promote a culture of 'paying it forward' to customers.

2. Make customers feel seen with personalization

Personalization is central to a strong eCommerce customer experience, including support interactions.

Fortunately, you already have the information you need to be able to create a more customized CX. Consider all the ways you can leverage your existing customer data to assess customers' individual needs, and tailor both website visits and customer support conversations to those requirements. For example, giving your representatives the freedom to shape their responses and advice based on the information they have about a costumer's past purchases and queries displays your company's devotion to resolving their issues and keeping them satisfied. Never underestimate the value of making a customer feel understood.

3. Build an online community to promote loyalty

Customer care with a human touch isn't just about direct contact on the phone or on a messaging platform. Shoppers also value user-generated content (UGC) that makes them feel more connected to other customers and keeps them engaged across the customer journey. TELUS International research shows that UGC increases the likelihood that consumers will purchase from a brand again (53%), and that they'll recommend the brand to others (46%).

UGC can include everything from customer success stories posted to your website, to an online forum or Facebook group where your customers can go to converse with, and about, your brand.

Because they were built to connect users and facilitate conversations, social platforms are great places to foster online communities. Consumers can, for example, use them to share their love of a brand's customizable high-top sneakers. They can also use these communities to find answers to questions about how best to wash those shoes or, for new customers, whether information about whether the sizes run large or small. Online communities can both connect your brand's advocates and empower them to locate the information they seek. Just be sure to moderate your UGC regularly for toxic or misleading content.

4. Establish a strong voice of the customer program

Leveraging feedback from eCommerce customer service and online listening efforts can help you track your customer experience and how they perceive your organization. A voice of the customer (VoC) program enables you to capture customer insights by way of surveys, sentiment analysis and automated software designed for customer analysis. Investing in a VoC program isn't exclusively about improving your business; it also lets your customers know their voices are being heard loud and clear.

Remember that empathetic customer support team you're building? Be sure to share VoC results with them on a regular basis. It's always important to share your findings with your team members to ensure they're aligned for a customer-centric approach.

5. Avoid over-automation

There's no question about it: Automation is invaluable to eCommerce companies. At the same time, it's important to be strategic about how you deploy it, and to balance it out with that all-important human touch.

Automation shouldn't be about removing humans from the equation. Rather, it's designed to get people the right information more efficiently while supplementing the human support that already exists.

Balancing your brand's tech and human connections isn't always easy. When it comes to customer service in eCommerce, working with a company that understands the industry, the customer experience and leading-edge technology can be a game-changer. A proven eCommerce customer service outsourcing partner can take the onus off of you to build from the ground up, and ultimately help you to deliver a customer experience that is both efficient and human. Reach out to our team of digital CX experts to learn how TELUS International can help.

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