The State of E-Commerce Customer Service in 2020

ecommerce seo the definitive guide

Online retail customer service is increasing in volume and customer expectations. Together, this creates a challenge: how can businesses keep up with these increasing demands? The stakes are high: almost 70% of customers will pay more for better customer service, and two-thirds of customers will actively dissuade friends and family from purchasing after just one bad experience.

What trends will the industry embrace in 2020 to help a new kind of consumer? Read on to learn more about the state of e-commerce customer service in 2020 and how your business can prepare:

The Opportunity is Huge

We won’t be the first one to tell you that the retail e-commerce market is growing. As more customers become comfortable buying online, and more retailers expand their online stores, the sales opportunities are only going to continue to expand. Global retail e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.2 billion in 2020, according to Statista.

But with all that growth comes challenges. The market is no longer restricted to your local population. Customers can buy from any company they want – even if they are located halfway around the world.

That means that e-commerce businesses need to compete in a much bigger market. The primary way to do that is by offering an amazing customer service experience that drives referrals and keeps customers coming back for more.

To do that, you need to stay on top of upcoming trends. Knowing how to put innovation to work for you can be the difference between beating your competitors and falling behind the times. Here are three big trends to consider for 2020.

E-Commerce Customer Service Trends to Watch

Connection

From the Amazon Dash button in your laundry room to the ultra-glam Instagram stories by your favourite brand, top retailers are succeeding through integrating their brand into their consumers’ every day lives.

In 2020, ecommerce customer service has to rise to the occasion. If marketing is able to deliver an omnichannel experience that draws customers in, customer service needs to be able to support customers across those channels as well. In fact, 73% of customers use more than one channel to complete a purchase. Connecting all of those data sources and providing a consistently great experience becomes harder with more contact points.

Creating a connected service experience across channels can take many forms in practice:

  • Delivery notifications need to be up to date and available on the channels that are actually helpful to your customers. When customers need to make a change or check on the status, retailers should be able to instantly respond.
  • Customer service should be able to help customers across multiple channels without asking the customer to repeat themselves. Consider a customer who asks a question on Twitter and then needs to provide more information over email to complete a return.
  • New channels like YouTube for teenagers and augmented reality (AR) for luxury technology goods will offer new challenges for customer service teams. BMW mechanics use AR glasses to help diagnose and repair vehicles – technology that could be helpful in a variety of troubleshooting situations.

While the focus on omnichannel has primarily been on marketing delivery, customers also need to be supported across multiple channels after they purchase. Mike Glover, content editor at e-commerce platform Veeqo says it best:

“A successful omnichannel strategy is about getting to a point where customers can:

  • Browse everywhere.
  • Buy everywhere.
  • Deliver everywhere.
  • Return everywhere.”

Which of these actions are you limiting your customer’s options on?

Automation

Online retailers are under a lot of pressure to deliver world-class customer service. For most customers, great service means quick service. HubSpot found that 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as an important or very important part of the customer experience. How fast is immediate? Glad you asked: 6 out of 10 customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less, according to the same HubSpot survey.

It would be almost impossible for a team of human agents to consistently deliver an accurate response to every question in under 10 minutes.

Fortunately, automation is providing customer service teams with the ability to handle large numbers of queries in rapid time. Two of the most repetitive types of retail questions (order updates and returns) can both be addressed through workflow automation.

WisMO – “Where is my order?” queries are ripe for automation. However, in order to effectively resolve customer queries, the automation needs to be able to both understand what the customer is asking and be able to retrieve the relevant information from backend systems. This can pose a problem for traditional chatbots.

Returns and Refunds – These more complex inquiries require both conversation (ie. recognizing what customers want) and process automation (ie. executing a refund). Tools like DigitalGenius enable end-to-end case resolution of the most common repetitive journeys, far beyond what traditional automated workflows could do.

While speed is important, the automation also needs to result in a good overall experience. Combining artificial intelligence with automation can help make the experience more personalized and more effective.

Within the next three years, 55% of retailers plan to implement AI in their daily retail operations, so you can rest assured that automation and AI will be a big player in 2020.

Employee Experience

When your customers need help, your customer service agents are the face of your company. So you better treat them well. A surprising 92% of customers say that the agent’s mood impacts their experience. When you stop thinking of your customer service agents as entry-level robots and empower them to do great work, your customers will have a better experience. In 2020, this philosophy is appearing as two big trends:

Firstly, many contact centres are “ditching the script” and empowering employees to do whatever they need to get the job done. Customers are overwhelmingly in favour of unscripted conversations. In fact, 78% of customers think that ditching the script improves their experience.

Secondly, in 2018, Help Scout found that 27% of customer support workers worked remotely. And that number is only growing. As traditional office environments fade, operations will be going remote. What does that mean for your contact centre?

In many ways, it’s great news. If you can hire anywhere, it means that you have a larger pool of talent to pull from. This gives companies more access to unique skills (including language skills) and time zone coverage. But it also provides new challenges. Managing, motivating and growing a team of remote agents can be difficult.

In 2020, agents will have much more freedom – both in working location and in capabilities – but they’ll be held to a consistently high standard. As companies continue to compete to deliver the best customer experience, the agent experience will also improve.

Conclusion

The state of e-commerce customer service is constantly evolving. As businesses learn to adapt to their customers’ expectations, implement innovative new technology and cater to a new type of workforce, the quality of service will continue to improve.

In 2020, it’s important for retail e-commerce customer service teams to seriously re-evaluate their workflows to see where they can make things easier for themselves and their customers.

Learn more about how DigitalGenius helps you deliver future-proof customer service at scale. Book a demo with our sales team here.