5 Customer Service Tips to Boost Online Sales

Jul 11, 2012 8:14 PM  By

Brick-and-mortar retailers sell more when they have more staff on the floor to help customers. That’s the conclusion of current studies, which demonstrate that a higher payroll correlates with higher sales—and profits, because increased sales numbers more than compensate for increased payroll.

The principle that more salespeople on the floor equals more sales also applies in the online environment, where more salespeople—in the form of contact center agents—can boost sales and improve the customer experience. If you’re analyzing how your online customer service function can boost sales, here are some best contact center practices to consider.

Have agents standing by
To minimize shoppers exiting an etail site without buying anything, someone must be there when shoppers seek help via phone, live chat, click-to-call, email, or social media. As a multichannel merchant, you need to have all those channels covered, and have sufficient staff to ensure a timely, competent response.

Stress customer service
Having a knowledgeable customer care representative available not only helps make a sale on one specific occasion, it becomes part of an improved customer experience and fosters brand loyalty. Luxury brands in particular, who are seeking to differentiate themselves in a crowded online marketplace, understand that they can do so by providing a level of customer care that competitors don’t.

Compare internal staffing vs. outsourcing
The advantage of an internal contact center staff is that agents are immersed in the brand and convey your brand personality with every customer interaction. But there’s a significant capital expense involved in building and maintaining a staff to handle a large and growing volume of phone calls, chat requests, emails and social media posts. Factor in expenses related to hiring and training, benefits, managers, office space, sophisticated telecommunications hardware and software, increased network bandwidth and more. All the money you spend there is money you can’t spend on your core business mission.

Keep cost in perspective
According to Kate Leggett, a senior analyst at global research and advisory firm Forrester, cost shouldn’t be the main consideration in the building/buying/outsourcing decision. Although cost is always a factor, she makes the case that better reasons to outsource are consistency and standardization within voice, chat and email channels, and to better serve your customers with a delineated response flow.

Find an outsourced partner who shares your passion
While brand care and image is—or should be—guaranteed by an internal staff, it needn’t be sacrificed by outsourcing. The right outsourcing partner will care about your brand, immerse itself in your culture, and combine technology, best practices and communication skills to deliver outstanding customer care. You get the benefit of agents who are experts in your brand, and realize capital expense savings at the same time.

Whether you keep the contact center function in-house or outsource, staffing at levels that ensure rapid, competent, personable service increases sales by keeping the customer satisfaction quotient high. The lesson for multichannel merchants is that delivering an exceptional customer experience online, just as in-store, will boost sales in both the short- and long-term.

Wendy Shooster is co-CEO of Global Response.