Things to know
Author: AstoundCommerce

Three Ways to Polish Your Customer Service Strategy

Customer experience and in particular customer service is still a mystery to many brands, but perfecting it is key for anyone looking to remain competitive as expectations rise across the board.

In Astound´s 2016 Mystery Shopping Study, they analyzed what the most customer-friendly brands were doing to learn what works, and how you can improve your brand’s customer experience strategy in 2017. Out of 100 merchants, seven were highlighted as examples of excellent customer service: B&H, Gap, L.L. Bean, Lancome, Moosejaw, The Home Depot, Zappos.

Here are a few principles from the highest performing brands that will improve your customer service strategy:

1. Be accessible and informative.

When shoppers need information, they don’t want to waste time searching through your website. The best brands clearly listed 800 numbers, linked to their customer service department on the home page and included FAQs and store location details. These brands use simple, clean visual layouts that allow customers to intuitively find the information they are looking for.

2. Respond quickly.

Customers demand rapid responses from brands about any inquiries or requests for assistance, especially if they have any issues with products and/or orders. Brands that excelled at customer service always respond to email inquiries within 24 hours – not a difficult standard to meet, considering Amazon responded within a mere six minutes (followed by Uniqlo at an impressive 12 minutes). But email isn’t the only way customers want to reach out. More than 75 percent of brands studied offer live chat options, with a long average response time of 12.07 minutes. This timing was more often due to multi-tasking rather than knowledge so training should improve performance metrics. You should aim for instant responses for customers in live chat features, or risk being closed out of a browser.

3. Eliminate friction.

As mobile shopping skyrockets, efficient experiences across all channels are more important than ever. First and foremost, a logical flow that guides shoppers to convert is even more important than the number of steps. Now that more than half of brands offer one-click checkout options, retailers that don’t are lagging behind. Additionally, brands may want to follow the lead of a growing number of retailers that offer collapsible cart options, so users can quickly view products without navigating away from their current page.Brands can further reduce friction by supporting alternative payment options. While 83 percent of brands supported PayPal in 2016, only 17 percent supported Visa Checkout and less than three percent supported ApplePay. As these payment methods gain more widespread consumer adoption and mobile growth accelerates further, act quickly to evaluate and integrate the right options.

With more choices at their fingertips than ever before, shoppers aren’t just looking for great products – they want convenient, streamlined experiences when researching and purchasing. As top brands are already reaping the rewards of excellence in customer service strategies, you’d be wise to learn and emulate best practices.

For more information, or to download the 20th Annual Mystery Shopping Survey, click here.

- Written by Igor Gorin, Astound Commerce