Customers are the lifeblood of your eCommerce shop, but you wouldn’t get that feeling if you look at the support copy of the average eCommerce website. Too many companies still look at customer support as a cost center, and this shines through in their website support – whether it’s website, email, or helpdesk copy. How does your website support copy make your customers feel when they are looking for support? Here are 6 tips for making sure your eCommerce business offers more customer friendly support.
1. Speak with a ‘you-focus’
Too often, the language that business’ use has a focus on themselves. For example, a common statement made by companies is “We’ve created this feature to help our customers to be faster…” However, see what happens when you turn this into a you-focus: “With this feature you can be faster…” One talks about the customer, while the other talks to the customer.
Ford.com is a good example of a website that addresses its visitors directly. The visitor is always the subject of their writing.
Speaking to a customer with a you-focus makes your shop feel helpful, empathetic, and approachable. When your language focuses solely on you, on the other hand, it gives the impression that they are being used to further your shop and goals.
Your product, technology and services are not important to the customer. What they care about is how you can help them to make their lives better and easier. Your language throughout your website should reflect this, making it clear to your customers that it really is all about them.
2. Avoid service clichés
Many companies seek to look professional by employing certain clichés, but they ring hollow to your customer. Instead of appearing professional, it gives a cold and robotic impression.
Some examples of services clichés are:
“Your call is important to us.”
“I apologize for the inconvenience.”
Who hasn’t heard these statements used over and over again? Typical customer services phrases such as these make a customer feel as though they are speaking with the company, as opposed to a warm and thoughtful person.
A good general rule for offering customer friendly support can actually be found as the first rule in The Economist’s Style Guide on writing: “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.” Likewise, if you have heard a phrase over an automated system or during every customer service experience, avoid it.
Your customer wants to be heard by a person, not a robot. Speak to them in a natural way and forget about the cold clichés.
3. Stick to clarity
Clarity is an essential component of communication. As the cornerstone of customer friendly support, communication can make or break your eCommerce customer experience.
An easy way of defining clarity is how usable your communication is. Clarity gives your customers the practical information so that they can understand it. Clarity can be broken up into three factors:
- Simplicity. Simplicity in communication isn’t easy. It means rewording to more concise language without technical or large words the customer wouldn’t understand. It also means restructuring your sentences to reduce their length and minimize commas and dependent clauses. The goal in simplicity is to reduce the mental effort it takes to process the meaning. The easier, the better.
- Structure. Structure allows your customers to grasp what you are saying much more quickly and easily. For example, consider how you would memorize the phone number 0616131744. It seems like an overwhelming amount of numbers. However, it becomes much simpler when you split it into a clear structure: 06-1613-1744. Likewise, communicating to your customers with a clear structure makes it much clearer. You could use the what? So what? Now what? structure. Or, commonly used with salespeople, the Features- Advantages- Benefits structure.
- Familiarity. New concepts can be difficult for people to understand. In order to make it easier for them, use concepts that they already understand well to explain it to them. Analogy is a powerful means of communication because it gives customers something relatable and reduces the intimidation of trying to grasp a new topic. However, jargon is detrimental to clarity. If you start to use words and phrases that the customer does not know, you will lose them. A great technique used by support professionals to combat jargon is referred to as ELI5- explain it like I’m five years old.
4. Talk like a human
Many businesses fall into the trap of using overly ‘professional’ language. However, using words that no one ever uses is never a good idea.
I recently received an autoresponder that serves as a good example of robotic, overly professional language: “I will endeavor to get back to you as soon as I can.” Endeavour? Why would you talk like that?
Asana.com gets both the you-focus and down-to-earth tone right.
When it comes to word choice and phrasing, use everyday language. It puts your customers at ease and makes you more relatable. For customer friendly support to work, you need to start by being friendly.
5. Explain why
Years ago, Harvard put together an interesting study. While people were waiting in line at a copy machine, researchers had someone try to cut the line with one of three different phrases. They then observed how many times they were allowed to cut in line. They found that each had varying levels of success.
1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Xerox machine?” 60% of the people agreed.
2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” 94% of the people agreed.
3. “Excuse me, I have pages. Could I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” 93% of the people agreed.
This study demonstrates how important transparency is in communication. It didn’t matter what the reason was. What matters is that there is some reason.
To offer more customer friendly support, always explain what you are doing and why. This is especially important if you must make the customer wait. Customers are much more likely to be accommodating and walk away more satisfied with their customer experience if they have a better understanding of what you’re doing for them.
6. Proactive support communication
You show your customers that you really care by offering help proactively. Instead of waiting for them to come to you, reach out and ask whether you can help them in any way. You can do this with simple cues in your website text, like “Missing something? Get in touch with our team!” Or, you can add a live chat solution to your online shop.
By reaching out to your customer first, you can save them the frustration of trying to find you when they need help. This will ensure that the customer views your shop as a helpful instead of a hassle, and improve their experience with your brand.
Improve your customer experience with customer friendly support
Customers are starting to expect more from their online shop. By focusing on customer friendly support, you can amplify their customer experience, retain more customers and even gain more by word of mouth. Want to learn how to scale your customer support? Check out our article 6 Budget-Friendly Shortcuts to Scaling eCommerce Customer Service.
Do you have any other tips for making your customer support more friendly? Share them in the comments below if so.