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Customer Support and Live Chat

Customer support and chat

Running an e-commerce business and you soon realize the importance of good customer support. Competition is tough enough but fails to live up to customers’ promises and you can soon experience poor ratings or comments on social media.

So, although attracting new customers is a must for your business to thrive you cannot forsake your existing customers.

A poorly implemented customer service strategy can drain the lifeblood from your company and decrease your bottom line, not to mention be disheartening for staff and you as a business owner.

This article looks at the options and tools available to provide great customer support to potential and existing customers alike. Discover what customer Support and live chat software we’re using to keep on top of the support.

Customer support

Helpdesk Software

Running any business you need to keep track of communication between you and your customers, and one-way to really effectively do this is via help-desk software.

Help desk software can manage your support tickets in one place and allow one or multiple customer support staff to follow up with customers.

There are many options for help desk software from the free versions to paid-for monthly subscription options (Zendesk, Happyfox, Kayako, Helpscout, Live Agent, etc). Most of the paid for platforms are charged per agent and can vary from $9 to $89 per agent depending on the functionality and platform used.

I have previously used Zendesk and decided on them again for my Supplement business.

The Zendesk platform is very scalable and means you can communicate with customers on pretty much any channel; Email, Chat, Facebook, Twitter, Talk, Text and via a website widget.

Their pricing is fairly good too as we opted for their lowest package and started with one agent with email and chat.

Life support buoy

Realtime Live Chat

Installing live chat on your website can be incredibly effective for converting visitors to buyers.

When you’re first starting out it’s unlikely you will have the staff to manage live chat on your site 24/7 and is probably not needed until you’re getting consistent sales.

Zendesk Live Chat

We set up the Zendesk live chat widget onto our ecommerce website to appear at the bottom right-hand side of the page. This means that customers can always get in touch with us by simply clicking it and complete the details if we aren’t “online”… otherwise, they can immediately start chatting with us.

Having chat widgets installed on your site can have a negative impact on site speed though, as I found when using WP Speed Fix to improve WordPress site speed. They made a slight modification to how the chat widget loaded and this avoiding slowing down the load time of the site.

Chat and Integrated Support Tickets

When a live agent isn’t available – which at the moment is most of the time – then you can set the live chat to trigger a support ticket.

Zendesk and Integrated Chat

This is the best way to set up the chat widget so tickets are automatically logged and an email alert can be sent to you notifying you. This means you don’t need to spend time sitting in front of your laptop waiting for “live” tickets.

When you have a part or full-time customer support person you can more effectively utilize the live chat.

Check out Zendesk Live Chat for more information.

Local Telephone Number

A visible telephone number can really help with converting uncertain shoppers into paying customers.

You don’t need to worry about using a residential number or mobile number, or even a 24/7 call center.

Placing your personal telephone number online is clearly not a good idea. But there is no need to go out buying a new one when you can set up a virtual international number.

By purchasing a virtual telephone number you can route this either directly to voicemail or direct to your office/home number if you wish.

Setting up your virtual International Number

I recommend Tollfreeforwarding for grabbing a toll-free number. They have numbers available in over 35 countries globally and so should be able to find one in your target customer market.

We used this service for buying a US toll-free number for our Supplement business.

The prices start out at $9 USD per month for renting the number under their pay-as-you-go package (we went with this one). Receiving calls are charged at 5.9 cents per minute.

Alternatively, you can also opt for the inclusive minutes in their “medium, large or high volume” packages where you get from 250 – 5,000 minutes included in the monthly fee with cheaper additional minutes.

It’s easy enough to move from one package to another and so recommend just going for the cheapest one first and seeing what the demand is.

Professional Voicemail Message

If you’re not keen to have your voice recording, you can easily pay for a professional sounding voicemail.

You can simply write a short script and go over to to pay for professional voice over actors – here is a quick list to check out

A Good Returns Policy

Carrying boxesNo matter how good your product or service is you will always get customer returns. The fact that some customers will be unsatisfied is a natural part of doing business whether it’s online or in store.

Having a good and clear returns policy can make this process a lot easier for the customer and for you the merchant. It can even help with getting increased conversion rates and purchases (source).

This means clearly outlining how long any guarantees last, no hidden charges in place, and being upfront what customers need to do in order to return their purchase.

It’s a requirement for every online eCommerce store to have a returns policy stated clearly on the site. If one isn’t present then as a customer you should be wary!

As a merchant, you should make the returns process straightforward and relatively painless.

You can do this by making the return request straight forward.

Having a poor returns policy can backfire and led to unhappy customers taking to social media and in the longer-term negatively affecting your business.
For a great guide on implementing a good returns policy check out the Shopify guide here.

Good Customer Support Checklist

  • Customer centric company culture
  • Good customer support platform
  • Easy for customers to contact you
  • Fast and responsive
  • Clear and easy return policy

The Bottom Line

There are some very simple strategies that can be actioned to be able to provide great customer service.

One step is to set out customer expectations and ensure you live up to them. This can significantly reduce the chances of disappointing customers and causing them to be unhappy – and ultimately refunds or chargebacks!

The next step is having a simple-to-use helpdesk software installed with live chat, even if you don’t necessarily use the live chat option. This allows customers to easily get in touch with you and to trigger a support ticket from an on-site contact form or email address.

A few simple software solutions and a customer-centric focus can mean even the unhappy customers can leave your store feeling a little happier and more likely to recommend your brand.

Adam Author

About the LifeHacker Guy

Hi, I'm Adam the founder of the LifeHacker Guy.

I have a First Class Honours degree in Sports Science from Brighton University, specialising in exercise physiology and nutrition. In my youth I was a competitive Triathlete and long-distance runner placing top 10 in most triathlon races I completed.

Since suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I moved into web development, after a couple of years I then moved onto developing a number of online businesses. I've recently taken a sabbatical and I'm now looking to make big changes in my life, hopefully this may resonate with you - join me in my journey!

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