How responsive eCommerce support builds great SMB’s

For small and medium sized businesses, portioning out resources to the many moving parts required for a company to function, let alone succeed, often requires making difficult choices of where to devote manpower, money and time and where to withhold it. Customer service often gets short shrift in this process, with new business owners usually preferring to invest in marketing and assuming that the quality of their products will do the rest job in acquiring and retaining customers. However, this is really a grave mistake. Cost of acquisition is sky-high compared to cost of retention. Competition is beyond fierce, as whatever you are selling the customer is almost sure to be comparing your prices against a myriad of other online retailers. Lastly, in the increasingly automated world, customers are putting more and more value on the human aspect of a business – rewarding companies that provide personal service. Customer service expert, Marsha Collier, (@MarshaCollier), puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of personalized service and emphasizes often that quick service with a personal feel can be a major benefit for companies looking to grow. Let’s explore the nitty gritty of why, especially if you are part of an SMB, you should be investing in providing excellent service even if resources are limited.

Customers Spend More When They Get Good Service

We recently released a report where in data was compiled regarding various aspects and outcomes of customer service in today’s eCommerce landscape. The results overwhelmingly demonstrated that excellent customer service pays off. Among the data were some striking statistics showing that customers don’t just want excellent service, they reward it handsomely. Research showed that 66% of American consumers said that they are willing to spend more with a company that provides them with excellent service, while 60% said that they actually did not go through with an intended purchase after having a poor customer service experience. These numbers show, undeniably, that companies that do not invest in excellent customer service will pay for it in lower profits.

Good Service Makes Your Company Seem Bigger and Stronger

There is an appeal for many customers to shopping with a small business. However, customers may also perceive it as a risk. With conglomerates like Amazon, customers know that any question, issue or concern will be handled and any problem will be compensated. They know that large companies have the resources to make their customers happy, and they might worry that a small business can’t offer the same level of service. Providing excellent customer service actually changes shoppers’ conceptions of the size of your business, and builds their confidence in your company’s strength. This phenomenon is called “the blowfish effect”. By providing a responsive and extensive support infrastructure, small and medium sized businesses appear to be larger than they are and can more easily gain customers’ confidence in their capabilities.

Your Products May Change but Customers are Loyal to Good Service

Apple, Amazon, J.Crew – these companies all have two things in common. Firstly they are dynamic companies whose offerings have evolved over the years as their products and services have changed. Secondly, all three have had CEO’s who have been personally invested in providing personal support to their customers and have built major brand loyalty in the process. Even if you stay in the same business, your product line may change and develop and customers don’t always like change. What they do like, and will stay loyal to, is a high level of service that makes them feel valued and listened to even as the company grows and experiments. As customer service expert, Shep Hyken (@Hyken) points out, customers are people, not numbers and they appreciate and reward being treated as such.

It Can Help You Improve Your Business

Kayak’s Co-Founder, Paul English, places such a high importance on support that he even put a loud, annoying, bright red phone in the office that he personally as well as the company’s engineers answer to address customer complaints themselves. He and the engineers personally answer all customer emails and one of the main reasons that he says he decided to manage support this way is because having the engineers handle customer problems (and be annoyed by them) guarantees that they will work harder and faster to find real solutions and improve the overall company. Now, you don’t have to divert your employees’ attention to support like English did in order to take the same outlook, but you do need to have a support infrastructure that is sophisticated and professional enough to allow you to understand recurring customer pain points and solve them. When customers approach you with a problem, it is an opportunity to better understand their needs and desires and to change your business model to provide a better customer experience. As Micah Solomon (@micahsolomon), a writer on customer service and corporate culture explains, gathering and analyzing customer feedback can enable you to make “the difference that makes a difference.” It all begins with providing excellent support and using the lessons learned to improve.

Great Service is an Essential Ingredient

Think of the biggest and most successful companies, from Amazon to Zappos they all have one thing in common. No matter what they sell, what their website looks like, or how their company is structured they all provide support that is effective and leaves their customers happy. People shop with, trust, and recommend companies that provide great support making it not only an important element of success, but an investment opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.

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Introducing blog posts and research written by our product & operation team alongside members of our associate community