E-Commerce Customer Service: The Secret to Beating the Giants of Retail

customer service

In order to thrive in e-commerce today, customer service must be a top priority for your brand. It is one of the best — if not the best — ways to find success while trying to compete against massive companies that can simply outspend you to win.

The spending game is certainly not one you can afford to play. But your e-commerce business should have the home-field advantage when it comes to customer service. It simply cannot be overlooked.

We asked several e-commerce companies that are prioritizing customer service as part of their strategy for success to explain what they’re doing to be effective. Here’s what they had to say:

Bob Ellis, Owner at Bavarian Clockworks

Bavarian Clockworks is an e-commerce company that sells handcrafted German cuckoo clocks. Its owner, Bob Ellis, started the company four years ago and has seen it quickly grow into a business generating $1 million in annual revenue. Here’s what Bob had to say about the best practices for customer service in e-commerce:

As a small e-commerce store owner, I have to compete against giants like Amazon. Because of their economies of scale, it’s very hard for us to beat them on pricing. However, most smaller online retailers can do a better job with customer service than the bigger players. My advice would be to keep as much of the interaction with customers as personal as possible. Most big e-commerce stores have their customer service automated. Instead, keep it personalized and get to know your customers. Respond promptly to their emails, phone calls, and questions on social media. Address them by their first name rather than “Dear customer”. Follow-up after the sale to make sure they are happy with their purchase and thank them for their business. The personal touch can make all the difference.

Mark Davis, CEO at Custom Throwback Jerseys

Custom Throwback Jerseys is an e-commerce business that designs jerseys of great players from the past in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League. Each jersey is hand-stitched and customized to match the exact details of its vintage style. Here’s what the CEO of Customer Throwback Jerseys, Mark Davis, had to say about his best practices for customer service in e-commerce:

As an e-commerce business, it’s important to maintain an incredibly high standard for customer service. Since we don’t get to meet our customers face-to-face, we do our best to evoke the same feeling of personal connection in other ways. We respond to customer inquiries and messages within 24 hours, engage actively with customers on social media, seek to connect with and educate fans on sports forums, and often include personalized notes in packages to make sure our customers know we appreciate their business. While the high quality of our products is always our top priority, customer service is a close second. 

Andrew Rodriguez, Owner at Chic Puppy

Chic Puppy makes custom shirts for dog lovers and their pets, offering a large collection of matching owner and dog apparel. Andrew Rodriguez founded the e-commerce business in early 2018. He has focused heavily on customer service to help grow the brand. Here’s what he had to say about his best practices for getting that done:

As an owner of a startup business, I understand the importance of catering to your customers to capitalize on the personal nature of a small business. When we compare our small business to the larger guys, we have to take advantage where we can, and this includes being able to experiment, have fun, and cater to our customers on a more personal level than big businesses do.

This means, answering all emails, messages, and phone calls with extreme gratitude, even if it is a complaint because these are the people that support us and will help us grow into a big, charitable business. We only have had two complaints, but we always show great remorse and go above and beyond to make their order right.

We take the time to email every single customer after a purchase to let them know how much we appreciate them, what our business stands for and answer questions they didn’t know they had.  

From our experience, this has been a major driver to not only building a large, loyal following over a short period of time but also a factor in our personal happiness, knowing that we are leaving people satisfied.

See an example of one of our simple but sweet, follow-up emails below.

Hi Gloria,

Thank you so much for your order!

We are getting your Aran Dog Sweaters ready to be shipped out tomorrow.

Just a reminder to please check the attached size chart, as Dog Sizing can be tricky sometimes.

Also, if you didn’t know we have an entire collection of unique matching Dog & Owner Shirts/Hoodies/Raglans, & 10% of your order will be donated to kiva.org charity, so we greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you Gloria,

-Andrew

Bea Tanese, Media Outreach Specialist at ShipMonk

ShipMonk is a third-party logistics company in South Florida. The business recently made the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies. Here’s what ShipMonk’s media outreach specialist, Bea Tanese, had to say about the best practices for customer service in e-commerce:

At ShipMonk, we serve a variety of eCommerce businesses, from tens to thousands of orders a month. Since the beginning, we have been committed to providing and ensuring excellent customer service, which is why every account signed up with us (over a certain threshold of orders) is assigned a Happiness Engineer to meet all of their service needs. Additionally, we have a plethora of online resources, such as videos and our own blog, which help the customer manage their own account with us while hopefully also enhancing their understanding of the world of eCommerce.

(Note: The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the contributors and independent of Engine.)

Written by
Trent Shadid is a senior copywriter and editor at Engine.