Evolution of Customer Service in India

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

That ‘customer is king’ is an old adage in the corporate world and one that is never likely to go out of fashion. A satisfied customer is a happy – who subsequently will be loyal – customer. And happy, loyal customers are what make a successful business. Customer service is, in short, all the retailer activities undertaken that provides added value to a customer’s shopping experience and the manner in which this is conducted, largely depends on the type of industry it originates in. Having entered the marketplace as a retail medium with cautious baby steps some decades ago, e-commerce, today, is growing and expanding exponentially! The ease of sitting in the comforts of one’s home and simply scrolling – today, swiping – through a wardrobe full of clothes or display of gadgets and clicking ‘buy’ seems like a way of life now. At your service E-commerce websites, while helping consumers save on the time and energy spent in traditional shopping and basically converting the act of shopping into a highly convenient affair, come with their own set of ‘problematic’ areas that customers are anxious about – the biggest worry for customers being the lack of ‘touch and feel’ when it comes to purchasing items over the Internet. How can I trust this brand/seller? I need to buy the product immediately but need some urgent questions answered. Who could I speak to? These are questions that e-shoppers do ponder upon during the purchasing process. Being present with the customer at every step of the buying process – at the point of sale, while completing the purchase and after purchase – is highly essential for an e-commerce company. Why so? According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Zendesk, excellent customer service was ranked as the No. 1 factor that impacted the trust a customer develops with the company it is buying from (Fig. 1). This fact plays an even greater role for e-commerce businesses as customer support going wrong will mean that consumers will jump ship in search of better customer service available on the gazillion other e-commerce sites.Fig 1. Source: Dimensional Research-Zendesk survey Knowing your customers’ wants The demands of a customer while remaining same in essence, changes in dynamics when it comes to shopping at e-commerce stores. It is only when these demands are understood in the e-shopping context can appropriate customer service initiatives be implemented. The ‘Now’ Syndrome: For a customer, ‘now’ is the only time period that matters. The faster that their demands are met, the happier they are. And speed, here, refers to not just the timely delivery of the products, but also the speedy response to all their queries. Why, 69% of respondents mark quick resolution as a defining characteristic of good customer service according to the Dimensional Research-Zendesk survey. Accuracy: Given that the invisible curtain of uncertainty does stand between the online seller and customer, information pertaining to the description of the product and its availability, delivery date, added services needed, etc. have to be accurate to the T. These factors can make or break the possibility of a customer turning loyal. Be omnipresent: If e-commerce has grown, so has the realm of social media. Consumers in their quest for knowledge will look to turn to every possible platform to glean information –be it the e-commerce site, on email, Facebook, Twitter, even LinkedIn! And they expect answers to their queries on each medium used. Information demands evolution  To meet the specific demands listed above and many others; to help bridge the physical gap between the store and the customer; and to be a part of the buying process from start to finish – e-commerce stores have worked diligently to come up with innovative customer service solutions. We take a look at these different solutions and the manner in which customer service has evolved to help maintain a firm base of customers. R for review: Basic though it is, Customer Reviews is a tool that is banked upon heavily during the initial decision-making stage of the buying process. The level of trust needed when it comes to making a purchase online is invariably high and customer reviews affords the transparency required for a customer to make a sound and fair decision. Customer reviews is one of the very first few innovations developed in the e-commerce customer service field that not only holds a brand and seller responsible, but also acts as a means to identify the level of customer satisfaction quite directly. Building interaction: Interaction between the seller and customer is a key shopping behaviour and to enable the same in an online context, the Interactive Voice Response System was developed. It is a customer engagement tool that aids both, the customers and employees. Customers can use it to track their order and check on its status, while employees can use it in inventory management and recording feedback from the buyers. In this way, the two parties are connected to each other through the entire shopping process. On the go: Live Calls and Online Chats were introduced to further build on the need to interact. Through live calls, queries can be answered while the transaction is taking place, saving up on time and quickening the decision-making process of the individual. Online chats are a highly convenient and effective way of providing support to the customer during the purchase of goods online. Not only does it help dissipate a buyer’s concerns with regards to a given product, but also acts as an efficient sales channels, convincing the customer and sealing deals in a matter of a few minutes. And numbers support this fact (Fig. 2). These tools help address the ‘Now’ Syndrome quite effectively. Another way in which interaction with the customer is maintained is through Email Support – means through which the company can keep in touch with the customers post the purchase of the item. Aside from the advantages of using it to receive feedback and provide additional solutions, it also helps the customer feel valued and helps them develop a bond of loyalty with the site.Fig. 2 Source: https://www.desk.com/success-center/customer-service-tips-ecommerce-infographicMaintaining loyalty: Appreciation and valuation by the brand or seller can singlehandedly influence the decision of a customer to continue shopping with a particular e-commerce brand. Causing customers to become members by offering different promotional services, such as same-day delivery or early access to sale items, helps the online store to build a loyal base of customers. The success of any store, be it brick-and-mortar or online, relies heavily on its customers and thus, customer service forms a major part of any online store’s engagement model. With the rapid evolution of e-commerce, changes in the manner in which customer service is perceived and developed will also undergo changes and as statistics and the above mentioned techniques show, they sure do pay rich dividends. For any queries, you may contact the Author Thanks and regards Rohit Shiva rohit@ndslindia.com

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