Customer Service Support For Your Online Business

Businesses have undergone an incredible amount of change over the past few months, but it looks like things are finally returning to normal. Yet for many, ‘normal’ is not what it used to be … 

Although shops may now be opening, a recent report by a global commerce services company PFS, suggests that 77% of people will continue to purchase online post-lockdown, which indicates a potentially irreversible change in consumer purchasing behaviour! Not only that, but the range of products that customers are buying online has increased, especially with regards to pet food and footwear. However, as with most things in life, there are drawbacks.  

For example, this report also showed that 50% of shoppers were disappointed with their online shopping experiences, and this is particularly high for online grocery stores, as over a third of customers struggled to get a delivery slot. This is where good customer service ties in with a strong e-commerce platform and ticketing desk, to make the winning combination! 

More than ever people are looking for immediate, informative customer support. With all of the changes, restrictions and limitations around them, the ability to be able to order what they want online when they want it, is a way of freedom for many people right now. But when this is complicated by out of stock items, website malfunctions and slow customer query response times, it only adds to your customer’s frustration, making them more than likely to go to a competitor. 

If this lockdown has shown us anything, it’s that people are more than willing and ready to buy online – but the customer service and e-commerce support simply isn’t there. 

So, what can you do about this? You could hire more staff – but then you have to consider sick pay, holiday cover, training costs etc. You could do it yourself – but do you really want to be spending all of your free time responding to emails when you could be building your business? Why not have someone else to do that for you; someone who specialises in delivering excellent customer service? 

We would suggest hiring a VA! The team at Purple Haze are trained on a variety of software and platforms. Even if your software is new to us, the training is completed in-house, and we don’t charge! You won’t have to worry about sick pay or holiday cover, and you will have a dedicated VA who you can reach out to at any time. So, it seems the real question is, what are you waiting for? 

Like to know more? Then do give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Building your brand? Don’t do it on your own

Building your brand is hard work (obviously). And, to begin with at least, most of that work will be down to you. (Plus, if you’re very lucky, anyone else who’s brave enough to share your vision.)

But what happens when all that hard work finally pays off? When your brand has achieved the success you battled so hard to create for it? And when the orders start to come in faster than ever before?

That could be when even someone like Kylie Jenner – the youngest self-made internet billionaire – could use a little help…

Because an entrepreneur like her didn’t achieve success by doing everything herself. In fact, she outsources all the manufacturing, packaging and sales of her products.

And you will want to do the same…

Building your brand is a full-time job…

…but if you’re a successful entrepreneur, then that’s what you’ll be good at. Which means you won’t want to spend your day answering phone and email queries from customers, wrapping and posting packages, chasing up invoices, or checking stock levels.

Of course, you want customers. And of course, you love them. But when your product starts to fly off the shelves because a few key influencers have decided it’s the Next Big Thing, fulfilment will suddenly become your biggest issue!

It’s almost impossible to build and grow a successful business if you’re doing all the work yourself. Yet – surprisingly – it’s a mistake quite a few start-up entrepreneurs will often make, because they don’t put a realistic value on their own time.

You’re the boss. You’re the moving force behind the business. You need to focus on where it’s going – not what’s happening down in the engine room.

The good news is that you don’t have to.

How would it be if you could, quite literally, hand all that work to someone else? Secure in the knowledge they’ll do exactly what you need them to do – and do it well, right from day one?

Well, that’s what we do at Purple Haze.

So why not put down the parcel tape, step out of the stock room, and give us a bell on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

How good is your customer experience?

The customer experience is what makes or breaks an e-commerce website – and that doesn’t just depend on the quality of your software. Because even with the very best software, things can go wrong…

I’m not sure what to do…?

Try as you might, some of your potential customers won’t be able to cope with the technology. They’re the ones who need to talk to a human being. They may want more information about your product or service. They may be chasing up an order they’ve already made. Or they may need a little help to place an order – in which case their feedback could help prevent similar issues in future.

Have you still got…?

Even if your site, like Amazon, can show the remaining stock level for each item, customers may worry that the information isn’t up to date. That you’ve run out, in fact. Which is why you need people who can check the actual stock level, process the customer’s order, and make sure they get exactly what they asked for.

Or get back to them if that’s not possible…

It isn’t what I ordered!

Mistakes happen – and when they do, customers would rather talk to a human being. If they don’t they will tend to vent their frustrations online, which is bad for business. Of course, you can minimise this kind of problem if your support team check that your fulfilment centre is picking and packing the right items in the first place – and sending them with the right courier…

I haven’t had it!

If, despite your best efforts, the customer’s order fails to arrive, they will almost certainly want to talk to a real person. (However good your website is…)

It’s broken!

If an order doesn’t arrive, that’s annoying. If it arrives, and it’s damaged, that’s even more annoying. It means, after all, that the customer has to return it, and then wait (again) for a replacement. A good support team can ensure that the annoyance doesn’t appear in block capitals on your social media feed – and that the customer is happy with the solution. Experience shows that dealing sensibly with a complaint can turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.

When will I get the replacement?

Of course, that will only happen if (and when) the insurance claim and the redelivery are sorted. And again, that’s the job of a good support team.

All good reasons to use our team!

Our customer support specialists are ready and waiting to provide a human face (and voice) for your e-commerce business. They’ll also ensure that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. At every stage of the process from initial order to fulfilment. We’ll take the burden off your shoulders. Which will leave you free to concentrate on growing your business.

Secure in the knowledge that everything else is in safe, experienced hands.

Like to know more? Then why not give us a call on 01638 741079?

 

 

Why your website needs live chat

Live Chat Bubbles

If you think live chat is a little gimmicky, it may be time to think again…

Fair enough, it did used to be irritating. The little pop-up that wouldn’t go away. And which, when you clicked on it, told you someone would be with you ‘right away’.

Except, of course, they weren’t. Because after you’d waited (patiently, or not, as the case may be) you’d get that lovely little message telling you that no one was available right now. But you could call their Freefone number. Or email them. Or check out their FAQs.

Which you’d have done anyway if you hadn’t been waiting for an answer…

And there’s the trick. Live chat does work. But only if the people who use it get an answer straight away.

So – doesn’t that make it more trouble than it’s worth?

Well… no. Not really.

Because – in a world where attention spans are shrinking faster than Alice in Wonderland, response times can literally make or break your business. A survey conducted by Drift checked out successful conversions against response times. It found that after just five minutes more than 90% of potential sales had been lost.

So that’s the challenge. And that’s where live chat – with that vital instant response – can make all the difference.

So how does live chat make a difference?

To understand what’s happening here, think about the last time you went on an internet search for something new.

You probably checked out the high-ranking websites. And perhaps one or two of the paid-for ads. You narrowed down your options, based on your own chosen criteria. (Price, perhaps. Or flexibility. Or the feedback from their online reviews.)

But you still had one or two questions. Things that weren’t answered on the website. In the reviews. Or even in their FAQs. But something that mattered to you. Enough to make or break the sale.

And you couldn’t get an answer…

So you went somewhere else. And – count on it – so did a huge number of other people who might otherwise have bought that product. In fact – after just five minutes – the Drift survey indicates that your chances of qualifying a lead drop by a massive 400%!

Too busy to do live chat?

The snag, of course, is that you don’t have time to man a live chat service – because you and your team are way too busy doing running the operation, fulfilling orders, and doing everything else that makes the money.

Except, of course, that you won’t make any money at all without sales…

Virtual Secretary

Luckily, we have the solution – one that will help you grow, quickly, without taking on new staff. At least, until you really need to.

Because we can be there for you. To answer on behalf of your business. To give visitors that critical instant response. To field their objections – quickly and efficiently. And to turn a casual enquiry into a hot lead. Leaving you free to do what you do best.

Like to know more? Just give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Making email work for you

Email marketingMaking the most of email communication for business…

 

As noted in an earlier post, most of your clients and potential clients still prefer you to contact them by email. And – provided you have permission to do so – that opens up a world of possibilities.

Suppose, for example, that you’re looking to launch a

new product, but you want to establish how much interest it will generate. If you have an existing list, there’s nothing to stop you sending them the details and inviting them to click a link for more news about it. The initial response will tell you whether or not it’s worth pursuing – and even if initial interest is low, you can send a follow-up email or two, perhaps including an offer. (You could tempt them with a discount, or invite them to bring a friend or a colleague to the list.)

Once you have their interest – and you’ve decided to go ahead – you can send a preplanned series of emails. The first will announce the launch of the product and invite them to place an order. The second and perhaps the third can follow up on the first. (One touch is rarely enough, whatever form of marketing you’re using!) Ideally, your email marketing system should include the option to note when that order has been placed. And, once it has, to switch to a different pre-planned series asking for their reactions and, perhaps, offering them an incentive to tell other people about it.

And if they don’t respond…

If, after three emails, they’re still not buying you could, again, offer them incentives. And, perhaps, include testimonials from people who’ve already bought and used the product.

The great thing about this approach is that most of it can be automated. You design and create the emails, set them up, and then sit back and let them do their work. (Or, more likely, monitor the results and tweak the emails until you’re getting the response you want!) And once you’ve done that for your first product, you can repeat the process for your second and third. To get even more income – with far less work.

Like to know more? Just give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Email marketing: the fortune in the follow-up…

Email marketing is still the best way to secure, retain and sell to your customers

On any e-commerce website, email marketing is your friend. It’s still, indisputably, the best way to keep in touch with your customers, retain them, and generate new sales.

And, surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to matter how old they are.

Data gathered by the Direct Marketing Association in 2017 showed that email on average yields a 30 times return on investment, with 95% of respondents saying it is important or very important to their business. And a 2012 survey by ExactTarget on Channel Preferences showed that 77% of the US consumers who took part in the survey far preferred emails to direct mail (at 9%) and text messaging (at 3%)!

It’s clear, then, that email marketing is (still) a great idea – even if the new General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR – has made it more of a challenge. But it’s also a lot of work. Which you may not have the time, the inclination or (even) the skills to do yourself.

So – with a return on investment like that – you might consider outsourcing your email marketing. Especially if you want to get a return on investment like that!

Doing it yourself

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you doing your own email marketing. Programs like Mailchimp and Aweber can easily be integrated with most e-commerce websites. But you will need to familiarise yourself with their use, and the learning curve can be steep. You’ll also need to build up a GDPR-compliant email list – if you don’t already have one. And although it’s tempting to buy a list ‘off the shelf’ to start your marketing program, it’s certainly not advisable now,  and never has been.

The best practice is (and always has been) to get your recipients’ permission to send them marketing material, and there are many ways in which you can win that permission. But do bear in mind the difference between a marketing email and a customer information email. If someone is a customer, and you need to tell them something about their account, for example, it’s entirely reasonable for you to do so. You might also want to talk about a new version of a product they already have, or give them more information about a purchase. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to sell them something entirely new, it’s probably best to ask first.

What will you send?

Once you have permission – or a legitimate reason to send – then you need to think about what you’re sending. Emails that are heavy on graphics and light on words look good in the design window. The snag is that they may go to the spam bin before they get to the recipient. There’s also a severe risk that the recipient won’t see your graphics at all. That’s because some email browsers turn off graphics by default. And if you’re using a commercial program, you might want to check that what looks good on their system looks equally good when it arrives. Sadly that won’t always be the case…

And that’s before you’ve even considered what you’re going to say, and who’s going to write it!

All too often we’ve seen people take up the idea of email marketing with enthusiasm. They’ll produce one or two emails. And then find it’s taking too much time, or it’s too much hassle. A pity, because with a little commitment it could become very profitable for them.

So…

If you’d like some advice on email marketing, give us a call. And if you’d like some help – again, give us a call. We’ll be delighted to discuss your needs and help you decide for yourself what your best options are. We can take the hassle out of using programs like Mailchimp and Aweber. And if you need help with content, we’ll put you in touch with the people who can give it.

Like to know more? Just give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Does e-commerce bring fulfilment?

On the face of it, e-commerce sounds like a great idea.

You build your website (or, preferably, get an expert to build it for you). You add the necessary online gizmos and gadgets. And then you sit back and wait for the money to roll in.

Except, of course, there’s just a little more to it than that…

Picture the scene in the run-up to Christmas. You’re up to your rapidly receding hairline in orders. The phone is ringing off the hook – all day (and, like as not, all evening as well). You barely have time to eat (in fact it’s better than a diet). And your team – if you have one – are far too busy picking, packing and sending off the orders to help you on the phone lines.

Enter Mrs. Trellis. (Yes, that one. You may well have heard her ramblings on a certain Radio 4 panel game.)

Now Mrs. Trellis is the nightmare beyond your imagining. Because she will waste more of your time than you ever thought possible. And the trouble is, she’s so nice about it…!

‘Ooh, I’m sorry, dear, I’m a bit new at this interweb thingy. I think I might have pressed the wrong button…’

‘So what were you trying to order, Mrs. Trellis?’

‘Ooh. Erm. You know. One of those thingies. For the loo. I wanted one in orange. But I don’t want to be any trouble…’

‘Erm – what sort of ‘thingy’ exactly, Mrs. Trellis?’

‘Well, I don’t know exactly what you call ’em. I think you had a picture of it somewhere. Or was that someone else that had it? Sorry, dear, I’m a bit confused…’

Well, you get the picture. Because this is the moment when your e-commerce telephone line becomes a hotline to the Samaritans.

And it doesn’t have to be like that.

E-commerce as it should be (with a little help from your friends)

How would it be if all your enquiries – including the four or five in succession from Mrs. Trellis – were answered by someone else? Which would be someone with all the time – and patience – needed to deal with her and the many others like her. Someone you could trust, completely, with access to your system. Who could field all the queries and questions from customers who’ve hit a problem? Had a failed payment. Changed their mind about an order. Or want to treat you to a 20-minute rant about a failed delivery that turns out to be their own fault…

Would that change the picture?

Of course it would.

Now you can focus on the bit you do best – fulfilling those orders and getting them out of the door. You can keep an eye on those deliveries – and switch suppliers if there’s a particular company that’s always letting you down. Check out which products are moving, and which are stuck on the shelf.

In other words, you can run your business instead of spending huge amounts of your precious time as a reluctant agony aunt. While knowing that any real problems will be reported back to you – with an understanding of how they arose, what you can do about it, and what your customer now expects.

So if that sounds like a good idea, talk to us. Because we do stuff like that all the time.

Interested? Like to know more? Then do give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Parcel delivery service

One of the most frustrating things we experience, according to a recent survey, is having to wait in for a parcel to be delivered. It’s made worse when the courier company gives you no indication of whether the delivery will be made at 9 am or 6 pm – it’s practically impossible to plan anything that involves setting foot outside your door until that parcel has arrived.

It even affects whether or not you can go for a lie down in the garden or have a shower (what if you miss the doorbell and have to repeat the whole process again tomorrow?!). Or what if you’re on holiday when that all important package is due to arrive?!

Did you know that Purple Haze can arrange to take delivery of your parcels for you and then forward them on at a time that’s suitably convenient!

Just another reason why we’re helping small businesses to keep active and growing in the face of adversity (and courier companies!).

Contact us to find out more please email us at admin@purplehazeuk.com.

e-Commerce, the unexpected overhead

So you’ve made the decision to sell your products online. Wonderful. Clicks and mortar – it’s the future, right?

You’ll have weighed up the costs in terms of website design and development, you will have tested and identified the most appropriate payment gateway and set up an online bank account to handle your transactions. You’ve meticulously photographed and described all of your products in a clear and concise way that encourages visitors to buy from you. Think you’ve thought of everything?

Customer service is rated as the single most important factor in a customer’s decision to purchase. The level of that importance increases again when a second or subsequent purchase is being considered. In other words, you may sell something once because you’ve got a great product at a great price – but if you fail to deliver on your customer service, that will be all you sell.

How about when an item is damaged in transit or fails to arrive? Are you ready to take the call from your irate customer? What if they post about it on Facebook? Or Twitter? Are you monitoring your social media round-the-clock ready to respond in a positive way? What happens when an item is out of stock? How promptly do you contact your customer and let them know when the item will be available again?

If someone needs to arrange a return, do you have a procedure in place? Or something as simple as a customer enquiry – are you there to answer the phones when your website traffic starts to increase?

All of these factors can make the difference between a successful e-Commerce business and one which fails to deliver on its brand promises. So don’t forget to invest in your customer service infrastructure – and remember that with Purple Haze at your side, you can outsource the entire operation to them.

They will monitor your social media channels, answer your telephone calls, implement your returns policy, advise customers of stock levels and tackle any inbound customer service enquiries – all in a seamless and professional way that accurately reflects the impression that your brand makes online.

To find out more about how Purple Haze can help with your e-Commerce operations, or indeed to hear case studies of other online businesses that already use their service – get in touch today by emailing us at <a href=”mailto:admin@purplehazeuk.com”>admin@purplehazeuk.com</a>.