Written by Dion Jay Tality
The ecommerce market has grown exponentially in recent years, especially during the pandemic. But while online businesses have expanded their market, they face the challenges of meeting customer needs and improving customer experience.
Unfortunately, a growing ecommerce business with a limited workforce and resources can end up with poor customer service. Outsourcing can be a viable solution to ensure customer expectations are met.
This page gives you a practical guide to outsourcing ecommerce customer service. Learn more about why you should outsource, how a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company can scale up your online business, and what to look for in an outsourced call center.
What Is Ecommerce Customer Service?
Ecommerce customer service refers to how online stores assist customers with almost everything. That is from educating shoppers about the products and fulfilling order requests to processing product returns and refunds. It can be delivered on various digital platforms, whether via phone, live chat, or email support.
Ecommerce enterprises offer goods or items over the internet, and customers buy them through virtual channels. Because there is no face-to-face interaction with Ecommerce, the interaction between the salesperson and the customer might be complex. As a result, companies must provide an excellent customer experience.
For third-party service providers, customer service is crucial for Ecommerce business success. BPO companies and third-party call centers see themselves as Ecommerce business partners. In this business model, there are three key players:
- The BPO company itself (through its call center representatives)
- Ecommerce business (its client)
- Ecommerce customers (considered the BPO customers as well).
For BPO companies, providing customer service is to make customers happy and help their clients grow. That’s why they provide the best talents and resources to Ecommerce businesses. In addition to their robust workforces, they invest in hardware and software. Lastly, they further their industry experience and improve their level of expertise.
What Is Ecommerce Customer Service Outsourcing?
Ecommerce customer service outsourcing is when a business hires a third-party service provider to handle its customer service. The external vendor can take over customer support, order processing and fulfillment, dispute management, and issue resolution.
Outsourcing is incredibly beneficial to many online businesses worldwide. Big brands like Amazon and even small and mid-sized enterprises outsource some parts of their business operations to third-party vendors.
Forbes highlights the benefits of outsourcing for many businesses worldwide, which include saving money, getting quality hires, boosting the workforce, and scaling up businesses. Forbes also identified potential drawbacks such as remote work challenges and communication and cultural barriers.
Taking it all together, ecommerce businesses must be highly selective in choosing a BPO company to work with.
Types of Ecommerce Customer Service to Outsource
As an ecommerce business grows and its customer base expands, it needs a solid workforce that can assist consumers. Outsourcing can be a cost-effective and cost-efficient solution. Below are some ecommerce customer service types you can outsource:
- Inbound calls. Customer service representatives receive calls and assist customers with their concerns. Among other types, outsourcing to a call center for ecommerce customer service can be your best approach. Phone customer service is the most effective and widely used channel for customer contact.
- Outbound calls. Customer service representatives call customers for various reasons. They can follow up on customer concerns, provide status updates, or offer newly launched products. Consider outsourcing ecommerce customer service to a third-party provider that performs outbound calls.
- Help desk. As the name suggests, customer service representatives provide immediate assistance to customers with problems and even urgent resolutions to their issues. Having a help-desk department through outsourcing can be highly beneficial to ecommerce customers.
- Non-voiced customer service. Representatives assist customers via live chat, email support, or social media. Self-service content and AI-powered chatbots also fall under this category.
- Data Entry. Back-office specialists record and manage customer data and information. For online shops that require the constant updating of product SKUs and inventory, data entry is also a crucial part of the work. Outsource data entry services to ensure the proper accuracy and faster turn-around time of encoding data.
- Customer support. Customer support specialists focused on technical needs such as logging in on a website, installing software, or setting up hardware. Consider outsourcing customer support to a BPO company with a team of expert specialists.
Why Do Online Stores Outsource Customer Service?
Outsourcing ecommerce customer service comes with several potential benefits. The right BPO company can assist your customers in ways that translate into customer satisfaction and an improved bottom line.
Global Ecommerce Forecast 2022 reports that the global retail ecommerce revenues reached 4.9 trillion dollars in 2021 and are expected to double by 2025. As you join this trend, you’ll need exceptional customer service to keep your customers happy and to continue growing your business. The right BPO will help you with this.
Let’s discuss why ecommerce businesses should consider outsourcing their customer service:
1. Address Customer Service Challenges
It’s likely that most online shops and stores will grow over time. That’s the direction they’re trending in now.
But as their ecommerce businesses and target market expand, they face inevitable customer service challenges. Hence, outsourcing can be the best course of action in addressing some of these challenges:
High Volume of Calls/Emails/Messages
Gaining more customers for your online business means having many customers call, email, and message your customer service team. Their concerns may vary, from product inquiries to placing orders to checking status delivery.
Outsourcing your ecommerce customer service can be a practical solution if you can no longer handle a high volume of calls, emails, or messages. For example, you can work with a call center that can assist your customers 24/7.
Bulk Order Requests
Expanding the customer base means having many customers purchase your goods or items. While that is good for your ecommerce business, not being able to handle order requests may become a recipe for business chaos and customer churn. Hence, outsourcing can provide your business with enough customer service representatives to process and fulfill bulk orders.
One of the most critical aspects of customer service is handling complaints, as it can make or break your business. You can lose customers with poor customer service handling. Outsourcing can provide you with expert customer service representatives who can handle complaints, appease customers, and retain them.
An online store usually starts with one person managing the entire business. But as it grows over time, it must increase its workforce to handle various aspects of business, including customer service. Outsourcing can be viable if you need more customer service representatives for your workforce.
A growing ecommerce business doesn’t only require a workforce; it also needs tools, technologies, and other vital resources. You’ll also have to invest in these resources if you hire customer service representatives for your ecommerce business. However, outsourcing can help solve this problem, as your contracted BPO company will provide you with human and material resources.
Growing an ecommerce business can be costly. While doing so can boost your profits in the long run, you’ll initially have to spend on capital outlay. But outsourcing helps your business save up at the onset and for the long term.
2. Improve Customer Service Delivery
Ecommerce businesses are constantly seeking ways to improve operations, especially customer service. Outsourcing provides them with staffing, resources, and even industry experiences that can help them tackle some areas of opportunities.
Below are the fundamental customer service metrics and how an outsourced company can help improve your ecommerce customer service:
This refers to the efficiency of customer service representatives in handling calls. It also measures how many customers these agents can cater to every day. You can improve your customer service by working with a BPO firm with a team of efficient representatives.
Service quality is how effective customer service representatives are in assisting your customers. In ecommerce, they answer customer questions, fulfill orders, and resolve issues completely. They comply with business protocols when handling calls. Ultimately, outsourcing to a highly reliable BPO company can ensure service quality, consistency, and compliance.
This refers to the satisfaction levels customers have with your service. Customer surveys get issued to gauge if customers are happy or unhappy with the service. Outsourcing can help your ecommerce business improve customer experience. Ultimately, this can translate into improved customer satisfaction.
3. Achieve Customer Service Success
Outsourcing customer service comes with many benefits for your ecommerce business. You’ll achieve your business goals as long as you’re highly selective in choosing the right BPO company. Below are the potential benefits of outsourcing your ecommerce customer service:
The primary purpose of outsourcing is to improve customer experience. That’s why working with a highly reliable BPO company consisting of competent customer service representatives is crucial.
The end goal of this is to achieve customer satisfaction. Expect your online store to boom when your customers are happy and satisfied with the service. Ultimately, customer satisfaction can lead to a boost in your business.
Customer service doesn’t assist only regular customers; it also serves potential buyers. Prospective customers are curious about your products and may reach out with questions. You want them to have a superior customer experience.
Your customer service representatives can track and tag these customers as prospects in the system. The sales team can further reach out to them for product offers. Ultimately, outsourced customer service can help generate more leads for your ecommerce business.
Sales Conversion/Customer Acquisition
Apart from generating leads, customer service representatives can go as far as converting sales. They can entice customers with your quality products and even offer some discounts. These customers may end up purchasing your products.
What’s good about most BPO companies is that they hire the best people. They further train them to be highly skilled at customer service. Their product knowledge and customer service skills can help your ecommerce business acquire new customers.
On the other side, some customers call because they are unhappy and dissatisfied with the service. They complain and may want to return the purchased products and get refunds. The worst part is that they no longer look forward to doing business with you.
Outsourced customer service representatives can appease unhappy customers and even win them back. In the end, you can expect high customer retention for your ecommerce business through excellent customer service.
What does it mean when customers are happy and satisfied with your service? It means they will continue to buy your products and patronize your ecommerce business for the long term. They may also tell others of their satisfaction.
Outsourcing to a reliable BPO company can ensure excellent customer service. Doing so can help your ecommerce business earn regular customers and build a community of loyal supporters.
How a BPO Company Scales Up Your Ecommerce Business
A BPO company scales up your business in more ways than one. But in general, they make your company run more efficiently. You can concentrate on other aspects of your business while knowing that experts handle your customers.
Specifically, BPO firms can help your business grow and succeed by doing the following:
- Take the time to educate your customers about your products or services;
- Improve your business reputation and boost your brand;
- Streamline your workflows and improve your processes;
- Tackle room for improvements in your ecommerce business;
- Provide you with the latest tools and technologies; and
- Provide valuable ecommerce data and offer new business insights as industry experts.
How Call Centers Provide Ecommerce Customer Service
While outsourcing email support, chat, and social media management tasks are equally feasible for customer service, call centers for ecommerce prove to be the most effective.
It’s a different experience when customer service representatives speak with the customers over the phone. They can attend to their needs more efficiently, effectively, and seamlessly.
Let’s take a look at how call centers provide ecommerce customer service.
Customer service is about assisting customers by answering questions, processing requests, and providing updates. However, customer care goes beyond that.
As the phrase suggests, customer care is about taking good care of your much-valued customers. It’s about actively listening to your customers, deeply understanding their needs, and meeting or exceeding their expectations.
Order Processing and Fulfillment
In ecommerce, customers place orders online, send emails, or chat with agents. But many prefer to speak with live customer service representatives.
These representatives process their payments and fulfill their orders over the phone. Then, a back-office team usually handles the order requests until the goods or items get delivered to the customers.
Order Tracking and Status Updates
Customer service representatives don’t only process and fulfill orders. They also track the requests and provide customers with updates. For instance, a customer may not yet receive their package and call to check its status.
A call center agent does a little research and finds that a hurricane has delayed its shipping. The representative then explains the delay, tags the order request for urgent delivery, and sets proper expectations for when the package will arrive.
Complaint Handling and Dispute Management:
The most critical part of customer service is handling complaints and managing disputes. Unfortunately, a recent report showed a spike in customer complaints from 56% in 2017 to 66% in 2020. The problem is that 58% of those who complained never got their issues resolved.
Understand that not all customers have basic questions to ask or need your help to place an order. Some frustrated customers complain about low-quality products or poor services they’ve received. As a customer service representative, you should know how to handle the situation professionally and deal with the customer.
Product Returns and Customer Refunds
At times ecommerce customers don’t get the products they expect. They must return the items and request refunds. A customer service representative must apologize for the product dissatisfaction and offer to send a new one or process a refund.
Outsourced companies have a robust digital platform for product returns and refund management. They also have a back-office team that oversees inventory management and performs the needful for timely returns and refunds.
What to Look for in an Ecommerce Customer Service Call Center
With your growing ecommerce business, it’s time to consider outsourcing your customer service to a call center. However, this requires extensive research, proper planning, and careful implementation.
Understand that you’ll be entrusting a part of your business functions to a third-party vendor that can make or break your online business. That said, here are crucial factors to consider when searching for a call center:
Types of Services
BPO companies for ecommerce customer service vary from one service type to another. Some businesses offer email and chat support, while others merely provide the tools and technologies for self-service options and AI-integrated chatbots.
Many companies focus on phone customer service. If you want to take your customer service up a notch, choose an inbound call center for ecommerce.
Field of Specialization
Call centers have different fields of specialization. Some cater to the healthcare and medical sector; others focus on banking and finance. Some outsourced companies have become real estate, mortgage, and homeowner’s insurance experts.
If you want your online business to thrive, opt for a call center with experience handling ecommerce.
Cost and Budget
Cost-saving is one of the primary reasons most businesses outsource to a call center. Doing so enables them to save on labor and production costs. This is especially true for US, UK, Canada, and Australia companies as they partner with call centers in India and the Philippines.
That said, start by setting your budget for outsourcing. Once done, be sure to do your homework. Finally, pick the most cost-efficient call center for your ecommerce customer service, but make sure it offers the services you need.
Call Center Location
When outsourcing, call center location impacts pricing and services offered. Outsourcing overseas call centers can be cheaper for ecommerce businesses than in the same country. And you can expect highly competent customer service representatives with the proper knowledge, skills, and expertise.
However, be wary of potential downsides like remote challenges, language and cultural barriers, and privacy and security issues. Before outsourcing, tackle how your prospective BPO firms will address these common problems. From there, decide what call center company to work with.
A company’s reputation is everything in the world of business. And this applies to online businesses looking to work with third-party call centers. Be sure to conduct research and perform due diligence.
If you have a list of prospects, check their websites and portfolios, online testimonials from previous clients, and even reviews from third-party organizations. You can then decide on what BPO company to work with for your ecommerce store.
The Bottom Line
There’s no denying that ecommerce has flourished in recent years. But with progress and development come critical responsibilities. Online businesses must take care of their much-valued customers, meet their needs, and provide excellent customer service.
Unfortunately, growing ecommerce businesses face many customer service challenges. Handling a high volume of messages, bulk order requests, and customer complaints are just a few. Outsourcing an ecommerce call center can be the best course of action for improving service efficiency, quality, and customer experience.
But when looking for a call center to work with, consider the key factors discussed above, from service types to cost and budget to company reputation. Choose a highly reliable BPO company, and your business will truly benefit from its ecommerce customer service.
Excellent customer service can improve customer satisfaction and translate into customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. Ultimately, outsourcing to a call center can scale up your ecommerce business and ensure its overall success!