3 Ecommerce Customer Service Hacks Every Seller Should Know

Reply templates, best practices and advanced hacks for three of the most common ecommerce customer support questions

Hands up asking questions 1200

This post is by Nadav Roiter, Marketing Manager for Subivi and a freelance journalist.

In this post I will show you how to deal with three common ecommerce customer questions as quickly as possible, while also providing excellent customer service.

These are the questions we’ll be looking at:

  1. Do you combine shipping?
  2. I haven’t received my package – where is it?
  3. Do you have this item in stock?

You’ll learn how to reduce the time you spend dealing with these, and how you can transform ecommerce customer service from a time-consuming admin chore to an easy task that helps grow your business.

1. Do you combine shipping?

Customers often wish to purchase more than one product from you and will check what effect this will have on the shipping costs.

Best practice: clearly state your shipping policies

The best practice, in this case, is to prepare a well-designed shipping policy which covers the company’s policies, including most of the scenarios where products can and can’t be “group shipped”.

The main benefits of having a clear and accessible shipping policy are:

  • Increases your brand reliability in the eyes of a prospective customer
  • Saves you valuable time by reducing future questions on this issue (99% of the information a client will need about shipping should appear in your policies)
  • Has the power to increase conversion rates and improve your bottom line, especially since confusion regarding shipping is one of the top causes of cart abandonment in ecommerce.

Advanced hack: use a shipping calculator

Consider linking to a shipping cost calculator. This will make customers more independent and give them the option to calculate shipping themselves if products are shipped together.

The main advantages to including a link to a shipping cost calculator include:

  • Making the purchasing process easier. Shoppers want to understand costs immediately and make a purchase right now. With the “instant gratification” culture of today, we need to help people find what they need without having to ask questions. This will lead to more conversions and improve your bottom line.
  • You can ask the customer to enter his or her contact details in order to use the calculator. This builds your client database for future marketing and cross-selling campaigns. One shipping cost calculator to check out is Freightos.

Customer service response template

Here’s a template to deal with this ecommerce customer service question, which I encourage you to copy and paste every time you receive a similar question from a customer:

Hi  [insert customer’s name here],

First off, let me start by saying that I am really pleased you are considering buying a [insert product name here] from [insert your store’s name here].

Here is a link to our store’s full shipping policy (I am also attaching a PDF version for your convenience). Here is the exact section which directly pertains to your question and order:

[Copy and paste the relevant section here – making it really easy and effortless for your customer]

Yes we do [or No we do not] combine shipping – the total cost of shipping in this case is [insert amount here] [or we are pleased to inform you that shipping for this order is completely free of charge!] [making shipping free is an effective marketing trick].

For future reference, feel free to use this really neat and convenient shipping calculator [insert link for your preferred calculator here].

Hope this helped. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have.

All the best,

Candy [insert your real name here – not your stripper name!]

2. I haven’t received my package – where is it?

OK, admittedly, this is one of the most annoying questions a customer can ask!

It has only been an hour, of course you have not received your package! I am only human and this is not Harry Potter – how many times do I have to tell you that packages do not have wings, and drone package delivery is not yet a thing?!

Flying parcel

Do yourself and your business a favor and keep these thoughts to yourself!

Now take a deep breath and let’s try to understand the situation from the customer’s perspective.

After purchasing a product, customers are eager to receive and start using it, either because they really need it or simply because they want to have it. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and excitement, and chances are these customers will constantly be checking the shipment status with you.

Best practice: manage expectations

It is unsexy to say this but, in some cases, it is more important to manage your customer’s expectations than the actual quality of the product or service. That is not to say that both should not be top notch – they should!

Here is my advice: research the actual time it takes for packages to reach their destinations, and combine this info with the carrier’s expected delivery projections, and find the average. Let’s say that UPS estimates it should take three days to send a package from New York to California but from experience you have seen that it can take five days. The average is four days.

No matter how many days you calculate that it will take for a package to arrive, always add an extra day. If the package arrives a day earlier, your customer will be pleasantly surprised.

Beyond this, be sure to:

  • Clearly communicate estimated shipping times to clients.
  • Keep your customers in the loop throughout the entire shipping process – from dispatch to arrival.

If you still receive a “where is my package?” message from a customer, do not panic. But this is definitely a warning sign, and you need to learn from it. The question essentially means that you did not keep your customer sufficiently informed during the delivery process, and need to improve.

Advanced hack: use an ecommerce CRM

A CRM (customer relationship management) solution is a tool which takes all of your customer information and combines it with all your past interactions with customers, allowing you and your employees to manage customer service in a quick and efficient manner.

Based on a hands-on test conducted with a real eBay seller, a CRM tool helped them reduce the average amount of time spent on eBay customer service from an average of 6.2 minutes to 2.5 minutes per message. That means that the seller saved 63% of the time he used to spend on customer service.

An ecommerce CRM solution allows you to create templated answers, so that you can choose the right response and reply effortlessly.

Additionally, CRM software uses smart tags, which are basically placeholders for information that is automatically entered in the response to a customer. For example:

  • Customer’s name
  • Order tracking number
  • Delivery tracking URL

My company Subivi provides a CRM solution for eBay and ecommerce sellers with templated answers and smart tags, alongside many other features.

Customer service response template

Once again, here’s a template to deal with this ecommerce customer service question, which I encourage you to copy and paste every time you receive a similar question from a customer:

Hi  [insert customer’s name here],

First off, let me start by thanking you for choosing to buy [insert product name here] from [insert your store’s name here] – I really appreciate your business!

I know you are very excited to receive the item you ordered – I only sell products that I myself love and was also really psyched for it to arrive when I made my own first order.

First off, here is a link you can click and track exactly where your product currently is in terms of the shipping process: [insert tracking link here]

From what I can see, your item is currently in the UPS distribution center in NYC and should be arriving within the next 1-2 days. [Despite providing them with a link, go into the link yourself and provide that information to make their life easier].

Your package was set to arrive by [estimated date] and today it is [today’s date] so please hang in there for at least another two days. My items have a tendency to arrive a day early – I am crossing my fingers that it happens with yours as well (and I would really appreciate some positive feedback if you are pleasantly surprised!)

I hope you really enjoy some killer music on your new AirPods [insert the name of the product and what they’d enjoy about it] and I hope to do business with you again soon.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have.

All the best,

Crystal

3. Do you have this item in stock?

Why do customers always inquire about out of stock products?

Usually it’s one of the following:

  • Repeat customers who love your product so much that they want to buy it again.
  • First-time customers who are eager to buy from you but do not want to risk disappointment.
  • A customer who wants to purchase in bulk.

In any of these scenarios, it’s a good sign that you can make a sale. The key is to be organized and keep on top of your inventory.

Best practice: manage your inventory properly

Inventory management is one of the most important aspects of your business and should be paid special attention. The stock levels of each product displayed online should always be up to date and accurate.

Out of stock rubber stamp

Good inventory management quickly translates into profitability. My reasoning behind this is as follows:

  1. When stock levels are under control, you can choose which manufacturers to source your products from, and negotiate better prices. If you are out of stock, you may be forced to pay top dollar and sacrifice profits.
  2. All of your inventory can be made available on all of the marketplaces you sell on, maximizing your exposure and potential for sales.
  3. When you have your inventory synced, you are always selling products from stock and can supply them to the customer quickly. This leads to satisfied clients who are more likely to become repeat customers.

Make sure you clearly state on your product page that you closely monitor your inventory levels and that the stock level shown is 99.9% accurate. This will save you time and effort, and make for easier conversions.

The two options you have in terms of keeping track of your inventory levels are:

  1. Excel or another spreadsheet program. In my opinion, this is outdated and inefficient. It can lead to errors and waste time and money, especially if you are a medium-sized ecommerce business with regular influx and outflow of products.
  2. Synchronize stock using an automated cloud-based inventory management service. If, for example, you have 100 watches in stock and you make two sales on eBay today, the number of items will be updated to 98 on all your other sales channels. More on this below.

Advanced hack: use an inventory synchronization tool

Here are a couple of tips on how to properly manage stock with an inventory synchronization tool:

Hold just the right amount of stock

Be careful not to oversell, but also don’t have too much product on hand. Both are bad for business!

If you have too much stock on hand, then you have less liquid cash to use and also run the risk of being stuck with units you can’t sell. On the other hand, you don’t want to be caught off-guard and have orders outpace supply. Set reminders to restock right before peak seasons or turn on automatic restocking functions which will learn which items are most popular and when.

Supply chain optimization

Map out where your customers are located for specific products. Let’s say ties sell really well in France and shoes sell exceptionally well in Britain. Once you narrow this down, look for a fulfillment provider or dropshipper there. This will:

  1. Shorten the shipping time
  2. Lower shipping costs
  3. Eliminate import/export tax for customers
  4. Save money on storage in many cases

Customer service response template

One last time, here’s a template to deal with this ecommerce customer service question. I encourage you to copy and paste it every time you receive a similar question, or use an ecommerce CRM and set it up as a template.

Version A – Out of stock

Hi  [insert customer’s name here],

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that this item [insert item name here] is currently out of stock.

I will have it back in inventory by [date] – if you choose to place your order and wait till then, I am more than happy to offer you a 15% discount for your patience [insert whatever discount is best aligned with your business model].

Please let me know if you would like me to put your name at the top of the item waiting list and I will send you an email the second I have it back in stock.

I really appreciate your business – don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have.

All the best

Charity

Version B – In stock

Hi  [insert customer’s name here],

I am delighted to inform you that this item [insert item name here] is currently in stock and as of writing this email I currently have only [amount of stock] pieces remaining [if it’s a low number and the customer really wants it, stressing this could trigger a quick conversion].

For future purchases, please note that I always keep my inventory levels synched and up to date so if one of my listings on [insert your marketplace here] shows a specific number of items in stock, you can be certain that that number is correct and up to date.

Please go ahead and make the purchase as soon as possible as I would not want the item to go out of stock before you have had the opportunity to buy it.

I really appreciate your business – don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have.

All the best,

Destiny

Over to you…

Good customer service is at the heart of any successful ecommerce business, as it directly influences your bottom line.

It is imperative to look at and analyze customer feedback and questions, to learn how you can optimize your business.

As I mentioned in this post, these are the key tools you should consider using:

  • A shipping policy template and/or shipping cost calculator
  • A CRM tool such as my company’s solution Subivi
  • An inventory management and synchronization solution

So, what are YOUR most common ecommerce customer support questions? Post them below along with any of your own tips or hacks for other sellers.

I would love to hear your questions too. I will do my best to reply personally and help you tackle the hardest questions which have been gnawing away at you.

This post was by Nadav Roiter, Marketing Manager for Subivi and a freelance journalist. Formerly part of the CrazyLister content team, he is now the Marketing Manager for Subivi eCommerce CRM, a customer support tool for ecommerce sellers.

2 comments on “3 Ecommerce Customer Service Hacks Every Seller Should Know

    1. Hi Chris,

      Sure thing!

      Happy you enjoyed reading it and found it useful. If you are interested in more templates – I wrote a post recently called::

      ‘6 free customer support templates every eCommerce seller should be familiar with!’ which you can take a look at using this link:

      https://times.subivi.com/ecommerce-customer-support/ecommerce-customer-support-templates/

      Best of luck in your eCommerce endeavors 🙂

      PS If I publish the full version of this post I’ll be sure to let you know…

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