When things don’t go the way shoppers expect, customer support can more than make or break a sale — it can also mean the difference between gaining loyal patronage or suffering from negative publicity and losses in the brand’s present and future client base. 

Especially in this day and age when everything can be easily shared with everyone on social media, a single bad reference caused by poor customer support can quickly go viral and cost a business a lot more than a failed sale.

Why Customer Support Should Be a Top Priority   

eCommerce has changed the marketplace landscape for good, and social media platforms and various messaging technologies have also altered customer attitudes and how businesses interact with their customers. With nearly endless options available and the ability to make themselves heard, customers now wield greater power than ever before and are better positioned to demand high-quality customer support. 

Let’s take a look at some relevant statistics. 

  • More than 50% of Americans changed their mind about a purchase because of bad service.

  • According to 33% of Americans, they’ll consider switching to another brand after a single instance of bad service.

  • A single bad experience can make 51% of customers decide never to do business with the company again.

  • American consumers share their good shopping experience with an average of only 11 people versus the 15 people that they'll tell about a bad experience. 

  • According to 77% of customers, they would recommend a company to a friend after having a positive experience. 

  • 7 out of 10 consumers say they’ve spent more money on brands that deliver outstanding service.

  • Millennials are willing to spend the most on companies that deliver excellent customer care.

  • A brand can spend up to 25 times more money to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.

  • Customer experience is more important than price for 64% of consumers.

Customer Support as an Advantage

High-quality products and competitive pricing are not enough to ensure continued business success. Good customer support completes the trifecta that will give your brand a significant competitive edge. 

To stay competitive 

To stay on top of your game in the cutthroat eCommerce landscape, you’ll need every bit of edge you can get. Unfortunately, what eCommerce lacks is a personal touch. This is an area where you can make your brand more visible and competitive by providing more personable and authentic customer support. 

There’s only so much you can do in terms of offering competitive pricing. And you don’t want your customers to think that your lower prices indicate lower product quality. Instead, you can raise the quality of your customers’ shopping experience through exceptional customer support. 

To keep customers coming back

The decision to make a purchase is not only borne out of a practical need; many consumers’ buying decisions arise from an emotional need. While practical purchases typically involve rational thinking, purchases that involve emotions are often also greatly influenced by the overall shopping experience. And for a lot of shoppers, a great experience is also worth paying more for a product or service. 

Especially if your marketing strategy appeals to your customer's emotions, you also have to make sure that you deliver the kind of customer service that also caters to their emotional needs. These customers value their shopping experience more than the actual purchase. And if they’re happy with the service they received, they’ll keep coming back because they’ll always seek the joy they experienced — which they will always associate with your product/s and brand.  

To prevent greater losses

Even if you offer an exchange or a refund, you may end up with losses greater than the cost of that particular failed sale. 

Remember that most consumers make more informed decisions based on their own research, and a big part of this research is customer feedback. When an unsatisfied customer takes to social media to share their bad experience, you will most likely lose many of your current customers and even potential new ones. 

To leverage organic/word-of-mouth advertising

On the other hand, a happy customer is more than likely to share their great experience with family and friends. Word-of-mouth recommendations on social media can easily make your brand a trending topic — without you spending extra on paid ads! Needless to say, this is a good way to go viral. 

When Do Your Customers Need You?

Pre-purchase

Your customers may need support when they have difficulties navigating your website or need more information on your products. The live chat option is an excellent way to make sure they receive immediate help. 

Post-purchase, during delivery

Your customers may want to know about the status of their delivery or need help making a change to their order. In addition to the live chat feature, you should also consider sending timely delivery status updates via SMS customer support. This way, you’ll be responding to your customers’ needs even before they ask. 

Post-purchase, after delivery

Your customers will naturally want to speak with your company’s support team if they’re not happy with their purchase — the order may have arrived damaged, it may not be what they expected, or they may no longer need or want it. Having SMS customer support will give your customers another option to reach out and receive a timely response. 

How to Optimize Good Customer Support

Here’s a list of ways to improve your customers’ shopping experience, with or without real-time personal assistance.

  • Have an FAQ section; find out the most common questions and concerns your customers have. 

  • Have a section dedicated to explaining your company’s stance on the green movement as more and more consumers prefer brands that offer environment-friendly products. 

  • Regularly review your customers’ feedback, especially regarding the customer support they received and their common concerns. Modify and improve your marketing approach and customer service accordingly. 

  • Be active on social media and make sure you’re adequately engaging with your customers via comment and personal message replies. 

  • Provide your customers a variety of ways to reach you: live chat, social media, SMS, phone, and email. 

  • Even with automated responses, make sure the messages are personalized and friendly. 

  • Take responsibility when mistakes are made on your end. And make sure to provide timely and satisfactory resolutions. 

Final Thoughts

Remember that a bad customer experience will cost you more than a refund, an exchange, or a voucher. However, whatever amount you end up losing to satisfy an unhappy customer’s needs will still be a lot lower than what you’ll lose if you leave a customer with a bad experience unsatisfied.