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Customer Service During COVID-19: Best practice tactics for queries (and complaints!)

With more than a third of the world’s population on some sort of restricted movement and with traditional retail markets in turmoil, online retail has provided consumers with a means to deliver welcome distraction at a time of intense change and distress. However, customers are less likely to be patient, and more likely to complain or provide negative feedback which can have a disastrous impact on sales rankings, and take up precious time for your support teams. 

Online sales volumes have fluctuated madly in recent times, driven by lockdown protocols and massive shifts in consumer behaviour. Customer uncertainty has never been higher.

In an analysis of over 40 million orders made last month, customer support software solution eDesk reported a 28% increase in customer orders, but a much larger (54%) increase in customer enquiries. Customers are much more likely to reach out to sellers right now. These are more than just numbers. These are real people, perhaps bored, certainly impatient, and who have no other way of getting the things they need. Customers are much more anxious about what they’ve bought and keen to know when (or if!) their orders are going to arrive. If you’re delivering internationally, or if your delivery times are in any way delayed, you run the risk of hitting that peak ‘complaint zone’. Once you’re in the complaint zone you risk three major issues.

  1. 3X the number of customer support emails (taking up valuable time)
  2. Bad reviews or negative comments on social (bad for rankings, and for seller reputation)
  3. Order cancellations (seriously bad for revenue)

A recent report from PWC highlighted the risk painful delays have on the buyer relationship, with 32% of all customers saying they would “stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience”. As well as making its leading helpdesk software free for online sellers, eDesk has published a list of recommendations for handling customer queries and complaints during COVID19. 

TIP #1: Manage expectations. If your delivery schedules have been disrupted, flag it in advance. If you are experiencing delays, let customers know right away through an automated response.

TIP #2: Focus on SLAs. Even when expectations are set, customers might still need reassurances. While spikes in customers enquiries are expected, don’t let standards fall. Make sure you are set up to handle a large number of enquiries effectively across all marketplaces and social media accounts. 

TIP #3: Update your returns policy. 30% of all products ordered online are returned. Having a robust returns policy will increase online orders and reduce confusion if and when inevitable returns have to happen. Make sure you review your returns policy with respect to COVID delivery schedules. 

TIP #4: Don’t forget about the weekends: You and your teams might need some time off, but customers are on 24/7. Ensure auto-responders are in place during weekends and busy periods.

TIP #5: Deal with delivery queries effectively. Put manual templates in place that use smart snippets that input accurate customer information.

eDesk is a cloud-based help desk solution for eCommerce that integrates individual online stores, email platforms, social media channels and all major marketplaces. It supports more than 30 marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Allegro, WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento. From now until September 2020, eDesk is free for new customers. For more information and to get started click here. 

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