4 Most Common Customer Service Issues in eCommerce

eCommerce being here to stay isn’t a surprise to any business leader. Neither is the fact that it’s only set to grow. If retail eCommerce continues at the same trajectory it has been over the last few years, global sales are set to hit over 8 trillion dollars by 2026.

And customer service will be a massive force behind that growth. It’s easy to assume that the shift online means that buyers are less inclined to speak to physical customer service representatives. However, reports show that 83% of online shoppers do need assistance to complete an order.1

So if you want your eCommerce business to be part of and profit from the inevitable growth of the space, you need to make sure that your customer service function is ready to deliver. 

Here, we’re not just going to unpack the most common customer service issues in eCommerce — we’re also going to give you the solutions you need to rise above them.

Suggested reading: Have you recognised the value that outsourcing your customer service can bring? Check out our guide on Ecommerce Customer Service Outsourcing to start now!

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1. Variable, seasonal and high demand

Because eCommerce businesses don’t have the limited trading hours and retail space that more traditional brick-and-mortar stores do, demand for services and products can fluctuate rapidly. Meaning you can face problems in:

  • Varying demand levels: eCommerce businesses can experience seasonal and varied demand for products accentuated by online demand.
  • Rapid growth in demand: The reach of online channels makes it possible to experience rapid and sustained growth, requiring rapid expansion of service capacity.

Both of these factors bring a lot of challenges for managing general product portfolios. And needing to scale your customer service to match that demand only adds to the problem.

It isn’t always easy to scale internally without radically altering your business setup and growth. Plus, attempting to match seasonal or variable demand without help can leave your business with over-provisioned resources once that demand inevitably dies down.

Strategies to help

Outsourcing all or some customer support can provide flexible access to on-demand resources — and is particularly important for seasonal customer service planning during periods like the Golden Quarter. 

Outsourcing also provides the dynamic scalability needed to match variable demand without needing to commit to resources long-term. By outsourcing support responsibilities, businesses can meet new demands while remaining focused on their business as a whole.

The challenge of how to outsource customer service is finding the right outsourcing partner, capable of delivering the kind of on-demand flexibility that’s needed. At Odondo, for example, we’ve designed our services with flexibility in mind. We can deliver a fully outsourced solution, or piecemeal support, complementing and augmenting in-house systems. Things to look for:

  • On-demand flexibility: It’s critical to find a service provider that delivers on-demand flexibility, and accommodates seamless scaling (up and down) resource capacity. Capacity needs to be rapidly increased in periods of high-growth, seasonal demand, or longer-term and decreased when required
  • Pay-as-you-use: On-demand cost structures are a good indicator of practical flexibility. Odondo employs a pay-as-you-use model, allowing you to pay only for the agent hours used, and never the spare capacity. Costs, therefore, remain controllable and adaptable to seasonality
  • High-quality: Flexibility can’t come at the expense of quality. Customers expect dedicated response capabilities across a number of channels, provided by knowledgeable and helpful agents

Suggested reading: To understand the costs of different types of outsourcers, check out our customer service outsourcing pricing guide.

2. Wide geographic distribution

Because the potential market for eCommerce businesses is less constrained, areas of geographic distribution may be particularly large. This is part of what contributes to the high growth and variable growth trajectories of many eCommerce businesses. To manage this, you need to make sure that your customer service function:

  • Can cope with the demands of large-scale distribution.
  • Has the expertise, quality, and diversity to adjust to the different requirements of your customer base, depending on their demographic.

Strategies to help

Fundamentally, your customer service function should always have experienced and knowledgeable agents. Scalable outsourcing of customer service can be crucial in granting access to those experienced agents.

This is where onshore outsourcing comes into play. At Odondo, we’ve distributed our call centres to enable our representatives to work from anywhere. This has allowed us to keep costs down and keep our agents in the UK — delivering outsourced but not offshore customer service — and attracting the highest quality agents with the industry experience you need. 

As such, they can relate to (and satisfy) wide customer demographics in their support, improving customer interactions with businesses, helping with:

  • Maintaining quality
  • Building trust with clients 
  • Preserving flexibility 
  • Reducing the need for internal infrastructure
  • Operational cost-effectiveness

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3. Digital-first demands — while remaining personal

One of the biggest perks of eCommerce shopping is that customers can access their businesses of choice whenever, and wherever. Your customer service needs to match those expectations without sacrificing quality.

There are plenty of strictly digital, self-service options that can help with this (and you probably already have in your business), including:

  • Detailed FAQ sections 
  • Informative product manuals or videos accessible online
  • ‘Live chat’ bots 
  • Social media channels

The problem is that these alone aren’t enough. 77% of consumers choose, recommend, or pay more for businesses that provide personalised services and experiences.2 So one-size-fits-all strategies may just about do the job, but they won’t give you the profit you really want to be seeing out of your customer service.

Strategies to help

Addressing the demand for personalised customer service comes back to making sure you have expert agents and representatives within your business. Especially for the more complicated queries and problems your customers may have. 

However, it also relates to making sure that your buyers are being given the most seamless customer service journeys possible. And this is where omnichannel customer support proves valuable.
As the ability to support multiple channels within an interconnected system, omnichannel support gives your customers consistency throughout the entire customer service experience. After all, up to 89% of customers find repeating their issues to multiple agents frustrating.3 But omnichannel support can allow customers to switch from — when necessary — a chatbot to a phone conversation, without the need to repeat themselves.

4. Maintaining ‘the human touch’

Omnichannel support clearly has its benefits, but it’s important to also remember the particular value which phone support can bring. By their very nature, eCommerce businesses need to capitalise on the limited number of in-person interactions between company and customer. Phone support of a high standard is an excellent way of ensuring quality customer experiences and winning trust. 

  • In eCommerce, the customer rarely has face-to-face human contact with the business, and are likely to be paying for a product or service which they have yet to receive. Continued success therefore requires a greater degree of trust from customers.
  • Keeping wait times low is equally important for customer expectations. Around 70% of younger buyers consider the speed of support responses as crucial to having a high-quality customer experience.4

Strategies to help

The most direct way of providing the crucial ‘human touch’ in customer service is to have a dedicated phone support team. Customers appreciate speaking to real people when dealing with certain issues, and they appreciate quick responses — quick and personable communications help customers establish confidence in a business. Bear in mind that:

  • Having the capacity to provide quality customer service is a direct route to attaining customer satisfaction. 
  • By properly outsourcing phone support and customer service more generally, you can quickly provide high-grade assistance, while sidestepping issues related to demand, quality control, training, and infrastructure. This rapid scalability and flexibility are vital for reducing wait times.

Pro tip: While offshore customer service often results in a loss in quality — the opposite is true for quality-focused, onshore customer outsourcing partners that can provide access to some of the most experienced customer service professionals around.

Customer service outsourcing can help

Effective eCommerce customer service outsourcing presents solutions to a number of unique customer service challenges. The main points to take away are:

  • You need high-quality and sufficient customer service systems to address high growth and seasonality in eCommerce.
  • Because in-house customer service requires investing in static and long-term resources, you can not obtain the kind of flexibility you need to dynamically match capacity with demand without some outsourcing support.
  • Outsourced support doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” as an approach. It can be paired with in-house teams and maintained across multiple channels — ultimately delivering a cost-effective balance and matching capacity with demand. 

We at Odondo pride ourselves on offering eCommerce businesses of all shapes and sizes the capabilities to address any major customer service issue. As experts in onshore outsourcing, we can match you with the expert agents you need to deliver greater customer service than ever. And our pay-as-you-go models only guarantee that you’re able to deliver that service in the most cost-efficient, scalable way possible.

To find out how we can support your eCommerce business’ specific needs and demands, just request a quote and we’ll be in touch!

1 Importance Of Customer Service For Ecommerce: Statistics You Should Know
2 44 E-commerce Personalization Statistics to Inform Your 2023 Strategy
3 Omnichannel Statistics For Customer Service 2023 – Squaretalk
4 Infographic – Millennials Prefer Live Chat – Comm100 Resources

Bobby Devins

Bobby spent 11 years as an Investment Banker before going on to co-found his own e-commerce start-up, where Customer Service was one of the core functions that fell under his remit.

He has spent the past 9 years in and around the start-up space, most recently co-founding Odondo with the aim of reimagining the delivery of Customer Service. Bobby has pursued a very traditional career path for someone who ultimately aspires to be a hardcore gangsta rapper.

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