Five Key Soft Skills E-Commerce Customer Service Teams Should Master
On April 13th 2020, Amazon announced the recruitment of an additional 75,000 employees after having hired 100,000 new employees during the month of March in order to keep up with a COVID-19-related spike in consumer demand; Amazon’s public relations department revealed that it will offer permanent full-time positions to all qualified employees that would fulfill these temporary positions so that the corporation could stay on top of such demand post-pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is increasingly becoming clear that E-commerce will become the new norm since it has been continuing to develop globally.
The eCommerce industry — including marketplaces and eCommerce websites — are facing fierce competition; because of the homogeneity of commodities and their considerable customer price sensitivity, high-quality and innovative products are the key foundation for eCommerce’s success — with the upmost quality of consumer customer service experience being another essential element for eCommerce sellers to compete competitively in the global market. Customer service plays a very important role in every consumer’s online shopping experience since it is the first pass towards the cultivation of a consumer relationship, providing consumers with shopping guidelines, Q&A, information regarding inquiries, product usage guidance, and troubleshooting / tech support.
By making purchases via eCommerce marketplaces and websites such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Shopee, Lazada, or AliExpress, there is always the risk of consumers feeling a sense of distance and suspicion — especially since consumers know that products could be shipped across borders from other countries; an outstanding customer service experience is particularly relevant since it balances the interests of buyers and sellers via the following results:
- consumer shopping experiences are improved,
- brand reputations are strengthened,
- sales conversion rates are increased,
- re-purchase rates are increased, and
- negative reviews are decreased while positive feedback is increased.
An omni-channel communication platform is vital for e-commerce sellers in managing consumer relationships since it establishes deeper brand awareness; this is done in part by arranging native-speaking customer service representatives (CSRs), establishing toll-free numbers, establishing email, social media, live web chat, and real-time messaging station options, etcetera. Customer care outsourcing to a professional team can greatly improve the formalization and professionalization of the overall customer experience — even by arranging only one CSR — which, in return, leads to successful word-of-mouth advertising.
Five Key Soft Skills E-Commerce Customer Service Teams Should Master
Professional global outsourced call centers provide regular professional soft skills assessments and training to ensure high-quality customer service experiences; there are five key softs skills that eCommerce customer service teams should master in order to provide consumers a customer service experience that it is enjoyable. Below, you may find a sample for Callnovo International’s very own E-Commerce Customer Service Team New Agent Soft Skills Test:
- Positive Verbal Expression Skills
Similar to brick and mortar businesses, CSRs employed by eCommerce sellers must understand and recognize that emotional factors have a great influence on the success of sales and services; a positive verbal expression can intensify a more positive emotional atmosphere, ultimately leading to an extraordinary sales success. In consideration of this, it is crucial to keep an eye on whether the customer service representatives possess this soft skill when selecting an e-commerce customer service team.
- Examples of positive verbal communication:
“Absolutely! We will definitely get this sorted out for you.“
“That sounds wonderful; I will do everything I can to make it happen.”
“Oh, that certainly does sound like something I can help you with.”
“Thanks! I hope you have a beautiful day. Please reach out again if needed so that I can assist you with the next steps of your transaction.”
- Examples of negative verbal communication:
“Oh no! I’ll see if I can fix your problem.”
“That sounds awful; I wish there were more I could do.”
“Ah, I might be able to get you through the issue you’re having.”
“There you go. If you have more difficulties, I am working for the next few hours, so feel free to reach back out.”
- Empathy Skills
How do consumers feel? Being able to empathize with consumers is the second soft skill that eCommerce CSRs should possess so that — by expressing empathy in a meaningful way — they can show consumers that they are there the entire step of the way and that they genuinely care for consumers’ needs being met.
- Case examples:
A customer said, “When my order arrived, it was five days late and broken. This was supposed to be a birthday gift for my son, and now I’m not going to have this in time to give it to him on that day. I’m angry — and, I demand a refund.”
An empathetic CSR replied, “Wow, I can see how that would make you angry. I apologize for what happened. Let me find out what I can do for you.”
- A customer said, “You’re the only store that sells this product and I’ve been trying to order it, but every time I come to your site, it’s out of stock. I’m super sad. I really want it. Can you help me?”
An empathetic customer service representative replied, “I totally get the disappointment. Let’s see if we can put you on a waiting list so that — as soon as the product is back in stock — we can notify you — and, while we’re connected, I will certainly see if I have access to find out when we might be getting more. ”
- CSRs should express empathy by assuring buyers that they are listening and that they understand their concerns and feelings; when buyers are explicitly expressing their emotions, CSRs must approach them with earnest empathy.
- Listening Skills
When handling certain details in replies to emails or live chats, inexperienced CSRs might unintentionally deliver real-time solutions improperly without a touch of affective emotions and warmth; such problems are especially prominent in email and live chat templates. If CSRs can digest customer inquiries comprehensively and carefully so as not to confine themselves to an over-rigid email and live chat templates, they can then impress buyers by delivering services with a touch of warmth and enthusiasm. Active listening is important as it allows CSRs to focus on the conversation while also allowing them to get to the heart of the matter; the standard approach of serving European and American buyers is to acknowledge that their concerns are clearly understood, to rephrase their concerns, and to then provide solutions.
- Case examples:
A buyer has not received the package after having waited for days; likewise, he/she did not check the email containing logistics information:
A response via template: “Thank you for contacting us. Did you receive a confirmation email with your order number?”
A response that demonstrates active listening: “Hi there. I apologize that you haven’t received a tracking email — and, I’m here to help. I would like to make sure your order is en-route. Do you happen to have your order confirmation number? If not, we can try looking it up with your phone number.”
- The latter does not just explicitly show CSRs’ understanding of the buyers’ anxiety — but, it also actively expresses that the problem is now taken care of and that buyers should not further worry.
- Time Management Skills
Response time is quickly becoming one of the most powerful determiners of the success of a brand’s image in eCommerce marketplaces; the longer sellers take to contact buyers after they request information, the lower each buyer’s satisfaction — which eventually leads to low conversion rates. In consideration of this, time management is one of the key soft skills that CSRs are required to possess.
- With better time management, representatives can handle problems more efficiently and logically; with higher customer satisfaction, the risk of expanding problems is reduced, eventually facilitating appropriate staffing and also reducing material and financial resources.
Under intense conflict and pressure, it is not difficult to imagine how the atmosphere of communication feels like. In fact, consumers who reach out for support are often confused and frustrated. Keeping this in mind, it clear that being listened to and handled with patience goes a long way in helping consumers as dealing with pressure is a norm for CSRs; their patience is instructed, trained, and professionally evaluated by professional outsourced call centers.
As we have seen above, soft skills can elevate the global customer service experience that e-commerce sellers provide to an entirely new level; therefore, as a gentle reminder to all eCommerce sellers, we would like to recommend sellers to ensure that your CSRs possess the above five key soft skills that will enhance customer satisfaction and that will also further increase your revenue globally.