How to Handle Multichannel Customer Service on WooCommerce

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Header image for multichannel customer service for WooCommerce

Businesses, big or small, are actively trying to be more customer-centric. It is quite apparent that multiple sales channels really help in increasing your sales and conversions. You can find more insights on WooCommerce multichannel retail strategies for WooCommerce here. However, customers expect the same efforts in solving their issues as well. To meet these expectations, you have to make a co-ordinated effort on all the channels you interact with customers. In this article, we will discuss some strategies that will help you handle multichannel customer service on WooCommerce with ease.

You may also want to take a look at some of the advantages of ominichannel customer experience.

What are the different channels that can handle customer service?

Based on your customers’ preference and your team’s capabilities, several channels can be used for customer service. Here is a look:

Phone

Customer service through phone is one of the more traditional approaches to customer service. As modern businesses cater to a broader global audience, phone support becomes practically tougher and financially less viable. For a large number of small businesses out there, it might not be the most preferred option as well.

Email

Email is a very convenient option to address customer concerns. Anybody can raise a support ticket through email, conveniently without any time constraints. However, it is not very quick. Customers who want a quick resolution of issues might not be very comfortable with it.

Live chat

One of the most effective solutions in the current landscape of eCommerce is live chat. It is fast and direct, and there are several advantages to it including lead follow-ups. You can read our review on LiveChat plugin here.

Support ticket system

Your customers can create a support ticket using the form available on your website. This will be a preferred option when customers need technical assistance. It will be one of the most direct way of approaching a support team, and will get prompt attention.

Social media

Social media has sort of a weapon for customers with their complaints. Businesses are very conscious about their social image and would take effort to keep up the good name. You need to create a competent strategy to handle customer service through social media. A first step for this can be to take the discussion away to another channel which you are comfortable with.

Self-service

One of the most cost effective solutions for customer support is self service. You can create a knowledge base that covers all the common issues related to your products. And, encourage customers to find a solution browsing through it. Soon you’ll find a more satisfied customer base on your store.

Why multichannel customer service needs to be co-ordinated

A lot of businesses use different channels to conveniently handle user queries on their site. For example, a lot of online stores offer live chat features only during a certain time during the day. At other times, customers who prefer live chat would find simply an option to email the support team. If a major share of your customer base prefer live chat as their go-to interaction channel, you need to make it available round the clock.

Similarly, if you have a helpdesk system that handles customer queries, you might need to reroute all your support tickets to this system. All these requirements are based on the distinctive nature of your store, and might change over time. It is important to identify the preferred communication channels of your customers and invest more in those.

And when you receive support requests from multiple channels at the same time, things can get complicated. You need to have either specific people handling requests from each channel, or a centralized system, where you can co-ordinate requests from multiple channels.

Best tools to handle multichannel customer service on WooCommerce

Let’s look at a few tools that will help you with a more efficient customer service structure.

WSDesk

WSDesk is a great option to set up a WordPress helpdesk system. The main advantage over some of the other popular solutions is that it is an on-premises solution. This gives a lot of control for store owners on the data of their customers. Here is an article that argues why an on-premises heldesk solution is more effective than a SaaS option in the post GDPR perspective.

screenshot of WSDesk, WordPress Helpdesk Plugins
Along with all the basic features of a good helpdesk system, WSDesk offers advanced features like email piping in the free version.

When it comes to multichannel customer engagement, WSDesk handles two of the channels on its own – support tickets through website contact forms as well as email piping. Email piping feature helps you convert all your email requests into tickets, so that you can respond to those through the same ticketing system. It also offers seamless integration with two other channels – live chat and knowledge base.

Here is an article that details how you can integrate a live chat plugin to WSDesk.

If you are looking for some interesting solutions for live chat integration on your WordPress site, find some free ones here, and premium ones here.

Overall, if you are looking for a comprehensive helpdesk solution that has the power to handle multiple channels, WSDesk seems promising. The single site license of this plugin would cost you $89, and the 5-site license $129. Even the free version is loaded with features including email piping.

LiveChat Plugin

Another extremely popular solution that enables you to handle customer queries through multiple channels is LiveChat. If the customer requests that come on your store are primarily simple ones that can be resolved instantly, then a live chat window is extremely valuable. Also, when you are able to manage round-the-clock support through the chat window, it can be a real boost to your customer service department.

screenshot of LiveChat page.
By providing an open channel of communications with customers, you are setting their expectations right.

It also offers a multi channel ticketing system, which you can effectively use to handle customer queries. You can combine requests from ticket forms, live chat, email and social media to create tickets. Creating tickets would enable you with a lot of other powerful features to handle your workflow. It offers ticket tagging, private conversation within the team, ticket ratings and detailed performance reports.

One of the standout features of LiveChat, however, is its integration with Facebook Messenger. If you have a significant customer base who would interact with you over Facebook, then this feature can really save your day. It would be a real boost to your customer service efforts, and sends out a very customer oriented vibe.

Best practices when handling multichannel customer service on WooCommerce

You might need to ensure certain best practices when using multiple channels to handle support.

Give customers a chance to choose their channel

In today’s hyper-connected world, customers are using all possibilities to interact with businesses. It is important to provide them a choice in terms of the channels they want to interact with. If you restrict responses through certain channels only to certain time of the day, you may not find the desired results. Sometimes customers will be contacting you through one of the channels convenient for them for urgent requirements. In such cases, if you are not able to respond in due time, you will be disappointing customers.

Another possible scenario is that you will have two entirely different teams handling support requests from two different channels. Overall, when two different teams handle support requests from customers the approach can be different. This would lead to inconsistencies in your responses that would eventually affect your brand value. If you are able to co-ordinate requests from multiple channels on one centralized location with the same agents, you can avoid this to an extent.

Create a unified support system combining all your channels

Consider this scenario. A customer has reached out to you after a day for a follow up on their initial query. The support agent demands them to explain the whole issue from start to end. How do you think your customers would be perceive this approach? Pretty annoying right? This can happen even when the customer is contacting you through the same channel both the times.

Now, if the same customer has contacted you through another channel, the chances of having to explain again would be more. By creating a process to share the information  between multiple channels, you can save customers from such hassles. For example, the LiveChat plugin helps to show ticket information on chats. With the help of this, it will be easier to be sure about what you are talking about.

Similarly, an option for private chat within the team can help a lot to avoid the confusion. Agents can chat among themselves to understand what the initial request was and how the team is handling it. This way, agents can respond to the customer in a more informed way.

Let agents handle multiple channels

Now, the above-mentioned scenario can be well addressed, if your support agents are handling requests from all channels. If you create a system where only certain agents are handling requests from social media, it will create inconsistency in your tone. Instead, if everyone is able to manage requests from all channels, your customers will find a consistent response from all your channels.

However, you might still have product specialists, if you are selling complicated products like software. In such cases, the best thing you can do is to connect the customer to the right agent. If you are able to incorporate this kind of redirection to your workflow, it might radically change your customer service efforts.

Here is an article that would give you some insights on how you can automate the workflow of your customer service department.

Focus on the channels you are really good at

With the availability of lot of channels and innovative options to co-ordinate each, you may be tempted to go all out. However, if you venture into channels which you are not comfortable, the whole effort might backfire. So, one of the primary concerns of your support team would be to focus on channels which they are really good at.

Make sure that you are not offering support on a particular channel just for the sake of it. For example, social media is quite capable of creating trends and patterns that will influence purchase decisions. So, when they contact you through social media, customers are expecting a quick acknowledgement of the issue. If it is not a basic query that can be clarified immediately, it is better to take it to another channel – for example, by creating a support ticket.

One of the reasons for this is that social media is not really the best medium to create a chain of communication. You can use the other channel for the detailed solution that might involve several responses from both sides. And, once you arrive at a solution, you can leave a reply on the social media channel as well.

Also, make sure that you are responding promptly through all channels. If certain channels like social media or Facebook is left unattended, soon it can negatively impact the entire support process.

Know more about improving your business with the help of social monitoring tools.

Experiment with self service

Several businesses are very effectively providing an option to customers to find their own solutions to problems. This is possible by creating an effective knowledge base and then integrating it with your helpdesk system. This way, customers will be able to look for a solution with all the available resources that you have. If they still can’t find a solution, they’ll be able to contact you as well. This will help you to considerably reduce support queries and negative ratings.

Your knowledge base can also help your support agents just like it wil help customers. When you have a systematic approach to knowledge base, your agents can use it to quickly suggest a solution to customer. Moreover, it will act as a learning platform for the new members of your support team.

Know more about integrating a knowledge base to WSDesk here.

Be prepared to serve customers through multiple channels

Customers will try and contact you through all available channels. It is important to be prepared when you are maintaining an online businesses. Thankfully, you will find several strategies and tools to deal with the varying requirements of multiple channels. The ability to juggle these and playing to your strength might hold the key for you.

Further reading