Ecommerce Growth

7 Customer Support Hacks to Boost Ecommerce Sales

  • Written by Mercer Smith-Looper
7 Customer Support Hacks to Boost Ecommerce Sales

Providing quality support for your current customers can have a serious impact on your bottom line. In fact: According to Bain & Co research, the lifetime value of a customer experience promoter is six to 14 times higher than that of a detractor. Meaning it’s very much in your best interests to offer excellent customer support. Not only does support serve to boost loyalty and provide free word-of-mouth marketing, but it can also give your sales team an alley-oop when it comes to additional revenue. So in this blog post, we’ll break down seven key customer support hacks that you can use to boost your sales. From automated messaging to the power of reciprocity, you’ll learn about key automations and best practices to boost your customer experience and revenue. Let’s get right into it.

SEE ALSO: Advocacy Marketing: How to Get Loyal Customers Shouting About Your Brand

  1. Proactively help on tricky pages

People don’t want to have to reach out to support. They’d rather be able to find their answers on their own and then move on to what they are trying to buy. In fact, 87% of adults are happy to be contacted proactively by companies regarding potential customer service issues. Many help desks have built-in functionality to tell you what pages your customers were on when they reached out to you. However, if yours doesn’t, you can use tools like FullStory or Google Analytics to pass through historical viewing information. In the screenshot below, you can see the FullStory integration in Zendesk. Agents can replay customer “sessions” to see exactly what customers have been experiencing before they contacted support: Aggregate this data to create a map of the places on your site that cause the most pain. For many companies, this is the pricing, billing or checkout landing pages. You want people to be able to buy instantaneously, so it’s in your best interest to remove whatever is blocking that. If someone can’t figure out how to buy or doesn’t understand your pricing, it will put a stop to their purchase. For example:

  • If you get a lot of questions sent to support about a specific price plan, surcharge or shipping cost, add a tooltip to your pricing/product/checkout page to better explain it.
  • Offer a chat-box on high-pain pages to help customers through a difficult process, and convert users to customers.
  • For subscription ecommerce businesses, ask your customers a few questions and then highlight the right plan for them. You can see a great example of an interactive slider bar that helps with this below.

  1. Incentivise survey participation

There isn’t a person alive that doesn’t like the offer of something useful and free. If you want someone to do something, then it would make sense that you could sweeten the deal by providing them something in return. And it’s no different for surveys. Offering a reward for filling out a CSAT or NPS survey has two benefits:

  1. It compels people to provide answers to your questions.
  2. Depending on what you offer, it encourages people to spend money on your products.

When you get more responses to your surveys, you get better insight into what your customers care about and want more of. You can’t continue to get better if you are working in a vacuum. There are a number of different incentives you can choose, but providing a credit or discount code is the best way to keep customers within your funnel: Another tactic is offering a gift of something tangential to your product. For example, if you sell clothing, offering a discount or credit for a partner company’s product (such as a makeup brand) keeps your customers close without seeming cheap.

  1. Use upsell opportunities

Every support interaction becomes an additional opportunity for sales. Give your customer support representatives context. There is nothing more beneficial you can do than providing up-to-date information about your customers’ usage, touchpoints and past conversations across all customer-facing teams. Customers will contact support for different reasons than they would reach out to sales for - but that doesn’t mean there are fewer opportunities to upsell. Take, for example, this artful upsell from GEICO support: The representative in this situation wouldn’t have known to offer a discount were it not for a back-end system providing them with context. These insights come from:

  • Proactive marketing outreach.
  • Interactions with social media and blogs.
  • Conversations with support, sales and customer success.
  • Real-time analytics across different channels.

Use a CRM to combine and display your customer’s journey to your support team to give them extra context:

  1. Utilise referrals

A study conducted by three professors who analysed a bank referral reward program showed that new customers who were referred to the bank by existing ones were:

  1. 18% more likely to stay with the bank; and
  2. generated 16% more in profits.

Bottom line: People trust word-of-mouth marketing. Nielsen even did a study that uncovered that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. Your customer support team is primed to create loyalty amongst your customers. People love to talk about the things they care about and are loyal to. So as you generate that relationship with your customers, you’re also encouraging them to tell all of their friends. Beyond that, people trust referral marketing. In fact, it is one of the few forms of marketing that all demographics resonate with almost equally: The best part? Once you start referrals and advocacy marketing going, they become a self-fulfilling flywheel. Customers who start using your brand through referrals are up to five times more likely to use your referral program than those who weren’t. Encourage your support team members to talk about your referral program when they are talking with customers. Consider even adding it to things like your support team's email signatures or autoresponders: The more you can talk about and share that content, the better off for both you and your sales. After your support team has provided an awesome experience, they have the customer’s immediate trust. Don’t let it go to waste.

SEE ALSO: 3 Customer Retention Ideas Used By Top D2C Brands to Drive More Repeat Sales

  1. Respond to their feedback

If a customer takes the time to reach out to you and provide constructive insights, they are likely already super loyal. So don’t squander the opportunity to promote even more loyalty. Horrifyingly, 79% of consumers who used feedback to complain about poor customer experience online were ignored. As you can imagine, being ignored damages a person’s relationship with a brand. By responding to customer feedback, you continue to keep the lines of communication open. Beyond that, though, you give yourself the opportunity to improve your offering, and introduce new variations of the options that you currently have. For example: Say you have a customer that:

  • Really loves a certain type of shirt you sell.
  • They love it so much that they’ve bought it in every single colour you offer it in.
  • They reach out letting you know that they wish you had it in more colours, because they're considering doubling up on the ones that they already have.

If you ignored this customer, it would leave a bad taste in their mouth and may even turn their loyalty against you. Ok, you likely have hundreds or even thousands of customers. So the feedback of one individual isn’t enough to get you to create new versions of a shirt. But it’s still good information to track and respond to. Letting the customer know that you’ve heard them and tracked their insights helps them feel acknowledged. That’s the kind of loyalty that promotes word-of-mouth marketing. Keep track of these insights in a CRM or other software that allows you to visualise how wide-scale a request is. That way, after you respond to each individual customer, you can see what the exact impact of their request was.

  1. Make things easy

The other day, I ordered an outfit on Rent the Runway for a wedding that I had to attend. I’d never used Rent the Runway, but was excited to have something new and fancy to wear without the super-high price tag. Five days before the event, I got an email saying that they weren’t going to ship me my outfit, but would give me a $200 PayPal credit to make up for it: I was livid. I spent the whole day failing to find a new outfit at even close to the same price, and ended up resigning myself to having to buy something expensive. The next day, I got an email from Rent the Runway telling me that my outfit had shipped. I was surprised and confused. But ended up getting the outfit and being allowed to keep the $200 credit to make up for the stress and confusion. At first, even with the credit, I was pretty angry. But because of how easy the rest of the process was, and that they kept their word about their credit, they’ve gained a customer for life in me. The lesson? Make the experience easy for your customers. Don’t penalise them for returning items or asking for refunds. Sure, it may cost you a bit of extra money in the short term, but think about the additional benefits that you’re reaping long-term.

  1. The power of reciprocity

Reciprocity is a social norm that occurs between two people responding to each other’s actions with another equivalent action. Maybe you’ve heard “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine?” That’s what you’re doing with customers when you do them a solid. If a customer reaches out to support with an issue or inquiry, responding to them:

  1. Quickly; and
  2. In a way you’d want to be responded to

Can actually help generate sales. Why? Because you did something nice and now they want to return the favour. To get started with this, try to figure out what it is that your customers value. Maybe they appreciate not having to worry about asking for a refund. Maybe they’re the type of demographic that really resonates with credits, or free swag. Figure out what it is that drives them, and use that to power reciprocity. Studies show that it costs between 6-7 times more marketing dollars to get a new customer than to retain a current one. This means any cash you spend on keeping your customers happy will end up saving you money in the long run, even if it feels expensive in the moment.

Final thoughts

Your customer support team can sometimes come across as living in a silo. But it's actually one of your secret weapons for maximising sales. Treat customers as you would like to be treated and, in the long run, you’ll end up creating more sales opportunities. People don’t want to wait around for answers - give them what they need, and they’ll be giving you their dollars in no time.

About the author

Written by Mercer Smith-Looper

Director of Support at Appcues

Mercer is the Director of Support at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her at and on Twitter at @mercenator.

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