Learn the history of ecommerce customer service – the service, support, and support software your customers expect, especially post pandemic and how Level 3 AI can help you automate + increase sales.
The last three decades of customer service have been directly shaped by technological developments.
The brands that stood out from their competitors were those that kept up with these technological developments and incorporated them into their technical support teams.
To understand where customer service and support are in 2022, let’s take a brief look at the history of CX, and at how customer expectations have evolved before and after the pandemic.
Transactional Ecommerce Customer Support: the Beginning of the Saga
In the early 1990s, customer service was often an afterthought.
The brand only developed the product, while its sales team only generated revenue.
Support was seen as a bonus rather than a need for a company’s success.
The development of customer service, however, finally took off with the invention of the internet.
President Bush launched Customer Service Week, thus increasing the importance attached to CX.
E-mail, instant messaging and Live Chat Support emerged, allowing businesses to communicate directly with customers.
With the advancement of technology allowing brands to track customer data, businesses started offering rewards like cashbacks and discounts for client loyalty.
Online Ecommerce Customer Support: the dot-com boom and Twitter
From 2000 to 2010, customer support became a secondary source of revenue.
Businesses moved online during the dot-com gold rush, becoming accessible anytime and anywhere.
A strong digital presence was a crucial competitive differentiator. Digital marketing became critical for business expansion.
With the debut of Zendesk, Freshdesk, Zoho, and Desk.com, the online help desk became popular.
Twitter was established. By 2011, 65 million tweets were sent per day. Brands started to see Twitter as a suitable channel for immediately responding to consumers with complaints or compliments.
Customers who were familiar with the internet anticipated technical help around the clock and throughout the world. Brands now offered customers premium support at a price, in addition to the product itself.
Collaborative customer support: Everything as a service
Between 2010 and 2020, customer service became collaborative, with everything as a service (XaaS) emerging as the standard.
“App” was voted Word of the Year in 2010. By 2014, apps had begun to focus on building connections rather than prioritising entertainment.
Companies quickly capitalised on this trend by developing specialised mobile apps that allowed users to access services and information.
With the launch of Messenger for Business, Facebook created a new standard of messaging technology for businesses communicating with their customers on mobile devices.
Customers increasingly expected real-time help from support professionals.
Live Messaging and Live Conversation began to set the chat world apart.
The AI debate picked up speed as customers became dissatisfied with the quality of bots.
With the development of XaaS and product-led growth, customer support became increasingly important. Customers would reject products where technical issues stopped them from enjoying the full value of the product.
Intelligent Ecommerce Customer Support: Takeaways from the Pandemic and the way Forward
Clients driving D2C (Direct to Consumer) development in India have become significantly more product and quality conscious than they previously were.
Ecommerce customer service is now at the forefront of all customer communications, from pre-sales through renewals, and is vital to revenue generation.
Companies now consider how to seamlessly integrate their product and service offerings.
Service agents need immediate access to all data connected to a client’s experience, including account history, previous interactions, and what the customer is attempting to do with a product.
Now, 90% of online shoppers prefer instant responses when interacting with a brand.
In fact, 58% of customers show little hesitation in moving on to your competitor if your brand delivers inconsistent customer support.
So how did the pandemic affect consumer expectations?
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, businesses were increasingly adopting AI as an integral part of their customer support infrastructure.
Research firm Gartner had anticipated that by 2022, 70% of customer interactions would involve new technologies, such as machine learning (ML) apps, chatbots, and mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2018.
The pandemic set that transition into overdrive, as companies scrambled to keep up with the deluge of customer service issues they experienced.
Most places enforced a complete lockdown, requiring everyone except essential workers to stay at home. Access to physical modes of shopping was severely restricted, with even essential items being available only at certain times and places.
This caused a sudden shift to new ways of buying: online shopping skyrocketed, with almost 88% of people becoming e-commerce patrons in 2020.
COVID-19 massively strained supply chains, caused inventory issues, and slowed down delivery times.
The trend of personalised omnichannel marketing accelerated at a warp speed. Consumers increasingly expected brands that served them to shift effortlessly between online merchants and brick-and-mortar locations as well.
This led to a huge increase in the number of e-commerce customer service calls.
To deal with this increase in demand and uptick in customer support requirements, e-commerce brands aggressively adopted deployed AI in their customer service operations, through chatbots, customer support software, and helpdesk support. This quickly became wildly popular with customers:
- Eighty-one percent of those who made a purchase using a chatbot would do it again because it is fun, quick, easy, informative, and satisfactory.
- 74% of customers now prefer interacting with chatbots while researching and browsing products.
- 69% of consumers prefer chatbots because they quickly respond to simple queries.
- 56% of customers message customer service instead of calling agents.
- 64% of customers believe 24*7 service is the best chatbot feature.
Additionally, it helped brands by speeding up their transition to automated customer interactions.
Now, 74% of brands are actively looking to implement AI into their operations, with chatbots and an omnichannel experience being the most popular channels of expansion.
What trends do we expect post the pandemic?
CX is now the primary brand differentiator
Customer experience surpassed price and product as the most important brand differentiator in 2021, as per Forbes.
Customers now care more about customer experience than they ever did when choosing which firms to purchase from or support.
Customers are prepared to pay up to a 13% (and as much as 18%) price premium for luxury services, simply to receive a tailored customer experience.
CX has an impact on spontaneous purchases as well, with 49% of shoppers making impulse purchases after receiving a more customised experience.
Thus, consumers now expect seamless and personalised experiences. For businesses, this requires anticipating customer demands before any issues arise while knowing that a generic, one-size-fits-all strategy would not work for all of your consumers.
Customers have increased their expectations from brands, and these expectations are here to stay
Consumers’ increased expectations from ecommerce brands, especially in terms of making their lives easier, are here to stay. Many of these expectations revolve around convenience, whether it’s availability 24 hours a day, outstanding customer service, or next-day delivery.
Customers no longer just desire, but expect the ability to connect with brands when and where it is most convenient for them. Now, 90% of online shoppers prefer instant responses when interacting with a brand. 64% of customers believe 24*7 service is the best chatbot feature.
Customers may tolerate varying degrees of service from various channels, but they also need communication to be consistent. They want the customer care helpdesk to know their transaction history and prior purchases or preferences, in addition to providing excellent customer service.
Seamless omnichannel experience
Customers demand a one-stop-shop for all of their requirements, from pre-purchase to after-sales service. They also want the same level of service across all channels and devices. Brands have noticed this and are attempting to include an omnichannel experience into their customer service infrastructure. In fact, more than 80% of brands have begun investing in the omnichannel experience in 2020, as compared to the 20% earlier.
Customers today want companies to anticipate their demands and difficulties even before they arise, and to provide both upstream solutions that tackle problems at the source and on-the-ground solutions that handle customer complaints quickly and efficiently. In fact, customer service is on track to become a fundamentally proactive sector in the near future.
Automation, AI, and chatbots are the new normal
In the era of widespread automation deployment, conversational AI and natural language processing (NLP) will reach commercial maturity.
Customers want the quickest, simplest, and easiest means of doing business with a brand. With AI and automation, everything, including product research, receiving suggestions, finding solutions to concerns and issues, and more, can be accomplished digitally.
Many people were initially wary of speech recognition software and conversational AI, but following significant advancements, they are now comfortable with virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri.
Similarly, as bots evolve from clumsy FAQ chabots to AI-powered virtual agents capable of recognising genuine speech, people become more ready to employ them.
In a recent poll of Millennials and Gen Z customers, 82% stated they preferred to diagnose and resolve software-related problems with the assistance of a Virtual Assistant as opposed to phoning and chatting with a live person.
In 2021, advances in virtual agents automated 50% of the repetitive, low-value jobs performed by contact centre workers, up from 30 percent in 2020.
The Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) category has witnessed an 850% growth in traffic over the last year on G2, the largest tech review site where verified people provide comments on software solutions.
Deep learning enables these virtual agents to intelligently learn and develop, deliver tailored replies, and comprehend things they have not been expressly designed to, resulting in scalable solutions for all types of enterprises.
90 percent of businesses expect to deploy AI and chatbots by 2023, thus automating 40% of all customer interactions.
Further, chatbots are expected to become so popular that by 2022, they are estimated to cut business costs by $8 billion.
What does this mean for D2C brands in India?
Ecommerce in India is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026, capturing 11.14 percent of the overall Indian retail industry, according to a report by Deloitte. This growth will be fuelled by the expansion of digital infrastructure.
One of the most significant retail changes affected by the pandemic is the growing popularity of the direct-to-consumer (D2C) model.
India is at an inflection moment of tremendous development for the D2C ecosystem. In addition, factors such as the availability of low-cost data connections, rising urbanisation, creative fulfillment models, and simple-to-set-up digital platforms have made it easier than ever to reach consumers.
Customers are increasingly exposed to digital commerce, rapid delivery, a vast product selection, and easily accessible information; thus, companies must embrace digital to remain relevant. According to Avendus, India is seeing an increase in D2C brands across all sectors, with more than 800 brands, and an estimated $100 billion addressable market by 2025.
A D2C model allows businesses to access consumers directly by removing distributors, retailers, wholesalers, and other middlemen. D2C brands make, advertise, sell, and distribute their items directly to consumers.
As the D2C model offers differentiation, a larger audience, a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, and desirable pricing, this channel provide the brand the best outcome, with a perfect platform for messaging, and compelling reasons to buy directly.
All of these considerations have made D2C commerce a crucial component of ecommerce in the near future.
How does AI contribute to this D2C growth?
Conversational AI solutions, such as intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants, enable brands to satisfy consumers’ expectations. Customers may rapidly explore goods, make orders, pay for orders, and monitor transactions using a chatbot-based interface.
From establishing brand recognition to fostering user engagement to maximising client acquisition to delivering after-sales services, the whole sales funnel requires creative thought and impeccable execution. To do this, a brand must master the art of communication in order to have meaningful exchanges with the target client base.
No longer do large-scale advertising campaigns increase sales. Instead, D2C businesses need technological solutions that facilitate the processing of enormous volumes of customer data and the extraction of customer journey-enhancing insights. With conversational messaging solutions, D2C marketers are in a better position to address these difficulties.
AI-powered bots are capable of delivering customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and, more significantly, on weekends and holidays. In addition to being cost-effective, they are also scalable throughout the organisation.
So what can you do to keep up with your customers’ expectations?
The answer is simple: adopt the best practices to deliver a delightful customer experience!
You can read exactly what to do in this post here- The Best Practices to Deliver Excellent Ecommerce Customer Service
So, what is the right AI for me?
Well, Level 3 AI chatbots are the closest thing to an in-store purchasing experience.
To comprehend user inquiries and create unique solutions for each client, they deploy the most powerful technologies available, including machine learning, natural language processing, and natural language comprehension.
Here’s how level 3 AI chatbots are different from other chatbots:
First, a level 3 conversational AI recognises the customer’s purpose even if their input is grammatically wrong. The user does not need to match a pre-programmed input perfectly with this chatbot.
It also enables the consumer to communicate with numerous data inputs, such as the product type, product modification, particular components, and pricing range, in several, complicated words.
Second, a level 3 AI chatbot remembers previous data regarding the customer’s preferences. As a consequence, the number of inquiries a customer needs to ask in order to receive his chosen goods is reduced, cutting the drop-off rate dramatically.
When replying to more queries or cross-selling comparable items, it also leverages the client preference data obtained at each step.
Finally, this chatbot can instantly allay client doubts regarding a product’s effectiveness. It is aware of client problems and reacts quickly by offering pertinent reviews and data.
A level 3 conversational AI can detect and react to client requests swiftly. It keeps track of client preferences for future use. It contributes to the brand’s and goods’ credibility.
As a result, the chatbot increases brand sales and gives consumers a personalised, delightful, and seamless experience.
LimeChat: Your one-stop-shop solution to the hurdles in the eCommerce customer journey
What if you could keep up with the latest trends in your customers’ demands with minimal effort but maximum efficiency?
At LimeChat, we help businesses like yours accomplish this every day.
LimeChat is the world’s first Level 3 AI chatbot, that provides customer service equal to the best human customer support.
In addition to developing the greatest AI-powered technologies, we continuously attempt to make customer service a delight for your leaders, support teams, and customers.
While all of this sounds fantastic in theory, you may be wondering how to put it into action. This is where we can help. Here’s a glimpse at each of our products, and how they can effectively help you.
Level 3 AI chatbot:
The first of its kind in the world, LimeChat’s chatbot is like no other.
For starters, chatbots are often incapable of handling requests that take more than one step to complete.
But with Level 3 AI technology, this is no longer an issue.
Our chatbot is the first and only bot that employs this technology. Additionally, it’s tailored specifically for the ecommerce segment.
It also provides an eCommerce journey with human-like conversational capabilities that mirrors the in-store experience.
This means it can understand questions, intent, emotions, and more.
It then crafts personalised responses to help customers with precision and sentiment!
Our AI assistant learns and adjusts with each interaction and conversation, to deliver a unique experience for each buyer.
By building customer profiles while tracking the different pages a user visits, this smart chatbot can also help deliver an eCommerce post-purchase experience that improves re-engagement and re-targeting efforts.
For your customers, our chatbot helps by:
- Performing searches that offer precise results
- Providing suggestions based on their needs
- Recommending products of high relevance to them
- Responding to queries and messages right away
Omnichannel Help Desk Uniquely Made for ECommerce Brands
LimeChat’s integrated dashboard helps you run a tight, smooth-sailing ship from a single command centre.
You can set up, manage, and run integral processes here.
Some noteworthy items are:
- Manage one inbox for all channels and reduce your response times
- Reduce cart abandonment by 13% with our multitude of signature drip campaigns
- Automate customer support by 70% and reduce live agent costs
- Set up automatic ticket and agent assignment so you never lose track of conversations
Our attention to how the chatbot learns and answers queries that are specific to the ecommerce vertical has led to us empowering more than 125 brands through conversational marketing.
Looking for Shopify ecommerce service providers? We have 20+ customizable templates that are optimized for eCommerce with strong integration with Shopify apps.
Our Smart Agent Escalation can proactively identify unhappy customers and connect them with human agents whereas our retention campaigns have helped boost retention by over 30% with proactive customer support.
Our products get you where you want to be with 10x the speed and 10x the results.
Here’s the best part – finding out costs you nothing!
Book a demo here and our team will get back to you immediately!
Want to know more about how to offer customer support on the right channels? Check out our next post in our series here- How to Choose the Right Channels and Ecommerce Help Desk Support Software
This post is the third in our Masterclass series on Ecommerce Customer Support & Service, where we will go through an in-depth understanding of the current expectations and strategies some of the best D2C brands use and how to execute them in simple, actionable ways.