Pros and Cons of Offering Phone Service December 16, 2015 03:00

Customer support is an important part of building your Shopify store. Since customers cannot touch-or-feel your products before they purchase, or talk to a physical salesperson, most online stores provide a contact form for customers to get in touch with questions. You can take this support to another level by including a phone service for your store.

Before you start offering phone customer service, there are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure that it helps your store, rather than detracts from it. In this post, we look at the pros and cons of offering customer service via phone for your Shopify store, as well as some services and apps you can use to get started.

Pros of offering phone service

1. Better trust
A phone number on your online store can increase the trust potential customers have in your store. If customers see a phone number as part of your contact information, along with a physical address, it reinforces that there are real people they can get in touch with if needed.

Phone

Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae, CC BY-SA 2.0 license

This assurance is especially helpful if you are selling your products wholesale, or have high priced items. A customer with a large order, or a high value order may want to confirm details before they purchase. Even if they don’t call, knowing that they can, helps you secure their purchase.

If a potential customer calls, you can also close your sales pitch and overcome their objections, if this doesn’t happen through your online copy. This can ultimately increase your sales.

2. Higher brand value
Phone support can provide a human connection in an otherwise online experience. If your competitors don’t provide this support, it can help increase the value of your brand as it is an added service that you provide.

Phone support is also the fastest channel for solving customer complaints as you can get the issue resolved within the same conversation. This creates a better customer experience and more loyal customers.

3. Understand your customers
When you are starting out, one of the best ways to improve your store and products is by having conversations with your customers. After all, they are the ones who will go through your store and use your products.

Instead of simply relying on analytics like bounce rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc., you can talk to your customers about what they want to see on your store. You can also solicit feedback about your products to help improve. This not only helps you evolve quicker, it makes customers feel valued as you keep track of what they want.

You can also get an understanding of common questions that you can add to your store’s copy or FAQ section.

Cons of offering phone service

1. Doesn’t scale
A phone service can be extremely costly as your number of interactions increase. The challenge of phone support versus email or social media support is that you can’t template a conversation.

Each phone call is unique and you can provide support to only one customer at a time. This can be easy when you are starting out and building traction for your products. But, as your store gets more popular, you want to focus on adding products and fulfilling orders since that drives revenue.

Phone support can become a cost centre if you need to add staff to manage the call volumes. This cost can quickly outweigh the additional revenue you get from conversions over the phone.

2. Can create bad customer experience
As your operations grow more complex, support over the phone can lead to bad customer experience if the customer doesn’t get a solution in a single phone call. This can be challenging as you may not be able to look up all the details and issues.

If a customer has to call again, or wait for a follow-up call or email, then the phone support can start to lose value. This is one reason why phone support is typically rated as having one of the lowest customer satisfaction.

3. Disruptive to your work
A live phone support can also distract you from your tasks. In a lot of cases, entrepreneurs are the only ones running the different aspects of a store. If you’re a small start-up, chances are that your staff is already engaged in tasks to generate new orders or fulfill existing ones.

phone-distracted

Phone calls can disrupt this workflow as you have to drop what you are doing and engage with customers. This can lower your productivity in the long run.

How to get started

Before you start investing into phone support, figure out whether it is worth it. You can put a phone number on your store without promoting it. Through the conversations you have, keep track of whether those converted into sales. This can help you determine the cost-benefit of adding a dedicated phone support to your store.

Here are some tips to help you manage your phone support:

  1. Highlight your FAQs as the first place customers should check before they call you. This can help reduce the volume of calls you get, and help customers find their answer right away.
  2. Make your phone number clickable as users may be browsing your store on their mobile devices. You can use a “tel” link to do this:

    <a href="+1-123-456-7890">Call 123.456.7890</a>

    mobile-phone

    You can also use apps like Bontact to include a widget for call options on your Shopify store.

  3. Create a local or toll-free number for your store using services like Google Voice or Grasshopper.

    Shopify apps like MightyCall can also allow you to create and manage your phone support. Here is a video by MightyCall to explain how it works:

Summary

There are a number of advantages of including a phone service for your Shopify store. You can create a better and unique customer experience, and get valuable feedback quickly. This can help improve the overall value of your brand by providing a human touch and instilling trust in your customers.

But, maintaining the same level of phone support as your store grows can be challenging. The more customers and calls you get, the more time you have to dedicate towards phone support. This can be a huge drain on resources, and if not done well, can reduce customer satisfaction.

If you are not sure about your phone support strategy, instead of a dedicated phone line, you can include a callback option on your store. This allows customers to leave their information to receive a call regarding their query. It helps them as they still get to talk to someone about their issue. And you don’t get interrupted in your tasks with phone calls. You can also set aside time each day to call people back if needed.

Think about the strategy even for your callback service. To improve the customer experience, you can:

  • Ask if customers prefer a specific time during the day for a callback that is convenient for them.
  • Display how soon they should expect a call. Instead of them waiting right away, you can say that you will call them back within 2 days, as an example, to set the right expectations.
  • In the callback contact form, have specific instructions for customers to select and fill out regarding their inquiry. This will ensure that you have the most information possible when you call, and the conversation doesn’t bleed into another follow-up call.

Live phone line and callbacks can both help you enhance customer experience, as long as you have a strategy around how to scale.

Does your store have phone support? What challenges do you face, and how did you get around them? Tell us in the comments.

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