A lot of what we do on a daily basis at ShopCreatify is spotting and fixing things on storefronts that are causing the merchant's business "pain". A frequent pain experienced by them —especially once their traffic starts to increase— is the amount of time expended on responding to emails and sitting in phone calls.
It will of course depend on the type of product you're selling and the nature of your business, but it's fairly safe to assume that the more automated things can be, the better for you and your team to grow the business.
An overabundance of customer support calls and support requests can result in an overwhelmed support or sales crew. It can also result in your customers not being attended to as quickly as they'd like and could even cost you sales.
Thankfully, having more requests than one can handle is something we consider "a good problem to have" and it's one you'd rather experience at some point in your store's growth than not. The reason it's good is that there is definite interest in your product and it's a direct opportunity for you to improve your storefront and increase sales.
Step 1 — Ask Why
As is best practice in this industry, it's always good to start by asking why. Why are you receiving so many support requests and questions?
If there are a lot of questions before the customer has made a purchase, it's probably safe to assume that your store is not providing the customer with enough information to buy.
If there are a lot coming in after purchase, then you'll need to take census of why this is. It's possible that the information presented to the customer after they've ordered is insufficient or just not clear.
Take note of these points in the process where the customer is reaching out to you as they will dictate the content you need to produce and measures you can put in place to prevent this unwanted noise.
Step 2 — Assess your Options
There are usually a few ways of resolving the situation and the methods mentioned below are not just either/or options and perhaps your store could benefit from implementing them all.
This one should be fairly obvious, but it's surprising how many merchants attempt to trade on extremely lean product information. Your product description is not only for SEO and often your customer will still be in the researching phase of buying. Make sure your product information is as detailed as it needs to be so that it leaves no questions unanswered.
Depending on the amount of and type of content you have for your product, there are always ways and means of presenting it to your customers better. Some themes come with novel and simple methods of showing more information without creating cluttered looking product pages. A good example of this would be the Out of the Sandbox themes (Yes, that is unashamedly a referral link. Their themes rock!) where a simple HTML tag in your description's source code will split your content and allow you to add a wealth of additional information below the integral images and add-to-cart area. You can learn more about his here.
A lot of merchants also implement additional lifestyle imagery, tabs for additional product information, videos and really any other content that will help explain and sell the product to their customers. A great example of this is Fuego Living's product page where they've significantly expanded upon their product so that the customers know all they need to know before placing their order.
This is an area where the theme you're using could offer you all you need to plump out your description, but if you need help, feel free get in touch with us.
FAQ Page / Knowledge Base
Putting together a good FAQ page and or knowledge base is worth the effort. You can and probably should even go the extra mile of implementing a solution that is better than just a simple list of questions & answers.
Before diving in blind though, make sure that the content going into your knowledge base is a direct reflection of what your customers and prospects are actually asking. Prioritizing the most frequently asked questions and making them most prominent is wise and increases the chances of them being found.
There are even apps like Help Center where you can offer a far greater customer experience, include a search function and it also makes it a lot easier for you to build and manage your FAQ. At the time of this writing, this app is also free.
Here's a great example of how Watchers Store makes use of the Help Center app:
Taking things to the next level you could also make use of the ZenDesk Guide offering that comes with their support package. The Zendesk family of products may actually solve a number of issues mentioned in this article.
In the process of shopping, sometimes you need to ask the customer questions. Whether it's a measurement that allows you to send the right product and reduce the possibility of returns or just an aspect of your product that is not widely known, it's wise to implement measures that make the reasons completely clear to the customer.
A good example of this and a relevant solution for this kind of issue is including an inline help feature. In the example below, you can see that the customer has immediate access to additional information around why certain things are being asked for prior to being able to add to cart.
Below is an excellent example of inline help where the customer can quickly and easily click on "View our Size Guide" to ensure they order the right fit.
Whether it's a tooltip, a modal popup that is launched or even a link to a page with more information (ill advised as it takes the customer away from the product page), this form of contextual guidance will prevent your prospect from picking up the phone to ask you why and in so doing, distracting you or your team from growing your business.
Relevant Information Pages
Depending on the product you're selling and the types of customers you're trying to attract, it would be wise to build pages that speak directly to them. An obvious example would be where your customers are likely to be in a demographic where tech savviness is possibly quite low. In these instances, a page documenting the process of adding a product to cart and checking out would go a long way to reduce telephonic walk-throughs or manual orders.
There are obvious pages that you should be sure to include on your store like shipping information and returns policies but if there is something very specific about your product that justifies it's own page, be sure to include it and make it easy to find.
Being that customers seem to often not read the words you carefully crafted, often a video is a preferred medium for getting the message across.
Videos can be implemented at almost any point on a Shopify store using a Youtube embed code and producing them has never been easier. There are a number of tools for both Mac and Windows for you to use and there are plenty of articles online explaining how to do it well.
This feature has been left close to last specifically. Of course if you have not implemented as many measures currently within your means to prevent questions about your product or service, this feature is simply going to cause you more noise.
Also, live chat is going to require someone to monitor it at least some of the time if it's to provide value. If you've done a good job of putting together a comprehensive knowledge base and your store's content has all of their questions already answered, your live chat interactions should be quite brief and the person handling the task can treat it more as a personal "visitor's guide" role than a sales role. Your virtual information desk.
Hide Your Contact Number
This is certainly a controversial piece of advice if I did not disclaim that you should probably not do this if you do drive sales through received calls. If however you —as a lot of ecommerce merchants do— intend to reduce human contact and increase sales then having your telephone number made available only once all other means have been exhausted could be a wise approach.
Removing your number entirely is almost certainly bad advice for your store since it can reduce the perceived credibility of the company if no number is available, but doesn't mean you need to make it easy to come across. A lot of sites —not just ecommerce ones— implement an "ask your question first" methodology where only if the knowledge base gives them no joy do they get a number to call, email address to send to or even a form to fill out.
Only you can make the decision on whether or not this will cost you sales or allow you to focus on growing your business while having no negative impact on sales. For example, perhaps a lot of the calls you receive do not convert into sales making them a waste of time and cutting them out altogether is only a good thing.
As can be seen, there are a number of solutions to the client noise debacle. There are undoubtedly others, but with the measures above implemented you'll have laid a good foundation not only in noise reduction but possibly also see an increase in conversions.
If you have any questions about what is mentioned in this article or need some help in setting up any of these measures, please feel free to reach out to us. We don't mind the noise.