Content is on the ascendancy once again, and in the runup to the 2015 holiday season merchants are devising innovative campaigns that spotlight engaging content that resonates with shoppers and spurs them to buy. While video, social and user-submitted content are all alluring, there’s another category of content that merchants should prioritize — customer service content.
Perennially overlooked and undervalued, and often relegated to the global footer, customer service content has a significant potential impact on sales. Self-service content on brand Web sites is now the top customer service source of choice, used by 76% of consumers, topping even phone service from call center reps. With more than half of consumers saying they’ll abandon brands that don’t provide quick answers to their queries and with 77% saying valuing their time is the top way brands can deliver stellar service, it’s crucial for merchants to develop content that proactively addresses top questions about products, ordering and policies.
Not only can finding information quickly and efficiently ensure that shoppers stay on the path to purchase, but demonstrating efficient service for a first transaction is a key building block for future loyalty. Fully 73% of customers say a high-quality customer service experience is important when deciding whether to repurchase.
And prominent customer service is acutely needed on mobile devices, where shoppers must often struggle with cumbersome checkout processes and where smaller screen sizes often force merchants to background crucial product information, policies, or both.
During the holiday season, when shoppers will compare products and promotions on the go and across screens in their quest for the best value, customer service content has further potential to differentiate brands and instill trust. As merchants begin their countdown to the holidays, they should dedicate content resources to articulating their customer service policies across touchpoints. Among the key components to feature:
Plain English information featured like a top product. Customer service information is of vital importance to shoppers. Two-thirds of shoppers review merchant return policies before purchasing products, according to measurement firm comScore, while 53% said knowing the shipping cost and estimated delivery timeframe was a purchase influences, second only to a free shipping offer. Multi-channel service options are key: more than 60% of shoppers said the ability to purchase online and return in-store was a factor in purchase consideration, while 44% said the ability to buy online and pick up items in-store would encourage them to purchase, comScore reported.
To cater to this desire for information, merchants should assign merchandising copywriters the task of crafting customer service information that’s as enticing as product descriptions. The information should be succinct and jargon-free, so that it can be promoted in a variety of locations throughout the path to purchase.
MarketLive merchant Title Nine, a women’s recreational outfitter, specializes in sports bras, and has “product-ized” its fit system and syndicated information about it across touchpoints. Not only do product pages include comprehensive fit charts, but the bottom of the home page features a guide to bra fitting, and relevant product index pages display fit tips. The brand uses social media to promote in-store events giving shoppers the opportunity to be measured by the pros.
How to connect with a real person. Shoppers with questions should be able to reach live help at any point along the path to purchase – and that includes on mobile sites. Fully 41% of U.S. mobile shoppers report using mobile live chat for shopping support, ahead of text messaging and mobile social media, the E-Tailing Group found. And mobile live chat is poised to play an important role in cross-channel sales, with one in five shoppers saying they accessed mobile shopping support while in physical stores.
To support cross-touchpoint access to live help, merchants should ensure not only that customer service contact information is prominently placed on product pages, in the cart and throughout checkout; they should also layer in functionality such as click-to-call and mobile live chat for users on smartphones and tablets.
Once the content has been developed, merchants should feature it prominently by:
Creating a hub of self-help resources on the eCommerce site. Merchants should tap call center and live chat staff to develop comprehensive content to address common questions, and gather that content into a help center where shoppers can search and browse popular topics. Additionally, product or category “Q and A” sections where brand experts and customers alike weigh in give prospective buyers the opportunity to ask specific questions that might not be covered in product specs or reviews.
Developing nuggets of “micro-content” to nudge shoppers along the path to purchase. Merchants should pay attention to every snippet of verbiage they serve to shoppers – from pop-up windows containing shipping and delivery estimates to descriptions of video clips and email signup form language. Especially on mobile devices where space is at a premium, merchants must convey core information quickly and without scrolling, while providing links to further information where relevant.
Home improvement giant Lowe’s has optimized content and information design on its mobile product pages to maximize information delivery. Colorful icons help shoppers understand at a glance the delivery options available to them, while was/is pricing information and the upcoming end date for the promotional discount are also displayed.
Establishing a forward position on social media. Nearly half of social media users have relied on “social care,” according to NM Incite, and Forrester found that 37% have used Twitter specifically to seek customer service. Given shoppers’ propensity to consult social channels for brand information, merchants would do well to adopt a proactive approach and to repurpose and post their core customer service content directly to social channels.
MarketLive merchant Berkshire Blanket has posted on Facebook detailed information about care and maintenance of its bedding items – proactively addressing an important topic for those considering a purchase and wondering what the total cost of ownership is. A separate FAQs page addresses further popular topics, from shipping policies to wholesale agreements. Both pages feature “Read More” links connecting shoppers to the eCommerce site, along with sharing buttons so that followers can alert friends to the information. Links to both pages are anchored prominently in the left-hand column of the brand’s timeline.
What content are you polishing in advance of the holiday push?