Within e-commerce, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that great customer service isn’t as important as it is in brick and mortar stores. SPOILER: this couldn’t be more wrong. In an online environment, going that extra mile and exceeding expectations is crucial. The key to doing this successfully is making your customers THE consideration within every part of the business process.

It's no secret: the e-commerce world is getting tougher to thrive in. Online retailing is currently growing at an exponential rate. Last year, it was responsible for turning over $2.3 trillion in sales and is projected to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021. This is a lucrative pie that everyone wants a slice of, leading to an overcrowded market of brands. The takeaway? You need to find innovative ways to stand out from the pack. This means going the extra mile by offering your customers flexibility, convenience and great service. In today’s tech-savvy world, anything less is not going to cut the mustard.

This isn’t only the case for B2C companies either! The expectation for swift and painless shopping also applies to the traditionally no-frills arena of B2B. It's crucial that your customers feel valued so that you can secure their repeat business. Here are a few easy ways that you can give your service standards a boost.

For any kind of business to thrive, you need a strong presence where your customers are going to be. In a brick and mortar sense, this means having a physical presence in the right neighborhood. In e-commerce terms, this means multi-channel customer service. Customers being unable to get in touch will result in frustration, and likely a loss of business. Research shows that 55% of online shoppers tell friends and family if they are unhappy with a product or service, so a lackluster approach can be pretty damaging.

Adding a live chat function to your site is a great way to boost your reachability. Equally important is establishing your brand on social media so that current and potential customers can find you. As we discussed in a previous post, this helps to fill the absence of in-person interaction. On social media you can brand yourself, reach out to potential customers, and build long-term engagement. This helps ensure you are firmly within a customers’ sights wherever and whenever your product/service is concerned.

Something else to get sorted early on is a straightforward returns policy. Despite the advantages that e-commerce presents, returns are one of the biggest headaches. When people are purchasing online for convenience, you don’t want to deter potential customers by making it feel like a risk. When 80% of shoppers are put off by difficult returns, your superior product could struggle against competitors with easy returns procedures.

An easy fix is to make sure that your company policy is well-worded and placed in a clearly marked area on your site. Of course, no business wants to see a product boomerang back after it just went out the door. But if you are able to correct the issue in an organized manner, it's a guaranteed way to make a customer feel valued.

Finally, you will need to give some thought on how to make your branding central to your service approach. When you practice what you preach, customers will trust you much more as someone to do business with. A great example is Moda Operandi, an online retailer where customers can pre-order items straight from couture fashion shows. By offering speed delivery, personal styling and quality garment packaging, customers receive the same service standards they would expect in a physical store. Custom-branded packaging especially is a great way to create that extra wow factor. It doesn’t take much extra effort, but makes a huge impression on the customer when the product arrives.

Giving great customer service through e-commerce can feel like a minefield, but it doesn’t have to. Ultimately, it's no different than in a brick-and-mortar setting where the customer comes first. Follow this golden rule, and you won’t go wrong!