Satisfying customers might seem like an obvious objective of any business; however, the reality doesn’t always align.
In e-commerce, a clear lens into how customer-focused a brand is can often be found how they take care of their customers.
Does the company do the bare minimum or go the extra mile when servicing customers?
Let’s look at three brands with unique customer-focused ideals whose efforts you might want to replicate in your store.
Certainly no newcomer to e-commerce, Zappos has been offering a wide variety of men’s and women’s footwear since 1999, when they were known as ShoeSite.com.
After a clever re-branding of the Spanish word for shoes — “zapatos” — the company’s trajectory skyrocketed.
By 2008, they were one of the top 25 companies to work for, and a big reason for this was its customer-centric culture.
So what makes Zappos so successful from a customer service perspective?
Well, many things. However, at the core, the company leads through their actions, not their words.
Zappos’ customer service department personally handles thousands of calls and emails per week, but most interesting is that there aren’t any scripts.
The call center reps have a certain degree of liberty in resolving the customer’s situation. Customer service calls don’t have limits, either.
Per PRI, the company’s record for the longest customer service call ever recorded was 10 hours and 29 minutes!
The dispute? Hardly one at all.
A college student, who had called originally about a pair of Ugg boots, ended up spending the day talking to the rep about what it’s like to live in Las Vegas (Zappos’ HQ), where the student was considering moving.
If that isn’t devoted customer service, then what is? Zappos’ 24-hours-a-day toll-free customer service is pretty much unparalleled and isn’t taken lightly by devoted followers of the brand.
After all, consider that having live American customer service agents costs $7.50 per call compared to just .35 cents for an automatic voice response system to handle the call.
As of 2008, the company has also run Zappos Insights, a way to help other businesses and business owners reshape their company culture and customer service operations for just $40/month, and/or a three-day boot camp program.
Dollar Shave Club
Whether a store sells makeup on an e-commerce platform like Shopify or operates a wholesale marketplace on an independent site, the online beauty landscape is competitive.
This is especially true when you add a subscription element like is the case with Dollar Shave Club. Most of us can recall the 2012 video that went viral, instantly making the nascent subscription razor service a well-known brand.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that nearly seven years later, the company is still wowing its customers.
Dollar Shave Club’s customer service is exceptional overall, and surprisingly, they’re able to do so despite even the basic membership costing more than one dollar per month (unless one were to opt for their ‘Not So Hairy’ option, an every-other-month subscription that’s further evidence to the brand’s strong customer engagement).
However, DSC proves that customers can get past a lack of free shipping if they like the brand, and DSC is undoubtedly a brand to like — with timely and unique customer service responses as well as reliable shipping.
And since there’s a money-back guarantee, customers never need to worry about a long-term commitment.
After being purchased for $1 billion last year, the company has improved its customer experience even more by widening their product line to include various toiletries, such as a variety of shave and shower products as well as a travel bag.
Venturing away from e-commerce and into the land of wholesale goodness brings us to customer-revered Costco.
Pinning down precisely what makes Costco’s customer service so powerful is futile; the experience is the combination of many customer advantages working in harmony.
A Costco membership is extremely affordable, amounting to around $60 annually.
For this membership, a customer gets low prices, free samples, a generous return policy, a reliable house brand in Kirkland and a wide variety of products.
The latter is a particular boon to the customer experience because customers don’t want to choose among four or five brands for each product they buy.
To put Costco’s simplified offering into context, consider that they have around 3,700 active SKUs in their entire warehouse.
Compare this number to the average Walmart Supercenter, which has 140,000 SKUs, and it’s easy to understand why shopping at Costco, on top of the other benefits above, is so enjoyable.
It’s not merely positive marketing, either. In fact, Costco doesn’t participate in traditional marketing except when they’re opening a new warehouse.
Membership sign-ups stem mostly as a result of word of mouth. Management fuels this organic growth by paying close attention to weekly and monthly store sales, as well as new member sign-ups and renewals.
A final contributing factor that gives Costco tremendous customer service is the simple fact that its employees like their jobs.
Positive-minded employees, along with the no-hassle returns, low prices, free samples and the confidence of getting a reliable product without experiencing decision fatigue make its impressive nine percent attrition rate believable.
Now that you have different ideas of what successful customer service operations look like start crafting the building blocks of your brand’s company culture and customer success blueprint.
But the specific policies you adopt in your shipping policy and overall terms and conditions only have so much flexibility.
Taking the sentiments and practices of the companies above and blending them into your store’s customer experience will make all the difference in getting customers to remember, speak fondly, and buy from a brand in the future.