The Ultimate Guide to Customer Service and Dropshipping Stores

Shipping containers stacked up

Customer service is paramount. For dropshipping stores it is crucial to have exceptional customer service for acquiring and retaining customers. It is vital that you give customer service its due importance because it can make or break a dropshipping business.

Dropshipping is a retail fulfilment model where you do not keep any stock. Your online store sells a product that is purchased from a third party. This is usually a wholesaler or manufacturer who does the delivery so you do not have to handle the logistics directly. While this may sound convenient, it can also result in customer queries and complaints about deliveries, managing returns or order alterations, which is why you need you to have top notch customer service.

With your inventory costs non-existent, and your order fulfilment being managed by another party, you have a lot more time to dedicate to marketing strategy and customer service. Customer service is essential to keep your customers loyal to your dropshipping store and also to gain their trust and reviews. 89% of consumers have stopped shopping at an online store after experiencing poor customer service.

We don’t want that to happen to us, right? Let’s take a look at how necessary it is to have satisfied customers for dropshipping stores.

Why is Great Customer Service Necessary?

If customer reviews and testimonials are the biggest source of social proof for your brand, it makes sense to ensure that your consumers have nothing but good things to say. Customers are twice as likely to share a bad customer service experience than a positive experience. Especially in this age of omnichannel retail, where customers are also engaging with brands on Facebook and Instagram. You do not want prospective customers to be turned away by comments of a disappointed customer.

It also costs more to gain new customers than to simply retain existing customers. So, provide them with a world-class customer service experience so that they’ll happily return to you.

If you use PayPal to receive payments for orders, there is a low chance of you being banned if you take care of your customers. Taking care of your customers can have an enormous effect on your dropshipping store because customer loyalty is a force to be reckoned with. 86% of customers will pay up to 25% more when they have a good experience with customer service. This will increase your average order value as your customer will potentially spend more money.

Happier customers also mean that there will be fewer refund requests to deal with. The greater lengths you go to satisfy your customers, the greater effect it will have on your bottom line. Customer service should be great, regardless of the monetary benefit, from a social point of view. The boost in sales and revenue should be a good incentive for business owners to maintain excellent customer service.

Your dropshipping business may have no capital, low overheads, a flexible location, and product variation. What can you do to stand out from the crowd? Focus on your customer service. For many ecommerce retailers, even those who sell intangible products such as digital downloads or software as a service, they do not have to deal with logistics issues or damaged products. The one rule they follow is: customer is king.


Customer Service Techniques for Dropshipping Stores

Customer service is now a multifaceted, strategic department in your business, that requires you to be as invested in your customers as you are in your business. In the digital era, customer service has changed drastically because of the advent of modern cloud communications platforms and the multitude of ways customers can now contact you: phone, WhatsApp, email, web chat, and social media.

Here a few techniques to successfully build a dropshipping business by fostering customer success:

Try Customer Relationship Management Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is integral to the success of any company that keeps its customers first. It is a one stop, comprehensive customer service solution that can also help you with marketing, customer contact, surveys, feedback and data collection.

CRM software can assist you in delighting customers, however they reach you and it even offers omnichannel interactions to connect with your customers across all channels. 

CRM software can help you create an impeccable customer service strategy because it provides you with call center analytics, so you can change what is affecting customer sentiment. With a CRM calls routing system, it even provides a history of previous interactions in one click so the customer agent is equipped with all information to help the customer.

CRM software will include a virtual phone system. Despite provisions made for email and chat, most customers prefer to call. Your virtual phone system should include the following:

  1. An automated greeting.
  2. Call park feature. This allows you to move incoming calls to a parked area where they can be picked up by the relevant member of your customer service team. This allows for a more organized call management system.
  3. Call logs or history. This lets you extract useful information from customer phone calls for the benefit of people on the phone lines and management.


Streamline Communications

To create a positive customer experience, your customers need to be able to reach you at all times – and you need to respond immediately. The first step to streamlined customer communications is to have an email address on your webpage for customers who prefer to email. Your “contact us” page should be accessible from your home page. Do not use a personal email address, as it really does look unprofessional.

Queries on email can also be turned into tickets using CRM, and complaints on calls can use a helpdesk ticketing system. This makes it easier to fix consumer complaints and respond to them based on priority.  

Next on the list is to have live chat available on your website. You could also route live chat through your contact center management system. Most CRM software includes a virtual chat option to ensure that customers have multiple ways to reach you.


Test Your Services as a Customer

Test drive your service from the start to end before opening shop. This will help you not only test your customer service team, but also your suppliers. Scrutinize the minute details and how your team reacts to the big problems and also the small ones. It’s the small issues that customers have that usually go ignored and lead to dissatisfied consumers.

Take notes of how your customer reacts and responds at every step in the customer journey. From the start of the sales funnel to the end, ask yourself the following questions:

  1.   How is the user experience on your website?
  2.   How quickly did the customer service team respond to an inquiry?
  3.   How was the online purchase transaction? Was it smooth? Any issues with payments?
  4.   Is the customer aware of refund, exchange and shipping policies when they buy something?

Ask your dropshipping suppliers some hard hitting questions too:

a.  Is every item’s stock updated and reflected correctly?

b. Is a tracking number generated and shared with the customer in a timely manner?

c. Is the order received on time?

d. Is the order delivered in perfect condition? Is the packaging of an acceptable standard?

How to Handle Delayed or Botched Orders

You may have given up on your ability to control and make deliveries because it is one less headache, but you are still accountable. You are not a supplier and you do not maintain stock, nor deliver it. It is you who has received the order and the payment, so you need to coordinate for delivery.

Even the smallest lapse in communication with your suppliers can jeopardize your entire operation. Make sure you always update your stock inventory.

If an order is delayed and you have not received any communication from the supplier that the order is in process, or despite a confirmation, the order has not been dispatched on time, contact the supplier immediately. Rush to contact the customer and inform them why the order is delayed. Assure them that it will be delivered as soon as you overcome the limitation of the delivery system. You need to build trust; don’t ever leave the customer hanging on for answers.

What do you do if the supplier sends the wrong order or a damaged item among other fulfillment errors? We recommend the following options:

  • Own your mistake and do not blame the supplier, it’ll only make you look like an amateur.
  • You could proactively offer the customer something to make up for the mistake. A complimentary gift, a refund on shipping or an upgrade. Consider it an investment for brand building.
  • Good customer service shouldn’t necessarily mean cutting into your profit margin. Make your dropshipper pay for their mistake.

Mistakes make us human. Suppliers can botch your orders but be wary of one that does it habitually. Customer satisfaction is the foundation of reputation building. Be very particular of the suppliers who work with you, or you could end up paying for their mistake, and not just financially.

Best Practices to Ensure Premium Customer Service

Make the following golden rules for your customer service team to follow and you’ll see the change it brings to your customer sentiment:

  1. Be proactive with customers. Engage with them before they engage with you. Anticipate problems and contact them to instill confidence that you’re doing your best. Email every customer after a delivery is made, thanking them for their business and asking for a review.
  2. Great customer service is reactive and proactive, if you have customers saying good stuff about you, show it off. Display it in all its glory on your website.
  3. Treat your customers with respect. You will no doubt encounter angry, irate, irrational and frustrated customers. Despite that, never lose your cool and remember they are at the heart of your business.
  4. Work on negative feedback, view it as a learning opportunity and do all you can to turn it around in your favor.
  5. Create standards for customer returns. If the customer has returned an item within the time stipulated by your terms and conditions, replace it.
  6. Do not find loopholes in your terms and conditions. Follow them to a tee.
  7. Make notes of common customer pain points and manage your customer service strategy accordingly. Empathize with the customer to truly feel what part of the customer journey needs the most fixing.
  8. Train employees on customer service standards, especially those tasked with getting on conference calls with customers to give them focused care. Reward those who perform well.
  9. Learn to set customer expectations. Make it clear from the beginning, what you can do and what you cannot. It would be better to exceed a customer’s expectations than falling short of them.
  10. Create an FAQ page. This helps customers get the answers they are looking for immediately. Include common queries about shipping, delivery and have them available in one place on your help page. It makes things easier for your customers and for you too.   


Signing Off

A successful dropshipping business will always stay a step ahead of their customers. You have sacrificed control over some of the most intimate steps of the customer journey. You do however have full control over the shopping and support experience. Ensure these are world class and you will find that you are able to grow and sustain your dropshipping business.

Customer service is a core asset to your survival. While customer service might not be a priority for many businesses, for your dropshipping business, it is the most important aspect. Make sure your customer service strategy is such that it makes your customers feel heard, and wanted. Make use of the different techniques and tools listed above to provide the best customer service possible and stand out from the crowd by being a customer-centric business.