Providing online customer service

Providing a positive experience for your customers whenever they interact with your business can increase the likelihood that they return in the future. How you interact with customers is a large part of this experience. When a customer has a good experience, they can be more likely to purchase from you again, as well as tell others about your business.

Choosing customer service strategies

Finding out what makes customers happy is a key part of running a store. There are many factors to consider, but one of the most important ones is the market niche where your store fits. For example, when you're selling relatively inexpensive, generic products, your customers have different service expectations than they would if they were buying expensive, custom items. Learn more about product market fit from the Shopify blog.

To help you to decide which strategies to focus on, try to learn as much as you can about who your customers are and what types of service they expect. It can take time to understand your customers' specific needs, but you can still use common customer service strategies to build relationships with your customers online. Some examples of customer service strategies to try are:

  • Providing clear return and shipping policies that you are prepared to uphold.
  • Giving your customers a way to contact you to ask questions about products and orders.
  • Adding a page with frequently asked questions, product information, or information about your business to your online store.
  • Updating your customers about new products using an email newsletter.
  • Letting your customers tell you (and others) what they think of your products and service.
  • Rewarding loyal customers.
  • Helping your customers when they have a problem with your store.

Providing customers with your store policies

By setting expectations about shipping, returns, and any other store policies, you can help your customers to make decisions about buying your products. When policies are available, your customers can shop with confidence.

You can add your store policies in Shopify, and then add links to store policies from your online store menus. Your store policies also display in links from your Shopify Checkout.

Talking to customers

When you set up ways for your customers to contact you, they might ask questions about your products, your policies, and their orders. You can provide contact information on a webpage including phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses, or add a contact form to your online store. You can also set up chat or messaging services for your online store, such as Shopify Inbox.

Adding a page to your online store

If you're often asked similar questions by customers or if you want to give customers more information about your business, then you might want to add a page to your online store. You can add pages to share anything that you want your customers to know, but here are a few common examples:

  • Frequently Asked Questions: If you're often asked similar questions, then adding a page that answers them can save time for you and for your customers. For example, customers might want to know whether the fabric used in products meets their ethical standards.
  • About Us: Adding an About Us page gives you a chance to highlight what makes your products and business special, and it can help customers to feel more connected to your products. For example, a store that sells fair trade coffee might add a page telling customers about the source of the beans.
  • Information about your products: Extra information about products can give your customers confidence to make a purchase. For example, you can add a page that describes clothing size information, or depending on your theme, you can add a size chart to product pages.

Creating orders for customers

You can create orders for your customers with pre-filled customer information. This saves you time when you create an order for an existing customer, such as when you take an order over the phone. To create an order for a customer, the customer needs to have an existing customer profile.

Create a new order

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Customers.
  2. Click a customer name.
  3. Click Create order.
  4. Add products to the order, and customize the order.
  5. Review the order, make sure that the information is accurate, and then do one of the following:
    • Send an invoice to the customer. By default, the invoice contains a link to a checkout that your customer can use to pay for the order.
    • Accept payment from the customer.
    • Click Save to save the order as a draft so that you can update it later from the order Drafts page.

Sending email newsletters to customers

Sending email newsletters is a good way to let your customers know what's new with your business. In many countries, you need the permission of customers to send them emails, even after they buy something from your store. You can let customers sign up for emails from your store by showing an option to accept emails during checkout. Learn more about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how it applies to your customer data.

Make sure that the content of your email newsletters is relevant to your customers. Customers are more likely to open emails when the information inside is consistently of value to them. If customers don't enjoy your emails, then they'll probably unsubscribe. You can also reward email newsletter subscribers with early access to products, discount codes, and other promotions. Learn more about email marketing from the Shopify Blog.

You can target your email messages to specific customer segments. Learn more about customer segments.

You can use an app to create and send email newsletters, as well as to track customer engagement with what you send. To find an email marketing app, visit the Shopify App Store.

Encouraging customer engagement with your store

You can encourage customers to write about your products and your business by using product reviews, comments on your blog, and social media posts. Customers who are happy with your products are often willing to say so publicly. It's possible that customers will even connect with one another through your online store and build a community, particularly when your store has a social media presence. However, make sure that you're prepared for negative reviews and posts as well, and decide in advance how you plan to respond.

Learn more about adding product reviews to Shopify, allowing comments on your Shopify blog, or posting to social media.

Setting up customer rewards

You can choose to reward customers who order often from your store, or who spend above a certain amount of money. For example, you might create a gift card for a customer, or send a customer a discount code. You can also use an app to set up customer rewards and loyalty programs.

Find customers who meet your reward criteria by creating customer segments. For example, you can create a customer segment of customers who spent over a certain amount. Or customers who have placed a large number of orders. Alternatively, you can use predicted spend tiers to target customers who are of high, medium, or low value to your store.

Learn more about customer segments and predicted spend tiers.

Helping customers to resolve problems with your store

Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, customers are unhappy with your products or your service. When orders don't arrive on time, products are damaged during shipment, or customers are dissatisfied with your products, you have an opportunity to help your customers resolve the problem. If you can do this quickly and with empathy, then you can turn a negative store experience into a positive one, and encourage your customers to shop with you again.

When you tell customers that you're sorry for the problem and show empathy, you can often defuse the situation. If the problem happened because of something that was out of your control, such as when products are damaged during shipment, then you can still express your sympathy about the situation.

When a customer contacts you with a problem, there are a few things that you can do to try and find a solution:

  • When a problem has a simple solution, such as a refund request that meets the conditions of your store policies, you can offer the solution quickly.
  • When a customer problem is more complicated, you can talk with the customer about the impact of the problem and listen to what they say about how you can help them resolve the problem. In some cases, you can even offer the solution that they request.
  • When a customer problem doesn't have a clear solution or there's nothing that you can do to directly resolve it, you can still apologize about the situation. You might be able to offer something to the customer as a way of showing them that you care about their buying experience, such as a gift card, a discount code, or free shipping.
  • Some customers might appreciate talking to you more directly about the issue as a way of preventing it from happening to another customer. For example, if a customer lets you know that a shipping provider has caused the problem, then you can consider changing your store's shipping settings to help avoid similar problems in the future.

It can be discouraging to hear that there's been a problem with a customer's experience, but it's worth trying to solve it. Sometimes the right solution earns the trust of that customer, and sometimes the solution prevents future customers from having problems. Supporting customers who have a problem is also one way of preventing chargebacks.

Shopify Inbox

Shopify Inbox is a free iOS and Android app that you can use to manage messages from your customers. Visitors to your online store can send messages to you using the online store chat. You can use Shopify Inbox to read and respond to your messages from your mobile device, or from a web browser on your desktop.

Staff can assign themselves or be assigned to conversations in Shopify Inbox to stay organized when managing multiple customer conversations.

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