Innovation in online customer support

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Innovative Online Support Solutions - Examples

The 5 examples of e-commerce companies implementing innovative online customer support solutions include Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target and Costco.

Research methodology


E-COMMERCE COMPANIES THAT ARE SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING INNOVATIVE ONLINE CUSTOMER SUPPORT POSSIBILITIES AND SOLUTIONS.

We commenced the research to establish examples of five e-commerce companies that are successfully implementing innovative online customer support possibilities and solutions that include the use of self-help options or omnichannel solutions and other new technologies such as AI, chatbots etc. by searching for market studies and case studies published by reputable software review databases such as Capterra, G2 Crowd and Trust Radius among others. Fortunately, we came across an article published by Capterra that detailed a list of the best customer support software solutions in 2019. We decided to conduct further research on the customer support software solutions on the list. Our objective was to establish if any of the software application was designed with any innovative features and if so, we also wanted to find out if there was any e-commerce platform that used the software application to provide customer support services to its customers. We checked all the software applications and we were able to determine that they were designed to provide various customer support possibilities such as call centers, live chats etc. However, we failed to identify if any of the software application had been designed with unique innovative technologies as well as any e-commerce platform that was using the software.

We decided to change gears and focused our attention on any relevant information related to how e-commerce companies are successfully implementing innovative online customer support possibilities. We searched for relevant information through e-commerce providers such as Shopify and Acquire. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain any relevant data regarding how e-commerce companies were successfully implementing innovative online customer support possibilities and solutions from these sources. The only relevant information that we were able to obtain from the e-commerce providers related to the best practices that e-commerce platforms can use to provide excellent customer support services.

We decided to expand our research parameters by focusing our attention on specific e-commerce platforms that are top in the industry in terms of market share and popularity. The idea here was to identify the top e-commerce websites and check the online customer support solutions implemented by these companies. We were able to obtain a list of the top e-commerce platforms published by SimilarWeb. Next, we decided to check the online customer support solutions implemented by the specific companies in order to establish if there was anything unique about the software. This strategy helped us to find some relevant information about the innovative online customer support software that the top e-commerce platforms on the list use as detailed below:

Amazon Assistant is a free suite of software applications that help users to compare products and prices while searching and shopping online.

  • Walmart uses Omnichannel strategies including chat, phone support, and email support to provide customer support services.

  • eBay uses an online social forum called "Ask the Community". We included this e-commerce platform on the list because it is only the top e-commerce platform that we found to be providing customer support solutions through an online social forum.

  • Target uses live online chat. We included this e-commerce platform on the list because it is only the top e-commerce platform that we found to be providing customer support solutions via live online chats.

  • Costco uses self-service to provide online customer support. We included this e-commerce platform on the list because it is only the top e-commerce platform that we found to be providing customer support solutions through self-help.

We decided to choose the above companies for our list of the examples of five e-commerce companies that are successfully implementing innovative online customer support possibilities and solutions because each company is among the top e-commerce companies and the customer support solutions that each company provides is different from the other.

SUCCESS METRICS FOR THE CUSTOMER SUPPORT POSSIBILITIES AND SOLUTIONS IMPLEMENTED BY TOP E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS

Next, we decided to search for the success metrics that these five e-commerce companies have derived by implementing their specific customer support solutions. We commenced our research by extensively searching for relevant data through the official websites of the companies as well as on the press release section and news section of each individual website. We also scanned through the recent annual reports of each company. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain any relevant data related to the success metrics of the online customer support solutions that the five e-commerce companies have implemented on their platforms. One of the possible reason why we were not able to find any publicly available data could stem from the fact that these companies do not publicly disclose such information due to competitive reasons.

We decided to extend our research through press releases, news updates and other authoritative articles published by credible media outlets such as Forbes, USAToday, Times etc. regarding any relevant data on the success metrics of the innovative online customer support solutions implemented by the top e-commerce platforms. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain any relevant data from these sources. The only relevant data that we were able to obtain regarding the five e-commerce platforms related to their specific business operations and other major news updates such as acquisitions and partnerships. One of the probable reasons why we were not able to obtain any authoritative data from these sources could stem from the fact that these e-commerce companies do not publicly disclose such data due to competitive reasons.

As a last resort, we decided to search for relevant data related to the success metrics of the innovative customer support solutions provided by the top e-commerce platforms by extensively scanning through databases that host the profiles of companies as well as databases that provide intelligence reports of companies such as Gartner and Forrester. Unfortunately, the search did not yield any relevant data related to the success metrics of the innovative customer support solutions provided by the top e-commerce platforms. The only relevant that we found on these databases related to the normal business operations and activities of the e-commerce companies.

5 UNIQUE ONLINE CUSTOMER SUPPORT SOLUTIONS IMPLEMENTED BY E-COMMERCE WEBSITES

  • Amazon uses Amazon Assistant which is a free suite of innovative customer support software applications that helps shoppers to compare the features and prices of related products while searching for products online. The online customer support solution can be installed in the browser that a shopper uses to search for products on Amazon thus enabling the shopper to shop instantly as well as add items to a personal shopping wishlist.

  • Walmart uses Omnichannel strategies that include the integration of live chat, phone support, and email support solutions. Online shoppers are able to seek customer support and care services through either of the channels available online on the company e-commerce platform.

  • eBay provides customers with the benefits of seeking customer support services through an online social forum called "Ask the Community". The forum enables shoppers to obtain customer services from respected members of the community as well as from moderators who work for the e-commerce customer support team.

  • Target uses an online live chat to provide its shoppers with instantaneous customer care services and support.

  • Costco uses a self-service portal that allows customers to easily obtain support by perusing through the "self-help" content published on the customer support page of the e-commerce platforms.


Part
02
of two
Part
02

Innovative Online Support Solutions - Future

The five innovative online customer support technology or solutions that are expected to gain popularity over the next few years are the following: AI-backed customer support interactions, predictive analytics solutions, application of sensor technology, personalization platforms, and automation solutions.

Innovative Online Support Solutions - Future

The following are the online customer support solutions that are using advanced technologies that are expected to be increase in popularity in the coming years:

1. AI-powered customer support interactions

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications mimic human reasoning with the support of machines. These machines can then be used to interact with customers as they carry out typical customer conversations that involve logic, problem-solving, and discernment. Based on a study, around 85% of customer support online communications will be undertaken without the need for a human customer support personnel in the coming three years.
Right now, around 38% of existing businesses are using AI-powered solutions for their customer support system. This number is expected to reach around 62% by the end of 2018. As technology becomes more developed, this adoption rate is expected to further increase as more AI capabilities can be applied to enhance this interaction. One capability is preemptive action or the ability of the AI-powered machine elements to be able to dig deep into the customer's concerns. This can help provide real-time issue resolution. Other abilities of AI-powered customer communication tools that can drive more adoption include the following: messaging features that can facilitate real-time customer interactions, cheaper one-time training costs compared to human agents, all-time availability, self-service features for faster resolution, heightened reliability and scalability, and cost savings.

2. Predictive Analytics Solutions

Based on a Bain and Company survey, predictive analytics solutions in customer support systems are seen as one of the innovative enablers that companies can use to improve their customers' experience. This type of solution is also one of the identified innovations in the Bain report that is seen to further see more adoption in the year 2025 and beyond.
Putting predictive analytics capabilities in the products or services that customers use can enable businesses to gain more insights into their preferences and buying behaviors. As an example, businesses can determine which of these customers are early adopters or detractors, and as a result, they can take some steps to address this directly to further improve customer communications.

3. Use of Sensors

Sensors that are present in smart devices or the Internet of Things (IoT)s that customers use can help businesses deliver more personalized experience to their customers. These sensors that are embedded in the devices that customers typically use can act as recommendation enablers. As an example, the devices can provide information to the customers on whether the toothpaste tube is empty and some recommendations on what to buy.

4. Personalization Solutions

Companies are increasingly deploying personalization solutions to specifically meet the needs of their target customers. This personalization can take the form of mobile apps that can provide tailored content, product information, and interaction style that are based on the individual customer's purchasing likes and habits. In the case of Adidas, the company's marketing team uses Salesforce technology to connect their customers' activities in all channels in order to enhance their interactions with their customers. The Salesforce solution can detect the products of the shoe company in social media images and other digital sites in order to build a more personalized marketing campaign in specific channels.

5. Automation

Automation innovations are typically associated with manufacturing. However, this technology is expected to impact more consumers starting in the year 2020. Amazon has already pioneered this technology with its Amazon Go stores checkout process that is tied to its online e-commerce site. In this advanced store setup, human cashiers have been eliminated as automation took over the checkout process. The automated store has been considered as successful as an option to make the checkout process more efficient for the customers. Customers can easily link their online Amazon accounts as they shop and pay in these automated stores. As this innovative technology further develops, customers can expect more automation to happen in the future that can automate the online and offline payment process and reduce the long queues in high-traffic stores.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "1. Develop a multichannel strategy"
  • "2. Offer live chat"
  • "5. Optimize & automate online order fulfillment"
  • "8. Use customer service software"
Quotes
  • "1. Email: Provide fast, asynchronous support"
  • "2. Social media: Support your customers in public"
  • "3. Live chat: Fix customer issues in real-time"
  • "4. Telephone support: Offer a direct line to your business"
  • "5. Help content: Equip your customers with answers"
Quotes
  • "Ecommerce customer service (sometimes spelled e-commerce customers service) is a strategy for providing customer service to customers on online stores."
  • "When retailers invest in improving their ecommerce customer service, delivered via a call center, live chat, or other channels, they tend to be rewarded with more loyal customers, better conversion rates, and an advantage over their competitors. "
  • "Offer multichannel support. "
  • "Personalize support and marketing. "
  • "Offer self-service."
Quotes
  • "Amazon Assistant is a free suite of software applications available for select browsers and operating systems that comes with features to help you compare products and prices while searching and shopping online."
  • "Amazon Assistant works automatically - right in your browser - helping you shop by delivering product matches from Amazon."
Quotes
  • "Target Chat is a service available in multiple places on Target.com that allows you to chat online with one of our team members to get quick answers to your questions and immediate help while shopping. "