If you’ve ever placed an online order, you’ve probably fumbled around, surfing your favorite retailer’s website for the perfect product. When you don’t know the item number or exact name of what you’re looking for, it can take a little time to fill up your shopping cart. That’s fine if you are sitting on the couch watching HGTV while you browse. But what if the order is being placed over the phone with the help of an answering service? Do you want the experience to be: A) long and drawn out, or B) handled as efficiently as possible? We’re guessing that both you and your customers would opt for B.
If your answering service is managing e-commerce orders, there are a few website tweaks you can put in place to ensure that each customer’s phone call goes as smoothly as possible.
- Give every product on your site an item number. As long as the customer has the number handy, this will allow for error-proof searching and speedy checkout.
- The operator will need to check out as a “Guest,” so be sure to have a guest checkout option available on your e-commerce website. Guest checkout should be set up so that it doesn’t flag the user if it sees an email address match in your database that would require the visitor to login. Unless you are using a dedicated agent to answer your calls, most call center operators are not permitted to have access to login information for you or your callers. This maintains the security of sensitive data.
- You may have a different set of instructions to follow when placing phone orders. For example, you may not offer free shipping with phone orders, but you may if the customer places the order themselves. If that is the case, you’ll want to create a separate web interface for the service. A simplified interface eliminates operator confusion and minimizes the possibility of incorrect entries.
- If you have the resources, consider building a call center-specific version of your website that’s as trimmed down as possible. Give the operators easy access to your search function, keep the graphics and web scripts to a minimum, and create a simple one-page checkout for the call center agents.
- If you have new catalogs shipping out, are running a television or print ad, or are doing any advertising that would cause a spike in volume, it’s best to let the service know a few weeks in advance. This will give them ample time to staff up.
The answering service will also work with you on programming your script to improve call flow:
- Callers may be required to provide an item number to place an order. If so, you’ll want to make sure the agents are asking for this information before they start the checkout procedure.
- If you have several product categories, the operators can ask the caller for the type of product, and then pop out to the specific webpage for that category rather than search from the site’s home page.
- If the website is down for any reason, operators can take a message with the caller’s information and requested products for easy follow-up by your team.
- Specific details regarding pricing, shipping and returns can be added to your Frequently Asked Questions as a quick reference for the operators. This will help move calls along.
- It’s important to have escalation procedures in place for calls that the operators can’t handle. When a customer is already upset, taking a message and letting them know you’ll call them back isn’t always the best course.
If you run a web store and outsource customer care to reduce overhead, following the guidelines above will help you get the most out of your service, and keep the orders rolling in 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!