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5 Of The Most Common Customer Gripes & How To Avoid Them (Ecommerce Guide)

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What’s one of the first rules of sales? The customer is always right.

In physical retail scenarios, a dissatisfied customer can be seen and dealt with, but what about in the world of ecommerce? The fact is, if your online store doesn’t cut the mustard, there’s a good chance consumers will simply leave without saying another word. 

Worse still, if they commit to a purchase, only to be left with a sour taste in their mouth — be it from a poor customer service experience, or a substandard product — this will leave a black mark on your brand’s reputation. On the web, the customer is truly all-powerful, and many businesses have crumbled under the weight of a few bad Trustpilot reviews. 

A generally happy customer wouldn't endure the pain of leaving an uninvited review. An angry customer would. Fair? Not exactly, but these are, unfortunately, the rules of the game. Ecommerce success depends on many factors, but if you’re failing to keep your customers sweet, you’re unlikely to go far. Below, we’ll detail 5 of the most common customer gripes so you can avoid them. 

Slow or inefficient shipping

One of the most significant pitfalls in ecommerce is slow or inefficient shipping. In the age of instant gratification, customers expect their orders to arrive swiftly. Delayed deliveries can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction, tarnishing your brand’s reputation.

To avoid this gripe, invest in a reliable and efficient shipping process. Provide accurate shipping estimates, offer tracking information, and consider partnerships with reputable delivery services. If you need any pointers, check out this guide to the most reliable courier companies in the US (or this UK version).

Let’s face it — nobody likes waiting for their parcels to arrive, and in the age of Amazon’s all-conquering 1-day delivery service, you’ve got to step up if you want to compete! By prioritizing prompt and reliable shipping, you not only meet customer expectations but also create a positive and lasting impression. 

Complicated checkout process

An overly complex checkout process can be a major turn-off for customers. Lengthy forms, unnecessary steps, or confusing navigation can (and often will) lead to cart abandonment.

Streamline your checkout process to make it user-friendly and efficient. You want your sales funnel to be so well-greased that your customers slide down it quicker than an overly eager child at a waterpark.

Implement features like guest checkout, auto-fill for forms, and multiple payment options. It’s also worth exploring the implementation of ‘buy now, pay later’ services like Klarna or PayPal’s ‘pay in 3’ offering — this way, you can attract a greater number of conversions on your higher tag items.

By simplifying the path to purchase, you reduce friction in the buying process and increase the likelihood of completed transactions.

A lack of round-the-clock support

In 2024, customers expect instant assistance and first call resolutions. Impatient? Perhaps, but the bottom line is that it’s your duty to fulfill this desire, whether you agree with it or not.

One solution? Implementing a 24/7 support system, powered by a chatbot such as Zendesk (or one of the many Zendesk alternatives, such as Crisp). This will allow you to address customer concerns at any time of day — even if your human support agents are off the clock. 

Chatbots provide quick responses, assist with common queries, and guide customers through the purchasing process. Integrating artificial intelligence into your customer support strategy not only enhances efficiency but also showcases your commitment to meeting customer needs promptly, even outside regular business hours. 

A well-designed chatbot can be a valuable asset in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Inadequate product information

Inadequate product information can be a stumbling block for customers seeking assurance before making a purchase. To address this concern, offer detailed product descriptions that go beyond mere specifications. Explain the benefits, use cases, and unique features of each product. 

For instance, if you're selling electronic gadgets, include technical specifications but also highlight how these features enhance the user experience.

Accompany these descriptions with clear and high-quality images showcasing the product from various angles. Visual representation is crucial, especially for items like clothing or home decor. Consider incorporating zoom features to allow customers to scrutinize the product closely.

Additionally, leverage the power of customer reviews. Positive reviews build credibility, while even negative reviews can be insightful if they highlight specific issues that were resolved. Encourage customers to share their experiences and opinions, creating a community that aids potential buyers in their decision-making process.

Difficult returns process

A complicated or unfriendly returns process is a surefire way to upset customers. Make your returns process straightforward and customer-friendly.

Begin by clearly communicating your return policy on your website, ensuring it is easily accessible. Clearly outline conditions, timeframes, and any associated costs. An illustrative example can be found in the policies of leading online retailers that provide a dedicated section detailing their return procedures with concise and easy-to-understand language.

Offer step-by-step return instructions, making the process as straightforward as possible. Utilize clear language, and if applicable, include visual aids or video tutorials to guide customers through each step. Streamline the return initiation process through your website or customer portal, enabling customers to generate return labels or request return authorizations with minimal effort.

But one of the most important things you can do is keep your customers informed about the status of their returns. Don’t leave them in the dark! Send automated notifications acknowledging receipt of returned items and provide updates on the processing and refund timelines. This transparency not only keeps customers in the loop but also demonstrates a commitment to accountability and customer service excellence.

Keeping your customers satisfied can be hard work, and as you may already have realized — it’s impossible to keep everyone happy. But by following the steps outlined above, you’ll minimize the risk of lost conversions and — perhaps even more crucially — poor reviews. For more on the world of ecommerce, check out our guide to ecommerce security, or view our blog index here

January 17, 2024
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