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Five Things Online Brands Can Do Right Now To Improve Customer Service Customer support teams can make the pivotal difference for your business.

By Nicolas Bruylants

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


As the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of e-commerce management company Uplo, I oversee a company that handles e-commerce strategy, marketplace management, and e-distribution for major international and regional brands. In the first half of 2023, Uplo notched a Middle East record for the highest net promoter score (NPS) for customer satisfaction in online retail. Given our expertise in this area, here are my top five considerations that online retailers need to focus on to achieve exceptional customer service:

1. Omnichannel communication availability In many countries across the Middle East, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the adoption of technology is rapid, and brands that fail to adapt and propose new channels of communication run the risk of alienating their customers.

Indeed, it's essential that brands are present on the channels that their customers use. There's high penetration across social media platforms and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, and so, customers want to be able to interact with not only their friends, but also with businesses through these mediums. In this way, these platforms are an important part of the buying experience.

Being available and accessible to consumers also extends to the languages offered and cultural understanding. The region is made up of many nationalities, so online brands should look to cater to the diversity of the region, with languages like Arabic, English, Farsi (Persian), and Urdu a prerequisite for delivering effective customer service.

2. Investing in customer relationship management (CRM) In a competitive commerce environment, data is king. Having actionable data about your customers can be the difference between so-so performance and superstar status.

A holistic view of the customer, including purchase history, browsed products, previous contact with the brand (whatever the channel used), and reviews, can help businesses to tailor and personalize their experience. According to Salesforce's global research, 73% of customers expect brands to understand their unique needs and wants, with a clear CRM dashboard enabling businesses to better predict and manage customers.

This process should also extend to collecting regular feedback (i.e. NPS) to maximize customer satisfaction. Deploying an intelligent loop that enables customers to provide relevant reviews and suggestions, which feeds directly into the actions that a business takes, can help customers to feel listened to and build improved performance.

3. Ensure transparency and visibility Operationally, online brands should know where a customer's product is at all times along the journey- from manufacturer, to warehouse, to delivery vehicle and handover to the customer.

Online brands have the opportunity to extend visibility to the customer, providing real-time delivery and returns, but also being transparent if there are any stock outages, delays, or unforeseen circumstances. Our studies show that customers want their products as quickly as possible, but they also appreciate being informed.

4. Train customer support teams Equip staff with the knowledge and interpersonal skills to be able to swiftly, efficiently, and compassionately deal with customer queries or complaints. This includes being able to take decisive action to quickly address concerns, with a deeper understanding that a brand can build stronger affinity with a customer if they are able to promptly provide the assistance they need.

This even applies to complaints. As something that was first discussed in the early '90s, the service recovery paradox suggests that customers report higher levels of satisfaction when a brand is able to resolve a problem, even higher than if that problem never occurred in the first place. Customer support teams can make the pivotal difference between a customer reporting a negative experience, or them becoming a brand advocate.

5. Deploy customer support tools Customer service agents -of the human kind- are often dealing with many enquiries, of varying complexity. It's an important job, and one that comes with a significant degree of pressure.

For example, research at Cornell University identified that 77% of workers at call centers had highly elevated stress levels. To reduce the workload, and ensure customers are able to quickly find the information they need, online brands can take some relatively simple steps.

One area that is often overlooked is the importance of information on a brand's website, marketplace description, or app help section. If customers are able to "self-service" their enquiry, common issues can be resolved before they are even flagged to human agents.

This is also an obvious area for artificial intelligence-driven chatbots and virtual assistants, who can answer straightforward enquiries efficiently and quickly, and escalate more serious issues to real-life agents. This alleviates some of the volume of enquiries and allows the human-powered customer support team to concentrate on the most pressing issues.

Related: How Yango Delivery Is Infusing Innovation Into The Last Mile Delivery Industry In The UAE

Nicolas Bruylants is the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of e-commerce management company Uplo, which handles e-commerce strategy, marketplace management, and e-distribution for major international and regional brands.

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