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Nothing beats being there for your customers

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Much is made of empowered consumers’ ability to shop and buy anywhere, anytime and on any device.

With all that comes a need for retailers to be there when a consumer needs them, says Eng Tan, founder and CEO of Simplr. Yes, that means anywhere, anytime and on any device. Tan, whose company provides a platform to outsource customer support, talked to me about how getting customer support right affects customer lifetime value. See a snippet from our interview in the video below.

Tan is talking about the need for an ecommerce retailer to stick with its customers from start to finish. There is a tendency among some retailers to focus time, money and brainpower on the front end of the buying experience. Consider the digital ads that Tan talks about. Add to that the work retailers do on marketing and merchandising to drive consumers to a site.

But what happens if that customer lands on a site, becomes interested in a product, in fact wants a product, but isn’t sure about sizing, or function? If some knowledgeable guide isn’t available at that time and place, chances are that once-eager customer will move on. And that’s not what retailers want. They need to keep customers on their sites.

“That is really important in this age of Amazon and on-demand and instant gratification for a consumer,” Tan, whose company uses artificial intelligence to help scale up support, told me in our extended conversation.

Certainly retailers are beginning to realize that they can’t focus solely on conversions and conversion rate. Sure, winning a customer might end at the buy button. But keeping a customer only starts there. Tan talked about how retailers need to remain accessible and helpful even after a purchase is made.

Which makes sense when you think about it. Think of all that can go wrong — or right — once a customer has committed to buying a product. Will it be shipped on time? Will the customer be informed if it is not. Does the retailer keep the customer informed as his or her order makes its way toward the customer’s home?

After the package has arrived, is there someone to answer questions about a product’s features or how it works. What if a billing question comes up or a question about complementary products? Tan just kept repeating a phrase, almost like a mantra: “It’s all-around response speed, connecting with the customer and empathy, that really matter.”

It’s actually not such a radical idea, though it sometimes gets lost in the swirl of innovation and urgency that engulfs ecommerce. Tan is among those looking to amplify the notion, all while adding a technological twist to his solution.

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].