5 Customer Service Best Practices for Drop Shipping

Customer service has always been important, but in a digital-first world, customers expect a lot out of you—even if you’re a small dropshipper or growing eCommerce brand. 

In fact, 54% of customers say they have higher expectations for customer service today than they did last year. Not only do customers want more from you, but 1 out of 3 will desert your brand entirely if they have just one bad experience. 

When you’re growing a dropshipping operation, it’s tempting to focus on logistics and profits before customer service. But if you want a competitive advantage over every other dropshipper in the world (who could start selling your products in a heartbeat), you need to focus on your customers first. After all, two-thirds of businesses compete on customer service alone, and the ones that get it right earn up to 8% more revenue

5 customer service improvements for dropshippers

Clearly, you’ve got to get inside your customers’ heads to win in the dropshipping world. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire budget on a customer service team. Instead, invest in these 5 customer service improvements that will move the needle for your dropshipping operation. 

1 - Build a team

Unless you’re Superman, you can’t do everything by yourself. At a certain point, your business will grow so much that you’ll need an extra hand (or five) to run the business. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to hire full-time employees for this. Contractors like Zendesk can provide 24/7 support while you focus on turning a profit. With options like email, chat, and phone service, you can build a customer service team quickly without the crazy costs. 

But don’t assume that contractors can read your mind. Always educate your team on what it means to deliver good service. They should understand your mission, goals, and metrics. Otherwise, you risk providing a subpar experience that isn’t representative of your brand. 

 

 dropshipping customer service

2 - Speed everything up

Speed is your customers’ number-one concern. That means you’ve got to streamline for speed in every area of your business, like:

  • Your website: Since mobile eCommerce has increased YOY by 33.8%, you’ve got to speed up your mobile website. Don’t give people a reason to bounce from your website; use lazy load, compress images, and reduce file sizes to keep mobile shoppers around longer.
  • Your service response times: Customers aren’t okay with waiting 3 days for a response. They want answers immediately. You can fix this with a detailed FAQ page, product videos or demos, or automated chatbots like Drift
  • Shipping delays: Shipping delays probably aren’t your fault, but the customer doesn’t know (or care) that you’re working through a supplier. Spark Shipping can speed things up by managing customer expectations with smart tracking solutions. As long as you keep customers in the loop about delays, they’re much more likely to stick with you. 

 

 dropshipping customer service

3 - Stay in stock, no matter what

30% of shoppers say out-of-stock products give them a bad experience. Plus, low stock means you aren’t making sales when you should be. 

If you’re frequently selling out, it might seem like a good problem, but this can hurt customer trust. Instead, think outside the box with your operations. For example, Spark Shipping helps dropshippers stay in stock by intelligently routing your order to the best supplier for the job. 

4 - Handle returns gracefully

While nearly 9% of all brick and mortar products are returned, 30% of all eCommerce orders are returned each year. Ouch. 

Returns are just the nature of the beast. When you sell online, there’s a greater chance that the product won’t be the exact color the customer expected, or they ordered the wrong size, or a litany of other issues. Problem is, returns are expensive: the average cost of a return is $15, easily putting you in the red. 

It’s tempting to put these costs back on the buyer, but that’s a recipe for disaster. For example, 79% of customers expect free return shipping. Restocking fees are also a big headache for your shoppers, and petty fees will nearly guarantee that they won’t buy anything from you ever again. 

Handle returns gracefully. That means:

  • Pricing with returns in mind: If returns cost $15 on average, reconsider your prices. Try building in that $15-per-return loss elsewhere in your budget so it doesn’t affect your bottom line. 
  • Choosing suppliers carefully: Does your supplier’s return policy jibe with what your customers expect? If there’s a huge conflict between them, it’s time to renegotiate or choose a better supplier. 
  • Giving quick refunds: Allow customers to get a refund via their original payment form. Nobody wants a refund in the form of store credit, especially if they were unhappy with your product the first time. 

 

 dropshipping customer service

5 - Listen to your customers

The most important thing any dropshipper can do is to proactively gather and act on customer feedback. And your customers agree: 54% of shoppers think brands should act on customer feedback. 

Are you hearing the same complaints over and over again from your customers? If so, it’s probably not a coincidence. This is your chance for self-reflection to solve common issues. Whether it’s:

  • Product color or size
  • Bad packaging
  • Delayed shipping
  • Bad return policies

… you have a duty to get to the bottom of things. Yes, it can be hard to look at your dropshipping business through a critical lens, but you’ll never stay profitable if you keep making the same mistakes. 

Don’t wait for negative feedback. Instead, email your customers a few times a year proactively requesting feedback. If you don’t get a lot of responses, offer coupons, contest entries, or rewards points in exchange for their time. You can also message loyal, VIP customers for their candid thoughts.

Heatmaps like Hotjar are another great option. Feedback is important, but you need to see how users are navigating your eCommerce store, too. You can see their real-time experience, noting where shoppers have the most friction. You might find a glitchy part of your site or find opportunities to optimize your checkout process. 

When you act on customer feedback, you’ll steadily see a decrease in returns, an increase in positive reviews, and more money in your pocket. It’s a win for everyone. 

 dropshipping customer service

The bottom line

The market is just too competitive for dropshippers to overlook something as obvious as customer service. You can’t afford to lose more customers, especially because of something like customer service, which is generally easy to fix. Even if you’re a growing brand, you need a trustworthy eCommerce appearance. Go from underdog to top gun by overhauling these 5 areas of your customer service operations.