Localised, timely customer service is a key tool in converting direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, according to new consumer data from ESW (formerly eShopWorld), the world’s leading cross-border DTC ecommerce company.
ESW’s ‘Global Voices: Pre-Peak Pulse 2021’ survey of almost 15,000 consumers across fourteen countries reveals that while handling customer service queries in local languages can be challenging for international DTC brands, getting it right helps consumers feel more in control during their buying journey – fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases.
While 62% of survey respondents do expect 24/7 access to customer services, just as many (62%) accept a delayed response from international websites, as long as they have an indication how long a response will take and their expectations are managed. Three quarters (75%) of respondents say transparency around response time is essential. Consumers clearly indicate they want to communicate with customer service representatives in their own language (71%), but are more flexible in terms of the channels they use. 64% expect to speak to a person, but nearly half are open to email (49%) or chat services (45%).
Channel preferences vary depending on market, highlighting the need for a localised, flexible approach to customer communication, with Chinese respondents indicating the highest preference for social (65%) and livechat (73%) customer service communication. 66% of Indian respondents indicate their prefer is to communicate with customer services via email.
Gen Z and Millennials, while still preferring customer service in their own language, are more accepting of customer service provided in other languages and more willing to communicate via live chat and social media channels.
A clear understanding of customer service requirements by market is key in terms of supplying the ideal customer experience, for example the expectation for 24/7 customer is highest amongst shoppers from Russia (82%), Mexico (81%), South African (76%) and China (76%) and lowest amongst respondents from Germany (37%), South Korea (47%), the UAE (54%) and UK (55%).
ESW’s research revealed one fifth (19%) of shoppers indicated fear a product, purchased cross-border, simply won’t turn up is a key barrier to purchasing. Easy access to customer service channels can help overcome these hesitations and encourage purchases, explains Martim Avillez Oliveira, Chief Commercial Officer, EMEA at ESW:
“Customer service needs to be at the top of the list of international DTC brands’ priorities this season to fully capture the sales opportunity and consumer loyalty. We know the highest value shoppers want to engage with and buy directly from brands but competition for these consumers is fierce. Retailers and brands must provide a tailored, seamless end-to-end customer experience that is informed by customer insight to drive conversions and repeat purchases. In terms of customer service, best practice includes providing services in local languages, managing shopper expectations in terms of when a response will be received and making sure communication is served via the right channels to break down barriers to purchase and increase conversion.”