Many companies struggle with providing solid customer service in modern business, though it’s a key factor for business success. In fact, better customer service can prevent 85 percent of customer attrition.  But customer service is more than just a smile and a handshake these days. Online customer service involves phone, chat, email, and social media. These mediums can be trickier to navigate than face-to-face service, as they often lack context clues such as expressions and intonation.

As subscription businesses develop ongoing relationships with their customers, clear and open communication is crucial — after all, the value you give consumers is proportionate to the value you offer them. These brands need to respond to consumers in a timely manner with information they can actually use. They should also use their websites and emails to provide information to consumers proactively; giving consumers information before they need it empowers them to solve problems.

The tone of a company’s communications will vary depending on its brand identity, but there are several customer questions that are common for nearly every subscription business. Several are listed below, along with potential answers — use them as the starting point for creating meaningful messaging for your company.

Orders, Shipping, and Returns

Customer question: “I only ordered one time. Why did I receive another shipment, and why was my credit card charged again?” 

Answer: This is a surprisingly common question across all subscriptions. While most subscriptions state very clearly that the customer is enrolling in a subscription or continuous delivery program, that doesn’t stop the question from coming. Explain the nature of the subscription, and restate the value proposition. If you can’t save the sale, kindly cancel the subscription and send a refund if possible. If a free or low-cost trial offer is part of the subscription, this process can be more complicated, so ensure your representatives understand the offer and make the best case for each customer to remain.

Q: “Where is my shipment?” 

A: In an ideal subscription environment, subscribers can easily find the status of their shipments — and tracking numbers, if they’re available — online. Your customer service team members should also have transparent access to your entire platform so they can easily look up a customer’s information and orders to provide the most detailed response possible. They should be able to answer with something like “Your next order is scheduled to ship on [date]. We can send it to you right away if you need it now.” If the customer’s order has already shipped, provide the tracking information if it’s available.

Changes and Cancellations

Q: “Can I change my order?” 

A: If a customer’s order hasn’t shipped already, it’s now expected that he or she can change that order. The most simple response is “Of course. You can add other available products or change your order online or over the phone at any time.” Your system should be flexible enough to allow customers to add products, change products, or change the delivery date if possible. The more flexibility your system provides, the more consumer-centric your customer service will be.

Q: “Can I cancel or pause my subscription/membership?” 

A: Customer churn is a fact of subscription life. Customer service representatives should always try to save sales and offer pauses instead of immediately agreeing to cancellations. But when customers really want to cancel, you need to let them go. Use a simple, direct message like “As a member, you have complete control over your account. You can customize your kit to include only your favorite items and change your shipping frequency to meet your needs. You can cancel or update your membership at any time, either online or right now with me.” 

Payments, Products, and Offers

Q: “I received a message indicating that my payment for my next order failed. How can I update my payment information?” 

A: Ideally, this would never happen — or a sophisticated subscription billing platform would catch and even correct the problem before the customer is notified. Losing subscribers because of credit card failure can kill a subscription business. When possible, direct customers to update their billing information online, and provide easy tools to do so. Reply, “No problem. This happens for a number of reasons. You can go online at any time and easily update your payment information. Once your information has been updated, your order will be released as soon as possible. We can also update it right now if that’s more convenient for you.” 

Q: “What kind of a product am I getting? What do I need to know about it?” 

A: The answer to this question depends on a company’s product line. For example, customers will ask skincare brands about what a product treats and how they should use it, whereas apparel brands will receive questions about the size and fit of their products and what was used to make them. Customer service representatives should know their products inside and out to answer these questions on calls, and high-quality, helpful information online helps both customers and employees find answers to their product questions. High-level agent matching can also help, allowing the customer service representatives best suited to answering these questions to handle them.

Q: “What is the price? What’s the trial offer?” 

A: Again, customer service representatives need to be well-trained and updated on the most recent information about the company and its products, prices, and special offers. Employees should know the information well enough to be able to find the best possible offer for each customer.

The internet has changed business in many ways, but the main goal of customer service endures: Customers want quick, informative answers to their questions about the products or services they’re interested in. Subscription brands’ customer service is no exception — customers will hopefully be dealing with the same company over the long term. Answering these customers’ questions in a timely, thorough manner can keep them happy and prolong their subscriptions.

Connect with an OceanX membership and customer service expert to learn more tips on subscriptions and the powers of membership at www.oceanx.com/request-demo.