Last updated: 26 May 2017
Over the last few years, e-commerces in Brazil have implemented several new technologies to increase the quality and efficiency of their customer services. In this article we will provide an overview of the use of customer services by e-commerce websites in Brazil.
Customer to Customer Interaction
Customer services can be considered a seminal part of e-commerce businesses as a whole, participating in all of the major steps in a customer lifecycle, from acquisition to post sale interaction. It should be noted that in Brazil, as in other major global markets, these services are able to substantially benefit the reputation of online stores or in some cases damage it to the point of hampering the confidence of new buyers.
Brazil has become known for the number of services and websites devoted to publicising customer complaints, the largest of which is the Reclame Aqui website. Since creation, these outlets have gradually become an important reference for consumers to weigh their confidence of online stores, especially when not familiar with merchants. A recent assessment from Brazilian credit scoring service SPC Brasil discovered that 45% of national online consumers considered services such as Reclame Aqui and social networks a relevant indicator of the quality of the services of online stores.
Due to these factors, many of the largest e-commerces in Brazil have deployed a diverse range of solutions to increase the quality of their customer services, consequently increasing conversion rates and avoiding any serious damage to their reputation caused by unsatisfied buyers.
Regulatory Requirements and Common Technologies
The Brazilian regulation for e-commerce specifies that all online stores should provide a contact center for customers and have them respond quickly to inquiries. However, the communication channels of these centers are not specified by national laws, which means that email, contact forms or telephone communication channels, for example, are all viable options for complying with local regulations. In general, e-commerces in Brazil provide customer services through these traditional communication channels, and in the case of telephone make it only available during business hours, or during the period of 9 AM and 7 PM on weekdays.
Even if relatively easy to deploy, in most cases these types of customer services can prove to be less efficient and burdening even for the largest players in the e-commerce sector. Hiring call center services can present high costs, especially when operating night shifts, and enabling contact through email has the possibility of extending the time needed for consumers to be answered, to the point of leaving room for complaints to be posted on other mediums such as social networks and dedicated review services.
Currently, technologies such as live chat, mobile apps and automated answering mechanisms are being used by Brazilian e-commerces as tools for dealing with customers more effectively. Any online business looking to expand to the national market should look into these tools in order to set up a viable customer service system and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Although it may be far from the cheapest solution for offering customer services in Brazil, live chat has become one of the most popular communication channels for online retailers of various sizes in the country. Similarly to telephone communications, live chat customer services in Brazil are usually available only during business hours, and are generally considered one of the the most efficient types of customer services in terms of the speed in which issues are solved.
What differentiates live chats to traditional communication channels is the increased convenience provided to customers, as chat windows can be integrated to product pages and do not require access to other devices to make a phone call or the need to enter a separate environment to send emails. Brazilian customers in some cases need to resolve personal issues during work shifts, and to this consumer public, live chat has become one of the most prefered forms of contact due to its discretion and efficiency.
Live chat can also be considered a valuable tool for acquiring new customers and providing assistance with purchasing decisions, allowing for potential buyers to rapidly clear any doubts regarding the products functioning or the e-commerce purchasing process.
FAQs and Automated Answering Mechanisms
A complementary option for customer services that has become largely adopted by large e-commerces in Brazil is a Frequently Asked Questions sections, where the most common questions from consumers are displayed with their respective answers. The presence of these sections are capable of significantly reducing the total number of contacts made to telephone or email channels, and due to their automated structure can be considered the overall most cost effective solution for customer services.
Over the last few years, the technology of FAQ sections has advanced and allowed for the launch of automated answering tools, which function similarly to live chat windows but are presented without an actual person on the end of the conversation windows. Although these tools can be potentially less accurate than an actual conversation with a store specialist, their adoption should be considered by store managers due to their reduced cost and for presenting a more organic experience when compared to static FAQ lists.
Mobile Apps and Whatsapp
Another recent trend for the customer services of e-commerces in Brazil is the launch of communication channels through mobile apps, a measure designed to extend the convenience to customers due to the ease of access to mobile devices. The solutions for mobile app communications are varied, and commonly take the shape of messaging functions integrated with the stores dedicated applications.
In addition, some other types of mobile communication solutions have been increasingly adopted by online retailers in Brazil, as is the case of contact through messaging apps such as Whatsapp. According to a report from 2014 by the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service, or Sebrae, close to 18% of national e-commerces have already enabled communications through Whatsapp. The messaging application can be considered an ideal solution for smaller stores that intend to set up a more direct contact with consumers, as there are currently a limited number of tools available to manage a large number conversations simultaneously.