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How to Outsource Your Shopify Customer Service

Photo of Alex Holmes
by   Alex Holmes

Influx has built support teams for more than 300 high-growth brands in the US, Australia, and Europe. We hire, train, and empower a remote community with the top 1% of customer support agents, spread over 120+ cities. Learn more about how it works

Every successful eCommerce brand needs to invest in customer service. Fast and effective support experiences generate loyalty, positive reviews, and referrals.

Ignore your customer experience and risk becoming a commodity. You will get crushed by Amazon or Walmart.

But, over-invest your time as a founder in responding to support tickets, and you’ll soon find yourself no longer working on your brand, campaigns, partnerships, recruiting, your vision, or the next launch. 

It’s easy to get bogged down by support tickets. Many eCommerce brands we work with report that 10-30% of purchases turn into a support ticket. 10-30%!

How do you outsource Shopify customer service to clear the backlog consistently without compromising your brand?

I’m going to tackle that question in four parts:

  • How to outsource your post-sales support, ie ‘where is my order?’
  • How to outsource your pre-sales support, ie ‘when can I receive my item?’
  • How to outsource your support management and strategy (I highly recommend that you do NOT do this)
  • How to make an outsourced team successful more generally

Some context, I’ve worked with more than 50 Shopify brands implementing Shopify customer service outsourcing. I’ve seen what works and doesn’t. Hopefully, this article will help!

Outsourcing Post-Sales Shopify Customer Service

Koala Mattress generated 14,000+ positive reviews on ProductReviews.com by prioritizing their customer experience from day one.

Their support team uses four KPIs to see how they’re doing:

  • Customer Effort Score
  • Product NPS
  • Customer Service NPS
  • CSAT

They delight their customers by providing fast responses all day long, but especially in the evenings - when most people receive their mattresses.

They’ve also successfully outsourced a portion of their post-sales support, and their business runs on Shopify, like so many other high-growth online businesses. Shopify customer service outsourcing can come with many benefits and allows a company to improve sales efforts without the trouble of training and managing additional staff members. 

Two things stand out here in terms of building an exceptional support experience:

  • They identified the most important times to deliver fast support (evenings)
  • They use four metrics to see how they’re doing

Koala works with Influx to deliver fast, live chat responses in the evenings. They developed their own strategy first, hired their team initially in-house, then hired Influx to work as an extension of their existing team.

How do you effectively outsource your post-purchase support with Shopify? Build the basic team structure locally first, then hire an outsourced Shopify customer service team to do more of what’s already working.

Outsourcing Pre-Sales Shopify Customer Service

Manly Bands - another business built on Shopify - invested in customer service early to disrupt the wedding ring buying experience.

In their own words:

“They have a good customer service team, but you don’t talk to someone at the company you’re buying from - you talk to someone at Amazon. They don’t know the product.

“They don’t know anything.

“If I want to get in touch with the retailer, I have to wait 48 hours for a response. Responses are often written in broken English. It’s really hard to communicate.”

Just like hiring a local retail sales team, by responding quickly to pre-sales questions on your website, especially systems like live chat, you generate more sales.

When you’re selling something as important and personal as a wedding ring, the impact of investing in pre-sales support goes up exponentially.

How do you outsource effective pre-sales support?

The team at Manly Bands has a detailed playbook on how to communicate with potential customers. This playbook includes sample questions, personality guides, customer personas, and regular 1:1 training.

To outsource your Shopify pre-sales support, and get more sales, you need to write the playbook on how to sell, then train a 24/7 team to act as an extension of your existing team.

To write this playbook initially, hire 1-2 agents locally, or a really strong manager, then only outsource once that system is working.

Outsourcing Support Management and Strategy

You might have seen a theme from the above two sections.

Effective outsourced teams need effective management in place. Asking a team on the other side of the world, to develop plans and strategies for your business is incredibly risky.

Building a customer service strategy requires a deep understanding of your customers, company history, stakeholder goals, internal systems, and broader business strategy. You can’t outsource this.

Mikey De Wildt, co-founder and head of ops at Influx, said it best:

“If you know you’re going to build a team with more than 10 members, get a good, competent manager-type first. Don’t skimp. They will be over-skilled as an individual player to start, and you’ll think you’re paying too much for their IC [individual contribution] role, but their experience will pay back in dividends once they build a team.”

If you want to outsource your support team, start by hiring an experienced support manager, who’s especially strong at systemization and training.

How Influx can Outsource your Shopify Customer Service

So, what are the takeaways here to outsource support for your Shopify business? If you’re getting crushed with tickets, you need to take some immediate action. You don’t have time to necessarily build all the pieces.

Here’s what I’d recommend:

Step 1: Simplify your support experience. If you do not have a strong management system in place already, limit your channels to just email, and limit your coverage window. Respond to every ticket in 24 hours (including weekends). Set the expectation from the beginning with your customers when they’re looking for help initially.

Step 2: Hire a really strong support agent/manager locally as your first hire. If you’re running a fully remote business, this hire needs to be even more experienced. 

Step 3: Outsource a full-service support team that can start with just one portion of your support tickets. I’d recommend only business hours support or after-hours support.

Step 4: As you onboard this team, invest in your support systems: Training, knowledge base, automated emails, macros, KPI reporting, etc.

Step 5: Once you see your KPIs are close to where they need to be, then expand to new channels: live chat, voice, and social media.

In short, investing in customer service is just that - an investment. Brands that are serious about delivering an exceptional customer experience invest both their time and hard-earned profits back into the customer experience.

It’s painful and time-consuming, but it pays huge dividends over time.

Interested in building your own outsourced support team? Check out eCommerce support by Influx. Influx works with high-growth eCommerce brands to deliver flexible, scalable support teams that match any brand exactly.


About the author

Photo of Alex Holmes

Alex Holmes

Alex runs Marketing and Client Success at Influx. He works with both existing and future clients. Favorite support experience of all time: iTunes and Optus.