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How Astound optimizes customer service and support in all ecommerce solutions

No ecommerce solution is effective without a powerful customer service component. Omnichannel integration, compelling and easily updatable content, intuitive search and navigation—yes, they’re all critical for creating an exciting customer journey that leads to purchase. But they’re not enough to assure a viable digital commerce enterprise. Adequate attention and resources must be dedicated to reducing call times; operations optimization; providing single customer, product, and promotion views; supporting live chat; and integrating consumer self-serve.

Glen Martin
Frequent Astound Insights contributor whose other credits include Forbes, Wired, Outside, and Men's Journal

Good customer service and support, in fact, are foundational to the entire ecommerce structure. Consumers have made this explicit: 

  • A study by Forrester found that 45 percent of in-store shoppers expect sales associates to be knowledgeable about products that are only available online. 
  • Research conducted by Kayako, a customer service provider, determined that 38 percent of consumers are more inclined to buy from a company that offers live chat support. Kayako also found that 79 percent of the businesses that offer live chat maintained it had bolstered customer loyalty and revenue.
  • Forbes confirmed that 79 percent of consumers feel personalized customer care is more important than customized marketing.

It’s well known that it’s easier to retain customers than attract new ones—but that’s true only if consumer needs are being met with care. We recognize this fact at Astound, and we’ve defined our company mission accordingly. Spectacular customer service and support are integral to every solution we develop. Case in point: our work with AdvoCare, a US-based single-level direct-sales company with 100,000 direct-sales representatives across the US and Canada, and a wide range of offerings, including energy, weight management, sports performance, and wellness products. With a growing distributor base, AdvoCare needed an ecommerce site that would showcase its products and allow for personalized customer service and support.

To transform AdvoCare’s evolving digital presence and support its customer-first approach, we migrated their existing site to Salesforce Commerce Cloud, implemented Salesforce Order Management system (OMS), and integrated Salesforce Service Cloud. 

Through migration of the order and fulfillment processes to AdvoCare’s new OMS, orders from all channels can be tracked and optimized, and the company can better respond to customer demand and avoid out-of-stocks, which surged 172 percent in the US between pre-pandemic and August 2021.

In addition to providing excellent customer service, retailers must be prepared to respond to increases in customer service queries and demands. Smart Insights reports that 53 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with a company they can message, a fact that emphasizes the need for exceptional support software like Service Cloud.

Integrated into many Astound solutions due to its powerful features, Service Cloud provides AdvoCare’s customer service representatives with a complete view of each customer, enabling them to track support issues and communicate directly with customers, effectively reducing average call times, streamlining service team processes, and improving customer satisfaction. Although AdvoCare is currently in the foundational stage, future setup will allow it to layer in chat, omnichannel assignments, and other automations as needed. Other powerful features of Service Cloud include the following: 

  • A customizable user interface for customer service agents that provides fully sharable 360-degree customer views
  • Full access for sales agents to any needed customer relationship management (CRM) data, including case history and volume, backlog analysis, agent productivity and activity, and chatbot performance
  • Automated service processes
  • Full omnichannel routing, allowing cases to be referred to specific employees based on factors that include skills and availability
  • Full views for supervisors into all agent activity and routings
  • Computer telephony integration, ensuring full customer information is on hand for both outgoing and incoming service calls
  • Repetitive customer service tasks
  • Automatic tracking of crucial customer service data, including order and support history

All these properties make Salesforce Service Cloud a potent addition for many ecommerce solutions. Astound implemented Service Cloud when it undertook a digital asset rebuild and relaunch for SNIPES, one of Europe’s leading sneaker and streetwear retailers. Though SNIPES was a cutting-edge brand in the hip-hop clothing and footwear sphere, its ecommerce presence lagged behind its image. A patchwork of legacy platforms undermined its online expansion and eroded customer support. By integrating Service Cloud across all SNIPES brands, Astound greatly facilitated agent response to customer questions and requests across multiple digital channels. Customer satisfaction and retention increased dramatically as a result. 

Service Cloud was also integral in Astound’s solutions for two other companies: Toys”R”Us Canada and Sporting Life, Canada’s top fashion sportswear retailer. For Toys”R”Us, Service Cloud was integrated with KeyTree, allowing customers to submit questions directly to in-store personnel. Associates reply via email, and the interactions are logged as cases in Service Cloud.

For Sporting Life, Service Cloud was implemented as the main ticketing/case system and served as a data unifier for an existing CRM, a homegrown order management system, a Commerce Cloud site, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Customer service was enabled to manage cases through multiple channels—the Contact Us form, email, telephony integration, chat, and social media. Cases and chat threads were assigned using Salesforce Service Cloud Omni-Channel assignment. 

Good customer service and support has always been central to successful brick-and-mortar retail: the quicker the response, the more personalized the service, and the happier the customer. Online retailers must compensate for a lack of real-world tactility by assuring all platform features—including service and support—are bulletproof. Add to that the fact that ecommerce has accelerated the shopping experience, with shoppers wanting to view options, make their choices, and proceed to purchase now. They expect that same responsiveness when it comes to service support, and brands ignore this expectation at their peril.


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