Ecommerce teams have to be adaptable at the best of times, but COVID-19 has introduced a whole new set of challenges.

You’re probably getting more questions from your customers – and they're expecting faster responses. You might have more orders, but only a few team members on hand to fulfil them. You may also be rethinking your website's messaging so it's timely yet empathetic.

By tackling these challenges, you can help your customers and build a rapport with them, whether you're delivering the products they need or simply answering their questions.

Of course this is easier said than done right now, so we asked ecommerce experts how they're handling things.

Here are some of the common challenges they're facing and tips on how to tackle them.

Esther Meyer, Marketing Manager at GroomsShop

The challenge: more questions about deliveries

In the midst of this pandemic, our support team has experienced a spike in delivery inquiries. Due to the tighter security, travel bans and quarantine measures in place, our deliveries have been delayed. While our customers are forgiving because they know that none of what’s happening is anybody’s fault, they still would like an update as to when the delivery will actually happen. And because we don’t we don’t normally have delivery delays, a sudden influx of questions regarding this is a challenge.

Tips: virtual assistants, and a support template for new hires

In order to adapt to this developing situation, we’ve hired a few people to temporarily help out. We hired virtual assistants who are now responsible solely for delivery delays, so that our existing team can focus on other inquiries. We also developed a template for new hires on how to deal with customers, which significantly reduced the training they needed before being deployed.

Krista Neher, CEO of Bootcamp Digital

The challenge: more questions from customers about the product

We're getting more questions than we've ever had before. As people deal with uncertainty, they have more questions about ecommerce products and everything else for that matter. Our specific challenge is that we’re getting a lot of questions about future training programs that we just don't have answers to yet. We’re also getting new questions that we haven't thought about before.

Tips: proactively contact customers, and add a FAQs section

To alleviate the stress on Customer Support, we're aiming to over-communicate on topics where people have specific concerns. We're adding a FAQ section to our website with any questions that are asked more than once. We’re also proactively emailing customers when things might affect them (even if we don't have all the answers yet).

Michael Morella, Customer Success Manager at Userlike

The challenge: finding the right tone for comms, and keeping teams connected

Our entire team is now working from home, with no direct contact with their coworkers or managers. Many of our customers have been wondering whether there would be disruptions in our product and service due to the crisis, so responding to their questions has been a challenge for Customer Support. It’s also been a communications challenge, as we want to find the right tone for talking about the crisis. We’ve had emails from some communication tools that sounded a bit self-serving, as though they were sneakily trying to promote their own products. Like these collaboration tools, Userlike has seen a strong increase in Signups since the lockdown measures, but we don’t want to sound similarly tone-deaf or self-promoting.

Tips: focus comms on customer needs, and bring office events online

Re the communications challenge, multiple departments are now focusing on this: not just Customer Support. By sharing what’s currently important to our customers, we can revolve communications around their needs rather than promoting ourselves.

To keep teams connected, we’ve been using tools like Slack and Google Hangouts. We’ve kept our weekly meetings, plus added a couple of extra stand-ups so we know what the team is doing throughout the week, and are up to date with anything that’s not common knowledge.

We've also been experimenting with taking various office-based events online. For example, we used to do active break sessions in the office, now we are doing these remote via Slack and Demio. And last week we did a remote hangout version of "Beer O'clock," the 5pm event on Friday that closes off the week with – you guessed it – beer! And we even found an online replacement for our foosball in Haxball.

Saloni Doshi, CEO of Ecoenclose

The challenge: staffing the warehouse team

We’re fortunate that we’re considered an essential business. But we put the health and safety of our team members first, so one of our biggest challenges has been properly and efficiently staffing our warehouse.

Tips: stagger warehouse shifts so workers can remain isolated

To keep our warehouse team safe, we’ve staggered their shifts and made shifts shorter so they can stay isolated whilst working. Our workers also have unlimited paid time off and are required to stay at home if they’re experiencing any relevant symptoms. The rest of our office workers and customer support team are working from home.

We also keep our customers up to date about our products via the website and social media. Things can change at any moment so letting your customers know when to expect their orders or how best to contact you is extremely important.

Tsveti Nedelcheva, Customer Service Team Lead at Truly Experiences

The challenge: making important decisions fast, and mentally adapting

On a basic, day-to-day level, we’ve had an influx of client requests that need to be actioned in a short space of time. Plus we’ve got more repetitive low-importance tasks than usual.

On an organizational level, it’s been hard to make important decisions, without having the time to fully think them through. Generally we’ve had to adapt our mindset to the new situation and help our clients and partners to do the same.

Tips: be proactive instead of reactive

To tackle the day-to-day stuff, we’ve changed our prioritization method, and we get help from other teams with ideas and inputs.

By speeding up the day-to-day stuff as much as possible, we have more time to think about the current situation. We can plan what to do going forward, and be proactive instead of reactive.

How have you and your ecommerce team been adapting to COVID-19? Are you experiencing similar challenges to the ones mentioned in this article?

If you’re looking for ways to respond to customers faster, keep your ecommerce website running smoothly, and manage your orders more efficiently, find out how an ecommerce dashboard can help you stay in control.