Good customer service is something that has the ability to really make a brand stand out in what is a very crowded marketplace. In days gone by with traditional commerce and shopkeeping, this was a simpler exercise – good customer relations largely meant being polite while you served them. Nowadays it’s a much trickier issue, with social media and a variety of other channels for customers to contact you, or mention you, and word of mouth has a far wider reach than it used to. However, it is still perfectly possible – and let’s face it, excellent customer service is something you should be striving for any way. So, here are a few tips and suggestions for maintaining and developing great customer service for your Ecommerce business.
Who are you?
Start by making it clear who you are on your website. Having a recognisable ‘face’ (although not necessarily literally) will immediately make you feel like a realistic physical presence rather than an anonymous entity who could disappear into cyberspace at any moment – the equivalent of a fly-by-night. Think about your ‘About Us’ section on your site and use it to establish your credentials as a reputable company. This is particularly important if you are going to be targeting older customers, who may not be as confident about using an online shop as those potential customers who have grown up with the technology, and for whom it is just the norm – and if you are running an Ecommerce business, you probably fall into the ‘comfortable with technology’ group so do make sure to take look at your site with a different mindset. Let people know who they are dealing with and this will inspire confidence.
Get packaging and delivery right
To start, offer a service that you know you can fulfil. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than hanging around, waiting for a parcel that isn’t going to come today because you were out of stock and have had to order more of something in. The most important points for online customers are 1) getting a good price (and they can easily shop around), and 2) how quickly their item arrives, followed by whether the product description on your site is fair and accurate. Set yourself standards and stick to them; you will know from your own experience how disappointing it is to be, well, disappointed. Take care over your packaging as well – company address labels will always look better than an address scrawled on with marker pen, unless you have exceptionally nice handwriting. Although if you do have exceptionally nice handwriting, make it a feature!
You need to make sure your customers feel they can contact you easily. Provide your contact email and phone number somewhere obvious on your site, such as a ‘Contact Us’ page. Make sure you have recorded your own personalised voicemail greeting with the business name too, rather than leaving it to the default setting! While taking calls might seem a bit distracting, and daunting if you aren’t used to dealing with the public, it is absolutely essential for reasons of trust – and being able to speak with them directly is a great way to build relationships with your customers too! It’s also generally quicker than typing emails, and you tend to find out useful bits of information in a casual call that wouldn’t come up in an email.
Take advantage of email
That said, you absolutely do need a business email address, and it must be linked from your website. Monitor the emails regularly, in these days of instant communication, people tend to expect a speedy answer and if you only check the emails at home in the evenings, a response the next working day quite often simply won’t be quick enough. If you have more than one person monitoring emails make sure they talk to each other – nothing looks as unprofessional as two answers to one query, especially if they are different. Use an email system that will mark emails as read, answered or forwarded and so on, this should reduce any confusion. If it is just you, make sure your personal emails are separate to your business ones.
If you find you are getting the same enquiry regularly then make sure you either fix the issue (ideally) or put the information somewhere clear – such as a separate page for delivery times. One way round receiving a lot of enquiries is to establish an FAQ page. Another alternative is to establish a helpdesk area, available as plug-ins to many Ecommerce solutions if you don’t have one already inbuilt, which allows forum style sections where customers can post and answer queries – effectively outsourcing your customer support!
Utilise social media
Social media is a fantastic way to interact with your customers and get some good two way dialogue going. While the thought of negative feedback going viral can be off-putting to say the least, it’s far likelier to be your chance to show off your great customer service skills! People do like to say thank you, which is then visible to all their friends. While posting compliments you’ve received can seem a bit like showing off, you do need to do a bit of that, so if you receive some good feedback from a customer, share it! Social media is an excellent way to engage with your customers and build a relationship – don’t forget to ask customers to post pictures of your products and tag you. Obviously the way you use this will depend what area of business your new Ecommerce venture is in, some will work better than others. This is particularly good for hand made items or craft supplies – items that are very visual – but it works for other things too. And if your packaging is particularly fancy or attractive, this is a good way to display it. Twitter is particularly popular for businesses, although you will need to be committed as it is fast paced, so do be aware of that if you are a small company. There are plenty of tools that will manage your social media, allowing you to post across multiple platforms simultaneously.
Customer service done right will always pay – invest the time to get the reputation for it.