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Important Customer Care Considerations

Important Customer Care Considerations

So, you’ve set up your store, traffic is coming in at a nice clip. You’re making sales. Life is good, right? Well, don’t kick your feet up and lace your fingers behind your head just yet.  Because you still have to put in place one very important piece: a system for handling customer care.


Plenty of store owners don’t give too much thought to this piece of their business, but that’s a huge mistake. That’s because your prospects and customers will judge you based largely on the quality of your customer service.


If you provide outstanding service (consistently), your customers’ loyalty to you will grow.  All is well. Business will be good.


On the other hand, you’re going to be feeling a world of hurt if you can’t or won’t provide a good customer experience. Bad customer service can destroy your reputation and destroy your business.


You don’t have to look far for proof. Just look at any business on Yelp with a low rating, and chances are the customer service is what tanked the rating. Reviewers will even say the products are great, but they’ll never return because of the way they were treated.


And you know what? People who have a good experience may or may not tell anyone. But people who have a BAD experience tell everyone. They go on social media. They go on review sites. They tell their friends. You can say “bye, bye business” if it happens to you.


Maybe you’ve even seen this in your own life. You shop at a store loyally for months… and then one bad customer service experience turns you away from the store FOREVER. And you tell your friends about it.


Because think about it…


You customers can probably get your products elsewhere, no problem. But they can’t get good customer service everywhere, so they’ll develop strong brand loyalty to anyone who treats them well. You need to step up and be the person who treats your customers like gold, makes them feel valued, and makes them feel special.


So how do you provide this sort of top-notch customer service?


Take a look at these tips and best practices…

Consider Outsourcing


One common complaint from customers is that companies don’t answer questions in a timely manner. If you’re trying to handle customer service yourself, then you’re likely going to get the same sorts of complaints (and lose customers because of it). That’s why you’ll want to consider outsourcing this task to a competent customer care representative (or team).


A few points to keep in mind:


·         Train your staff. Even if the staff has a lot of experience with customer care, you want to be sure the staff handles inquiries quickly and professionally.


·         Provide answers to common questions. This saves your customer care team time, plus provides a uniform experience for customers.


·         Be sure your customer care team speaks and writes English well. You don’t want your customers to get frustrated because of misunderstandings and language troubles.


Use a Good Help Desk


A good help desk will keep tickets organized, allow you to install a live chat option, and ensure customer’s emails don’t fall through the cracks.


Cut Down on Questions


One way to make your customer service experience better is by making it easy for people to find what they need without taking the extra step of contacting customer service.


You do this in the following ways:


·         Provide a FAQ and other documentation. Let people know what to expect regarding common issues such as types of payment accepted, shipping costs, delivery estimates and similar issues. Where applicable, provide text and video documentation on how to use a product (such as user’s manuals).


·         Consider installing an artificial intelligence bot. A good bot will cut down on questions going through the customer service desk.


Let Customers Know What to Expect


When customers contact your business via email (or help desk), you don’t want them to feel like their question dropped into a black hole. Post your business hours and time zone clearly on your site, along with an estimate of when you’ll get back to them. You can post this same information in an autoresponder that you send whenever someone contact you.


Handle Inquiries Fast


If a prospect has a credit card out but wants to ask a quick question before ordering, they’re not going to wait around forever. If you take too long to answer the question, they’re going to find a competitor instead.


Point is, handle all inquiries as quickly as possible. Whenever possible, offer live chat support to provide instant answers. Help desk inquiries should take a couple hours to answer at most – but you’re more likely to save the sale if you can answer more quickly.


Provide Care Across Channels


With the advent of social media, customer service is no longer contained to your site. If you have a Facebook Page, Twitter account or any other social media platform, be sure to check your pages and messages daily. That’s because some people will send their questions through these platforms rather than fiddling around on your site.


Make Customers Feel Valued


In addition to promptly providing useful answers, you can provide a good customer experience simply by making customers feel valued. Thank them for their question. Thank them for their business. Let them know how much you appreciate them. And if you mess up, make it up to them (such as by offering discounts or free products).


Keep Customers in The Loop


Once customers hit the order button, you’ll want to let them know what is happening every step of the way. So, send out emails (these can be automated) that let customers know important information such as when the order is likely to ship, as well as information such as a tracking number once it ships.


Likewise, keep customers in the loop whenever they lodge an inquiry at your help desk. For example, if you’re refunding a purchase, let them know when the return arrives, let them know when you’ve credited their account, and give them an estimate of when the credit will appear on their credit card statement.


Offer Live Support


As mentioned above, offering live chat is one way to provide fast answers to customers. You’ll also want to consider offering phone support, as some people want to talk to a “real person” rather than handling everything by email.


Stay Calm


Sometimes people who’re having a bad day will attempt to take it out on you and your customer service staff. They’ll berate you, they’ll use bad language, they may lie about what’s going on, they may insult you personally, they may even threaten you.


Take a deep breath. If you feel your blood pressure going up or you feel like firing off a nasty email to “get back” at them, that’s a sign you need to take a step back. Once you feel your emotions settle, then and only then should you answer the inquiry.


Remember, one bad customer service exchange can end up on social media and destroy your reputation. So be sure you’re always handling customer inquiries promptly, calmly, professionally.


TIP: This doesn’t mean you need to let customers abuse you. If a customer is abusing you or your staff, handle what needs to be handled (such as a refund), and then block the customer from your store.


Be Sure Your Site Runs Well


You’ll want to regularly check your site to be sure you don’t have broken links, inaccurate information, or order forms that don’t work. Most people who encounter these problems will simply walk away without telling you (and you can bet they won’t be back).


In short, good customer care starts with providing a good onsite experience and a user-friendly site.


Plan For Heavy Loads


There are going to be certain times when your customer service load is going to be a bit heavier than usual. You’ll need to compensate for these high-traffic times by bringing on more staff. It’s best if you anticipate these periods ahead of time, rather than scrambling and falling behind under a deluge of customer-service inquiries.


Here are some times when you can expect heavier loads:


·         During sales.


·         After big sales. (You’ll get return inquiries, questions about how to use the product, etc.)


·         During affiliate contests.


·         Whenever you’ve created extra traffic, such as through a new ad campaign or even a viral campaign.


·         When your store gets mentioned by a prominent influence in your niche, such as by the media, by a well-trafficked blog, etc.


·         Before gift-giving holidays such as Christmas.


·         During niche-relevant events or seasons. (E.G., if you sell smoking-cessation aids, you’ll see an uptick around New Years as people set their resolutions to quit.)


You’ll want to think about your own niche, and when you’re likely to see an uptick in traffic and sales.


Anticipate Questions


No matter what kind of store you own, there are certain types of questions that are bound to come up repeatedly. You’ll want to have these questions on file, along with a copy and paste template of how to answer them. This saves both you and your customer staff time, plus it ensures multiple customer service reps are handling inquiries in the same way.


NOTE: Some of these questions are suitable for inclusion in your FAQ document. Keep in mind that even if they appear in a FAQ, a few people will still inquire via your help desk.


Here are the inquiries and questions you’re likely to receive:


·         What payment methods do you accept? (Or specific questions such as “Do you accept PayPal?”)

·         How quickly do you process orders?

·         When can I expect my order to arrive?

·         I didn’t get a receipt/tracking number – can you resend this information?

·         What is your return policy?

·         What is your guarantee policy/warranty?

·         How do use a coupon?

·         How do I use a gift card?

·         Do you have any coupons/Groupons available?

·         Do you have any upcoming sales?

·         How do I use the product/is there an owner’s manual available?

·         Can I order a replacement part?

·         This item didn’t work – what are my options?

·         How do I start a return?

·         Do I need to pay for postage on a return?

·         Is there a restocking fee?

·         Do you have telephone number where I can speak directly to a real person?

·         I’m furious about _____. How do I contact the manager or owner?

·         Did my order go through?

·         Where is my order?

·         Do this, or I’m going to leave a bad review…


NOTE: Some people have such bad customer service experiences that they start out every inquiry with a threat. Stay level-headed and answer these inquiries cheerfully and promptly.


·         I just hit the order button and realized I ordered the wrong item/size/color/etc. – how can I correct this before it ships?

·         I keep getting an error when I try to _____. What now?

·         I asked for a refund 7 days ago and haven’t heard anything back. Are you trying to rip me off?


·         Can you flush a dead fish down the toilet? (That probably has nothing to do with your business, but you can bet you’re going to get some off the wall questions sometimes – so be sure to handle them in a polite, professional way!)


Quick Recap


Again, don’t overlook this piece of your business. Handling customer concerns can make or break a burgeoning business. People have been known to organize boycotts over bad customer service. Don’t let this happen to you – use the tips and best practices above to provide great service and start building a good reputation in your niche.

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