Customer service isn’t just for brick and mortar establishments; it is one of the crucial foundations for any successful business, including online businesses. One of the biggest mistakes an online company can make is thinking that customer service isn’t that important due to its online status.
Now more than ever, consumers are looking for companies that care about their customers and excellent customer service is at the heart of that. Consumers have no qualms about changing to a new company if the one they frequent shows disinterest or bad customer service. With the amount of online competition that some businesses face, having impeccable customer service can make all the difference when it comes to where they decide to spend their money.
Word of Mouth Can Make or Break a Company
Word-of-mouth advertising can be the best thing to happen to a company, or the worst. People talk, and in this age of social media obsession, talking to EVERYONE is easier than it’s ever been before. A company that makes a practice of bad customer service can end up having bad viral advertising that can be staggering in its effects.
On the more positive side, a business that takes care of its customers, listens to their comments, and addresses their complaints in a speedy fashion can rest assured that the word of mouth they receive will be positive…and huge.
For example: let’s say that a customer makes a purchase from a company and when the item arrives, there is a problem with it in some way. Most consumers will go to the telephone and call the company. If there isn’t a phone option, they then resort to email contact. They send a support ticket and wait… and wait. If no response is received, the person will more than likely go looking on one of the biggest social media venues around right now: Facebook.
If the company has a presence there like most companies do, they will then resort to trying to get their complaint/issue resolved there, in public, for all to see. If the company responds there, and takes care of it the proper way, then damage is minimized. But in many cases, even Facebook contact is ignored and that’s when problems can start. The disgruntled customer talks about their experience with everyone on their friend’s list and every time that business’s name comes up, they comment negatively about their experience. Depending on how bad the issue is, it can easily be shared many times over. This can have a real negative effect on the company’s reputation.
How to Have Excellent Customer Service for Your Online Business
There are several ways to have excellent customer service and none of them are complicated. They simply require focus and attention and should be at the top of every online business’ to do list, from the very first day of launch onward.
Make contact information easy to find
Yes, customers will contact you for less than important reasons sometimes, but to them it IS important. Treat all customer contact with respect and importance and it will show in their loyalty to you.
Respond to email support tickets within 24-48 hours
This is long enough to allow the customer service team to get things at least started in regards to their request. If your company has gotten so busy that customer service is put on the back burner, your company may be in danger of having forgotten why they are in business to begin with.
Always try to correct any problems so the customer leaves the situation feeling good
This isn’t always easy to accomplish, and there are difficult customers in the world that appear to never be satisfied, but it is the customer service’s job to do everything in their power to rectify the situation. That will require service reps that are patient and truly enjoy interacting with people. Better yet, when staffing your customer service department, try to find those who love turning a bad situation into a good one. These are the kind of people you want handling your tough customers.
Have good return policies in place, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t alter things if needed
Now this doesn’t mean that you should change policies all the time. Solid policies are a good thing for any business, to avoid confusion among the employees as to what is allowed and what isn’t. The company doesn’t want to be taken advantage of by customers that are using less than honest means. However, certain situations can arise that need to be handled differently and this is when a change in policy may be the best course of action. It’s not caving in or backing down, it’s putting your customers first and trying to ensure that they are happy with the outcome and that they remain customers.
Follow up with customers to ensure they received a positive experience from the point of purchase through the delivery of the item
Yes this might mean some extra leg work in terms of follow up emails, but with today’s technology, this can be as easy as setting up an auto responder to make initial contact after a sale to ensure that all went well and give them the contact numbers in case there is a problem.
Although there are many other things a business can do to have excellent customer service, these mentioned above are the foundation of a great customer service department that customers will rave about. Start with these, add others that you have observed, and stick to them and watch your customer base grow larger and more loyal with every purchase.